Prasāda , Grace as Sustenance, and the Relational Self

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


Across time and place, the idea of prasāda, translated provisionally here as 'grace,' connects a vast range of intangible and material things that, in Hindu terms, are deemed to be beneficent, superabundant, and endowed with blessing. In this chapter, I explore one of the most significant subsets of prasāda, ‘grace as sustenance’, in Hindu food systems, paradigmatically understood as blessed, sacred food. I begin by introducing the contexts that give prasāda its meaning, the rules that govern its creation, times when food may be considered prasāda, and times when it is not. In exchanges between people, saints, and gods, prasāda as sustenance is a charismatic medium found at the centre of Hindu doctrines and customary practices worldwide. Within ritual structures and Hindu social conventions, recognition (or rejection) of prasāda is an important mode of self‐expression that can declare social distance and, conversely, affirm and renew one's self in relation to others.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
L'article est consacre a l'etude de trois recits oraux du nord de l'Inde (Rajasthan) pour montrer le lien entre le sens mythique et economique au sujet du grain concu comme une substance divine et organique. Le grain dans ces histoires represente une faveur divine repondant a la devotion humaine.
This book examines three closely related questions in the process of canon formation in the Sikh tradition: how the text of the Adi Granth came into being, the meaning of gurbani, and how the Adi Granth became the Guru Granth Sahib. The censure of scholarly research on the Adi Granth was closely related to the complex political situation of Punjab and brought the whole issue of academic freedom into sharper focus. This book addresses some of these issues from an academic perspective. The Adi Granth, the sacred scripture of the Sikhs, means 'first religious book' (from the word 'adi' which means 'first' and 'granth' which means 'religious book'). Sikhs normally refer to the Adi Granth as the Guru Granth Sahib to indicate a confession of faith in the scripture as Guru. The contents of the Adi Granth are commonly known as bani (utterance) or gurbani (the utterance of the Guru). The transcendental origin (or ontological status) of the hymns of the Adi Granth is termed dhur ki bani (utterance from the beginning). This particular understanding of revelation is based upon the doctrine of the sabad, or divine word, defined by Guru Nanak and the succeeding Gurus. This book also explores the revelation of the bani and its verbal expression, devotional music in the Sikh tradition, the role of the scripture in Sikh ceremonies, and the hymns of Guru Nanak and Guru Arjan.
The importance of prasāda as a “gracious gift” in contemporary South Asian religious practice is hard to overstate. As the central liturgical prop at Hindu pilgrimage centers and local temples alike, prasāda is an everyday part of Hindu religious practice. Yet long before the codification of modern Hindu ritual, prasāda was also a foundational concept in Sanskrit literature. Scholarly works have considered prasāda as an element of Hindu ritual from anthropological perspectives and in specialized textual contexts but they have not been integrated together. In this article, I use a multidisciplinary approach to put prasāda at the center of analysis. First, I present some general principles of contemporary prasāda practice illustrated by examples from four Hindu pilgrimage sites, followed by a brief analysis of prasāda's usage in well-known Sanskrit scriptures (selections from the Purāṇas). Taken together, prasāda is revealed to be a foundational concept for making sense of Hindu religious life in South Asian terms.
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
Data collected in a major Hindu temple in South India show that the religion of the Hindu gods cannot be explained in terms of the social (or caste) order and must first be understood in its own right. The gods, whose crucial attribute is great power, are worshipped by Brahman priests. The entire temple environment should be kept very pure, and purity and pollution define and idiom by which priests (and devotees), the gods' servants, show them respect. The gods themselves cannot be polluted. Food-offerings, like other rituals, please the gods when made respectfully, but their pattern does not replicate inter-caste food exchange. The competence of Brahman priests, ranked below non-priestly Brahmans, is primarily defined within a religious tradition, rather than by caste rank. Purity and pollution embody more than high and low status, and have ethical and spiritual aspects, expressing the proper relationship between men and gods. In sum, the relation between man and god is not a simple transposition of hierarchical relations between men.
This paper focuses on two terms relating to food proscriptions in the dharma literature, abhakṣya and abhojya, two words that underwent significant semantic developments and assumed technical meanings. A close reading of the literature permits us to draw the following conclusions. Abhakṣya refers to items of food, both animals and vegetables, that are completely forbidden; generally the term refers to food sources rather than cooked food served at a meal. Abhojya, on the other hand, refers to food that is normally permitted but due to some supervening circumstances has become unfit to be eaten. This term takes on a secondary meaning referring not directly to food but to a person whose food one is not permitted to eat.
This paper examines a text which is the family history of a line of south Indian "little kings," or pālaiyakārars. Beginning with a discussion of different modes of history, I analyze this text as both a statement of a particular history and a cultural representation of a more general modality of history. As a particular history, this text enables me to talk about conceptions of royal appropriateness and sovereignty, of political relations, and of kingly privileges; as a cultural form the text provides clues about the relations of these cultural conceptions to a structural form of narrative emplotment with all its underlying assumptions about time, causation, and process. Finally, I consider how a hermeneutical exercise of this sort is very important for Western analysts who wish to reconstruct the "history" of south Indian politics.
ISKCON: food for life
  • Iskcon Uk
Structure and Change in Indian Society
  • M.K. Marriott
India through Hindu Categories
  • A.K. Ramanujan
Lord Siva's Song: The Isvara Gita
  • A.J. Nicholson
Food for Thought: Dietary Rules and Social Organization in Ancient India
  • P. Olivelle
The Life and Teachings of Sai Baba of Shirdi
  • A. Rigopouluos
Food, Society, and Culture: Aspects in South Asian Food Systems
  • P., M. Toomey
The Eternal Food: Gastronomic Experiences of Buddhists and Hindus
  • P.M. Toomey
Food, Society, and Culture: Aspects in South Asian Food Systems
  • C. Breckenridge
Food and Drinks in Ancient India, from Earliest Times to c.1200 a.d
  • P. Om
The New Wind: Changing Identities in South Asia
  • S.S. Wadley