Associated with wrath, gambling and, at the symbolic level, with darkness and misery, sura has been strongly condemned in Vedic literature. Yet, paradoxically, it has not just found its way into a Vedic sacrifice itself: called sautramani, but has even been sanctified in the rajasuya and punarabhisheka rituals as well. However, it is sautramani's sacrificial fire alone to take in liquor as an oblation material. Dr. Madhavi Kolhatkar here offers an indepth study of this sura-related Vedic ritual: of both its caraka and kaukili forms, together with all their attendant details.
The book explores the possible origin and nature of sautramani sacrifice, addressing itself to a range of the hitherto-unanswered questions, for instance; How did sura come to have its acceptance in a shrauta ritual (like sautramani), despite its outright disapproval in the Vedic texts? Why is the sautramani performed after rajasuya? Is there any linkage between sautramani and punarabhisheka -- which both happen to involve the sura-ritual? How is, then, sautramani related to the agnicayana? And, what is the underlying importance of the myths that tell about the primeval performance of the sautramani?
In spelling out the social, medicinal and ritualistic significance of sautramani, the author also shows how the Brahmanasoften compare it with a soma sacrifice, and how sautramani itself has evolved over the time. In the context of this Vedic ritual, she also highlights the hierarchic contentions between the brahmanas and the kshatriyas in the ancient Indian society.
It is a piece of valuable research for Indologists, especially the scholars of Sanskrit, Vedic studies and ancient Indian history and culture.