The Rig Veda is the oldest of the four Vedas, and is an integral part of humanity’s history.
Below are the links to download the 4 Vedas as PDF, in English, Hindi and Telugu. All the books are available for downloads as pdfs, and are free. However, since it takes quite an effort to scan and create some of them as ebooks, please consider making a small donation. You can enter the amount once you click on the books below.
The Rig Veda PDF Download in Hindi, English, Telugu
The 4 Vedas in English: Translation by RT Griffith, AB Keith and Bloomfield
Download PDF 9 MB
The 4 Vedas in Hindi
Rig Veda: Download (Google Docs. Open in browser and click download button) by Swami Divyanand (PDF 9 MB)
Sama Veda: Download PDF 19 MB by Pandit Jaydev Sharma
Yajur Veda: Part 1 (PDF 28 MB) and Part 2 (PDF 26 MB) by Pandit Jaydev Sharma
Atharva Veda: Part 1 (PDF 24 MB) and Part 2 (PDF 23 MB) by Pandit Jaydev Sharma
The 4 Vedas in Telugu
Unfortunately, I have not been able to source the Sama Veda in Telugu yet. But the other 3 Vedas can be downloaded as PDFs below.
Rig Veda in the context of Indo-European languages
Here is Professor Sukhthankar introducing the lectures of the Rig Veda by Ghate.
As the earliest documents throwing light upon the history of the early Aryan settlers of India, the hymns of the Rig Veda should be, to Indians, a perennial source of interest and inspiration. It is, therefore, not a little strange to find that Rig Vedic studies should evoke, even in the present restless century of research and investigation, of excavation and revaluation, so little genuine interest in India, the cradle of these songs, the country where these very hymns have in time by-gone been studied and taught with such meticulous care and deep-rooted attachment, and even reverence. The only Indian scholar who in recent years had seriously studied the Vedas and tried to arrive at an independent conclusion as to their meaning and value was my Guru, the late Professor Rajaram Ramakrishna Bhagvat. His researches have suffered underserved neglect at the hands of his countrymen, and, owing to their being written in Marathi, have after barely twenty years, passed into unmerited oblivion.
The text of the Rig Veda, it is true, has come down to us in a form not wholly authentic. Handed down through untold vistas of centuries exclusively by oral tradition the Rig Veda Samhita has in the mouths of the devout reciters not entirely escaped that fate which is uniformly shared, in all- climes and all ages, by similar works which have originated in some early historical epoch and have continued to live on through succeeding epochs of linguistic and literary development. Nevertheless, it cannot be gainsaid that the tradition of the Rig Veda is unique for its antiquity, purity and continuity in the history of world literature, and particularly in the history of the literatures of the Indo-germanic family. The oldest remnants of. the Iranian group are the cuneiform inscriptions dating from about 500 B. C. and the Avesta, which has come. down to us with numerous and multiform corruptions, written in a defective alphabet, which renders its decipherment an arduous and a problematic task. The early history of Greek has to be pieced together laboriously from imperfectly preserved inscriptions; the language of the Homeric poems, which are considerably later than our Rig Vedic hymns, is regarded by competent critics as an artificial dialect.
Latin is known to us from about the third century B. C., that is nearly 1200 years later than the latest period to which Vedic hymns have been assigned by some Western scholars. Gothic, the most archaic language of the Germanic group, is known to us chiefly through the translations of the Bible made by Bishop Ulfilas in the fourth century of the Christian era. Of the Balto-slavonic branch, Old Prussian died out in the seventeenth century; only some few imperfectly recorded specimens of Old Prussian have been preserved to us and they date from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The literary record of Gaelic, the most important branch of the Celtic group begins in the eighth century A. D. and only from the commencement of the twelfth century do we find any manuscripts which contain sagas and theological literature. It is needless to multiply instances.
Study of the Rig Veda Samhita
The value and importance of the Rig Veda Samhita for linguistic, mythological and historical research is commonly acknowledged, if not fully realised in India. It is not an exaggeration to say that the imposing structures of Indo-germanic Philology and Mythology have been reared on—and would have been impossible to rear without— the solid and broad foundation of Rig Vedic tradition And this Rig Veda is our heritage. We have the prior right to its exploitation. It is our duty to exercise that right. Furthermore it is improper to impose on European scholars the burden of interpreting our literature, our past We must fit ourselves to shoulder our own burdens. And for that we must equip ourselves with all the paraphernalia of’ the technique of modern philological and historical research. The twentieth century is a century of specialists.
It is a sign of the times that the Bombay University, recently reorganising its Department of Post-graduate Studies has inaugurated a course of lectures on the Rig Veda. It is anticipated that the arrangement will be a permanent one. Here is, an opportunity for young Indians to learn, under competent guidance, the correct method and the results of latest researches in the interpretation of the Rig Veda. It may be confidently hoped that the new scheme launched by the University will meet with ready response from the student world, and, in the fullness of time, will fructify in reawakening in India the interest in Vedic studies.
Nothing could serve better as an elementary guide to Vedic studies than this little hand-book, which embodies the lectures delivered under the auspices of the University of Bombay by the late Dr. Ghate, whose dissertation on the Vedanta, accepted as a doctor thesis by the University of Paris, entitles him to a rank among the leading Sanskritists of the present generation. It has served—and served well—the needs of the graduate students for over a decade and a call for a second edition is a clear indication of its just merits end well-deserved popularity. The lectures have been re-printed here, with the exclusion of what appeared to the editor as superfluous matter: the correction of some minor errors and inaccuracies : and finally addition of an index (compiled by Mr. N. N. Kulkarni, B. A., of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute) and of some supplementary matter, chiefly in the shape of foot notes. These latter are mainly intended to draw the attention of the student to important works in this field which have appeared since the book was written. For the convenience of Indian students, with a view to facilitate reading and study, Sanskrit words and names have throughout been printed in Devanagari characters.
