Rigveda

most ancient Veda of the Hindus
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The Rigveda (or Rig Veda) is a collection of over 1000 Vedic Sanskrit hymns to the Hindu gods.The oldest of the Hindu scriptures, which some have claimed date to to 7000–4000 BC, philological analysis indicates that it was probably composed in the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent, roughly between 1700–1100 BCE.

Rigveda (padapatha) manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century.
Then was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it.
That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.

QuotesEdit

Mandala 1Edit

  • What thing I am I do not know. I wander secluded, burdened by my mind. When the first-born of Truth has come to me I receive a share in that self-same Word.
    • Rig Veda, I.164.37
  • May He delight in these my words.
    • Rig Veda, I.25.18
  • I laud Agni the priest, the divine minister of sacrifice, who invokes the gods, and is most rich in gems.
    May Agni, the invoker, the sage, the true, the most renowned, a god, come hither with the gods!
    • Start of Hymn 1, as quoted in Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Vol. 23 (1864), p. 267
    • Variant translations:
    • Agni I laud, the high priest, god, minister of sacrifice, The invoker, lavishest of wealth.
      • Mandala 1, Hymn 1, verse 1
  • The wise speak of what is One in many ways.
    • Rig Veda 1.164.46
  • O ye who wish to gain realization of the Supreme Truth, utter the name of "Vishnu" at least once in the steadfast faith that it will lead you to such realization.
    • I.15b.3
  • Just as the sun's rays in the sky are extended to the mundane vision, so in the same way the wise and learned devotees always see the abode of Lord Vishnu.
    • I.22.20
  • Let me now sing the heroic deeds of Viṣṇu who has measured apart the realms of the earth, who propped up the upper dwelling-place, striding far as he stepped forth three times.
    They praise for his heroic deeds Viṣṇu who lurks in the mountains, wandering like a ferocious wild beast, in whose three wide strides all creatures dwell.
    • 1.154.1–2, as translated by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty in The Rig Veda : An Anthology (1981), p. 226
  • Alone, he supports threefold the earth and the sky — all creatures.
    Would that I might reach his dear place of refuge, where men who love the gods rejoice. For their one draws close to the wide-striding Viṣṇu; there, in his highest footstep, is the fountain of honey.
    • 1.154.4–5, as translated by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty in The Rig Veda : An Anthology (1981), p. 226

Mandala 2Edit

  • May we not anger you, O God, in our worship By praise that is unworthy or by scanty tribute.
    • Rig Veda, II.33.4

Mandala 3Edit

  • Your ancient home, your auspicious friendship, O Heroes, your wealth is on the banks of the Jahnavi.
    • Jahnavi is another name for Ganges in Sanskrit literature and occurs also in Rigveda I.116.19. However, Jahnavi in the Rigveda was translated by Griffith as “the house of Jahnu”.
    • Rigveda III.58.6 (as translated and quoted in Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.)

Mandala 6Edit

  • Brbu hath set himself above the Panis, o'er their highest head,
    Like the wide bush on Ganga's bank.
    • Rigveda VI.45.31 (translated by R. Griffith)

Mandala 9Edit

Mandala 10Edit

  • Play not with dice, [but] cultivate your corn-land. Enjoy the gain, and deem that wealth sufficient.
    • X.34.13; translation by Ralph T.H. Griffith
  • In the earliest age of the gods, existence was born from non-existence.
    • Rig Veda 10.72.2
  • His, through his might, are these snow-covered mountains, and men call sea and Rasā his possession: His arms are these, his are these heavenly regions. What God shall we adore with our oblation?
    • Rigveda 10.121.4
  • “The gods are later than this world’s production.”
    • (10:129:6)
  • Favour ye this my laud, O Gangā, Yamunā, O Sutudri, Paruṣṇī and Sarasvatī: With Asikni, Vitasta, O Marudvrdha, O Ārjīkīya with Susoma hear my call. First with Trstama thou art eager to flow forth, with Rasā, and Susartu, and with Svetya here, With Kubha; and with these, Sindhu and Mehatnu, thou seekest in thy course Krumu and Gomati.
    • Rigveda X.75.5-6
  • The Gods have not ordained hunger to be our death: even to the well-fed man comes death in varied shape,
    The riches of the liberal never waste away, while he who will not give finds none to comfort him,
    The man with food in store who, when the needy comes in miserable case begging for bread to eat,
    Hardens his heart against him, when of old finds not one to comfort him.

