Jarrod Whitaker

Feb 17, 2022

Strong Arms and Drinking Strength

Masculinity, Violence, and the Body in Ancient India

Oxford University Press 2011

Today I talked to Jarrod Whitaker about his book Strong Arms and Drinking Strength: Masculinity, Violence, and the Body in Ancient India (Oxford UP, 2011).

The Rgveda contains over a thousand hymns, addressed primarily to three gods: the deified ritual Fire, Agni; the war god, Indra; and Soma, who is none other than the personification of the sacred beverage soma. The hymns were sung in day-long fire rituals in which poet-priests prepared the sacred drink to empower Indra. The dominant image of Indra is that of a highly glamorized, violent, and powerful Aryan male; the three gods represent the ideals of manhood.Whitaker finds that the Rgvedic poet-priests employed a fascinating range of poetic and performative strategies--some explicit, others very subtle--to construct their masculine ideology, while justifying it as the most valid way for men to live.

Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.

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Raj Balkaran

Raj Balkaran is a scholar of Sanskrit narrative texts. He teaches at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and at his own virtual School of Indian Wisdom. For information see rajbalkaran.com.

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