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The Rig Veda (Penguin Classics) by Anonymous
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The Rig Veda (Penguin Classics) (1981)

by Anonymous

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The Rig Veda is the earliest Hindu sacred text (placed before the other three Vedas: the Samaveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda). It is comprised of 1028 hymns addressing various gods, situations, and issues within the Vedic theological and cosmological universe. This Penguin edition and translation by Wendy Doniger includes of the 108 hymns, and is obviously intended for people like me who have little to no background with the material.

I have personally been curious to read the Rig Veda ever since coming across hymn 10.129 while doing other research a few years ago. In this hymn, the poet speculates how no one can know how everything was created, since even the gods themselves must have been created, too. These kind of ingrained assumptions in the text lead to a rather fascinating reading experience 3,500 years later.

The introductory overview of the Rig Veda on Wikipedia reads: "A good deal of the language is still obscure and many hymns as a consequence seem unintelligible." Even as curated as this edition is, I can nonetheless vouch that many of the hymns seems to defy my highly Westernized assumptions about logic and continuity. And this is, in truth, what I found most valuable about this text: the Vedas invite you to reimagine the universe from the ground up, and the world it conjures up is completely unfamiliar. (This is, of course, in full light of the caveat that I can only pretend to really understand what was going on a fraction of the time.)
  jamesshelley | May 1, 2016 |
Couldn't read it. Too much like Psalms, like 652 pages of hymns from which I was getting nothing. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 22, 2014 |
The earliest of the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas, and the first extensive composition to survive in any Indo-European language, The Rig Veda (c. 1200–900 bc) is a collection of more than 1,000 individual Sanskrit hymns. A work of intricate beauty, it provides unique insight into early Indian mythology and culture. Fraught with paradox, the hymns are meant "to puzzle, to surprise, to trouble the mind," writes translator of this edition, Wendy Doniger, who has selected 108 hymns for this volume. Chosen for their eloquence and wisdom, they focus on the enduring themes of creation, sacrifice, death, women, and the gods. Doniger’s "The Rig Veda" provides a fascinating introduction to a timeless masterpiece of Hindu ritual and spirituality.

About the Author:

Wendy Doniger is the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, where she is also a professor of South Asian languages and civilizations. Her other translations for Penguin Classics include The Laws of Manu and Hindu Myths.

Further information about the Rig Veda:

The Rigveda (Sanskrit: ऋग्वेद ṛgvedá, a compound of ṛc "praise, verse" and veda "knowledge") is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns. It is counted among the four canonical sacred texts (śruti) of Hinduism known as the Vedas. Some of its verses are still recited as Hindu prayers, at religious functions and other occasions, putting these among the world's oldest religious texts in continued use.

It is one of the oldest extant texts of any Indo-European language. Philological and linguistic evidence indicate that the Rigveda was composed in the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent, roughly between 1700–1100 BC (the early Vedic period). There are strong linguistic and cultural similarities with the early Iranian Avesta, deriving from the Proto-Indo-Iranian times, often associated with the early Andronovo (Sintashta-Petrovka) culture of ca. 2200-1600 BC.

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 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, concepts, 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).
  Saraswati_Library | Mar 14, 2010 |
The first sacred book of the Vedas. These rituals/poems/chants are interesting to read, and helps one to understand the foundation of Hinduism. ( )
  Anagarika | Nov 3, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140444025, Paperback)

The earliest of the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas, and the first extensive composition to survive in any Indo-European language, "The Rig Veda" (c. 1200-900 bc) is a collection of more than 1,000 individual Sanskrit hymns. A work of intricate beauty, it provides unique insight into early Indian mythology and culture.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:51 -0400)

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