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Lecture | VVIK Lecture

Book Presentation: Gāyatrī: Mantra and Mother of the Vedas

Thursday 25 April 2024
The lecture will be followed by drinks in the basement of Matthias de Vrieshof 3
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 1-4
2311 BZ Leiden
Vrieshof 2/0.04


In this lecture, Dominik A. Haas will present the results of his recently published book, titled:

‘Gāyatrī: Mantra and Mother of the Vedas’ (Austrian Academy Sciences Press, 2023), see also: https://doi.org/10.1553/978OEAW93906

The mantra known as Gāyatrī or Sāvitrī (Ṛgveda III 62.10) is one of the most frequently recited texts of mankind. Over the course of time it has not only been personified as the mother of the Vedas – the oldest religious literature of South Asia –, but has even come to be venerated as a goddess. Today many consider it the most important, most efficacious, or holiest mantra of all. In his book, Haas reconstructs the history of the Gāyatrī-Mantra for the first time, tracing it from 1000 BCE to 1000 CE. He shows how an incon-spicuous verse became an emblem of Brahminical Hinduism and presents the processes that led to its deification. To this end, he not only subjects passages from more than one hundred source texts in Vedic and Sanskrit to philological-historical analysis, but also draws upon perspectives and insights from religious studies.

The Gāyatrī-Mantra plays an important role in contemporary Hinduism as well as in modern yoga and alternative spiritual currents around the globe. Haas’s book therefore not only contributes to South Asian studies and religious studies, but is also of interest to a wider readership.

About the speaker

Dominik A. Haas is a researcher in South Asian Studies working with ancient Vedic and Sanskrit texts. He regularly publishes and gives lectures on the topics of mantras, deifi-cation, yoga, and soteriology. Following an interdisciplinary approach, he combines philological and historical research with methods and insights from various fields, ranging from digital humanities to text linguistics and religious studies.

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