Veda Studies and Knowledge

The Sanskrit word Véda "knowledge, wisdom" is derived from the root vid- "to know"





Scientific and

Rig Veda

    English pronunciation : véda / Vētā / Vētam / Vēdham āyvukaḷ / ñāṉam Vaḷarcci Peṟa / Rikvēdaṁ / Rik vētam / Yajūr vētam / Sāma vētam / Atarvaṉa vētam / Sanskrit संस्कृतम् : वेद / Tamil தமிழ் : வேதா / வேதம் ஆய்வுகள் / ஞானம் வளர்ச்சி பெற / ரிக் வேதம் / யஜூர் வேதம் / சாம வேதம் / அதர்வன வேதம்
    Bahasa Melayu : Rigvéda / Yajurveda / Sāmavéda / Atharvavéda / Malayalam : not_available / Telugu : రుగ్వేదం ( Rugvēdaṁ ) / యజుర్వేదం ( Yajurvēdaṁ) / సామవేదం ( Sāmavēdaṁ ) / అధర్వ వేదం ( Adharva vēdaṁ ) / Français : not_available

    Rigvéda 1 Sanskrit

    Rigvéda ( padapatha ) manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century

    Rigvéda collection of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune

    Rigvéda collection of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune

    Rigvéda Sanskrit

    Rigvéda Sanskrit

    Rigvéda Sanskrit

    The Rigvéda ( Sanskrit : ऋग्वेद ṛgvéda, a compound of ṛc "praise, verse" and véda "knowledge" ) is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Védic Sanskrit hymns. It is counted among the four canonical sacred texts ( Śruti ) of Hinduism known as the Védas. 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. The Rigvéda contains several mythological and poetical accounts of the origin of the world, hymns praising the gods, and ancient prayers for life, prosperity, etc.

    It is one of the oldest extant texts in any Indo-European language. Philological and linguistic evidence indicate that the Rigvéda was composed in the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent, roughly between 1700–1100 BC ( the early Védic period ).

    The Rigvéda Saṃhitā is the oldest extant Indic text. It is a collection of 1,028 Védic Sanskrit hymns and 10,600 verses in all, organized into ten books ( Sanskrit : mandalas ). The hymns are dedicated to Rigvédic deities.

    The books were composed by poets from different priestly groups over a period of several centuries, commonly dated to the period of roughly the second half of the 2nd millennium BCE ( the early Védic period ) in the Punjab ( Sapta Sindhu ) region of the Indian subcontinent.

    There are strong linguistic and cultural similarities between the Rigvéda and the early Iranian Avesta, deriving from the Proto-Indo-Iranian times, often associated with the Andronovo culture; the earliest horse-drawn chariots were found at Andronovo sites in the Sintashta-Petrovka cultural area near the Ural Mountains and date to ca. 2000 BCE.


    The surviving form of the Rigvéda is based on an early Iron Age ( c. 10th c. BC ) collection that established the core 'family books' ( mandalas 2-7, ordered by author, deity and meter ) and a later redaction, co-eval with the redaction of the other Védas, dating several centuries after the hymns were composed. This redaction also included some additions ( contradicting the strict ordering scheme ) and orthoepic changes to the Védic Sanskrit such as the regularization of sandhi ( termed orthoepische Diaskeuase by Oldenberg, 1888 ).

    As with the other Védas, 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 Saṃhitāpatha 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 and the fixed text was preserved with unparalleled fidelity for more than a millennium by oral tradition alone. 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 Rigvéda was probably not written down until the Gupta period ( 4th to 6th century AD ), by which time the Brāhmi script had become widespread ( the oldest surviving manuscripts date to the Late Middle Ages ). 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 Saṃhitāpatha, 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 ).


    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 Rigvéda and the shortest books; they are arranged by length and account for 38% of the text. 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 Sūktas each, accounting for 37% of the text.

    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


    The major Rigvédic shakha ( "branch", i. e. recension ) that has survived is that of Śākalya. Another shakha that may have survived is the Bāṣkala, although this is uncertain. The surviving padapatha version of the Rigvéda text is ascribed to Śākalya. The Śākala recension has 1,017 regular hymns, and an appendix of 11 vālakhilya hymns which are now customarily included in the 8th mandala ( as 8.49–8.59 ), for a total of 1028 hymns. The Bāṣkala recension includes 8 of these vālakhilya hymns among its regular hymns, making a total of 1025 regular hymns for this Śākhā. In addition, the Bāṣkala recension has its own appendix of 98 hymns, the Khilani.