    Bounteous is he who gives unto the beggar who comes to him in want of food, and the feeble,
    Success attends him in the shout of battle. He makes a friend of him in future troubles,
    No friend is he who to his friend and comrade who comes imploring food, will offer nothing.

    Let the rich satisfy the poor implorer, and bend his eye upon a longer pathway,
    Riches come now to one, now to another, and like the wheels of cars are ever rolling,
    The foolish man wins food with fruitless labour: that food – I speak the truth – shall be his ruin,
    He feeds no trusty friend, no man to love him. All guilt is he who eats with no partaker.

Creation HymnEdit

  • Then was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it.
    What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter? Was water there, unfathomed depth of water?
    Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign was there, the day's and night's divider.
    That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.

    Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness this All was indiscriminated chaos.
    All that existed then was void and form less: by the great power of Warmth was born that Unit.
    Thereafter rose Desire in the beginning, Desire, the primal seed and germ of Spirit.
    Sages who searched with their heart's thought discovered the existent's kinship in the non-existent.
    Transversely was their severing line extended: what was above it then, and what below it?
    There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here and energy up yonder
    Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this creation?
    The Gods are later than this world's production. Who knows then whence it first came into being?
    He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it,
    Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not.
  • There was neither non-existence nor existence then; there was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond. What stirred? Where? In whose protection? Was there water, bottomlessly deep? There was neither death nor immortality then. There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day. That one breathed, windless, by its own impulse. Other than that there was nothing beyond.
  • Whence this creation has arisen – perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not – the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows – or perhaps he does not know.

