Rigveda

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This article is about the collection of Vedic hymns. For the manga series, see RG Veda.

The Rigveda (Sanskrit: ऋग्वेद ṛgveda, a compound of ṛc "praise, verse"[1] and veda "knowledge") is a sacred Indo-Aryan collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns[2] still being used in India. It is counted among the four canonical sacred texts (śruti) of Hinduism known as the Vedas.[note 1]

It is one of the oldest extant texts in any Indo-European language.[3] Philological and linguistic evidence indicate that the Rigveda was composed in the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent, most likely between c. 1500–1200 BCE,[4][5][6] though a wider approximation of c. 1700–1100 BCE has also been given.[7][8][note 2]

The Rigveda contains several mythological and poetical accounts of the origin of the world, hymns praising the gods, and ancient prayers for life, prosperity, etc.[11] Some of its verses are still recited as Hindu prayers, at religious functions and other occasions, making it probably the world's oldest religious texts in continued use.[12]

Text

The surviving form of the Rigveda is based on an early Iron Age (see dating below) collection that established the core 'family books' (mandalas 27, ordered by author, deity and meter [13]) and a later redaction, co-eval with the redaction of the other Vedas, dating several centuries after the hymns were composed. This redaction also included some additions (contradicting the strict ordering scheme) and orthoepic changes to the Vedic Sanskrit such as the regularization of sandhi (termed orthoepische Diaskeuase by Oldenberg, 1888).

As with the other Vedas, the redacted text has been handed down in several versions, most importantly the Padapatha that has each word isolated in pausa form and is used for just one way of memorization; and the Samhitapatha that combines words according to the rules of sandhi (the process being described in the Pratisakhya) and is the memorized text used for recitation.

The Padapatha and the Pratisakhya anchor the text's fidelity and meaning[14] and the fixed text was preserved with unparalleled fidelity for more than a millennium by oral tradition alone.[15] In order to achieve this the oral tradition prescribed very structured enunciation, involving breaking down the Sanskrit compounds into stems and inflections, as well as certain permutations. This interplay with sounds gave rise to a scholarly tradition of morphology and phonetics. The Rigveda was probably not written down until the Gupta period (4th to 6th centuries AD), by which time the Brahmi script had become widespread (the oldest surviving manuscripts date to the Late Middle Ages).[16] The oral tradition still continued into recent times.

The original text (as authored by the Rishis) is close to but not identical to the extant Samhitapatha, but metrical and other observations allow to reconstruct (in part at least) the original text from the extant one, as printed in the Harvard Oriental Series, vol. 50 (1994).[17]

Organization

Mandala

The text is organized in 10 books, known as Mandalas, of varying age and length.

The "family books": mandalas 2–7, are the oldest part of the Rigveda and the shortest books; they are arranged by length (increasing number of hymns per book) and account for 38% of the text. Within each book, the hymns are arranged in collections each dealing with a particular deity: Agni comes first, Indra comes second, and so on. Within each collection, the hymns are arranged in the descending order in the number of stanzas per hymn. If two hymns in the same collection have equal number of stanzas then they are arranged so that the number of syllables in the metre are in descending order.

The eighth and ninth mandalas, comprising hymns of mixed age, account for 15% and 9%, respectively. The first and the tenth mandalas are the youngest; they are also the longest books, of 191 suktas each, accounting for 37% of the text.

Sukta

Each mandala consists of hymns called sūkta (su-ukta, literally, "well recited, eulogy") intended for various sacrificial rituals. The sūktas in turn consist of individual stanzas called ṛc ("praise", pl. ṛcas), which are further analysed into units of verse called pada ("foot"). The meters most used in the ṛcas are the jagati (a pada consists of 12 syllables), trishtubh (11), viraj (10), gayatri and anushtubh (8).

For pedagogical convenience, each mandala is synthetically divided into roughly equal sections of several sūktas, called anuvāka ("recitation"), which modern publishers often omit. Another scheme divides the entire text over the 10 mandalas into aṣṭaka ("eighth"), adhyāya ("chapter") and varga ("class"). Some publishers give both classifications in a single edition.

The most common numbering scheme is by book, hymn and stanza (and pada a, b, c ..., if required). E.g., the first pada is

  • 1.1.1a agním īḷe puróhitaṃ "Agni I invoke, the housepriest"

and the final pada is

  • 10.191.4d yáthā vaḥ súsahā́sati

Popular suktas include Purusha Sukta, Durga Sukta and Shree Sukta.[18]

Recensions

Several shakhas ("branches", i. e. recensions) of Rig Veda are known to have existed in the past. Of these Śākalya is the only one to have survived in its entirety. Another shakha that may have survived is the Bāṣkala, although this is uncertain.[19][20][21]

The surviving padapatha version of the Rigveda text is ascribed to Śākalya.[22] The Śākala recension has 1,017 regular hymns, and an appendix of 11 vālakhilya hymns[23] which are now customarily included in the 8th mandala (as 8.49–8.59), for a total of 1028 hymns.[24] The Bāṣkala recension includes 8 of these vālakhilya hymns among its regular hymns, making a total of 1025 regular hymns for this śākhā.[25] In addition, the Bāṣkala recension has its own appendix of 98 hymns, the Khilani.[26]

In the 1877 edition of Aufrecht, the 1028 hymns of the Rigveda contain a total of 10,552 ṛcs, or 39,831 padas. The Shatapatha Brahmana gives the number of syllables to be 432,000,[27] while the metrical text of van Nooten and Holland (1994) has a total of 395,563 syllables (or an average of 9.93 syllables per pada); counting the number of syllables is not straightforward because of issues with sandhi and the post-Rigvedic pronunciation of syllables like súvar as svàr.

Three other shakhas are mentioned in Caraṇavyuha, a pariśiṣṭa (supplement) of Yajurveda: Māṇḍukāyana, Aśvalāyana and Śaṅkhāyana. The Atharvaveda lists two more shakhas. The differences between all these shakhas are very minor, limited to varying order of content and inclusion (or non-inclusion) of a few verses. The following information is known about the shakhas other than Śākalya and Bāṣkala:[28]:16

  • Māṇḍukāyana: Perhaps the oldest of the Rigvedic shakhas.
  • Aśvalāyana: Includes 212 verses, all of which are newer than the other Rigvedic hymns.
  • Śaṅkhāyana: Very similar to Aśvalāyana
  • Saisiriya: Mentioned in the Rigveda Pratisakhya. Very similar to Śākala, with a few additional verses; might have derived from or merged with it.