    In the 1877 edition of Aufrecht, the 1028 hymns of the Rigvéda contain a total of 10,552 ṛcs, or 39,831 padas. The Shatapatha Brāhmaṃā gives the number of syllables to be 432,000, 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-Rigvédic pronunciation of syllables like súvar as svàr.


    Tradition associates a rishi ( the composer ) with each ṛc of the Rigvéda. 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 Rigvéda. In all, 10 families of rishis account for more than 95% of the ṛcs; for each of them the Rigvéda includes a lineage-specific āprī hymn ( a special sūkta of rigidly formulaic structure, used for animal sacrifice in the soma ritual ).

    Family āprī ṛcas
    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
    bhārata X.70 170


    There are, for example, 30 manuscripts of Rigvéda 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 (Śāradā) and Devanagari scripts, written on birch bark and paper. The oldest of them is dated to 1464. The 30 manuscripts of Rigvéda preserved at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune were added to UNESCO's "Memory of the World Register in 2007.

    Of these 30 manuscripts, 9 contain the Saṃhitā 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 Rigvéda. MS no. 5/1875-76, written on birch bark in bold Sharada (Śāradā), was only in part used by Max Müller for his edition of the Rigvéda 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 80 at least.


    The Rigvédic 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 Mitra-Varuna and Ushas ( the dawn ). Also invoked are Savitr, Vishnu, Rudra, Pushan, Brihaspati or Brāhmaṇāspati, 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 SarāŚvati 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 Védic people ( known as Védic Aryans, a subgroup of the Indo-Aryans ) and their enemies, the Dasa or Dasyu and their mythical prototypes, the Paṇi ( the Bactrian Parna ).

    Rigvéda Sanskrit

    Rigvéda ( 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 Védic 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 Rigvéda. 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. 2 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 SarāŚvati ( 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 Védic religion.

    • Mandala 10

      comprises additional 191 hymns, frequently in later language, addressed to Agni, Indra and various other deities. It contains the Nadistuti Sūkta which is in praise of rivers and is important for the reconstruction of the geography of the Védic civilization and the Purusha Sūkta which has great significance in Hindu social tradition. It also contains the Nasadiya Sūkta ( 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 Gṛhya rituals.

    Dating and historical context


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

    The Rigvéda'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 1700–1100 BC. The Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture ( s.v. Indo-Iranian languages, pg.306 ) gives 1500–1000. Being composed in an early Indo-Aryan language, the hymns must post-date the Indo-Iranian separation, dated to roughly 2000 BC. A reasonable date close to that of the composition of the core of the Rigvéda is that of the Indo-Aryan Mitanni documents of c. 1400 BC. Other evidence also points to a composition close to 1400 BC.

    The Rigvéda 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 Rigvéda records an early stage of Védic religion. 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 culture of ca. 2000 BC.

    The text in the following centuries underwent pronunciation revisions and standardization ( Saṃhitāpatha, padapatha ). This redaction would have been completed around the 6th century BC. Exact dates are not established, but they fall within the pre-Buddhist period ( 500, or rather 400 BC ).

    Writing appears in India around the 3rd century BC in the form of the Brāhmi script, but texts of the length of the Rigvéda were likely not written down until much later, the oldest surviving Rigvédic manuscript dating to the 14th century. 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 century. Some Rigvéda 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 Rigvéda, and the entire Rigvéda 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 Védic priesthood as the central philosophy of the Iron Age Védic civilization. The Brāhma Purana and the Vayu Purana name one Vidagdha as the author of the Padapatha. The Rk-pratishakhya names Sthavira Shakalya of the Aitareya āraṇyaka as its author.

    The Rigvéda 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 ) Thus there was some debate over whether the boasts of the destruction of stone forts by the Védic 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 BMAC 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 Rigvédic hymns were composed in the Punjab, even if based on earlier poetic traditions, there is no mention of either tigers or rice in the Rigvéda ( as opposed to the later Védas ), suggesting that Védic 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 Rigvéda refers to useful metal in general. The "black metal" ( kṛṣṇa ayas ) is first mentioned in the post-Rigvédic texts ( Atharvavéda etc. ). The Iron Age in northern India begins in the 10th century in the Greater Panjab. There is a widely accepted timeframe for the beginning codification of the Rigvéda by compiling the hymns very late in the Rigvédic or rather in the early post-Rigvédic period, including the arrangement of the individual hymns in ten books, coeval with and the composition of the younger véda Saṃhitās. This time coincides with the early Kuru kingdom, shifting the center of Védic culture east from the Punjab into what is now Uttar Pradesh. The fixing of the Saṃhitāpatha ( by keeping Sandhi ) intact and of the padapatha ( by dissolving Sandhi out of the earlier metrical text ), occurred during the later Brāhmaṃā period.

