Wednesday, February 26, 2014


2.9 out of 5 stars
2.9 out of 5 stars
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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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4 of 4 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. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, shed some light on the inscrutable Vedas by posing analogies to the principles of quantum physics.

After spending the last few years reading books on the Rig Veda, while making a humble beginning in teaching myself Sanskrit, I recommend the following:

WISDOM of the ANCIENT SEERS, Mantras of the Rig Veda, by David Frawley; Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd, Delhi, 1994, 2001.

RIG VEDA Samhita, Mandalas 1-10 [Text in Devanagari, Translation in English with Notes - twelve volumes]; R.L. Kashyap; Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, Bangalore, 2009.

RIG VEDA Mantra Samhita, Complete text with auxiliaries, [Sanskrit only], Editor R.L. Kashyap; Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, Bangalore, 2003.

RGVEDA for the Layman, Satasuktaparidarsanam, Translated with Commentary by Shyam Ghosh, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.; 2002, New Delhi

SECRET of the VEDA, by Sri Aurobindo (written between 1914-20); Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, WI; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry India, 1995.

The Celestial Key to the Vedas by B.G. Sidhartha; Inner Traditions, 1999.

VEDIC STRING THEORY, by M. Anant Bhakta; 2006, BookSurge, LLC; [...]
VEDIC PHYSICS, Towards Unification of Quantum Mechanics & General Relativity, by Keshav Dev Verma; Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1991, 2008.
MAYA in PHYSICS, by N.C. Panda; Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1991, 2005.
THE VIBRATING UNIVERSE, by N.C. Panda; Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1995, 2000.
Vedic Physics, Scientific Origin of Hinduism, by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ph.D., foreword by Professor Subhash Kak; Golden Egg Publishing, Toronto, 1999.
The Astronomical Code of the Rgveda, by Subhash Kak; Munishiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 2000.

Scholars disagree about the meaning of the Sanskrit words in the Rig Veda. The Sanskrit of this ancient text is very different than other later texts such as the Upanishads or the even later Puranas.

"The language of the Rig Veda is archaic and contains such grammatical devices and linguistic forms which are beyond the reach of the common mind...Among the devices are mystic illusions, configurations of similar sounds and words, metaphors, incongruous grammatical formations, un-sequential syntactical relations and Word-Economy; and these create a sort of sacred quiz, which taxes the ingenuity of even the most learned one...There is considerable disagreement among the interpreters of the Rig Veda, particularly in the interpretation of individual words." (The Rigveda, Mandala III, Shukla & Shukla).

The Rig Veda in not a bedside table book. There really is no comparison to other metaphysical texts. The Rig Veda requires serious study and contemplation. I believe that the Rig Veda will one day be understood as our most accurate window into ancient times. It can be seen as history, science, philosophy, metaphysics. In my opinion, the Rig Veda reflects the knowledge and wisdom of civilizations far superior to ours and gives us glimpses into the previous cycles of time.
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