Rishis

See also: Anukramani

Tradition associates a rishi (the composer) with each ṛc of the Rigveda.[29] Most sūktas are attributed to single composers. The "family books" (2–7) are so-called because they have hymns by members of the same clan in each book; but other clans are also represented in the Rigveda. In all, 10 families of rishis account for more than 95% of the ṛcs; for each of them the Rigveda includes a lineage-specific āprī hymn (a special sūkta of rigidly formulaic structure, used for animal sacrifice in the soma ritual).

Family Āprī Ṛcas[30]
Angiras I.142 3619 (especially Mandala 6)
Kanva I.13 1315 (especially Mandala 8)
Vasishtha VII.2 1276 (Mandala 7)
Vishvamitra III.4 983 (Mandala 3)
Atri V.5 885 (Mandala 5)
Bhrgu X.110 473
Kashyapa IX.5 415 (part of Mandala 9)
Grtsamada II.3 401 (Mandala 2)
Agastya I.188 316
Bharata X.70 170

Manuscripts

There are, for example, 30 manuscripts of Rigveda at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, collected in the 19th century by Georg Bühler, Franz Kielhorn and others, originating from different parts of India, including Kashmir, Gujarat, the then Rajaputana, Central Provinces etc. They were transferred to Deccan College, Pune, in the late 19th century. They are in the Sharada and Devanagari scripts, written on birch bark and paper. The oldest of them is dated to 1464. The 30 manuscripts of Rigveda preserved at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune were added to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 2007.[31][32]

Of these 30 manuscripts, 9 contain the samhita text, 5 have the padapatha in addition. 13 contain Sayana's commentary. At least 5 manuscripts (MS. no. 1/A1879-80, 1/A1881-82, 331/1883-84 and 5/Viś I) have preserved the complete text of the Rigveda. MS no. 5/1875-76, written on birch bark in bold Sharada, was only in part used by Max Müller for his edition of the Rigveda with Sayana's commentary.

Müller used 24 manuscripts then available to him in Europe, while the Pune Edition used over five dozen manuscripts, but the editors of Pune Edition could not procure many manuscripts used by Müller and by the Bombay Edition, as well as from some other sources; hence the total number of extant manuscripts known then must surpass perhaps eighty at least.[33]

Contents

The Rigvedic hymns are dedicated to various deities, chief of whom are Indra, a heroic god praised for having slain his enemy Vrtra; Agni, the sacrificial fire; and Soma, the sacred potion or the plant it is made from. Equally prominent gods are the Adityas or Asura gods MitraVaruna and Ushas (the dawn). Also invoked are Savitr, Vishnu, Rudra, Pushan, Brihaspati or Brahmanaspati, as well as deified natural phenomena such as Dyaus Pita (the shining sky, Father Heaven), Prithivi (the earth, Mother Earth), Surya (the sun god), Vayu or Vata (the wind), Apas (the waters), Parjanya (the thunder and rain), Vac (the word), many rivers (notably the Sapta Sindhu, and the Sarasvati River). The Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, Sadhyas, Ashvins, Maruts, Rbhus, and the Vishvadevas ("all-gods") as well as the "thirty-three gods" are the groups of deities mentioned.

The hymns mention various further minor gods, persons, phenomena and items, and contain fragmentary references to possible historical events, notably the struggle between the early Vedic people (known as Vedic Aryans, a subgroup of the Indo-Aryans) and their enemies, the Dasa or Dasyu and their mythical prototypes, the Paṇi (the Bactrian Parna).

Rigveda (padapatha) manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century. After a scribal benediction ("śrīgaṇéśāyanamaḥ ;; Aum(3) ;;"), the first line has the opening words of RV.1.1.1 (agniṃ ; iḷe ; puraḥ-hitaṃ ; yajñasya ; devaṃ ; ṛtvijaṃ). The Vedic accent is marked by underscores and vertical overscores in red.
  • Mandala 1 comprises 191 hymns. Hymn 1.1 is addressed to Agni, and his name is the first word of the Rigveda. The remaining hymns are mainly addressed to Agni and Indra, as well as Varuna, Mitra, the Ashvins, the Maruts, Usas, Surya, Rbhus, Rudra, Vayu, Brhaspati, Visnu, Heaven and Earth, and all the Gods.
  • Mandala 2 comprises 43 hymns, mainly to Agni and Indra. It is chiefly attributed to the Rishi gṛtsamada śaunahotra.
  • Mandala 3 comprises 62 hymns, mainly to Agni and Indra and the Vishvedevas. The verse 3.62.10 has great importance in Hinduism as the Gayatri Mantra. Most hymns in this book are attributed to viśvāmitra gāthinaḥ.
  • Mandala 4 comprises 58 hymns, mainly to Agni and Indra as well as the Rbhus, Ashvins, Brhaspati, Vayu, Usas, etc. Most hymns in this book are attributed to vāmadeva gautama.
  • Mandala 5 comprises 87 hymns, mainly to Agni and Indra, the Visvedevas ("all the gods'), the Maruts, the twin-deity Mitra-Varuna and the Asvins. Two hymns each are dedicated to Ushas (the dawn) and to Savitr. Most hymns in this book are attributed to the atri clan.
  • Mandala 6 comprises 75 hymns, mainly to Agni and Indra, all the gods, Pusan, Ashvin, Usas, etc. Most hymns in this book are attributed to the bārhaspatya family of Angirasas.
  • Mandala 7 comprises 104 hymns, to Agni, Indra, the Visvadevas, the Maruts, Mitra-Varuna, the Asvins, Ushas, Indra-Varuna, Varuna, Vayu (the wind), two each to Sarasvati (ancient river/goddess of learning) and Vishnu, and to others. Most hymns in this book are attributed to vasiṣṭha maitravaruṇi.
  • Mandala 8 comprises 103 hymns to various gods. Hymns 8.49 to 8.59 are the apocryphal vālakhilya. Hymns 1–48 and 60–66 are attributed to the kāṇva clan, the rest to other (Angirasa) poets.
  • Mandala 9 comprises 114 hymns, entirely devoted to Soma Pavamana, the cleansing of the sacred potion of the Vedic religion.
  • Mandala 10 comprises additional 191 hymns, frequently in later language, addressed to Agni, Indra and various other deities. It contains the Nadistuti sukta which is in praise of rivers and is important for the reconstruction of the geography of the Vedic civilization and the Purusha sukta which has great significance in Hindu social tradition. It also contains the Nasadiya sukta (10.129), probably the most celebrated hymn in the west, which deals with creation. The marriage hymns (10.85) and the death hymns (10.10–18) still are of great importance in the performance of the corresponding Grhya rituals.

