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 Ṛgveda (Rigveda) (English)

Veda of Praise -the first and most important Veda as well as the most ancient Indo-European book available at present-


Hi, Gabriel Pradīpaka once again. This will be a brief introduction containing essential information you should know before reading this venerable scripture. There are four traditional sacred books in India. They are known as the four Veda-s: Ṛgveda --wrongly-written Rigveda--, Sāmaveda --wrongly-written Samaveda--, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda. The word "veda" mainly means "knowledge" (sacred knowledge). Then, these four scriptures deal with spiritual knowledge. You will find more information about the Vedic universe in First Steps (2), specially in this section of such a page. I am not including that here or this will not be a brief introduction.

Ṛgveda is the most ancient literary work within the Indo-European universe, i.e. the universe consisting of all Indo-European languages such as Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, etc (See the André's documents in the "Linguistics" section for more information). Well, this amounts to saying that it was composed in a "primitive" way of writing by using a "primitive" Sanskrit, as it were. By "primitive", I don not mean "rudimentary or crude", of course, but "primeval or pristine". On the contrary, the kind of Sanskrit used in Ṛgveda is far richer and more complex than the Classic or Postvedic Sanskrit you may see in such relatively modern scriptures as those of Trika system (See Scriptures/Trika scriptures). There are no sesquipedalian (long and abstruse) compounds either, which makes the translator's work any easier. In any case, many other grammatical specimens (e.g. participles, absolutives, subjunctive, etc.) appear here most abundantly, some of which (e.g. subjunctive or saṁśaya, technically known as "leṭ") are not to be found in Postvedic writings.

Dates, dates, dates... well, I do not care about dates at all regarding spiritual knowledge. However, as most westerners love dates, I will have to please them somehow, I think. OK, the most conservative estimates state that Ṛgveda dates from 1200-1500 BC, even though others (as always) affirm it is even older (3000 BC or even 8000 BC). And a new debate begins then: "who is right?". Anyhow, dates are a mere additional information in my opinion, specially when one has to face such a colossal literary work as Ṛgveda, which contains timeless wisdom.

Another matter of debate: "Where was Ṛgveda composed?". Was it written in India or not? Well, for those who follow the theory that Sanskrit comes from somewhere else but India, Ṛgveda was, at least partially, written outside of India. In turn, those who claim that Sanskrit was born in India affirm that Ṛgveda was composed entirely in that country. And another fight goes on and on. Well, once again, this is of no importance for someone only attempting to taste the nectar of the sublime wisdom contained in Ṛgveda. Ṛgveda is a patrimony belonging to the entire humankind. Even if it would have been written in the middle of Antarctica, it would make no difference, in my humble opinion.

A debate always arises among unawake people because ignorance "separates", while wisdom "unites". The more violent the debate, the more ignorance is there. It is easy to dissent, but it is not so easy to understand the opinions of other people. And it is much more difficult to enrich one's opinion by means of the other opinions. Wise people do not argue but understand. Thus, all people who is "only" interested in dates and places about sacred scriptures, specially in the case of such a monumental work as Ṛgveda, and consequently waste their time in useless debates, are not behaving wisely, in my opinion. Besides, most debates are based on theories, which will be surely denied due to new findings in the future, as usual. Today, I have read how some authors criticize the "narrow-minded" Sanskrit translators of the nineteenth century. Likewise, the current translators will be criticized in the future by other authors... and the chain of ignorance goes on and on like a universal joke, as it were. So, it is better not to argue and discard those muddling matters about dates and places about what is of divine eternal nature, and only enjoy the wisdom coming from those transcendental scriptures such as Ṛgveda.

And now, getting back to the topic of my own translation, keep in mind that I will add adequate notes to it when necessary, whose goal will be to dissipate doubts. Furthermore, always remember that the Ṛṣi-s (Seers or Sages) who wrote all those hymns still are here, right now, as you, me and anyone seeking wisdom to realize his own divine nature. They are not people who died a long time ago, but they live in every real spiritual seeker. If you do not understand this simple fact, you will not be able to understand the message contained in Ṛgveda. The same thing holds true in regard to any other sacred scripture, obviously. Bodies are being born and dying all the time, but the Self is eternal and not dependant upon time at all.

In the above list of links, the links to the hymns which have been translated or are being translated will be in bold letters. Moreover, Ṛgveda includes written accents. For example: anudātta accent is a "underline"; Svarita is a blend of udātta and anudātta accents drawn in the form of a vertical stroke on the Sanskrit letters; udātta is NOT marked, etc. This is a complex subject matter, no doubt about it, but I will try to shed some light on it so much as I can through explanatory notes.

There is also a special character: Vedic
This character is the Vedic "l" (written "ḻa" in IAST, the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration). Though I will keep the original character in both the original Sanskrit text and the transliteration, it may be replaced with "ḍa", i.e. cerebral "da", provided (careful here!) it is between vowels (e.g. īḍe -I praise- instead of īḻe). But careful too, because "ḻ" is NOT to be mistaken for a consonant "l" with anudātta accent "in the transliteration". In the transliteration, anudātta will be below vowels "only". My warning is going to people only using the transliteration in IAST, of course, and not to those who are conversant with Devanāgarī (original Sanskrit characters). To the latter, the Vedic "l" is clear and can never be mistaken in that way.