    Some of the names of gods and goddesses found in the Rigvéda 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 ( āŚva ), cattle, sheep and goat play an important role in the Rigvéda. 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 Rigvéda. The peafowl ( mayura ), the goose ( hamsa ) and the chakravaka ( Anas casarca ) are some birds mentioned in the Rigvéda.

    Ancillary Texts

    Rigvéda Brāhmaṇās

    Of the Brāhmaṇās that were handed down in the schools of the Bahvṛcas ( i.e. "possessed of many verses" ), as the followers of the Rigvéda are called, 2 have come down to us, namely those of the Aitareyins and the Kaushitakins. The Aitareya-Brāhmaṃā and the Kaushitaki- ( or Sankhayana- ) Brāhmaṃā 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 2. It consists of thirty chapters ( adhyaya ); while the Aitareya has forty, divided into eight books ( or pentads, pancaka ), of five chapters each. The last 10 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 ( ca. 5th c. BC ), if, as seems probable, one of his grammatical Sũtras, regulating the formation of the names of Brāhmaṇās, consisting of thirty and forty adhyayas, refers to these 2 works. In this last portion occurs the well-known legend ( also found in the Shankhayana-Sũtra, but not in the Kaushitaki-Brāhmaṃā ) 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, &c., whereupon follows the Soma sacrifice in this way, that chapters 7-10 contain the practical ceremonial and 11–30 the recitations ( śāstra ) 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 Brāhmaṃā 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 Brāhmaṃā, it would seem, of a rival school, the Paingins. Probably, therefore, it is just what one of the manuscripts calls it-the Brāhmaṃā of Sankhayana ( composed ) in accordance with the views of Kaushitaki.

    Rigvéda Āraṇyakas

    Each of these 2 Brāhmaṇās is supplemented by a "forest book", or āraṇyaka. The Aitareyāraṇyaka is not a uniform production. It consists of five books ( āraṇyaka ), three of which, the first and the last two, are of a liturgical nature, treating of the ceremony called Mahāvrata, or great vow. The last of these books, composed in Sũtra form, is, however, doubtless of later origin, and is, indeed, ascribed by Hindu authorities either to Shaunaka or to āŚvalayana. The second and third books, on the other hand, are purely speculative, and are also styled the Bahvrca-Brāhmaṃā-Upanishad or Upaniṣads. Again, the last four chapters of the second book are usually singled out as the Aitareyopanishad, ascribed, like its Brāhmaṃā ( and the first book ), to Mahidasa Aitareya; and the third book is also referred to as the Saṃhitā-Upanishad or Upaniṣads. As regards the Kaushitaki-āraṇyaka, this work consists of 15 adhyayas, the first two ( treating of the Mahāvrata ceremony ) and the 7th and 8th of which correspond to the 1st, 5th, and 3rd books of the Aitareyāraṇyaka, respectively, whilst the four adhyayas usually inserted between them constitute the highly interesting Kaushitaki ( Brāhmaṃā- ) Upanishad or Upaniṣads, of which we possess 2 different recensions. The remaining portions ( 9-15 ) of the āraṇyaka 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 Rigvédic hymns were collected by Paila under the guidance of Vyāsa, who formed the Rigvéda Saṃhitā as we know it. According to the Śatapatha Brāhmaṃā, the number of syllables in the Rigvéda is 432,000, equalling the number of muhurtas ( 1 day = 30 muhurtas ) in forty years. This statement stresses the underlying philosophy of the Védic books that there is a connection ( bandhu ) between the astronomical, the physiological, and the spiritual.

    The authors of the Brāhmaṃā literature discussed and interpreted the Védic ritual. Yaska was an early commentator of the Rigvéda 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 SkandāŚvamin ( pre-Sayana, roughly of the Gupta period ), Udgitha (pre-Sayana), Venkata-Madhava ( pre-Sayana, ca. 10th to 12th century ) and Mudgala ( after Sayana, an abbreviated version of Sayana's commentary ).