Dating and historical context

Geography of the Rigveda, with river names; the extent of the Swat and Cemetery H cultures are also indicated.

The Rigveda's core is accepted to date to the late Bronze Age, making it one of the few examples with an unbroken tradition. Its composition is usually dated to roughly between c.1500-1200 BCE.[4][5][6][note 3] Philological estimates tend to date the bulk of the text to the second half of the second millennium.[note 4] Being composed in an early Indo-Aryan language, the hymns must post-date the Indo-Iranian separation, dated to roughly 2000 BC.[35] A reasonable date close to that of the composition of the core of the Rigveda is that of the Indo-Aryan Mitanni documents of c. 1400 BC.[36] Other evidence also points to a composition close to 1400 BC[37][38]

The Rigveda is far more archaic than any other Indo-Aryan text. For this reason, it was in the center of attention of western scholarship from the times of Max Müller and Rudolf Roth onwards. The Rigveda records an early stage of Vedic religion. There are strong linguistic and cultural similarities with the early Iranian Avesta,[39] deriving from the Proto-Indo-Iranian times,[40][41] often associated with the early Andronovo culture (or rather, the Sintashta culture within the early Andronovo horizon) of c. 2000 BC.[42]

The text in the following centuries underwent pronunciation revisions and standardization (samhitapatha, padapatha). This redaction would have been completed around the 6th century BC.[43] Exact dates are not established, but they fall within the pre-Buddhist period (400 BC).

Writing appears in India around the 3rd century BC in the form of the Brahmi script, but texts of the length of the Rigveda were likely not written down until much later. While written manuscripts were used for teaching in medieval times, they were written on birch bark or palm leaves, which decompose fairly quickly in the tropical climate, until the advent of the printing press from the 16th[dubious ] century CE. Some Rigveda commentaries may date from the second half of the first millennium CE. The hymns were thus preserved by oral tradition for up to a millennium from the time of their composition until the redaction of the Rigveda, and the entire Rigveda was preserved in shakhas for another 2,500 years from the time of its redaction until the editio princeps by Rosen, Aufrecht and Max Müller.

After their composition, the texts were preserved and codified by an extensive body of Vedic priesthood as the central philosophy of the Iron Age Vedic civilization. The Brahma Purana and the Vayu Purana name one Vidagdha as the author of the Padapatha.[44] The Rk-pratishakhya names Sthavira Shakalya of the Aitareya Aranyaka as its author.[45]

The Rigveda describes a mobile, semi-nomadic culture, with horse-drawn chariots, oxen-drawn wagons, and metal (bronze) weapons. The geography described is consistent with that of the Greater Punjab: Rivers flow north to south, the mountains are relatively remote but still visible and reachable (Soma is a plant found in the high mountains, and it has to be purchased from tribal people). Nevertheless, the hymns were certainly composed over a long period, with the oldest (not preserved) elements possibly reaching back to times close to the split of Proto-Indo-Iranian (around 2000 BC)[46] Thus there was some debate over whether the boasts of the destruction of stone forts by the Vedic Aryans and particularly by Indra refer to cities of the Indus Valley civilization or whether they rather hark back to clashes between the early Indo-Aryans with the people represented by the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex in what is now northern Afghanistan and southern Turkmenistan (separated from the upper Indus by the Hindu Kush mountain range, and some 400 km distant).

While it is highly likely that the bulk of the Rigvedic hymns were composed in the Punjab, even if based on earlier poetic traditions, there is no mention of either tigers or rice[47] in the Rigveda (as opposed to the later Vedas), suggesting that Vedic culture only penetrated into the plains of India after its completion. Similarly, there is no mention of iron as the term ayas occurring in the Rig Veda refers to useful metal in general.[48] The "black metal" (kṛṣṇa ayas) is first mentioned in the post-Rigvedic texts (Atharvaveda etc.). The Iron Age in northern India begins in the 10th century in the Greater Punjab. There is a widely accepted timeframe for the initial codification of the Rigveda by compiling the hymns very late in the Rigvedic or rather in the early post-Rigvedic period, including the arrangement of the individual hymns in ten books, coeval with the composition of the younger Veda Samhitas. This time coincides with the early Kuru kingdom, shifting the center of Vedic culture east from the Punjab into what is now Uttar Pradesh. The fixing of the samhitapatha (by keeping Sandhi) intact and of the padapatha (by dissolving Sandhi out of the earlier metrical text), occurred during the later Brahmana period.

Some of the names of gods and goddesses found in the Rigveda are found amongst other belief systems based on Proto-Indo-European religion, while words used share common roots with words from other Indo-European languages.

The horse (ashva), cattle, sheep and goat play an important role in the Rigveda. There are also references to the elephant (Hastin, Varana), camel (Ustra, especially in Mandala 8), ass (khara, rasabha), buffalo (Mahisa), wolf, hyena, lion (Simha), mountain goat (sarabha) and to the gaur in the Rigveda.[49] The peafowl (mayura), the goose (hamsa) and the chakravaka (Anas casarca) are some birds mentioned in the Rigveda.

