Opinion Piece by PROFESSOR DEV TEWARI
WHAT is a book? As per the Merriam Webster dictionary, a book is a written or printed work bound in covers.
Rigved qualifies for a definition of a book. First, it’s written in praise of gods and goddesses and basic guiding principles for human welfare. Second, it is written in the ancient Sanskrit language, now incidentally considered appropriate for computer programming, as acknowledged by Nasa.
Final reason, its ideas are arranged in an awe-inspiring manner.
There are some 10 chapters or Mandals in the Rigved. Each Mandal is then divided into Shukta – a collection of mantras or Richa. According to Shaunak Rishi, there are 1 028 Shukta in
Rigved and 10 580.5 Richas or mantras.
Using these criteria for defining a book, Rigved is indeed a book which for more than 1 000 years was transferred from one generation to the next through Guru-Shisya transmission or Dharma transmission. Only after 1 000 years or so was it written on paper
The next task is to determine how old the Rigved is. A Google search shows the oldest book is the Bulgarian
Etruscan Gold Book dating back from around 600 BCE, which makes it about 2 620 years old by 2020.
This book has six sheets of 24-carat gold bound together with rings; the plates were written in Etruscan characters. The Etruscans were an ancient people from Modern Turkey who later migrated to other parts of Europe.
Now we come to the history of the Rigved. How old the Rigved is has long been a controversial question as there are many schools of ideas. The noted German Indologist, Max Muller, assessed its origin to be around 1200 BCE to 100 BCE, meaning it is at most about 3 200 years old.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak believed it to be created around 6000 BCE, which means Rigved is about 8 020 years old. As per Witzel, it was written around 800 to 100 CE, which means it is just about 1 200 to 1 900 years old.
But the Rigved is written in Sanskrit. Sage Panini wrote Astadhyayi treaties on grammar and phonetics of the classical Sanskrit language in 4 000 sutras about 6th to 5th BCE – that’s about 2 500 to 2 600 years ago.
It is now known that about 3 000 years ago Sanskrit was a mature and well-developed language. It is also believed to be the language of Hindu gods and goddess. After all, Panini got this knowledge from Lord Shiva.
Sanskrit must have developed before the Vedas were written. So Sanskrit cannot be younger than Rigved.
Now let us look at two recent discoveries which reflect the existence of Sanatan dharma. First is the Ramsetu, believe to be man-made or made by Lord Ram and his army to cross the ocean to go to Sri Lanka. As per news published in Deccan Chronicle on January 31, 2018, Ram Setu is 18 400 years old, and 35km long. The bridge submerged in the water is roughly 100m wide and up to 10m in depth. The other estimate is that this bridge is about 1.7 million years old. And there is some evidence of Hindu civilisation as far as back as 1.7 million years.
Ramayana confirms Guru Vashishth taught all Vedas to princes of King Dasrath. Based on this evidence, it is clear that all the assessments by Western experts are just guesstimates. We have solid evidence of Ramsetu and that confirms the Rigved is at least as old as 18 800 to 1.7 million years. This is one assessment.
Now look at the second evidence of sunken Dwarka that has been found. Interestingly enough, Lord Krishna appeared after Lord Ram on Earth. It is dated about 10 000 BCE.
So certainly Rigved existed then and the old expert evidence is nullified as the Vedas are an integral part of Hindu culture. Nilesh Nilkanth Oak, a cultural historian of India, says there is evidence of connecting Indian or Hindu or Rigved civilisation for the 17 000-plus years and it is going to extend as new evidence is being collected. In brief, Rigved is at least 18 800 years old based on present evidence.
This proves that Rigved is not only the oldest book of human civilisation but is a highest creation of knowledge in the human history.