Kristoffer af Edholm

Kristoffer af Edholm


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Works at Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies
Telephone 08-674 79 22
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 E, plan 7
Room E 778
Postal address 106 91 Stockholm 106 91 Stockholm


South Asia.


Research project
The dissertation deals with the king/warrior (kshatriya) as renouncer in ancient Indian religious traditions, in particular the late Vedic period when brahmanic sacrificial ritualism was challenged by ascetic groups.

Of particular interest is the "total sacrifice", in which the sacrificer, in an act of aristocratic generosity, gives away all he has. The ideal king is often presented as the ideal renouncer.

My research is based on philology. The most important material consists of ritual texts, gatha poetry and Mahabharata.

Areas of interest
Veda, ritual, sacrifice, initiation, asceticism, renunciation, ancient Iranian religion, kingship, early Buddhism and Jainism.

af Edholm, Kristoffer. 2016. “Risk, förlust och oviss utgång i vedisk kungaritual” [Risk, Loss and Unknown Outcome in Vedic Royal Ritual]. Chaos, Skandinavisk tidsskrift for religionshistoriske studie 65 (1), 149-172.

af Edholm, Kristoffer. 2017a. "Royal Splendour in the Waters: Vedic Śrī- and Avestan Xᵛarǝnah-". Indo-Iranian Journal 60 (1), 17-73.

af Edholm, Kristoffer. 2017b. "Recent Studies on the Ancient Indian Vrātya". Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies 24 (1), 1-17.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2016. Kristoffer af Edholm. Chaos. Dansk-norsk tidsskrift for religionhistoriske studier 65 (1), 149-172

    Risk, loss and unknown outcome in Vedic royal ritual

    Ritual is often seen as a safe and certain of success. That the question of risk and failure is important for our understanding of ritual has, however, been argued by an increasing number of scholars. This article analyses two Vedic śrauta rituals - the horse-sacrifice and the royal consecration - from this perspective. According to brahmanic theory, sacrifice implies a dangerous break-up of cosmic structure; once started, a ritual must be successfully brought to an end, or the performer will come out lesser than before. Royal ritual also involves political dangers: being a claim to overlordship, rivals might oppose and defeat the sacrificer. Śrauta ritual appears not as a microcosm devoid of danger and unknown outcome. Rather, risk increases a ritual’s value and is an essential part of Vedic royal ritual, wherefore the most awesome sacrifice has the highest risk factor. Danger and conflict in śrauta ritual reflect the aristocratic-agonistic culture in which it evolved.

Show all publications by Kristoffer af Edholm at Stockholm University

Last updated: October 21, 2018

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