Ancillary texts

Rigveda Brahmanas

See also: Brahmana

Of the Brahmanas that were handed down in the schools of the Bahvṛcas (i.e. "possessed of many verses"), as the followers of the Rigveda are called, two have come down to us, namely those of the Aitareyins and the Kaushitakins. The Aitareya-brahmana[50] and the Kaushitaki- (or Sankhayana-) brahmana evidently have for their groundwork the same stock of traditional exegetic matter. They differ, however, considerably as regards both the arrangement of this matter and their stylistic handling of it, with the exception of the numerous legends common to both, in which the discrepancy is comparatively slight. There is also a certain amount of material peculiar to each of them.

The Kaushitaka is, upon the whole, far more concise in its style and more systematic in its arrangement features which would lead one to infer that it is probably the more modern work of the two. It consists of thirty chapters (adhyaya); while the Aitareya has forty, divided into eight books (or pentads, pancaka), of five chapters each. The last ten adhyayas of the latter work are, however, clearly a later addition though they must have already formed part of it at the time of Pāṇini (c. 5th century BC), if, as seems probable, one of his grammatical sutras, regulating the formation of the names of Brahmanas, consisting of thirty and forty adhyayas, refers to these two works. In this last portion occurs the well-known legend (also found in the Shankhayana-sutra, but not in the Kaushitaki-brahmana) of Shunahshepa, whom his father Ajigarta sells and offers to slay, the recital of which formed part of the inauguration of kings.

While the Aitareya deals almost exclusively with the Soma sacrifice, the Kaushitaka, in its first six chapters, treats of the several kinds of haviryajna, or offerings of rice, milk, ghee, etc., whereupon follows the Soma sacrifice in this way, that chapters 7–10 contain the practical ceremonial and 11–30 the recitations (shastra) of the hotar. Sayana, in the introduction to his commentary on the work, ascribes the Aitareya to the sage Mahidasa Aitareya (i.e. son of Itara), also mentioned elsewhere as a philosopher; and it seems likely enough that this person arranged the Brahmana and founded the school of the Aitareyins. Regarding the authorship of the sister work we have no information, except that the opinion of the sage Kaushitaki is frequently referred to in it as authoritative, and generally in opposition to the Paingya—the Brahmana, it would seem, of a rival school, the Paingins. Probably, therefore, it is just what one of the manuscripts calls it—the Brahmana of Sankhayana (composed) in accordance with the views of Kaushitaki.

Rigveda Aranyakas

See also: Aranyaka

Each of these two Brahmanas is supplemented by a "forest book", or Aranyaka. The Aitareyaranyaka is not a uniform production. It consists of five books (aranyaka), three of which, the first and the last two, are of a liturgical nature, treating of the ceremony called mahavrata, or great vow. The last of these books, composed in sutra form, is, however, doubtless of later origin, and is, indeed, ascribed by Hindu authorities either to Shaunaka or to Ashvalayana. The second and third books, on the other hand, are purely speculative, and are also styled the Bahvrca-brahmana-upanishad. Again, the last four chapters of the second book are usually singled out as the Aitareyopanishad, ascribed, like its Brahmana (and the first book), to Mahidasa Aitareya; and the third book is also referred to as the Samhita-upanishad. As regards the Kaushitaki-aranyaka, this work consists of 15 adhyayas, the first two (treating of the mahavrata ceremony) and the 7th and 8th of which correspond to the 1st, 5th, and 3rd books of the Aitareyaranyaka, respectively, whilst the four adhyayas usually inserted between them constitute the highly interesting Kaushitaki (brahmana-) upanishad, of which we possess two different recensions. The remaining portions (9–15) of the Aranyaka treat of the vital airs, the internal Agnihotra, etc., ending with the vamsha, or succession of teachers.

Medieval Hindu scholarship

According to Hindu tradition, the Rigvedic hymns were collected by Paila under the guidance of Vyāsa, who formed the Rigveda Samhita as we know it.[51] According to the Śatapatha Brāhmana, the number of syllables in the Rigveda is 432,000, equalling the number of muhurtas (1 day = 30 muhurtas) in forty years. This statement stresses the underlying philosophy of the Vedic books that there is a connection (bandhu) between the astronomical, the physiological, and the spiritual.[52]

The authors of the Brāhmana literature discussed and interpreted the Vedic ritual. Yaska was an early commentator of the Rigveda by discussing the meanings of difficult words. In the 14th century, Sāyana wrote an exhaustive commentary on it.

A number of other commentaries bhāṣyas were written during the medieval period, including the commentaries by Skandasvamin (pre-Sayana, roughly of the Gupta period), Udgitha (pre-Sayana), Venkata-Madhava (pre-Sayana, c. 10th to 12th centuries) and Mudgala Purana (after Sayana, an abbreviated version of Sayana's commentary).[53]

In contemporary Hinduism

Hindu revivalism

Since the 19th and 20th centuries, some reformers like Swami Dayananda Saraswati, founder of the Arya Samaj, Sri Aurobindo among others have attempted to re-interpret the Vedas to conform to modern and established moral and spiritual norms. Dayananda considered the Vedas (which he defined to include only the samhitas) to be source of truth, totally free of error and containing the seeds of all valid knowledge. Contrary to common understanding about Hinduism, he was adamant that Vedas were monotheistic and that they did not sanction idol worship.[54] Starting 1877, he intended to publish commentary on the four vedas but completed work on only the Yajurveda, and a partial commentary on the Rigveda. Dayanand did not develop the keys found in the mantras for the representation of Vedic words. He therefore took recourse to these works and composed them in his Vedic commentaries.[55] Dayananda's work has been reviewed by a number of Vedic scholars and Indologist,[56] Moriz Winternitz applauded him for the "great merit in having given a strong impulse to vedic studies",[57] while Louis Renou dismissed it as, "a vigorous (and from our point of view, extremely aberrant) interpretation in the social and political sense."[58][59]

Dayananda and Aurobindo moved the Vedantic perception of the Rigveda from the original ritualistic content to a more symbolic or mystical interpretation.[60] For example, instances of animal sacrifice were not seen by them as literal slaughtering, but as transcendental processes.

