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Rig-Veda(rĭg-vā`də): see VedaVeda
[Sanskrit,=knowledge, cognate with English wit, from a root meaning know], oldest scriptures of Hinduism and the most ancient religious texts in an Indo-European language.
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(Book of Hymns), a collection of chiefly religious hymns that appeared among Aryan tribes at the time of their migration to India. The hymns were composed in dialects grouped under the term “Vedic Sanskrit.” The Rig-Veda is the first known example of Indian literature and the oldest and most significant of the Vedas. The tenth century B.C. is traditionally accepted as the time in which the Rig-Veda received its finished form, but some of the hymns evidently date to the middle of the second millennium B.C. The Rig-Veda includes 1,028 hymns in ten books or cycles (mandalas), of which the second through seventh are the oldest. The authorship of each is ascribed to a particular priestly family: individual authorship of hymns cannot be determined.
The hymns of the Rig-Veda are primarily prayers addressed to the gods of the Aryan tribes. The gods personify various natural phenomena, and their images sometimes reflect very early stages in the creation of the myth. Some of the hymns are not directly connected with the rituals for which the collection as a whole was compiled. The cosmogonic hymns, chiefly in the tenth book, attest to the beginning of the development of philosophic thought in India. Approximately 20 hymns take the form of dialogues, which can be interpreted as the beginnings of drama. Many of the hymns contain valuable historical material.
The Rig-Veda was the culmination of a lengthy tradition of professional poetic creation. Its text attests to a high tradition of versification and a developed system of expressive devices in poetical language. The work is valuable for the study of the most ancient mythology and the early stages of literary development in India. In the mid-19th century, research on the Rig-Veda contributed to the development of comparative mythology (by M. Müller, R. Roth, and others). The mythology of the Rig-Veda finds its greatest number of parallels in the Avesta. A common origin is seen in a number of images in the Vedic and Greek pantheons (Dyaush and Zeus, Ushas and Eos, Gandharvas and the centaur) and in the myths of other Indo-European peoples.
EDITIONDie Hymnen des Rigveda, 3rd ed., vols. 1–2. Edited by T. Aufrecht. Berlin, 1955.
TRANSLATIONS“Iz oblasti vediiskoi poezii: Gimny.” Translated from Sanskrit by B. Larin. Vostok, 1924, book 4.
Rigveda: Izbrannye gimny. Translation, commentaries, and introduction by T. Ia. Elizarenkova. Moscow, 1972.
Der Rig-Veda: Aus dem Sanscrit ins Deutsche. Übersetzung von K. F. Geldner, parts 1–4. Cambridge-London-Leipzig, 1951–57.
Rigveda-samhita, Translated by Vallathol, vols. 1-3. Travancore, 1955-57.
REFERENCESRenou, L. Bibliographie védique. Paris, 1931.
Dandekar, R. N. Vedic Bibliography. Bombay, 1946.
V. G. ERMAN