    In contemporary Hinduism

    Hindu revivalism

    Since the 19th and 20th centuries, some reformers like Swami Dayananda SarāŚvati, founder of the Arya Samaj and Sri Aurobindo have attempted to re-interpret the Védas to conform to modern and established moral and spiritual norms. Dayananda considered the Védas ( which he defined to include only the Saṃhitās ) to be source of truth, totally free of error and containing the seeds of all valid knowledge. Contrary to common understanding, he was adamant that Védas were monotheistic and that they did not sanction idol worship. Starting 1877, he intended to publish commentary on the four Védas but completed work on only the Yajurveda, and a partial commentary on the Rigvéda. Dayananda's work is not highly regarded by Védic scholars and Indologist Louis Renou, among others, dismissed it as, "a vigorous ( and from our point of view, extremely aberrant ) interpretation in the social and political sense."

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

    "Indigenous Aryans" debate

    Questions surrounding the Rigvédic SarāŚvati River and the Nadistuti Sūkta in particular have become tied to an ideological debate on the Indo-Aryan migration ( termed "Aryan Invasion Theory" ) versus the claim that Védic culture, together with Védic 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 Rigvéda: A Historical Analysis. Subhash Kak ( 1994 ) claimed that there is an "astronomical code" in the Organisation of the hymns. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, also based on astronomical alignments in the Rigvéda, in his "The Orion" ( 1893 ) had claimed presence of the Rigvédic culture in India in the 4th millennium BC, and in his The Arctic Home in the Védas ( 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 Rigvéda, 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 Rigvéda, dating it to as early as 4000 BC, a date well within the Indian Neolithic. 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.


    The first published translation of any portion of the Rigvéda in any Western 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 Rigvéda into English, published in six volumes during the period 1850–88. Wilson's version was based on the commentary of Sāyaṇa. In 1977, Wilson's edition was enlarged by Nag Sharan Singh ( Nag Publishers, Delhi, 2nd ed. 1990 ).

    In 1889, Ralph T.H. Griffith published his translation as The Hymns of the Rigvéda, published in London ( 1889 ).

    A German translation was published by Karl Friedrich Geldner, Der Rigvéda: aus dem Sanskrit ins Deutsche Übersetzt, Harvard Oriental Studies, vols. 33–37 ( Cambridge, Massachusetts: 1951-7 ).

    Geldner's translation was the philologically best-informed to date, and a Russian translation based on Geldner's[citation needed] by Tatyana Elizarenkova was published by Nauka 1989–1999

    A 2001 revised edition of Wilson's translation was published by Ravi Prakash Arya and K. L. Joshi. The revised edition updates Wilson's translation by replacing obsolete English forms with more modern equivalents, giving the English translation along with the original Sanskrit text in Devanagari script, along with a critical apparatus.

    In 2004 the United States' National Endowment for the Humanities funded Joel Brereton and Stephanie W. Jamison as project directors for a new original translation to be issued by Oxford University Press.

    Numerous partial translations exist into various languages. Notable examples include :

    • A. A. Macdonell. Hymns from the Rigvéda ( Calcutta, London, 1922 ); A Védic Reader for Students ( Oxford, 1917 )
    • French: A. Langlois, Rigvéda, ou livre des hymnes, Paris 1948–51 ISBN 2-7200-1029-4
    • Hungarian: Laszlo Forizs, Rigvéda – Teremtéshimnuszok ( Creation Hymns of the Rigvéda ), Budapest, 1995 ISBN 963-85349-1-5 Hymns of the Rigvéda
    • Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty issued a modern selection with a translation of 108 hymns, along with critical apparatus. A bibliography of translations of the Rigvéda appears as an Appendix that work
    • A new German translations of books 1 and 2 was presented in 2007 by Michael Witzel and Toshifumi Goto ( ISBN 978-3-458-70001-2 / ISBN 978-3-458-70001-3 )
    • A partial Hindi translation by Govind Chandra Pande was published in 2008 ( by Lokbharti Booksellers and Distributors, Allahabad, covering books 3–5 )