"Indigenous Aryans" debate

Further information: Indigenous Aryans and Out of India theory

Questions surrounding the Rigvedic Sarasvati River and the Nadistuti sukta in particular have become tied to an ideological debate on the Indo-Aryan migration (termed "Aryan Invasion Theory") versus the claim that Vedic culture, together with Vedic Sanskrit, originated in the Indus Valley Civilization (termed "Out of India theory"), a topic of great significance in Hindu nationalism, addressed for example by K. D. Sethna and in Shrikant G. Talageri's The Rigveda: A Historical Analysis. Subhash Kak (1994) claimed that there is an "astronomical code" in the organization of the hymns. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, also based on astronomical alignments in the Rigveda, in his "The Orion" (1893) had claimed presence of the Rigvedic culture in India in the 4th millennium BC, and in his The Arctic Home in the Vedas (1903) even argued that the Aryans originated near the North Pole and came south during the ice age.

Debate on alternative suggestions on the date of the Rigveda, typically much earlier dates, are mostly taking place outside of scholarly literature. Some writers out of the mainstream claim to trace astronomical references in the Rigveda, dating it to as early as 4,000 BC,[61] a date well within the Indian Neolithic.[62] Publications to this effect have increased during the late 1990s to early 2000s in the context of historical revisionism in Hindu nationalism, notably in books published by Voice of India.[63]

Translations

The Rig Veda is hard to translate accurately, because it is the oldest Indo-Aryan text, composed in the archaic Vedic Sanskrit. There are no closely contemporary extant texts, which makes it difficult to interpret.[28]:3

The first published translation of any portion of the Rigveda in any European language was into Latin, by Friedrich August Rosen (Rigvedae specimen, London 1830). Predating Müller's editio princeps of the text, Rosen was working from manuscripts brought back from India by Colebrooke. H. H. Wilson was the first to make a complete translation of the Rig Veda into English, published in six volumes during the period 1850–88.[64] Wilson's version was based on the commentary of Sāyaṇa.

Some notable translations of the Rig Veda include:

Title Translator Year Language Notes
Rigvedae specimen Friedrich August Rosen 1830 Latin Partial translation with 121 hymns (London, 1830). Also known as Rigveda Sanhita, Liber Primus, Sanskrite Et Latine (ISBN 978-1275453234). Based on manuscripts brought back from India by Henry Thomas Colebrooke.
Rig-Veda, oder die heiligen Lieder der Brahmanen Max Müller 1856 German Partial translation published by F.A. Brockhaus, Leipzig.[65] In 1873, Müller published an editio princeps titled The Hymns of the Rig-Veda in the Samhita Text. He also translated a few hymns in English (Nasadiya Sukta).
Ṛig-Veda-Sanhitā: A Collection of Ancient Hindu Hymns H. H. Wilson 1850-88 English 6 volumes, published by N. Trübner & Co., London.
Rig-véda, ou livre des hymnes A. Langlois 1870 French Partial translation. Re-printed in Paris, 1948–51 (ISBN 2-7200-1029-4).
Der Rigveda Alfred Ludwig 1876 German Published by Verlag von F. Tempsky, Prague.
Rig-Veda Hermann Grassmann 1876 German Published by F.A. Brockhaus, Leipzig
Rigved Bhashyam Dayananda Saraswati 1877-9 Hindi Incomplete translation. Later translated into English by Dharma Deva Vidya Martanda (1974).
The Hymns of the Rig Veda Ralph T.H. Griffith 1889-92 English Revised as The Rig Veda in 1896. Revised by JL Shastri in 1973.
Der Rigveda in Auswahl Karl Friedrich Geldner 1907 German Published by W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart. Geldner's 1907 work was a partial translation; he completed a full translation in the 1920s, which was published after his death, in 1951.[28]:19–20 This translation was titled Der Rig-Veda: aus dem Sanskrit ins Deutsche Übersetzt. Harvard Oriental Studies, vols. 33–37 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: 1951-7). Reprinted by Harvard University Press (2003) ISBN 0-674-01226-7.
Hymns from the Rigveda A. A. Macdonell 1917 English Partial translation (30 hymns). Published by Clarendon Press, Oxford.
Series of articles in Journal of the University of Bombay Hari Damodar Velankar 1940s-1960s English Partial translation (Mandala 2, 5, 7 and 8). Later published as independent volumes.
Rig Veda - Hymns to the Mystic Fire Sri Aurobindo 1946 English Partial translation published by NK Gupta, Pondicherry. Later republished several times (ISBN 9780914955221)
Rig Veda Ramgovind Trivedi 1954 Hindi
Études védiques et pāṇinéennes Louis Renou 1955-69 French Appears in a series of publications, organized by the deities. Covers most of Rigveda, but leaves out significant hymns, including the ones dedicated to Indra and the Asvins.
ऋग्वेद संहिता Shriram Sharma 1950s Hindi
Rigveda: Izbrannye Gimny Tatyana Elizarenkova 1972 Russian Partial translation, extended to a full translation published during 1989–1999.
Rigveda Parichaya Nag Sharan Singh 1977 English / Hindi Extension of Wilson's translation. Republished by Nag, Delhi in 1990 (ISBN 978-8170812173).
Rig Veda M. R. Jambunathan 1978-80. Tamil Two volumes, both released posthumously.
Rigvéda – Teremtéshimnuszok (Creation Hymns of the Rig-Veda) Laszlo Forizs (hu) 1995 Hungarian Partial translation published in Budapest (ISBN 963-85349-1-5)
The Rig Veda Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty 1981 English Partial translation (108 hymns), along with critical apparatus. Published by Penguin (ISBN 0-14-044989-2). A bibliography of translations of the Rig Veda appears as an Appendix.
Pinnacles of India's Past: Selections from the Rgveda Walter H. Maurer 1986 English Partial translation published by John Benjamins.
The Rig Veda Bibek Debroy, Dipavali Debroy 1992 English Partial translation published by B. R. Publishing (ISBN 9780836427783). The work is in verse form, without reference to the original hymns or mandalas. Part of Great Epics of India: Veda series, also published as The Holy Vedas.
The Holy Vedas: A Golden Treasury Pandit Satyakam Vidyalankar 1983 English
Ṛgveda Saṃhitā HH Wilson, Ravi Prakash Arya and K. L. Joshi 2001 English 4-volume set published by Parimal (ISBN 978-81-7110-138-2). Revised edition of Wilson's translation. Replaces obsolete English forms with more modern equivalents (e.g. "thou" with "you"). Includes the original Sanskrit text in Devanagari script, along with a cristical apparatus.
Ṛgveda for the Layman Shyam Ghosh 2002 English Partial translation (100 hymns). Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi.
Rig-Veda Michael Witzel, Toshifumi Goto 2007 German Partial translation (Mandala 1 and 2). The authors are working on a second volume. Published by Verlag der Weltreligionen (ISBN 978-3-458-70001-2).
ऋग्वेद Govind Chandra Pande 2008 Hindi Partial translation (Mandala 3 and 5). Published by Lokbharti, Allahabad
The Hymns of Rig Veda Tulsi Ram 2013 English Published by Vijaykumar Govindram Hasanand, Delhi (ISBN 978-81-7077-155-0)
The Rigveda Stephanie W. Jamison and Joel P. Brereton 2014 English 3-volume set published by Oxford University Press (ISBN 978-0-19-937018-4). Funded by the United States' National Endowment for the Humanities in 2004.[66]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ There is some confusion with the term "Veda", which is traditionally applied to the texts associated with the samhita proper, such as Brahmanas or Upanishads. In English usage, the term Rigveda is usually used to refer to the Rigveda samhita alone, and texts like the Aitareya-Brahmana are not considered "part of the Rigveda" but rather "associated with the Rigveda" in the tradition of a certain shakha.
  2. ^ It is certain that the hymns post-date Indo-Iranian separation of ca. 2000 BCE and probably that of the Indo-Aryan Mitanni documents of c. 1400 BC. The oldest mention of Rigveda in other sources dates from 600 BCE, and the oldest available text from 1,200 CE. Philological estimates tend to date the bulk of the text to the second half of the second millennium:
    • Max Müller: "the hymns men of the Rig-Veda are said to date from 1500 B.C."[9]
    • Thomas Oberlies (Die Religion des Rgveda, 1998, p. 158) based on 'cumulative evidence' sets wide range of 1700–1100.[7] Oberlies (1998:155) gives an estimate of 1100 BCE for the youngest hymns in book 10.[10]
    • The EIEC (s.v. Indo-Iranian languages, p. 306) gives 1500–1000.
    • Flood and Witzel both mention c.1500-1200 BCE.[4][5]
    • Anthony mentions c.1500-1300.[6]
    Some writers out of the mainstream claim to trace astronomical references in the Rigveda, dating it to as early as 4000 BC, a date corresponding to the Neolithic late Mehrgarh culture; summarized by Klaus Klostermaier in a 1998 presentation
  3. ^ Oberlies (1998:155) gives an estimate of 1100 BC for the youngest hymns in book 10. Estimates for a terminus post quem of the earliest hymns are far more uncertain. Oberlies (p. 158) based on 'cumulative evidence' sets wide range of 1700–1100. The Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (s.v. Indo-Iranian languages, p. 306) gives 1500–1000 BC.
  4. ^ Compare Max Müller's statement "the hymns of the Rig-Veda are said to date from 1500 BC"[34]

