The first volume of Agni: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar, contains a discussion of the place of the Agnicayana in the Vedic srauta tradition, its textual loci, traditional and modern interpretations of its origins and significance and an overview of the Nambudiri Vedic tradition.
The bulk of the volume, written in close collaboration with C.V. Somayajipad and M.Itti Ravi Nambudiri, is devoted to a detailed description of the 19875 twelve-day performance, richly illustrated with tipped-in photographs, mostly in colour and almost all by Adelaide de Menil. There are numerous text illustrations, tables and maps. The mantras are published in Devanagari and translation.
The second volume, edited with the assistance of Pamela MacFarland, contains contributions by an international galaxy of scholars on archeology, the pre-Vedic Indian background, geometry, ritual vessels, music, Mudras, Mimamsa, a survey of Srauta traditions in recent times, the influence of Vedic ritual in the Homa traditions of Indonesia, Tibet, China, Japan and related topics.
There are translations of the relevant Srauta Sutras of Baudhayana (together with Calanda`s text) and the Jaiminiya (with Bhavatrata`s commentary) as well as the Kausitaki Brahmana; and a survey of the project with an inventory of the films and tape recording made in 1975.
About the Author:
Frits Staal, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and South Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, studied at the Universities of Amsterdam and Madras, as well as Banaras Hindu University. He is the author of 14 books on Nambudiri Veda Recitation, Indian Philosophy, Logic and Linguistics, Sanskrit Grammar, Ritual, Mantras and the Human Sciences; more than 125 articles and two films, one (with Robert Gardner) on the 1975 Agnicayana performance entitled "Altar of Fire" which is now available in video-format from Mystic Fire, New York.