South Asia Brown Bag Series Fall 2019: Why Worship Water? Fluid transformation in the Rig Veda, Lav Kanoi

Event time: 
Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:15pm
Henry R. Luce Hall (LUCE ), 203 See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

Water is much more than just a biophysical resource. It is also a religious substance that enables physical and spiritual purification (e.g. bathing in the Ganga to wash away sins or baptism in Christianity to create a moral subject). This paper is premised on the sacramental and spiritual meanings of water, and seeks to answer a general question: how did water come to acquire such sacred power? The paper looks at key mantras in the Rig Veda, one of the earliest texts available to humankind, to trace the religious value of water in Hinduism as reflected in this seminal body of work. I carry out a close textual study of the original Sanskrit mantras (मन्त्राः) and provide my own translations, to arrive at an understanding of the transformation that can happen when people encounter sacred waters.
Lav Kanoi is a doctoral student in the combined Anthropology and Forestry & Environmental Studies program at Yale. His research is on the socio-political, cultural, and environmental aspects of water management in Indian cities. While his research is focussed on the contemporary urban waterscape, it also seeks to take into account the rich water histories of modern India.
Lav is a Young India Fellow and has previously worked as a consultant advising corporations and governments on varied mandates. He was initially trained in the Humanities and holds a BA and MA in Literature from Jadavpur University’s Department of English. Lav is also interested in language(s) and linguistics and has published translations across classical and contemporary languages.