Treatment of Nature in the Rgveda (A Rare Book)


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Exposed to his bewildered gaze, the mystery of Nature had l tired the religious imagination and aesthetic sense of the early Aryan. To him, Nature was dreadful and yet beautiful. The Rgveda is the earliest available chronicle of this exhilarating human experience.

Dr. B, B. Chaubey’s "Treatment of Nature in the Rgveda” is an honest attempt to reproduce the glory that the Rgveda is- a repository of ancient religion and unblemished poetry. In the Introduction, Dr. Chaubey proposes an assessment of the wealth of critical acumen and hard labour that scholars, both ancient and modern, have brought to bear upon the study of the Vedas, especially the Rgveda, The chapters are well-balanced and evenly distributed, that, stroke by stroke bring to the fore the heart of the Rgveda. The conclusion is a denouement of all. The style is lucid and yet forceful and convincing.

The work is strongly recommended to the scholarly world as to the general intelligent readers interested in the golden heritage of India.



The Rgveda as the most ancient literary monument of the Aryan race, nay, of the whole world, is the most authoritative source of the religion, philosophy and poetry. For acquiring knowledge of the history of Indian religion, philosophy and poetry, its study is most essential. No investigation into the nature and origin of the gods of Indian theology, is possible without the help of the Rgveda, Therefore, it is lit and proper for the seeker of the knowledge of Indian religion and poetry to go to the Rgveda.

Ours is the age of science. The Vedas are not now the special possessions of any class or sect. They are open to all scientific minds; "The Treatment of Nature in the Rgveda" is an attempt to solve on modern lines the mystery of Nature which the Rgvedic seers had visualized.

From a critical study of the Rgveda it becomes obvious that Nature was the vital source of inspiration for the Vedic seers. The religious and the philosophic conceptions, which they developed, were the outcome of the observation of the various physical phenomena of Nature. The beauty and sublimity of these phenomena inspired the feelings which found expression in the form of beautiful lyrics, addressed to Gods and Goddesses, which, in reality were deeply emotional descriptions of the various phenomena of Nature.

The present work "Treatment of Nature in the “Rgveda" is inter alia, an endeavour to give a clearer idea of how the Rgvedic seers visualised Nature. Mainly there are two angles of visualising Nature, one religious and the other poetic, Accordingly, the work is divided into two parts-Religious Approach to Nature and Poetic Approach to Nature. Part I consists of live chapters, Chapter first deals with what the Rgvedic poets meant by Nature, and what terminology they had invented to designate the totality of the physical phenomena, The second chapter fully discusses the part Nature has played in the Formation of Vedic religion together with some observations on, and the examination of the different theories about the origin of religion in general and the Rgvedic religion in particular. The third chapter mainly consists of an answer to the question ‘who are these Gods? The view that Vedic Gods are living human beings or psychic powers does not give us a correct idea of the spirit of the Rgveda. Hence, I have criticised these views and established that Rgvedic Gods are nothing but personifications of the physical phenomena of Nature, In the fourth chapter, various theories proposed by oriental as well as occidental scholars to explain the myths of the Rgveda have been detailed and explained. In the conclusion of this chapter, I have expressed my definite view that the myths connected with the various gods can best be explained and understood, in the light of the regional classification of Vedic deities as proposed by the Nairuktas, In the fifth chapter, various modes of worship and the objects of worship in Nature are discussed. The most important among the latter, viz., the Sky the Sun and Agni are selected for individual treatment.

Part Il deals with the Rgveda as a line specimen of Nature- poetry. It consists of three chapters (numbered in continuation} wherein chapter VI describes and illustrates Nature-poetry in the Rgvedic hymns in general and in the songs addressed to the Maruts, the Sun, Parjanya and Night in particular. Chapter VII describes the Rgvedic concept of Beauty in poetry and Chapter VIII the poetic beauty in the Usas—suktas.