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    References ( Rigvéda )
    • derived from the root ṛc "to praise", cf. Dhātupātha 28.19. Monier-Williams translates "a véda of Praise or Hymn-véda"
    • There is some confusion with the term "véda", which is traditionally applied to the texts associated with the Saṃhitā proper, such as Brāhmaṇās or Upanishad or Upaniṣads. In English usage, the term Rigvéda is usually used to refer to the Rigvéda Saṃhitā alone, and texts like the Aitareya-Brāhmaṃā are not considered "part of the Rigvéda" but rather "associated with the Rigvéda" in the tradition of a certain shakha.
    • Werner, Karel (1994). A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism. Curzon Press. ISBN 0700710493.
    • 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 more uncertain. Oberlies (p. 158) based on 'cumulative evidence' sets wide range of 1700–1100
    • H. Oldenberg, Prolegomena,1888, Engl. transl. New Delhi: Motilal 2004
    • 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. pp. 235. ISBN 8120818857.
    • The oldest manuscript in the Pune collection dates to the 15th century. The Benares Sanskrit University has a Rigvéda manuscript of the 14th century. Earlier manuscripts are extremely rare; the oldest known manuscript preserving a Védic text was written in the 11th century in Nepal (catalogued by the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project, Hamburg.
    • B. van Nooten and G. Holland, Rigvéda. A metrically restored text. Cambridge: Harvard Oriental Series 1994
    • 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, "Védas and Upaniṣads", in: The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism, Gavin Flood (ed.), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2005.
    • 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."
    • 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 véda, that were known at one time, we have got only two, viz. Śākala and Vāṣkala."
    • Maurice Winternitz (History of Sanskrit Literature, Revised English Translation Edition, 1926, vol. 1, p. 283.
    • Mantras of "khila" hymns were called khailika and not ṛcas (Khila meant distinct "part" of Rgvéda 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).
    • 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.
    • cf. Preface to Khila section by C.G.Kāshikar in Volume-5 of Pune Edition of RV (in references).
    • These Khilani hymns have also been found in a manuscript of the Śākala recension of the Kashmir Rigvéda (and are included in the Poone edition).
    • 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.
    • In a few cases, more than one rishi is given, signifying lack of certainty.
    • Talageri (2000), p.33
    • "Rigvéda". UNESCO Memory of the World Programme.
    • cf. Editorial notes in various volumes of Pune Edition, see references.
    • 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
    • Philological estimates tend to date the bulk of the text to the second half of the second millennium. Compare Max Müller's statement "the hymns of the Rigvéda are said to date from 1500 BC" ('véda and Védāṅta', 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.
    • Mallory, J. P.; Adams, Douglas Q. (1997). "Indo-Iranian Languages". Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. Fitzroy Dearborn.
    • "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 RgVédic gods: mitra, varuNa, indra and the nAsatya azvin)" M. Witzel, Early Sanskritization – Origin and development of the Kuru state.
    • The Védic People: Their History and Geography, Rajesh Kochar, 2000, Orient Longman, ISBN 8125013849
    • Rigvéda and River SarāŚvati:
    • Oldenberg 1894 (tr. Shrotri), p.14 "The Védic 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 Védic alone by virtue of comparative phonetics, then this may often give, not only correct Védic words and phrases, but also the verses, out of which the soul of Védic poetry appears to speak."
    • 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..."
    • Bryant 2001:130–131 "The oldest part of the Avesta... is linguistically and culturally very close to the material preserved in the Rgvéda... There seems to be economic and religious interaction and perhaps rivalry operating here, which justifies scholars in placing the Védic and Avestan worlds in close chronological, geographical and cultural proximity to each other not far removed from a joint Indo-Iranian period."
    • Mallory 1989 "The identification of the Andronovo culure as Indo-Iranian is commonly accepted by scholars."
    • Oldenberg (p. 379) places it near the end of the Brāhmaṃā period, seeing that the older Brāhmaṇās still contain pre-normalized Rigvédic citations. The Brāhmaṃā period is later than the composition of the Saṃhitās of the other Védas, 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.
