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The Rig Veda: An Anthology of One Hundred Eight Hymns (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

by Anonymous, Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 28, 1982 0140444025 978-0140444025 2000
The 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" (c. 1200-900 bc) is a collection of more than 1,000 individual Sanskrit hymns. A work of intricate beauty, it provides unique insight into early Indian mythology and culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)

About the Author

Wendy Doniger is the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago, and the translator of numerous Sanskrit texts including the Laws of Manu, and Kamasutra. Wendy Doniger holds doctoral degrees in Indian literature from Harvard and Oxford Universities and is the Mircea Eliade Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago. Her publications include The Rig Veda and The Laws of Manu for the Penguin Classics, and the acclaimed Kama Sutra for OUP

Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 2000 edition (January 28, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140444025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140444025
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #826,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 56 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I have a better recommendation April 19, 2003
By A Customer
For this anthology, Dr. Doniger chose some of the more well-known hymns from the Rigveda, the ones that many Indian sages have commented on. In that sense, for those who are familiar with this subject, this book does not add anything new. This book also has many serious faults. For example, I find the translation of Purusha as Man (even with capital M) as disrespectful and improper. The RigVeda does NOT say that Man is his own creator. Of course, why would that bother Dr. Doniger?
If anyone wants to read a proper anthology of the RigVeda, I recommend the english rendition of a Sanskrit anthological (121 hymns) work of T.V. Kapali Sastry by Prof. R.L. Kashyap. This book is available in the US.
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39 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ian Myles Slater on A Notable Translation September 20, 2003
Amazon listing for this book has at times contained a possibly confusing abundance of Wendys. Keeping it simple; Wendy Doniger used Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty on her earlier books, and uses Wendy Doniger for books published after her divorce; a few older printings of some of them have "Wendy O'Flaherty" on them somewhere. Hence the variants, which can leave some works (like this one) in bibliographic purgatory. (To add to the possible confusion, she is now the "Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions" at the University of Chicago, and has reported receiving mail with interesting combinations of names.)

A re-issue by Penguin, listed by Amazon with the simpler title of "The Rig Veda," and a new cover design and art, but no other changes, has appeared (September 2005) as by Wendy Doniger; I have offered a new version of this review with it, with some different emphases, and have also reviewed a Kessinger e-book of the old R.T.H. Griffiths "complete" translation. (Well, really complete, IF you can read Latin, and if you find an unlisted appendix -- Griffiths took some care not to offend Victorian sensibilities, and Kessinger was a little careless.)

Secondly, under any form of the names, Wendy Doniger is a distinguished interpreter and translator of Vedic and classical Sanskrit texts, and of Indian religions in general. Her books are often witty, and at times quite dense with detail. She fully appreciates the playfulness of many versions of Hindu stories of the gods. ("Play" being in fact an explicit theme in some of them.)

In this volume she presents a selection of very ancient poems, in quite readable translations, and backs them up with detailed interpretive and bibliographic notes.
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30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What version to believe? December 27, 2004
108 - is a number of great hindu religious significance. Seeing this number in the title, I picked this book up for enlightening myself. I was asked a question about vedas by my white friend and I was ashamed that he knew more about my culture than me. Hence, my search for a good book on vedas resulted in buying this book The Rig Veda: An anthology from a half-price bookstore.

I approached this book with higher anticipations because the publisher 'Penguin classics' has never let me down before. But now it has. The author is not to be blamed. A subject as complex as the vedas not only needs an in-depth knowledge about devanagiri (sanskrit) script, but also cultural, social and religious connections to the verses. A mere analytical translation with the help of previous (more complex) translations is not going to do any justice. That's what has been done in this book. The verses have been mis-interpreted, verses have been taken out of context and the end result is a very skewed vision of Rig veda.

