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Orality, literacy and memorisation : priestly education in contemporary south India

Fuller, C. J. (2001) Orality, literacy and memorisation : priestly education in contemporary south India. Modern Asian Studies, 35 (1). pp. 1-32. ISSN 1469-8099

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Abstract

For the debate on orality, literacy and memorization, India provides some striking evidence. In his comparative analysis of ‘oral aspects of scripture’, Graham gives the Hindu tradition a special place, for the ‘ancient Vedic tradition represents the paradigmatic instance of scripture as spoken, recited word’ (Graham 1987:68). The Vedas, the oldest texts of Hinduism, have been transmitted orally for three thousand years or more, despite the very early implementation of writing, and it is the Vedas as recited from memory by Brahmans that are alone authoritative. A corollary of the spoken word's primacy is that in teaching the Vedas and other texts, although ‘written texts have been used’, ‘a text without a teacher to teach it directly and orally to a pupil is only so many useless leaves or pages’ (ibid.: 74).

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://uk.cambridge.org/journals/ass
Additional Information: Published 2001 © Cambridge University Press. LSE has developed LSE Research Online so that users may access research output of the School. Copyright © and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in LSE Research Online to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the URL (http://eprints.lse.ac.uk) of the LSE Research Online website.
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
L Education > L Education (General)
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2005
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/465/

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