In the Introduction of this book I have given a retrospect of Rgvedic studies in ancient as well as in modern time in India and abroad, There is nothing original here. However, it will be 1 L most useful for the student of the Rgveda anxious for conducting p research in this field.

Much work has been done by oriental as well as occidental scholars on Vedic mythology and religion, viewing Nature as their ground-work; Scholars have also taken pains to evaluate the merit of the Rgvedic poetry from tl1e viewpoints of modern criticism. But in the vast realm of literature written on Vedic mythology, religion and poetry, no work has appeared so far which may be mainly devoted to the part played by Nature in the evolution of Rgvedic religion and poetry, It is for the first time that I have discussed the various modes of Nature—description in the poetry of the Rgveda.

In writing this work I have followed both the critical and the descriptive methods, While discussing the religious approach to Nature I have first given the views of earlier authorities on the subject, and where l have found them deviating from the text of the Rgveda, I have criticised them and given my own judgement `V supported by the Rgvedic texts and the Nirukta of Yaska. For the clear understanding of the subject 1 have given the text of the Rgveda in footnotes with proper accent, and its purport in the body of the book. While quoting the Rgvedic passages I have given Griliitl1’s translation with certain minor modifications. Less reliance has been placed on Sayana’s commentary than on Yaska’s Nirukta, for the former has confined himself only to the ritualistic explanation of the Rgveda.

This work was originally prepared as a thesis, under the supervision of Dr. S. Bhattacharya, and accepted for the degree of ‘Doctor of Philosophy, in the department of Sanskrit of the Banaras Hindu University in 1964. While publishing it I have made certain modifications which were found necessary.

I take this opportunity to record my grateful thanks to all the scholars ancient as well as modern, oriental as well as occidental, who have done a lot in this field and whose writings l have consulted in preparing my work, It is my sacred duty to acknowledge my deep debt of gratitude to Dr. S. Bhattacharya, Professor and Head of the Deptt. of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit, Banaras Hindu University, A under whose fostering guidance I completed the thesis within at short period, and who has further added to the kind favours conferred on me by writing a foreword to this book. His personality shall ever be a perennial source of inspiration and guiding light for me, I find no words to express my gratitude to late Dr. H. D. Velankar and Dr. D, C, Bhattacharya (the examiners of my thesis), I can never forget the following kind remarks of Dr. Velankar when he came to take my viva-voce examination: ‘My dear Chaubey, I am very much pleased with your thesis and I have come only to congratulate you." They are virtually, the pronouncement of his blessings on me, It was his keen desire to see this thesis published, But alas! Before the publication of the book, the cruel hands of the death have snatched him away from us.

I am also thankful to Dr. Ram Suresh Tripathi, Head of the Deptt. of Sanskrit, Aligarh Muslim University, and Shri C.G. Kashikar of the Centre of Advanced study in Sanskrit, Poona University, for their appreciation of the book when I showed it to them at the Silver Jubilee Session of All India Oriental Conference at Jadvapur `University, Calcutta. I cannot conclude this note without offering the flower of my reverence to the lotus feet of my Guru ji Maharaja, Pt. Shyamdas Pandey whose blessings have always been bestowed upon me.

My thanks are due to Prof. Jagannath Agrawal, Pt. Bhimdeva Shastri, Shri K, V, Sharma and Shri Jai Narayan Sharma who have helped me by giving many constructive suggestions regarding the publication of the book.

Lastly, my thanks are also due to the authorities and workers of the Vishveshvaranand Vedic Research Institute Press, Hoshiarpur, who have done their best in finishing the printing of this book in time.

In spite of all the pains taken by me to make it free from printing errors, some mistakes may have crept in. For these I crave the indulgence of the intelligent readers.