References

  1. ^ derived from the root ṛc "to praise", cf. Dhātupātha 28.19. Monier-Williams translates "a Veda of Praise or Hymn-Veda"
  2. ^ "Rig Veda". 
  3. ^ p. 126, History of British Folklore, Richard Mercer Dorson, 1999, ISBN 9780415204774
  4. ^ a b c Flood 1996, p. 37.
  5. ^ a b c Witzel 1995, p. 4.
  6. ^ a b c Anthony 2007, p. 454.
  7. ^ a b Oberlies 1998 p. 158
  8. ^ Lucas F. Johnston, Whitney Bauman (2014). Science and Religion: One Planet, Many Possibilities. Routledge. p. 179. 
  9. ^ ('Veda and Vedanta'), 7th lecture in India: What Can It Teach Us: A Course of Lectures Delivered Before the University of Cambridge, World Treasures of the Library of Congress Beginnings by Irene U. Chambers, Michael S. Roth.
  10. ^ Oberlies 1998 p. 155
  11. ^ Werner, Karel (1994). A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism. Curzon Press. ISBN 0-7007-1049-3.
  12. ^ Klaus Klostermaier (1984). Mythologies and Philosophies of Salvation in the Theistic Traditions of India. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-88920-158-3. 
  13. ^ H. Oldenberg, Prolegomena,1888, Engl. transl. New Delhi: Motilal 2004
  14. ^ K. Meenakshi (2002). "Making of Pāṇini". In George Cardona, Madhav Deshpande, Peter Edwin Hook. Indian Linguistic Studies: Festschrift in Honor of George Cardona. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 235. ISBN 81-208-1885-7. 
  15. ^ Witzel, Michael (2003). "Vedas and Upanisads". In Flood, Gavin. The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. pp. 68–69. ISBN 0631215352. "The Vedic texts were orally composed and transmitted, without the use of script, in an unbroken line of transmission from teacher to student that was formalized early on. This ensured an impeccable textual transmission superior to the classical texts of other cultures; it is, in fact, something like a tape-recording of ca. 1500–500 bce. Not just the actual words, but even the long-lost musical (tonal) accent (as in old Greek or in Japanese) has been preserved up to the present. On the other hand, the Vedas have been written down only during the early second millennium ce,..." 
  16. ^ The oldest manuscript in the Pune collection dates to the 15th century. The Benares Sanskrit University has a Rigveda manuscript of the 14th century. Earlier manuscripts are extremely rare; the oldest known manuscript preserving a Vedic text was written in the 11th century in Nepal (catalogued by the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project, Hamburg.
  17. ^ B. van Nooten and G. Holland, Rig Veda. A metrically restored text. Cambridge: Harvard Oriental Series 1994
  18. ^ Sonde, Nagesh D (1998). Shree Sukta (A Treatise on Creation And Preservation of Wealth). India: Sri Satguru Publications. ISBN 978-8170305736. 
  19. ^ Michael Witzel says that "The RV has been transmitted in one recension (the śākhā of Śākalya) while others (such as the Bāṣkala text) have been lost or are only rumored about so far." Michael Witzel, p. 69, "Vedas and Upaniṣads", in: The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism, Gavin Flood (ed.), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2005.
  20. ^ Maurice Winternitz (History of Sanskrit Literature, Revised English Translation Edition, 1926, vol. 1, p. 57) says that "Of the different recensions of this Saṃhitā, which once existed, only a single one has come down to us." He adds in a note (p. 57, note 1) that this refers to the "recension of the Śākalaka-School."
  21. ^ Sures Chandra Banerji (A Companion To Sanskrit Literature, Second Edition, 1989, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, pp. 300–301) says that "Of the 21 recensions of this Veda, that were known at one time, we have got only two, viz. Śākala and Vāṣkala."
  22. ^ Maurice Winternitz (History of Sanskrit Literature, Revised English Translation Edition, 1926, vol. 1, p. 283.
  23. ^ Mantras of "khila" hymns were called khailika and not ṛcas (Khila meant distinct "part" of Rgveda separate from regular hymns; all regular hymns make up the akhila or "the whole" recognised in a śākhā, although khila hymns have sanctified roles in rituals from ancient times).
  24. ^ Hermann Grassmann had numbered the hymns 1 through to 1028, putting the vālakhilya at the end. Griffith's translation has these 11 at the end of the 8th mandala, after 8.92 in the regular series.
  25. ^ cf. Preface to Khila section by C.G.Kāshikar in Volume-5 of Pune Edition of RV (in references).
  26. ^ These Khilani hymns have also been found in a manuscript of the Śākala recension of the Kashmir Rigveda (and are included in the Poone edition).
  27. ^ equalling 40 times 10,800, the number of bricks used for the uttaravedi: the number is motivated numerologically rather than based on an actual syllable count.
  28. ^ a b c The Rigveda. translated by Stephanie W. Jamison and Joel P. Brereton. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-937018-4. 
  29. ^ In a few cases, more than one rishi is given, signifying lack of certainty.
  30. ^ Talageri (2000), p. 33
  31. ^ "Rigveda". UNESCO Memory of the World Programme. 
  32. ^ hinduism.about.com
  33. ^ cf. Editorial notes in various volumes of Pune Edition, see references.
  34. ^ ('Veda and Vedanta', 7th lecture in India: What Can It Teach Us: A Course of Lectures Delivered Before the University of Cambridge, World Treasures of the Library of Congress Beginnings by Irene U. Chambers, Michael S. Roth.
  35. ^ Mallory, J. P.; Adams, Douglas Q. (1997). "Indo-Iranian Languages". "Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture". Fitzroy Dearborn. 
  36. ^ "As a possible date ad quem for the RV one usually adduces the Hittite-Mitanni agreement of the middle of the 14th cent. B.C. which mentions four of the major Rgvedic gods: mitra, varuNa, indra and the nAsatya azvin)" M. Witzel, Early Sanskritization – Origin and development of the Kuru state.
