The importance of a critical translation of the Rgveda in the field of Indology need hardly be emphasised. In spite of the translations of the Rgveda into English by Wilson and Griffith, Indologists—particularly 'Indian Vedists have been feeling the want of a fresh critical English translation of the Rgveda in the light of to-date oriental and occidental researches. Professor Velankar, who devoted himself to the Vedic studies for about four decades and a half had planned to present his newer interpretation and translation of the Rgveda into English. The present work RKSUKTASATI is a collection of 101 hymns from the Rgveda with a view to illustrating its rich and varied content. The ten Mandalas of the Rgveda, the important deities of the Vedic mythology, and the different kinds of hymns with their rich variety of prosody and literary style have been fairly represented in this volume. Select Padapatha of the text is also given to facilitate the scanning of the text. The text is followed by its translation into English and brief critical notes. Herein the original text is construed in its natural connotation supported by the critical study of the Rgvedic language and style as well as by the discriminative and thorough understanding of the spirit of the Vedic Seers. Both the traditional interpretations of Sayana and others and the occidental researches of scholars like Oldenberg and Geldner are critically examined.
Hari Damodar Velankar, M.A., formerly Professor of Sanskrit at the Wilson College (1916-1952), the Jt. Director, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay (1952-1963). Professor of Sanskrit, University of Bombay 1963-67) had earned a distinguished and covetable position in the field of Indological research by his enlightening studies in the Rgveda as well as Sanskrit and Prakrit Prosody. During his career as a Professor of Sanskrit for the last four decades and a half, he had guided the research students in Sanskrit for the University of Bombay in different branches like Alamkara, Astrology, Mimamsa, Veda, Vyakarana and Yoga. With indefatigable spirit of service for the cause of Sanskrit literature, he had personally collected, not without many impediments about two thousand manuscripts from different places and donated the same to the Library of the University of Bombay in the memory of his late teacher Prof. H, M. Bhadkamkar. Besides having been the President of the Vedic Section of the All India Oriental Conference held at Nagpur (1946) and Ahmedabad (1953), he was actively associated with that body as well as other learned institutions like Bombay Asiatic Society, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona, Deccan. College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Poona, Sahitya Akademy, New Delhi, National Book Trust, New Delhi, and the Sanskrit Vishva Parishad, Bombay. He was awarded the Certificate of Honour in Sanskrit by the President of India in 1962. Published Works: A Descriptive Catalogue of Sanskrit and Prakrit MSS of the B.B.R.A. Society's Library, Vols, 1-4 (1925-30); ed. Sambhaji's Budhabhusana (1926), Jinaratnakosa—Descriptive Catalogue of Jain Works (1944); ed. Jayadaman—Collection of Works on Sanskrit Prosody (1949), ed. Ratna-manjusa (1949); A Descriptive Catalogue of the Sanskrit Mss. of the Library of the University of Bombay (1953); Rgvedantil Bhaktimarga (in Marathi 1953); ed. Sauptikaparva of the Mahabharata (pub. by B.O.R.I. Poona, 1956) ed. Kalidasa's Vikramorvasiyam (pub. by Sahitya Akademy, 1961), ed. Hemachandra's Chandonusasana (1961) Rgveda Mandala, VII (1963), Rksuktavaijayanti (in Hindi 1965) Rgveda Mandala II (1966), Rgveda Mandala III (1968) and about fifty research papers.
We have great pleasure in placing before Sanskrit scholars and students the Rksuktasati by the late Professor Hari Damodar Velankar. For more than four decades Professor Velankar gave devoted attention to Sanskrit and Prakrit Research in general and Vedic studies and Research in particular. He was the Joint Director (Academic) and Head of the Post-Graduate and Research Department of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for about ten years. During his tenure' at the Bhavan, he worked on this book. Later he was invited to be the first Bhandarkar Professor at the the Department of Sanskrit, University of Bombay and he adorned this position till he breathed his last in January 1967.
Unfortunately the untimely demise of Professor Velankar, coupled with other technical difficulties, has delayed the publication of his work for a considerable time, for which we crave the indulgence of scholars.
We are extremely thankful to Professor S. A. Upadhyaya, Jt. Director (Academic) and Head of the Post-Graduate and Research Department of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for piloting through the Press this publication of his Guru. We are thankful to Dr. (Kumari) Usha Bhise, also a student of Professor Velankar, for helping us with the correction of proofs and for preparing the select Glossary.
Thanks are due to the Government of India for the generous grant it has given us towards the cost of publication.
During his last illness, the late Professor H. D. Velankar had expressed his desire that I should see his work Rksuktasati through the press. I accepted this onerous task knowing full well my own limitations and the responsibility involved, only in the spirit of fulfilling my sacred duty to carry out the last wish of my revered Guruji whose affection and guidance had always been an abiding source of inspiration and encouragement to me.
The Rksuktasati presents the collection of 101 hymns from the Rgveda with a view to illustrating the rich and varied content of that work. The ten Mandalas of the Rgveda, the important deities of the Vedic mythology, and the different kinds of hymns with their rich variety of prosody and literary style have been fairly represented in this volume. Select Padapatha of the text is also given to facilitate the scanning of the text. The text is followed by its translation into English and brief critical notes to help the students in their Rgvedic studies. The annotated translation is based on Sayanacarya's commentary as well as on "the wonderfully brilliant and thought-provoking" Noten by H. Oldenberg and the translation of the Rgveda in German by Geldner. Besides, important contributions to Rgvedic interpretation by scholars like Macdonell, Wackernagel, L. Renou, Paul Thieme, Kane and Potdar have also been taken into account. Quite often the references to similar passages in the Rgveda have been given to enable the students "to master the Rgvedic idiom and usage and also to enable them to judge for themselves the correctness of the interpretation offered on a given passage."
