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The Rig Veda: An Anthology of One Hundred Eight Hymns (Penguin Classics) Paperback – January 28, 1982

ISBN-13: 978-0140444025 ISBN-10: 0140444025 Edition: 2000th

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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 28, 1982)
  • 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: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Slater on September 20, 2003
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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46 of 60 people found the following review helpful 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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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
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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30 of 40 people found the following review helpful By V. Sriram on December 27, 2004
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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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
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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43 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Veena on July 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
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 better if she had researched some other texts perhaps the bible? However, knowing her knack for misinterpreting ancient texts I shudder to even think about it.
In ending I think anyone who commented the following on the most sacred Indian text as follows should not have tried interpreting a religious text of the relgion that she is biased against:
The Bhagavad Gita is not as nice a book as some Americans think," the good professor informed her audience. "Throughout the Mahabharata ... Krishna goads human beings into all sorts of murderous and self-destructive behaviours such as war.... The Gita is a dishonest book ; it justifies war." Prof. Doniger added for good measure : "I'm a pacifist. I don't believe in `good' wars." (Philadelphia Inquirer of 19 November.)
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