Reservation of Rituals and Ritual of Reservation: An Ambedkarite Critique of Select Hymns and Rituals in Rig Veda
Mr Jyoti Biswas, PhD Scholar, Department of English Studies, Central University of Jharkhand, Jharkhand, India
Rituals as deeply rooted and pervaded in our routinized lifestyle is traceable in abundance in Rig Veda which is primarily a book of hymns and rituals solely dedicated to different Indo-Aryan gods and goddesses. Rig Veda being the earliest literary document of Vedic hymns and rituals, its authority is not only mammoth, but also destructive. The present paper intends to study a few-yet-powerful hymns and rituals recorded in Rig Veda for evaluating and critiquing a two-fold critical concepts reflected in the following two phrases: reservation of rituals and rituals of reservation. Although seen as a cultural touchstone, it validates certain rituals accompanied with respective hymns to be performed compulsorily, thus putting a strict reservation on ritualistic performances. On the other hand, since it authorizes only a class of professionals, known as priests to discharge the ritualistic performances with strict code of conduct, the priests’ act later on was conceptualized as a monopoly that eventually was ritualized and naturalized. To put the last point otherwise, the priestly authority on Vedic rituals was conceptualized and internalized as their own cultural profession that decrees a prohibition to other three professionals of Vedic society, VIZ. warriors, artisans, and slaves from claiming it, hence a cultural capital based on heredity of birth was constructed that was ritualized, routinized, and naturalized too. Within this dual framework of reservation of certain rituals and ritualized state or condition of priestly profession, the present paper critiques the emergence of Vedic Brahminism as the fixed cultural representation that not only protects the vested financial and social advantages of Brahmins, but also universalizes the very religious obligation of protecting the priesthood as a sacred profession that eventually administer the ritualized world of religion in the life of common people. Within this elastic framework of ritualized priesthood it is argued in this paper that Bahujan castes and tribes in India have been found to have been socially tied up, financially robbed, and morally feared and castrated by reservations of Brahminical rituals, and by ritualized pattern of their cultural reservation. The entire discourse on ritual and its cultural capital through strict sense of reservation is framed within Ambedkarism which is a potential-and-upgraded theoretical framework to not only critique any kind of social hierarchy, but also to deconstruct religious imprisonment that Brahminical priesthood has been activating over centuries. In this respect, Ambedkarism as a Poststructuralist framework deconstructs the reservation of rituals and rituals of reservation in Vedic Brahminism, thus trying to prove its discursive modernity.
Keywords: Rituals, Reservation, Priesthood, Rig Veda, Cultural Capital, Bahujan, Caste, Tribe, Ambedkarism, Deconstruction, Poststructuralism.