About the RigvedaEdit

  • Pischel and Geldner have done well to point out that these poems are not the productions of ignorant peasants, but of a highly cultured professional class, encouraged by the gifts of kings and the applause of courts (Einleitung p.xxiv). Just the same may be said of the Homeric bards and of those of Arthur‘s court [...]
    • Historical Vedic Grammar. Arnold, E.V. 1897. In JAOS (Journal of the American Oriental Society), New Haven, Connecticut.
  • “the one considerable document that remains to us from the early period of human thought… when the spiritual and psychological knowledge of the race was concealed, for reasons now difficult to determine, in a veil of concrete and material figures and symbols which protected the sense from the profane and revealed it to the initiated. One of the leading principles of the mystics was the sacredness and secrecy of self-knowledge and the true knowledge of the Gods… Hence… (the mystics) clothed their language in words and images which had, equally, a spiritual sense for the elect, and a concrete sense for the mass of ordinary worshippers.”
    • Sri Aurobindo. Quoted in Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • “The ritual system recognised by SAyaNa may, in its, externalities, stand; the naturalistic sense discovered by European scholarship may, in its general conception, be accepted; but behind them there is always the true and still hidden secret of the Veda - the secret words, niNyA vacAMsi, which were spoken for the purified in soul and the awakened in knowledge. To disengage this less obvious but more important sense by fixing the import of Vedic terms, the sense of Vedic symbols, and the psychological function of the Gods is thus a difficult but a necessary task.”
    • Sri Aurobindo. Quoted in Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • In the West, it is said that the whole tradition of philosophical thought is but a series of footnotes on the Greek philosopher Plato. Here, you could say that all Indian thought is but a series of footnotes on Dīrghatamas.
    • About Dīrghatamas, an important Rigvedic poet well known for his philosophical verses in the RgVeda. Elst, Koenraad. Hindu dharma and the culture wars. (2019). New Delhi : Rupa.
  • “On the whole ... the language of the first nine Mandalas must be regarded as homogeneous, inspite of traces of previous dialectal differences... With the tenth Mandala it is a different story. The language here has definitely changed.”
    • B.K. Ghosh in The History and Culture of the Indian People, Vol. I: The Vedic Age edited by R.C. Majumdar, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Publications, Mumbai, 6th edition 1996. Quoted in Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • Thus, the whole foundation of Mueller's date [for the Rigveda] rests on the authority of Somadeva, the author of "an Ocean of (or rather for) the River of Stories" who narrated his tales in the twelfth century after Christ. Somadeva, I am satisfied, would not be a little surprised to learn that 'a European point of view" raises a "ghost story" of his to the dignity of an historical document."
    • Theodore Goldstucker, , quoted in Devahuti, D., & Indian History and Culture Society. (1980). Bias in Indian historiography. Delhi: D.K. Publications. p 48
  • “As in its original language, we see the roots and shoots of the languages of Greek and Latin, of Celt, Teuton and Slavonian, so the deities, the myths and the religious beliefs and practices of the Veda throw a flood of light upon the religions of all European countries before the introduction of Christianity. As the science of comparative philology could hardly have existed without the study of Sanskrit, so the comparative history of the religions of the world would have been impossible without the study of the Veda.”
    • Ralph T.H. Griffith, in the preface to his translation. Hymns of the Rigveda (complete translation) by Ralph T.H. Griffith, 1889. Quoted in Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • The Rigveda “reflects not so much a wandering life…. as a life stable and fixed, a life of halls and cities, and shows sacrificial cases in such detail as to lead one to suppose that the hymnists were not on the tramp, but were comfortable well-fed priests” [...] If the first home of the Aryans can be determined at all by the conditions topographical and meteorological, described in their early hymns, then decidedly the Punjab was not that home. For here there are neither mountains nor monsoon storms to burst, yet storm and mountain belong to the very marrow of the Rigveda. ...[it is] ―a district [...] where monsoon storms and mountain scenery are found, that district, namely, which lies South of Umballa (or Ambālā). It is here, in my opinion, that the Rigveda, taken as a whole, was composed. In every particular, this locality fulfils the physical conditions under which the composition of the hymns was possible, and what is of paramount importance, is the first district east of the Indus that does so.
    • Edward Washburn Hopkins 1898. The Punjab and the Rig-Veda. pp. 19-28 in the ‘Journal of the American Oriental Society’, Vol. 19, July 1898
  • [The Vedic Gods] “are nearer to the physical phenomena which they represent, than the gods of any other Indo-European mythology”.
    • The Vedic Mythology by A.A Macdonell, Indological Book House, (reprint) Varanasi, 1963. Quoted in Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • Max Müller, Weber, Muir, and others held that the Punjab was the main scene of the activity of the Rgveda, whereas the more recent view put forth by Hopkins and Keith is that it was composed in the country round the SarasvatI river south of modem AmbAla.”
    • The History and Culture of the Indian People, Vol. I: The Vedic Age edited by R.C. Majumdar, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Publications, Mumbai, 6th edition 1996.
  • "I need hardly say that I agree with almost every word of my critics. I have repeatedly dwelt on the entirely hypothetical character of the dates I ventured to assign to the first three periods of Vedic literature. All I have claimed for them has been that they are minimum dates"
    • Max Muller. (Preface to the text of the Rigveda, Vol.4, p.xiii). Quoted in [1]
  • "It is quite clear that we cannot fix a terminum a quo, whether the Vedic hymns were composed 1000 or 2000 or 3000 years BC, no power on earth will ever determine"
    • Max Muller (Collected Works, Vol.II, p.91). Quoted in [2]
  • These dates Mueller later insisted were minimum dates only, , and latterly there has been a sort of tacit agreement.... to date the composition of the Rigveda somewhere about 1400-1500 BC, but without any absolutely conclusive evidence.
    • Stuart Piggott. Prehistoric India. Quoted from B.B. Lal in : Indian History and Culture Society., Devahuti, D., & Indian History and Culture Society. (2012). Bias in Indian historiography.
  • Of the Vedic poetic art Watkins writes: “The language of India from its earliest documentation in the Rigveda has raised the art of the phonetic figure to what many would consider its highest form”.
    • Watkins. Nicholas Kazanas, "Indo-European Deities and the Rigveda," JIES 29 (2001), p. 257. quoting Watkins
  • All attempts to date the Vedic literature on linguistic grounds have failed miserably for the simple reason that (a) the conclusions of comparative philology are often speculative and (b) no one has yet suceeded in showing how much change should take place in a language in a given period.
    • K.C. Verma, MMR. quoted in S. Talageri, The Aryan Invasion Theory and Indian Nationalism (1993)
  • That age [of the Rigveda] is not known with even an approximate degree of certainty.
    • A.D. Pusalker , The History and Culture of the Indian People, Vol. I: The Vedic Age edited by R.C. Majumdar, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Publications, Mumbai, 6th edition 1996. quoted in S. Talageri, The Aryan Invasion Theory and Indian Nationalism (1993)
  • The translation of the Veda will hereafter tell to a great extent on the fate of India and on the growth of millions of souls in that country. It is the root of their religion, and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last 3000 years.
    • Max Muller writing about his translation of the Rigveda. Letter to his wife Georgina, Dec 1866, published in The Life and Letters of Right Honorable Friedrich Max Müller (1902) edited by Georgina Müller in Shourie, Arun (1994). Missionaries in India: Continuities, changes, dilemmas. New Delhi : Rupa & Co, 1994

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