    • The Shatapatha Brāhmaṃā refers to a Vidagdha Shakalya without discussing anything related to the Padapatha.
    • Jha 1992[page needed]
    • minority opinions name dates as early as the 4th millennium BC; "The Aryan Non-Invasionist Model" by Koenraad Elst
    • There is however mention of ApUpa, Puro-das and Odana in the Rigvéda, terms that, at least in later texts, refer to rice dishes, see Talageri (2000)
    • The term "ayas" (=metal) occurs in the Rigvéda, 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 Rigvéda must date to the late 2nd millennium at the earliest.
    • among others, Macdonell and Keith, and Talageri 2000, Lal 2005
    • 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).
    • edited in 8 volumes by Vishva Bandhu, 1963–1966.
    • Salmond, Noel A. (2004). "Dayananda SarāŚvati". Hindu iconoclasts: Rammohun Roy, Dayananda SarāŚvati and nineteenth-century polemics against idolatry. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. pp. 65–91. ISBN 0-88920-419-5.
    • Llewellwyn, John (1994). "From interpretation to reform: Dayanand's reading of the Védas". In Patton, Laurie L.. Authority, anxiety, and canon: essays in Védic interpretation. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press. pp. 235–252. ISBN 0-7914-1937-1.
    • Renou, Louis (1965). The destiny of the véda in India. Motilal Banarsidas. p. 4.
    • summarized by Klaus Klostermaier in a 1998 presentation
    • e.g. Michael Witzel, The Pleiades and the Bears viewed from inside the Védic 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.
    • 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)
    • Wilson, H. H. Ṛig-véda-Sanhitā: A Collection of Ancient Hindu Hymns. 6 vols. (London, 1850–88); repring: Cosmo Publications (1977)
    • reprinted Delhi 1973, reprinted by Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers: 1999. Complete revised and enlarged edition. 2-volume set. ISBN 8121500419
    • reprint: Harvard Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies Harvard (University Press) (2003) ISBN 0-674-01226-7
    • extended from a partial translation Rigvéda: Izbrannye Gimny, published in 1972.
    • Ravi Prakash Arya and K. L. Joshi. ṛgvéda Saṃhitā: Sanskrit Text, English Translation, Notes & Index of Verses. (Parimal Publications: Delhi, 2001) ISBN 81-7110-138-7 (Set of four volumes). Parimal Sanskrit Series No. 45; 2003 reprint: 81-7020-070-9
    •, retrieved 22 March 2007.
    • Joel Brereton and Stephanie W. Jamison. The Rigvéda: Translation and Explanatory Notes. (Oxford University Press) ISBN 0195179188
    • See Appendix 3, O'Flaherty, Wendy Doniger. The Rigvéda. (Penguin Books: 1981) ISBN 0-140-44989-2
    • editio princeps: Friedrich Max Müller, The Hymns of the Rigvéda, 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., ed (1933–46,Reprint 1972–1983.). Rgvéda-Saṃhitā: Śrimat-Sāyanāchārya virachita-Bhāṣya-sametā (First ed.). Pune: Vaidika SamŚodhāna Maṇḍala. 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, Rigvéda, a metrically restored text, Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, 1994.
    • Rgvéda-Saṃhitā, 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.
    • Sayana (14th century)
        o ed. Müller 1849–75 (German translation);
        o ed. Müller (original commentary of Sāyana in Sanskrit based on 24 manuscripts).
        o ed. Sontakke et al., published by Vaidika Samsodhāna Mandala, Pune (2nd ed. 1972) in 5 volumes.
    • Rgvéda-Saṃhitā Srimat-sāyanāchārya virachita-Bhāṣya-sametā, ed. by Sontakke et al., published by Vaidika SamŚodhāna 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 Rigvéda), Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-22-5
    • Vashishtha Narayan Jha, A Linguistic Analysis of the Rgvéda-Padapatha Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi (1992).
    • Bjorn Merker, Rigvéda Riddles In Nomad Perspective, Mongolian Studies, Journal of the Mongolian Society XI, 1988.
    • Thomas Oberlies, Die Religion des Rgvéda, Wien 1998.
    • Oldenberg, Hermann: Hymnen des Rigvéda. 1. Teil: Metrische und textgeschichtliche Prolegomena. Berlin 1888; Wiesbaden 1982.
    • -Die Religion des véda. Berlin 1894; Stuttgart 1917; Stuttgart 1927; Darmstadt 1977
    • -Védic Hymns, The Sacred Books of the East vo, l. 46 ed. Friedrich Max Müller, Oxford 1897
    • Adolf Kaegi, The Rigvéda: The Oldest Literature of the Indians (trans. R. Arrowsmith), Boston,, Ginn and Co. (1886), 2004 reprint: ISBN 9781417982059.
    • Bryant, Edwin (2001). The Quest for the Origins of Védic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195137779
    • Lal, B.B. 2005. The Homeland of the Aryans. Evidence of Rigvédic Flora and Fauna & Archaeology, New Delhi, Aryan Books International.
    • Talageri, Shrikant: The Rigvéda: A Historical Analysis, 2000. ISBN 81-7742-010-0 Archaeoastronomy
    • Tilak, Bal Gangadhar: The Orion, 1893

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