  37. ^ The Vedic People: Their History and Geography, Rajesh Kochar, 2000, Orient Longman, ISBN 81-250-1384-9
  38. ^ Rigveda and River Saraswati: class.uidaho.edu
  39. ^ Oldenberg 1894 (tr. Shrotri), p. 14 "The Vedic diction has a great number of favourite expressions which are common with the Avestic, though not with later Indian diction. In addition, there is a close resemblance between them in metrical form, in fact, in their overall poetic character. If it is noticed that whole Avesta verses can be easily translated into the Vedic alone by virtue of comparative phonetics, then this may often give, not only correct Vedic words and phrases, but also the verses, out of which the soul of Vedic poetry appears to speak."
  40. ^ Mallory 1989 p. 36 "Probably the least-contested observation concerning the various Indo-European dialects is that those languages grouped together as Indic and Iranian show such remarkable similarities with one another that we can confidently posit a period of Indo-Iranian unity..."
  41. ^ Bryant 2001:130–131 "The oldest part of the Avesta... is linguistically and culturally very close to the material preserved in the Rigveda... There seems to be economic and religious interaction and perhaps rivalry operating here, which justifies scholars in placing the Vedic and Avestan worlds in close chronological, geographical and cultural proximity to each other not far removed from a joint Indo-Iranian period."
  42. ^ Mallory 1989 "The identification of the Andronovo culture as Indo-Iranian is commonly accepted by scholars."
  43. ^ Oldenberg (p. 379) places it near the end of the Brahmana period, seeing that the older Brahmanas still contain pre-normalized Rigvedic citations. The Brahmana period is later than the composition of the samhitas of the other Vedas, stretching for about the 10th to 6th centuries. This would mean that the redaction of the texts as preserved was completed in roughly the 6th century BC. The EIEC (p. 306) gives a 7th-century date.
  44. ^ [page needed]. The Shatapatha Brahmana refers to a Vidagdha Shakalya without discussing anything related to the Padapatha.
  45. ^ Jha 1992[page needed]
  46. ^ minority opinions name dates as early as the 4th millennium BC; "The Aryan Non-Invasionist Model" by Koenraad Elst
  47. ^ There is however mention of ApUpa, Puro-das and Odana in the Rigveda, terms that, at least in later texts, refer to rice dishes, see Talageri (2000)
  48. ^ The term "ayas" (=metal) occurs in the Rigveda, usually translated as "bronze", although Chakrabarti, D.K. The Early Use of Iron in India (1992) Oxford University Press argues that it may refer to any metal. If ayas refers to iron, the Rigveda must date to the late 2nd millennium at the earliest.
  49. ^ among others, Macdonell and Keith, and Talageri 2000, Lal 2005
  50. ^ Edited, with an English translation, by M. Haug (2 vols., Bombay, 1863). An edition in Roman transliteration, with extracts from the commentary, has been published by Th. Aufrecht (Bonn, 1879).
  51. ^ Mystic Approach to the Veda and the Upanishad by Madhav Pundalik Pandit (1974), p. 4, ISBN 9780940985483
  52. ^ p. 155, The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies, by Thomas McEvilley, 2012, ISBN 9781581159332
  53. ^ edited in 8 volumes by Vishva Bandhu, 1963–1966.
  54. ^ Salmond, Noel A. (2004). "Dayananda Saraswati". Hindu iconoclasts: Rammohun Roy, Dayananda Sarasvati and Nineteenth-Century Polemics Against Idolatry. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. pp. 65–91. ISBN 0-88920-419-5. 
  55. ^ World Perspectives on Swami Dayananda Saraswati by Gaṅgā Rām Garg, 1984, p. 389
  56. ^ Laurie L. Patton (1994), Authority, Anxiety, and Canon: Essays in Vedic Interpretation, pp. 243–247
  57. ^ Har Bilas Sarda (Diwan Bahadur) (1946). Life of Dayanand Saraswati, World Teacher. p. 598. 
  58. ^ Llewellwyn, John (1994). "From interpretation to reform: Dayanand's reading of the Vedas". In Patton, Laurie L. Authority, Anxiety, and Canon: Essays in Vedic Interpretation. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press. pp. 235–252. ISBN 0-7914-1937-1. 
  59. ^ Renou, Louis (1965). The destiny of the Veda in India. Motilal Banarsidas. p. 4. 
  60. ^ The Political Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo by V. P. Varma (1960), Motilal Banarsidass, p. 139, ISBN 9788120806863
  61. ^ summarized by Klaus Klostermaier in a 1998 presentation
  62. ^ e.g. Michael Witzel, The Pleiades and the Bears viewed from inside the Vedic texts, EVJS Vol. 5 (1999), issue 2 (December) [1]; Elst, Koenraad (1999). Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate. Aditya Prakashan. ISBN 81-86471-77-4. ; Bryant, Edwin and Laurie L. Patton (2005) The Indo-Aryan Controversy, Routledge/Curzon.
  63. ^ they reached a peak when the academic Journal of Indo-European Studies waived peer-review in a 2002 issue in order to give a platform to the views of N. Kazanas, suggests a date as early as 3100 BC. The journal's editor J. P. Mallory described this exceptional issue as motivated by a "sense of fair play". The debate consisted of an article by Kazanas, nine highly critical reviews by referees published in reply and a "final response" by Kazanas (Journal of Indo-European Studies 30, 2002. Journal of Indo-European Studies 31, 2003)
  64. ^ Wilson, H. H. Ṛig-Veda-Sanhitā: A Collection of Ancient Hindu Hymns. 6 vols. (London, 1850–88); reprint: Cosmo Publications (1977)
  65. ^ Kartiki Nitin Lawate (2014-01-29). "Max muller's German translation of Rig Veda from 1856 comes to Bhandarkar Institute". Mid-Day. 
  66. ^ neh.gov, retrieved 22 March 2007.