Thus the present volume is intended to help the advanced University students in their Rgvedic studies, and enable them to pursue further studies on independent lines.
A very brief outline of a few important aspects of the Rgvedic studies is given below for the general information of the students.
Contents of the Rgveda:
The Rgveda Samhita comprising 1028 hymns (including the eleven Khila hymns in Mandala VIII) is divided into ten Mandalas. Of these, Mandalas II to VII are homogeneous in character as they present a collection of hymns belonging to a particular family. These Mandalas are known as Kulamandalas (i.e. Family-Mandalas) and are attributed to the Rsis Grtsamada, Visvamitra, Vamadeva, Atri, Bharadvaja and Vasistha respectively. Of these families, only that of Visvamitra and Vasistha appear to have been closely associated, vying with each other for the priesthood of the king Sudas. (For a detailed discussion, see paras 7, 8 and 9 in the Introduction to Rgveda Mandala VII by H. D. Velankar, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1963). Each Family Mandala appears to have a Family hymn or hymns (e.g. 111.53; V.40; V11.33 etc.) describing some unusual exploit of the illustrious ancestor or the founder of the family. These Family Mandalas exhibit their leanings towards some particular deities, besides Agni and Indra. For example, in the Grtsamada Mandala we find hymns addressed to Brhaspati, Rudra and Apam Napat; in the Visvamitra Mandala to Mitra; in the Vamadeva Mandala to the Rbhus; in the Atri Mandala to the Maruts and Mitra-Varuna; in the Bharadvaja Mandala to Pusan and in the Vasistha Mandala to Mitra-Varuna, Asvins, Usas and Varuna. Uncommon hymn or hymns like the Sakunta-sukta (11.42, 43), the Sangrama-sukta (VI. 75) and the Manduka-sukta (VII.103) are found in each of these Family Mandalas.
The Eighth Mandala is associated with the family of Kanvas but its arrangement of hymns is different from that of the other Family Mandalas. The Ninth Mandala comprises hymns addressed to Pavamana Soma by different Rsis. The first fifty hymns of the First Mandala resemble the Eighth Mandala in as far as the majority of these hymns are revealed to the Kanvas and they appear in Pragathas or strophic stanzas. It is difficult to assign any particular reason for the separate collection of these Kanya-hymns, in spite of their similarities in ideas and expression with the hymns of the Eighth Mandala. The rest of the hymns (Nos. 51 to 191) of the First Mandala are attributed to different Rsis belonging to diverse families. The language and the content of the hymns attributed to different seers in the Tenth Mandala point out that it contains a good number of hymns of later origin.
The hymns are mainly the invocations to Gods like Agni and Indra requesting them to accept the oblations and favour the worshippers with generous gifts. The seers glorify the heroic deeds of the deities and the munificence of their patrons. The Soma hymns describe the crushing of the Soma plant, the extraction of the Soma juice, the preparation of the Soma drink by mixing ingredients like milk and honey and its exhilarating effects enabling the deities to perform their valiant deeds. Among the secular hymns, we have the famous Gambler's Hymn (X.34) recalling the ruin brought by dice; the Bhiksu-sukta (X.117) glorifying the gift of food; the Bhoja-sukta (X.117) singing the glory of the prosperity of the donor etc. The hymns comprising dialogues between the Rivers and Visvamitra (111.33), Sarama and the Panis (X.108), Indra and Apala (VIII.91), Yama and Yami (X.10), Urvasi and Pururavas (X.95) etc. are interesting even from a literary view-point. Hymns like Svapanam (VII.55) are supposed to be endowed with miraculous power. The Surya-vivaha-sukta throws light on the contemporary marriage customs and the Pitr-sukta reveals the details of the contemporary funeral rites. Hymns like the Purusa-sakta (X.90) and the Nasadiya-sukta (X.129) help us to trace the Vedic cosmological and philosophical ideas. The panegyrics like 1.126 are semi-historical as they give the genealogical details of the donors and the names of the Vedic tribes. A couple of hymns (1.164, VIII .29) consists of riddles, largely connected with the gods. The Jnana-sukta (IX.71) declares the supreme importance of knowledge. Besides the religious and mythological details, these hymns reveal various facts of the life of Vedic Aryans. Thus the contents of the Rgveda are richly varied, revealing the contemporary life and thought which form the basis of evolution of Indian thought and culture through the ages.
The Rgvedic gods are generally stated to be thirty-three (111.6.9) in number. However at 111.9.9 the gods are said to be 3339 in number. Yaska (Nirukta VII.14) gives threefold classification of the gods as prthvisthana (i.e. belonging to the earth), antariksasthana or madhya-masthana. (i.e. belonging to the air) and dyusthana (i.e. belonging to the heaven). Attempts have also been made to classify gods on the basis of their relative greatness or the relative age of their mythological conception or the stage of their personification. However, it is difficult to make absolute classification of the Vedic gods. It is also difficult to draw individual outlines, distinguishing the gods from one another for they have certain common attributes and functions. Often the gods belonging to different regions are approximated on the basis of their common prominent functions. This, in due course, helped the evolution of the monotheistic tendency as expressed in ekam sat viprah. bahudha vadanti/(I. 164.46) etc. As pointed out by Max Mueller, in the older parts of the Rgveda, we find traces of Henotheism or Kathenotheism (i.e. praising a particular deity, under address, as the supreme or the only god), which, in other words, can be explained as a step towards monotheism. The anthropomorphic description of the gods is vague and incomplete as it often represents some aspects of their natural basis. For example, the rays of the sun are his arms and the flames of Agni are his tongues.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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