The Sacrifice in The Rgveda - Doctrinal Aspects (An Old and Rare Book)

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Preface

A preface is neither a review, nor a propaganda or criticism of the book. It is an 'introduction' : a 'guiding into the depths' of the work, a 'prologue' : a 'word which goes before' in order that what follows be better understood and situated; a 'preface' : a 'saying that precedes' the proper speech and, as it were, acts as a messenger, which does not read out the message, but hands it over to the receiver-to you reader-to decipher, enjoy, read and be transformed by it...

The book that I am presenting to you, closed and for you to unpack, has a very special value, which is seldom found in works of this kind. It is certainly a piece of scholarship, which helps us to understand one of the most productive moments of the human spirit at the very core of the India Indo European civilizations. But it is, at -the same time, the presentation of an existential challenge torus. The author, who has dedicated long years to this work, is not interested in indological archaeology. He aims at a "revitalization of the liturgical spirituality for cur time. His book is a call to worship, not proceeding from a temple, a minaret or a pulpit, but from that altar which of the is the nable world and at the very center of every one of us. I should not be misunderstood-so Emir air we accustomed at this sort of living research within of specialized studies ! It is neither vedic propaganda am religious indoctrination. It is not an invitation to join a particular sect or a moral injunction to shape our lives more meaningfully respectable and important enterprises as they may be_ It is something deeper and more subtle.

He Aguilar begins his book by remarking that vedic religiousness grew out of its soil without the rupture which characterizes so many other religions. And he would like us to realize-I assume--that we may also integrate, without rupture, the liturgical depth of the Vedas with our particular forms of engagement in the collaboration to the order of the world-for this is liturgy. I do not think that I betray the mind of the friend if I say that he is finding for us an important missing link between old and new spiritualities. To have failed to discover this link, or to have overlooked its importance, is at least partly responsible for the weakening of religious traditions and their degradation into ideologies and orthodoxies. When religions become storehouses of doctrines instead of centers of life, they begin to degenerate.

It is the character of orthopraxis which mainly enlivens a religious tradition and prevents it from becoming a museum piece needing then its curators and zealous defenders. In other words, the core of any human tradition is its liturgical character. This gives us the clue not only to understand a tradition properly, but also to discover its links with other periods of human history so that having found common roots we establish a deeper communion with other human experiences. Cultural continuity goes far beyond the realm of the specific doctrines, and the life of a tradition is not limited to its conceptual framework.

One of the most important tasks of our times, in my opinion, consists in discovering the sacredness of the secular. The Vedas are here a point in case and Aguilar's book a beautiful example of it. Let me explain. Secular consciousness, i.e. the conviction of the ultimate and irreducible character of the temporal reality, has generally been interpreted in contrast with and opposition to sacred consciousness. I submit that the main reason is, on the one hand, the supposed identification of the secular with the profane and, on the other, the dialectical interpretation of the polarity sacred-profane, so that what is not sacred is considered profane and vice versa. But neither of these two assumptions is necessary. The secular mentality, although it grew from the sphere of the profane, does not need to be identified with it and, further, it does not need to be incompatible with the sphere of the sacred. In the secular mentality there is as much place for the mysterious, the non-manipulable, the non-rational, as in any sacred world-view. The temporal strivings of of men can be as holy and sacred as the in temporal actions of the Gods. The speculum, the temporal structure of the world, precisely because it is considered ultimate and irreducible, can be as sacred as any other ultimate reality. But this enough for a preface.

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