Bibliography

Editions
  • editio princeps: Friedrich Max Müller, The Hymns of the Rigveda, with Sayana's commentary, London, 1849–75, 6 vols., 2nd ed. 4 vols., Oxford, 1890–92.
  • Theodor Aufrecht, 2nd ed., Bonn, 1877.
  • Sontakke, N. S.; Rājvade, V. K., eds. (1933–46,Reprint 1972–1983.). Rgveda-Samhitā: Śrimat-Sāyanāchārya virachita-bhāṣya-sametā (First ed.). Pune: Vaidika Samśodhana Maṇḍala.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Missing |last2= in Editors list (help); Check date values in: |date= (help). The Editorial Board for the First Edition included N. S. Sontakke (Managing Editor), V. K. Rājvade, M. M. Vāsudevaśāstri, and T. S. Varadarājaśarmā.
  • B. van Nooten und G. Holland, Rig Veda, a metrically restored text, Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, 1994.
  • Rgveda-Samhita, Text in Devanagari, English translation Notes and indices by H. H. Wilson, Ed. W.F. Webster, originally in 1888, Published Nag Publishers 1990, 11A/U.A. Jawaharnagar,Delhi-7.
Commentary
  • Sayana (14th century)
    • ed. Müller 1849–75 (German translation);
    • ed. Müller (original commentary of Sāyana in Sanskrit based on 24 manuscripts).
    • ed. Sontakke et al., published by Vaidika Samsodhana Mandala, Pune (2nd ed. 1972) in 5 volumes.
  • Rgveda-Samhitā Srimat-sāyanāchārya virachita-bhāṣya-sametā, ed. by Sontakke et al., published by Vaidika Samśodhana Mandala,Pune-9,1972, in 5 volumes (It is original commentary of Sāyana in Sanskrit based on over 60 manuscripts).
  • Sri Aurobindo: Hymns to the Mystic Fire (Commentary on the Rig Veda), Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-22-5 [2]
Philology
  • Vashishtha Narayan Jha, A Linguistic Analysis of the Rgveda-Padapatha Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi (1992).
  • Bjorn Merker, Rig Veda Riddles In Nomad Perspective, Mongolian Studies, Journal of the Mongolian Society XI, 1988.
  • Thomas Oberlies, Die Religion des Rgveda, Wien 1998.
  • Oldenberg, Hermann: Hymnen des Rigveda. 1. Teil: Metrische und textgeschichtliche Prolegomena. Berlin 1888; Wiesbaden 1982.
  • Die Religion des Veda. Berlin 1894; Stuttgart 1917; Stuttgart 1927; Darmstadt 1977
  • Vedic Hymns, The Sacred Books of the East vo, l. 46 ed. Friedrich Max Müller, Oxford 1897
  • Adolf Kaegi, The Rigveda: The Oldest Literature of the Indians (trans. R. Arrowsmith), Boston, Ginn and Co. (1886), 2004 reprint: ISBN 978-1-4179-8205-9.
Historical
Archaeoastronomy

External links

Text
Audio
  • Audio download (MP3) by Indian Institute of Scientific Heritage (IISH)
  • Audio download (MP3). Live recording by Varanasi-based scholars; chanted in North Indian style, i.e. without tones (yeha swara)
Translations
Other