From the jacket
The Vedic Literature the most ancient product of the Aryan mind held in the highest esteem and regarded as the most sacred by the Hindus presents a panorama of the life of the ancient population of India in all its facets. The scared literature was subjected to analytical study for the first time in the recent centuries by European scholars mainly Germans the foremost among then being Herman Oldenberg His magnum opus-Die Religion des Veda first appeared in print in 1894 and in a revised edition in 1916. He made use of linguistic methods, ethnology and folklore in his exhaustive and penetrating study of the Vedic religion. This work has had a great impact on subsequent Vedic studies and has an abiding interest to the student of the Veda, as is amply evident from the fact that even after nearly a century of its first publication it continues to attract the attention of Vedic researchers and is very frequently sought for guidance and consultation by them, and here is the first ever English translation of this four classic
The work is complete in four chapter preceded by an introduction discussing in detail the source, viz, the Vedas Brahmanas and sutra. The first chapter deals with the Vedic gods and demons in general the second one with the individual gods such as Agni, Indra Vruna Mitra and others the evil demons the origin of the world and the divine and the moral worlds the third treats at length of the cult of sacrifice magic observances festivals prayer priests and the like and the fourth one of the dead, soul heaven and ell, ghosts fathers funeral rites and animism.
Author of the book
Hermann Oldenberg (1854-1920) is considered as one of the greatest Indologists of Germany. After studying classical and Indian philology in Gottingen ands Berlin he became university professor at Kiel and Berlin. He visited India in 1912-13. His contributions to Vedic and Buddhistic studies are vast. He translated the Dipavaqmsa rgveda and Grhyasutras into German.
Of his many books like Buddha sein Leben , sein Lehre, sein Gemeide, Die Lehre des Upanischadern und die Anfange des Buddhism Die Literature des alten Indiens among other Die Religion des Veda (1894) in most outstanding and oft-quoted work.
Shridhar B. Shrotri (b.1934) had his education at Pune. He was the first to have obtained a doctorate degree in Geman from an Indian University in 1965. He has also studies at Heideberg and Munich. He taught at rajaram college Kolhapur and M.E.S and fergusson colleges at pune before joining Karnatak University Dharwad in 1962 where he rose to the position of professor in the foreign languages Department in 1985. Dr. Shrotri has several research papers and translations to his credit.
Hermann Oldenberg (1854-1920) is no strange name to Indologists. His
outstanding contributions to the field of Buddhist and Vedic studies are
universally acknowledged and cited even today with approval by scholars.
His Die Religion des Veda. first published in 1894, became a classic, and a
second revised edition was brought out in 1916. In this conspectus of the
Vedic religious belief and its cult practices and customs, Oldenberg has
brought to bear on the subject not merely the weighty apparatus of critical
scholarship, but also his intimate knowledge of ethnology, folklore and
philology. With pioneering spirit, he seeks to unravel the various links bet-
ween the Vedic Zeitgeist and prehistoric times, links which extend beyond
the common existence of the Indo-European peoples but have become blurred
with the march of time.
Strangely enough, Oldenberg's classic has remained inaccessible till now
to scholars not familiar with German. This endeavour to fill that lacuna was
prompted largely by the encouragement given to me by the noted Vedic
scholar Shri Sham Ba Joshi, winner of the Sahitya Academy award 1970,
and by late Shri Sundarlal Jain, grandfather of the present publisher, Shri
N. P. Jain.
In translating this work, I was hampered a great deal by my lack of familia-
rity with Indological studies, and not to an inconsiderable extent by the
ponderous, laboured syntax, so typical of nineteenth century German dons.
Ironically enough, Oldenberg who accuses the Vedic poets of delighting in
secret-mongering and obfuscatory phraseology, almost invites the same
charge himself. In my attempt to decode his deep structures, I have refrained
from excising many a reduntant turn of phrase, mainly with a view to fidelity
to the text.
My thanks are due to Dr. V. N. Deshpande, Dr. S. H. Ritti, Dr. C. Venu-
gopal and Mr. Arya Acharya for helpful suggestions and to the editors of
the Bibliographisches Institut, Mannheim, for clarifications.
And last but not the least, I wish to acknowledge the unstinting help
received from Dr. B. Subramanian who read and revised my manuscript
thoroughly in the light of the original.
Preface to the first Edition
An attempt to expound the Vedic Religion necessarily presupposes extensive excursions in the domain of the Vedic mythology. To draw a precise dividing line between them and to exclude at the very outset facts and questions of the purely mythological order would amount to attempting the impossible and such as it has not contemplated at all. However a selection has been made from amongst the Vedic myths, and only the most work striking ones have found a place in the present study. The very nature of this work forbids the inclusion fragment or also those whose interpretation appears to be ever and again despairingly unsatisfactory.
Preface to the Second Edition
I did not find any reason in principles to modify this book which was published in 1894. But here and there my further research and the work of other scholars have understandably unearthed new material in this vast field of research; old views have been either corrected or refuted. Accordingly, I have taken pains to improve upon my edition and to enlarge it.
Ancient India and the Rgveda
Characteristics of the people in ancient India
The Vedic Indian whose beliefs and cults are to examined here, settled on the banks of the river Indus and in the Punjab during the period in which the oldest texts were composed. According to very rough estimates –and we can go by only rough estimates-this period is around 1500 to 1000 bc. The Vedic Indians were divided into numerous small tribes was the priestly nobility which formed a closed caste like group even at that time. They lived in villages there of no trace of cities breeding was much more predominately significant than agriculture: a condition whose effect is to be noted even in the religious sphere. The art of witting was as yet not development but was compensated by the achievement of the astonishing power of memory cultivated by the priestly schools.
The immigration of these tribes to India from the north west and their separation from the Indo European sister tribes of the Iranians, with whom they had remained one for a very long time are remote events even for the Vedic Indians if one were to go by the extant literary documents of this period However the remoteness of this period has to be judge on a much humbler scale than say the tremendous intervals of Egyptian or Babylonian history. The separation of the Indians from the Iranians meant fir the migrating south-east a complete dissociation, if not the last step towards dissociation from participating in that great rivalry amongst the nations out of which the healthy manliness of the western nations emerged. In the abundant peace of their new home the Aryans, brother of the eminent nation of Europe, mixed with the dark-skinned primitives of India and ac