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The Rigveda, the oldest of
the Hindu scriptures, date back to the early Aryan invasions of northern India
(ca. 1500-1200 B.C.) The Sanskrit word veda is the remote ancestor
of the English word wit and the German word wissen. It is
most readily translated today as "knowledge." Specifically, veda refers
to the sort of knowledge that will help a man win the favor of the gods. The
verses are replete with examples of virtue and charity and define the responsibilities
of the wealthy and powerful to the poor. There are also verses of a more earthly
orientation that extol spirits of nature and their deeds. These verses tend
to follow the pattern of the pantheistic mythologies of other Indo-European
peoples. One particular verse, however, shows remarkable philosophic depth
in its depiction of the creation of the world, which is very much like that
in Genesis. Altogether there are more than a thousand verses in the Rigveda.
Editions of the Rigveda
MacDonnell, A. A., trans. Hymns of the Rigveda. London: Oxford University
Keith, Arthur Berriedale, trans. Rigveda Brahmanas. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 1920.
The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The
Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.