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Strong Arms and Drinking Strength: Masculinity, Violence, and the Body in Ancient India

Jarrod L. Whitaker


This book considers the ritualized poetic construction of male identity in the R̥gveda, India’s oldest Sanskrit text, and argues that an important aspect of early Vedic life involves the sustained promotion and embodiment of what it means to be a true man. The R̥gveda contains over a thousand hymns to primarily three gods: the deified ritual Fire, Agni, the war-god Indra, and the sacred beverage sóma. The hymns were sung in daylong fire rituals in which poet-priests prepared the sacred drink in order to empower Indra. The dominant image of Indra is that of a highly glamorized, violent, and pow ... More

Keywords: ritual, mythology, body, masculinity, martial ideology, warrior culture, Agni, Indra, physical strength, political authority, sóma

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2011 Print ISBN-13: 9780199755707
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199755707.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Jarrod L. Whitaker, author
Wake Forest University
Author Webpage