  Foreword v
  Preface vi
  Contents xi
  Introduction 1-38
  A Retrospect of Rgvedic Studies -  
A. Ancient 1
  Schools of Vedic Interpretation 3
  1. Nairukta School 3
  2. Aitihasika School 8
  3. Yajnika- School 8
  4. Naidana School 10
  5. Parivrajaka School 10
  6. Adhidaivata School 11
  7. Akhyana School 11
  8. Anti-Vedic Scepticism 12
  9. Mimamsa 13
  Anukramanis 14
  Commentaries 15
  Skandasvamin 15
  Narayana and Udgitha 16
  Madhava Bhatta 17
  Venkata Madhava 17
  Ananda Tirtha 18
  Atmananda 18
  Sayanacarya 18
  Some other commentaries 20
  Ravana 20
  Mudgala 21
  Catrvedasvamin, etc. 22
B. Modern 23
  Western 23
  Indian 29
  Part I: Religious Approach to Nature  
Chapter 1: Rgvedic Concept of Nature 1-27
  Nature in Human Experience 1
  Rgvedic Poetry the result of direct communion with Nature 2
  Absence of the word Prakrti 2
  Meaning of the word Prakrti 3
  Rta in the sense of Nature 3
  Meaning of Rta 3
  Aditi: the Personification of Nature 15
  Two aspects of Nature 24
  Nature as Animating Principle 25
  Vedic and Philosophic views of Nature 25
  Definition of Religion 28
  Religion of the Rgveda 30
  Origin of Religion 34
  1. Theory of Animism 36
  2. Theory of Spiritism 37
  3. Theory of Group-spirits 38
  4. Theory of Belief in a Highest being 40
  5. Theory of Totemism 41
  6. Theory of Magic 43
  7. Theory of Cult 46
  8. Theory of Fetishism 46
  9. Theory of Naturalism 48
  Concept of Deva 50
  Concept of Immortality 52
  Nature in Cosmological Speculations 43
  Plurality of Nature—Gods 58
  Polytheism to Monotheism 59
  Rgvedic Religion is not Primitive 62
Chapter III Gods: The Phenomena of Nature (General) 64-89
  Are Vedic Gods Living Human beings 64
  Are Vedic Gods Psychic Powers 69
  Vedic Gods are the Personified Phenomena of Nature 75
Chapter IV Gods: The Phenomena of Nature (Theories) 90-125
  Storm or Meteorological Theory 91
  Solar or Dawn Theory 98
  Vernal Theory 104
  Arctic Theory 106
  Tejas and Tamas Theory 114
  Conclusion 115
Chapter V Nature-Worship and the worship of Gods 126-180
  Modes of worship 127
  1. Prayer 128
  2. Laudation 131
  3. Propitiation 131
  4. Sacrifice 132
  Nature as the Object of Worship 133
  Origin of Nature worship 136
  Worship of the Sky 139
  A. Worship of Dyaus 140
  B. Worship of Varuna 145
  Worship of the Sun 160
  A. Surya 160
  B. Savitar, etc. 163
  Worship of Agni 168
  Part II: Poetic Approach to Nature  
Chapter VI Nature and Poetry 183-238
  Evolution of Poetry 183
  Nature in Art 185
  Rgveda: A Nature-poetry 187
  Various ways of Nature-description 189
  Songs of the Maruts 208
  Songs of the Sun 223
  Songs of Parjanya 232
  Songs of the Night 235
Chapter VII Beauty and Poetry 239-256
  Definition of Beauty 239
  Croce on the concept of Beauty 239
  Expression as the Essence of Beauty 242
  Rgvedic concept of Beauty 243
  1. Purity of Thought 243
  2. Novelty of Thought 244
  3. Delightful Thought 246
  4. Appreciation of Beauty 247
  5. Extra-ordinary pleasure 249
  6. Sublimity of Thought 250
  7. Embellishment of Language 252
  8. Presentation of Image 254
Chapter VIII Poetic Beauty in the Usas-Suktas 257-270
  Index of Subjects and Names 271
  Bibliography 283
  Abbreviations 297
  Errarta 299

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