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Rigveda (padapatha) manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century.
Then was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it.
That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.

The Rigveda (or Rig Veda) is a collection of over 1000 Vedic Sanskrit hymns to the Hindu gods.The oldest of the Hindu scriptures, which some have claimed date to to 7000–4000 BC, philological analysis indicates that it was probably composed in the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent, roughly between 1700–1100 BC; it has been noted that it shares some linguistic and cultural similarities with the Zend Avesta of Zoroastrianism, which has also been dated to similar time periods.


Mandala 1[edit]

  • What thing I am I do not know. I wander secluded, burdened by my mind. When the first-born of Truth has come to me I receive a share in that self-same Word.
    • Rig Veda, I.164.37
  • May He delight in these my words.
    • Rig Veda, I.25.18
  • I laud Agni the priest, the divine minister of sacrifice, who invokes the gods, and is most rich in gems.
    May Agni, the invoker, the sage, the true, the most renowned, a god, come hither with the gods!
    • Start of Hymn 1, as quoted in Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Vol. 23 (1864), p. 267
    • Variant translations:
    • Agni I laud, the high priest, god, minister of sacrifice, The invoker, lavishest of wealth.
      • Mandala 1, Hymn 1, verse 1
  • The wise speak of what is One in many ways.
    • Rig Veda 1.164.46

Mandala 2[edit]

  • May we not anger you, O God, in our worship By praise that is unworthy or by scanty tribute.
    • Rig Veda, II.33.4

Mandala 5-6[edit]

  • O ye who wish to gain realization of the Supreme Truth, utter the name of "Vishnu" at least once in the steadfast faith that it will lead you to such realization.
    • V.I.15b.3
  • Just as the sun's rays in the sky are extended to the mundane vision, so in the same way the wise and learned devotees always see the abode of Lord Vishnu.
    • V.I.22.20
  • Let me now sing the heroic deeds of Viṣṇu who has measured apart the realms of the earth, who propped up the upper dwelling-place, striding far as he stepped forth three times.
    They praise for his heroic deeds Viṣṇu who lurks in the mountains, wandering like a ferocious wild beast, in whose three wide strides all creatures dwell.
    • V.1.154.1–2, as translated by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty in The Rig Veda : An Anthology (1981), p. 226
  • Alone, he supports threefold the earth and the sky — all creatures.
    Would that I might reach his dear place of refuge, where men who love the gods rejoice. For their one draws close to the wide-striding Viṣṇu; there, in his highest footstep, is the fountain of honey.
    • V.1.154.4–5, as translated by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty in The Rig Veda : An Anthology (1981), p. 226

Mandala 10[edit]

  • Play not with dice, [but] cultivate your corn-land. Enjoy the gain, and deem that wealth sufficient.
    • X.34.13; translation by Ralph T.H. Griffith
  • In the earliest age of the gods, existence was born from non-existence.
    • Rig Veda 10.72.2
  • His, through his might, are these snow-covered mountains, and men call sea and Rasā his possession: His arms are these, his are these heavenly regions. What God shall we adore with our oblation?
    • Rigveda 10.121.4
  • “The gods are later than this world’s production.”
    • (10:129:6)

Creation Hymn[edit]

  • Then was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it.
    What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter? Was water there, unfathomed depth of water?
    Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign was there, the day's and night's divider.
    That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.

    Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness this All was indiscriminated chaos.
    All that existed then was void and form less: by the great power of Warmth was born that Unit.
    Thereafter rose Desire in the beginning, Desire, the primal seed and germ of Spirit.
    Sages who searched with their heart's thought discovered the existent's kinship in the non-existent.
    Transversely was their severing line extended: what was above it then, and what below it?
    There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here and energy up yonder
    Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this creation?
    The Gods are later than this world's production. Who knows then whence it first came into being?
    He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it,
    Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not.
  • There was neither non-existence nor existence then; there was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond. What stirred? Where? In whose protection? Was there water, bottomlessly deep? There was neither death nor immortality then. There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day. That one breathed, windless, by its own impulse. Other than that there was nothing beyond.
  • Whence this creation has arisen – perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not – the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows – or perhaps he does not know.

About the Rigveda[edit]

  • In the West, it is said that the whole tradition of philosophical thought is but a series of footnotes on the Greek philosopher Plato. Here, you could say that all Indian thought is but a series of footnotes on Dīrghatamas.
    • About Dīrghatamas, an important Rigvedic poet well known for his philosophical verses in the RgVeda. Elst, Koenraad. Hindu dharma and the culture wars. (2019). New Delhi : Rupa.
  • Of the Vedic poetic art Watkins writes: “The language of India from its earliest documentation in the Rigveda has raised the art of the phonetic figure to what many would consider its highest form”.
    • Nicholas Kazanas, "Indo-European Deities and the Rigveda," JIES 29 (2001), p. 257. quoting Watkins

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