World Sanskrit Conference (WSC) (17th : 2018)

Smell or Incense in Vedic Ritual Ōshima, Chisei

Abstract

In this article, Vedic gandha, the smell, was examined especially focusing on a ritualistic context. It is also known in modern times that the gandha often means an incense, aromatic woodchip to burn used for offering to the gods, or fragrant powder to apply to a priest’s body. In spite of the investigation into the gandha treated in Vedic Śrauta rituals, we do not find any such kind of gandha. Instead we can consider some suggestive cases. Above all, it seems reasonable to suppose that the smell of dairy products is quite significant and proper for a sacrifice. From this viewpoint we may say that it can be the origin or basis of the ritualistic smell in the Vedic Śrauta rituals. Pragmatic gandha as an offering item seen in modern history suddenly abundantly appears among Gṛhya rituals in the context of the hospitable reception of a guest. There has been established a set of offerings including the gandha in this period, being possibly associated with the development of manufacturing method of the gandha probably in the field of magical or medicine rites derived from the Atharvavedic tradition, or even from folk beliefs. As related materials, various substantial gandhas enumerated in Purāṇas and used in early Tantrism have been summarized in the latter part.

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