In turn, when you remove "a" in the Vedic "l" in order to get "ḻ", you add Virāma (a downward stroke) in this way: Vedic . Again, there is another character combination deriving from the above one, which should be written like this: Vedic . Despite I will keep the original characters in both the original Sanskrit text and the transliteration, that combination may be replaced with "ḍha", i.e. cerebral "dha", provided (careful here again!) it is between vowels. Anyway, as I am using the Sanskrit 2003 font to draw the characters, you will see "ळ्ह" (no horizontal line on the first character). This is a Sanskrit 2003 issue and not a problem with Sanskrit text in "crude" Unicode standard. Look at the text in a crude way within the source code: ळ्ह . For more information about Unicode, fonts, etc., read English-Home - Fonts. Well, enough of this for now.

And if you are wondering what is all that of "Maṇḍala 1, 2, etc." in the above list of links, the answer is simple: Maṇḍala means "Book", in this context, got it? Book 1, Book 2... Book 10... simple! And every Maṇḍala contains a number of Sūkta-s or hymns. The method of dividing Ṛgveda into ten books and their respective hymns is a traditional one. At any rate, it may also be divided into eight "Aṣṭaka-s" (consisting of eight parts). The eight parts are eight "Adhyāya-s" or lessons. In turn, each of those Adhyāya-s or lessons is composed of "Varga-s" or groups. All these data are specified at the beginning of every hymn of Ṛgveda, do not worry. Meter, name of the Ṛṣi or Seer (i.e. the author of the hymn) and devatā or deity, are also specified there in the form of an "Anukramaṇī" or "Index", and each Anukramaṇī has a respective number. As you can see in the above links, I chose to include only Maṇḍala (Book), Sūkta (Hymn) and Aṣṭaka (Group of eight lessons). Nonetheless, I did not add the Adhyāya-s or lessons to the list, under the respective Aṣṭaka-s, or even the Anukramaṇī-s or Indexes, lest everything looked too confusing. Still, you may find all that information in Ṛgvedasaṁhitā itself, as I did not drop anything there.

The amount of hymns or Sūkta-s is 1,028, which contain about 10,552 stanzas (my God!). There were 1,017 originally, but then eleven hymns were added to the Maṇḍala (Book) 8. In fact, the real name of this work is not Ṛgveda plainly but Ṛgvedasaṁhitā, as it is the "latest" compilation (saṁhitā). As I said previously, the hymns started to be compiled about 1200-1500 BC according to some scholars, or else 3000 or even 8000 BC according to others. However, its last compilation dates from about 600 BC in the opinion of many authors. At that time, it was completely polished and took its final form. More dates, hehe. From that date on, the text has been apparently preserved without any changes or tergiversations. Consequently, Ṛgvedasaṁhitā is the most recent and complete form of Ṛgveda. Oh well, enough of this. When I finish translating Ṛgvedasaṁhitā, I will add more contents to this rather abridged introduction, because at that time my Vedic knowledge will be surely any better than the present one.

Sorry about any errors in this introduction but I am not good with dates and history. Besides, remember I know more about Classic Sanskrit (modern Sanskrit) than Vedic Sanskrit (ancient Sanskrit). In spite of that deficiency, I will do my best in order to present a decent "non-academic" translation of such a sacred scripture as Ṛgvedasaṁhitā. The main problem does not lie in grammar (although it is specially difficult), meter, antiquity, etc., but in the high state of consciousness of the Seers or Sages who composed it. Therefore, may those Seers living in me as Myself help me in the process of translating this most venerable text or "I will drift in the middle of the ocean", metaphorically speaking. Thank you Seers, in advance. This was my best joke because it was Their grace what urged me to start studying and translating Ṛgveda. In any case, it is better to make sure They will continue being there, you know, or I will be in real trouble.

Credits: Thanks to Leandro Cortés for helping me find the sacred Nighaṇṭu-s (Vedic glossary) and the respective commentary known as Nirukta, without which to translate Veda-s properly would be impossible, at least for a Vedic layman as myself. Besides, he helped me in many other ways, which would be long to describe here. Thanks a lot for all that too.

Request: If you are "conversant with Vedic Sanskrit" and wish to make a suggestion, correction, recommendation and the like regarding my translation; feel free to send me a message. If your information is a good and useful one, your name or pseudonym will appear in the above Credits, be sure.

Final notes: As I read Nirukta and other writings, and consequently gain Vedic knowledge, my translation will continue improving gradually. I will have even to "retouch" previous translated text now and then when learning something new in Nirukta, etc. Be tolerant, please.


 Further Information

Gabriel Pradīpaka

This document was conceived by Gabriel Pradīpaka, one of the two founders of this site, and spiritual guru conversant with Sanskrit language and Trika philosophy.

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