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The Rig Veda: An Anthology of One Hundred Eight Hymns (Penguin Classics) 2000th Edition

3 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140444025
ISBN-10: 0140444025
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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
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 2000 edition (January 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140444025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140444025
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #678,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a re-issue, in Penguin's current format, and with new cover art, of the Penguin Classics volume previously listed by Amazon as "The Rig Veda: An Anthology of One Hundred Eight Hymns," published in 1981 (and as of October 2005, confusingly still available from Amazon), as translated and edited by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty. That was her married name, since dropped, to the accompaniment of endless bibliographic and bookselling confusion. She is now known as Wendy Doniger, and is the "Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions" at the University of Chicago. (She has reported receiving mail with interesting combinations of names and titles.)

Upon inspection, the "new edition" is revealed to be one of Penguin's cosmetic re-packagings to make the whole line uniform (and mostly quite handsome), and not one of the revised editions which have also been appearing as part of the same project. I offer here, with some modifications, my review of the 1981 edition (itself previously reissued in a larger format, with new cover art, some years ago, but also not otherwise changed).

Meanwhile, I suggest trying the Amazon page for the older edition of "The Rig Veda: An Anthology..." if you are interested in a variety of responses by over a dozen other reviewers. And, again, don't let the title and name variations suggest that they are different books, of exactly the same length, from the very same publisher! (As a matter of fact, the actual front-cover title of these editions has been just "The Rig Veda" all along.)

Under any form of her name, 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.
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This text is:
(1) An accurate translation of the Vedas as far as we know.
(2) A product of Orientalism.
(3) Relatively unpolluted by ideology (as far as the translation itself goes).

This text is not:
(1) A guide to how the Vedas were used in classical India.
(2) An accurate commentary on how Hindus view the Vedas.
(3) Complete.
(4) A representative summary of the Vedas, although it does have the few very famous Vedas which Hindus would memorize even today.

It's not a bad edition and I award it 5 stars. Ignore the commentary.
Comment 24 of 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
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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3 Comments 47 of 58 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on April 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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