The Rig Veda by Wendy DonigerThe 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 is a collection of over 1000 individual Sanskrit hymns. A work of intricate beauty, it provides a unique insight into early Indian mythology, religion and culture. This selection of 18 of the hymns, chosen for their eloquence and wisdom, focuses on the enduring themes of creation, sacrifice, death, women, the sacred plant soma and the gods. Inspirational and profound, it provides a fascinating introduction to one of the founding texts of Hindu scripture, an awesome and venerable ancient work of Vedic ritual, prayer, philosophy, legend and faith.
The hymns of the first Hindus
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who has died and came back to life
The first Mandala "book" of the Rigveda has hymns. Together with Mandala 10 , it forms the latest part of the Rigveda, its composition likely dating to the Early Iron Age. Hymn 1. The remaining hymns are mainly addressed to Agni and Indra. Hymns 1.
In the eight books that were composed the earliest, the hymns are mostly praise of specific deities. The oldest layers of the Rigveda Samhita are among the oldest extant texts in any Indo-European language , perhaps of similar age as certain Hittite texts. Some of its verses continue to be recited during Hindu rites of passage celebrations such as weddings and prayers, making it probably the world's oldest religious text in continued use. The school-specific commentaries are known as Brahmanas Aitareya-brahmana and Kaushitaki-brahmana Aranyakas Aitareya-aranyaka and Kaushitaki-aranyaka , and Upanishads partly excerpted from the Aranyakas: Bahvrca-brahmana-upanishad , Aitareya-upanishad , Samhita-upanishad , Kaushitaki-upanishad. This is particularly true of the "family books", mandalas 2—7, which form the oldest part of the Rigveda and account for 38 per cent of the entire text. They are called "family books" because each of them is attributed to an individual rishi , and was transmitted within the lineage of this rishi's family, or of his students.