Ritual in an Oscillating Universe

Davis, Richard H.

     In this thesis, I aim to illustrate, through a detailed explication of this important Saiva ritual [puja], the complex interrelationship between ritual action and philosophical knowledge in the Sanskrit Saiva Siddhanta tradition. The knowledge set forth in Saiva philosophical texts defines and constitutes the world in which Saiva worship takes place. Reciprocally, Saiva ritual articulates and integrates the categories of Saiva metaphysics. . . . My study is based primarily on the detailed prescriptions (vidhi) for the performance of daily worship (nityapuja, sivarcana) contained in the Kamikagama . . . and Aghorasiva's Kriyakramadyotika . . . . The main body of this thesis consists of an analysis of daily worship as prescribed by these two texts. In chapter one, I set out an approach to the understanding of ritual based on Saiva metaphysics which will serve as my orientation for interpreting daily worship. Subsequent chapters focus on particular philosophical themes as they are enacted sequentially in the ritual: the cyclic transformations of the manifest cosmos . . ., the movement of the human soul from bondage to liberation . . ., the embodiment of a transcendent Siva within a material support . . ., and the proper relationship between a human and Siva established through worship . . . Translations of the portions of the two texts dealing with daily worship are included as appendices.