I wouldn't recommend it to any of my hindu or non-hindu friends. If your quest is knowledge, I would advise you to learn sanskrit, go to the original text and interpret it yourself (which is what i intend to do). An easy alternative is to read a translation by an Indian scholar (preferably sanskrit pundit). A translation by an Indian scholar would put you in perspective if you don't mind the crudeness of the english.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Gets lost in the foliage May 4, 2002
By A Customer
If the Rigveda is a tree with a grand plan, Wendy Doniger doesn't know it. Her translation has a Freudian slant that does violence to the vision of the Vedic hymnmakers.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual but representative selection of hymns November 19, 1999
By A Customer
Compared to other selections of Rig Vedic Hymns, this book is quite different. Most Indologists, esp. the Indian Vedic scholars, only select more "philosophically sophisticated" hymns. But this selection is more representative of the actual content of the Rig Veda.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A real lack of depth of understanding... October 14, 2012
"To this day there is no internally consistent and coherent interpretation of the Vedas."
- quoted from "The Celestial Key to the Vedas" by B.G Sidharth, Indian physicist and director general of B. M. Birla Science Centre. Sidharth has written extensively on physics and his books are available on Amazon. He proposed the "dark energy" model at the seventh Marcel Grossman Conference in Jerusalem in June 1997, and at another conference on quantum physics in Singapore a year later. His research paper titled "The Universe of Fluctuations" was published in International Journal of Modern Physics in 1998.

For years Doniger's was only translation of the Rig Veda easily available to most of us who do not read Sanskrit. Although I remain grateful for any translation, over the years as I came to understand more and more of the metaphysics of Hinduism, it occurred to me that perhaps the translator simply did not quite fully understand the subtle metaphysical depths of the text and that a great deal of the inner meaning must have been lost through a lack of spiritual knowledge.

Because there is no accurate translation, most westerners have been completely bewildered by the Rig Veda - because most translations make the Rig Veda seem like a bunch of meaningless hymns propitiating deities.

I knew this could NOT be true.

For one thing, the Upanishads, the Mahabharata/Bhagavad Gita, and the Puranic texts are all based on the four Vedas. So the question remained how did such sublime enlightening metaphysical systems emerge of out of seemingly meaningless ritualistic hymns?

I decided on my own that the Vedas had to be some kind of encoded text that explained the nature of the universe, both visible and invisible. A recent book entitled, `Vedic Physics' by Dr.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars good starting point in English
It's unfortunate that there's no complete modern translation of the Rig Veda into English. Doniger's selection is a lovely starting point for readers coming to this text for the... Read more
Published on November 8, 2010 by Anne Mahoney
1.0 out of 5 stars biased garbage
If you would like to read about how to denigrate hinduism, wendy doniger is your woman. She has in all her books insulted hinduism. Read more
Published on April 24, 2008 by Arya
2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to grasp
I know nothing about the Rig Veda outside this book so cannot comment on whether the hymns selected or the translation were appropriate. Read more
Published on January 5, 2004 by Frikle
1.0 out of 5 stars The author does not quite understand the text itself
The author does not quite undertand the text itself and comes through as being very biased. The author has wasted her efforts to put through incorrect views of her own, much... Read more
Published on July 29, 2003 by Veena
1.0 out of 5 stars The Indian Elephant
Ms. Doniger seems to be biased against the Vedic religion (aka Hinduism) which can be easily gleaned by a careful reader of this work. Read more
Published on June 9, 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars The Vedas as a Revelation of Our Shared Humanity
This is quite a good book, as far as it goes. Readers who would like to find a far fuller selection taken from the entire corpus of the Vedas, one that carries us beyond the... Read more
Published on March 14, 2001 by tepi
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling echo of the primordial voice of man
Wendy Doniger's translation of the Rig Veda is nothing less than spectacular. She manages to take this most ancient of texts and render it in a way that at once retains its voice... Read more
Published on March 3, 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars A fair selection of a fascinating book.
Don't pay any attention to the person below who thinks O'Flaherty should have translated the Rig Veda according to its "spiritual" meaning. Read more
Published on January 23, 2001 by David Marshall
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