The student may further consult with advantage the chapters by Professor A. Berriedale Keith on the age of the Rig Veda and the period of the later Samhitas in the Cambridge History of India, volume II (1922). They contain views which, if not wholly convincing, are highly interesting and suggestive.
While the revised edition was passing through the press there appeared two important aids to Rig Veda study which could not be noticed in the body of the book: one of them is a new translation of the Rig Veda by the nestor of Vedic studies, Professor Karl Geldner of the University of Marburg, and the other is a contribution to Rig Veda Lexicography by Walter Neisser more elaborate, much more copious than Grassman’s dictionary of the Rig Veda, which it supplements. It is not impossible that the next generation will require and produce another translation and another dictionary of the Rig Veda. If so, may it come to pass that they are from the pen of one who is proud to regard this ancient Samhita of the hymns of Rishis as his own, proper heritage!
Reading the Rig Veda
Ghate’s comments on how to read the RIg Veda: General neglect of the study of the Veda in India—why the Rig Veda should be studied—the study essential for a right understanding of Indian history—the influence of the Veda seen everywhere and at all times—the study essential for the history cf the world—important from the point of view of Comparative Philology—the effect of the introduction of Sanskrit to Western scholars—contrast between classical Sanskrit and Vedic Sanskrit—some interesting facts in the history of words-—the roots and—neglect of the study of the Rig Veda least excusable under the present circumstances—the plan of the course of lectures.
Complaints are often made by students that the study of the Rig Veda, which is very dry, is absolutely wanting not only in interest but also in utility. The same spirit animates our pandits and munshis, who spend their whole lives in the study of one or more branches of philosophy or sciences like grammar and rhetoric, but none of whom seems ever to have given even a passing thought to the study of the Vedas. And this spirit seems to have been handed down from generation to generation, from very old times, to judge by the fact that even Panini, the oldest known grammarian, whose sutras and shlokas and Astadhyayi has the honour of being regarded by the orthodox people as one of the greatest works specially intended as helps to the study of the Veda, deals with the grammar of the Vedic language only in a perfunctory manner. And the same is the case with the modern, highly popular manual of grammar, with which every begins the study of the subject, and whose knowledge is quite essential to every Sanskrit scholar whether of the ancient or the modern type—I mean, the aspects dealing with the Vedic idiom have been put together in a section by itself called the smritis and srutis, studied by very few.
The class of brahmins who can recite the Vedic texts from beginning to end without a mistake, but who are absolutely ignorant of the meaning thereof, also testifies to the fact, that the systematic exegesis of the Veda has been woefully neglected. How and why this spirit came over the votaries of Sanskrit is an enigma, especially when we remember that in the Mukti Upanishad, the oldest known work dealing with the exegesis of the Veda, the author concludes his introduction to the work with a high eulogium of him who understands the meaning of the Veda and a scathing censure of him who only repeats the words without knowing their meaning.
The Poetry of Rig Veda
What has been said so far is, of course, only generally true, as one cannot shut one’s eyes to the work done in the field by many, especially during the period of special activity about the 14th century A.D., to which I shall have occasion to refer in a subsequent lecture. The disappointment experienced by the present student of the Veda is due more to the wrong standpoint which the student takes than to the nature of the study itself. The archaic character of the language and the distance by which we are removed from the Vedic times no doubt contribute to make the study difficult and tedious, but these drawbacks are nothing compared to the utility of the study and the interest which would follow from it, if it is only pursued in the right spirit.
Do you, young readers, come to the Rig Veda with the hope of finding in it the most sublime poetry? Then I am not surprised at the disappointment which would be in store for you. You must not expect to find in the Rig Veda the smooth and melodious verses of Kalidasa, nor the deep and heart-rending emotions of Bhavabhuti nor the polished and jingling music of anyone else nor the elaborate and highly finished art of Bhana, nor the deep significance of Magha nor the bewilderingly complex phrases of Bharavi. All the same it cannot be denied that the hymns of the Rig Veda, at least some of them, are such as the goddess of poetry would be proud of. The freshness and beautiful imagery which characterize the hymns addressed to the Aurora, the heroic simplicity of some of the hymns addressed to the Thundering Bull, the homeliness which pervades some of the hymns to sTftr, cannot but appeal to a sympathetic and appreciating reader. Though the Rig Veda as a work of poetry cannot at all stand comparison with best specimens of Sanskrit classical poetry, still it has something indescribable in it which cannot be lightly passed over.
The Age of the Rig Veda
This is a controversial subject to say the least. Different date are assigned to the composition of each of the Vedas. It must be remembered here that the Vedas are essentially an oral tradition, passed by recitation and memory from one generation to the next. They were only written down supposedly at the end of the 10th Century BC after a devastating 12 year famine. As to the Rig Veda, it is likely that the last of hymns were put in place with a terminus ante quem of 1500 BC. The earliest of the hymns is however a different matter. A terminus post quem given by Max Mueller would be 3000 BC. But much has been said about Mueller’s Christian upbringing biasing his dating. Dates given for the earliest compositions also stand at around 6000 BC, with astronomical observations corresponding to this date present in the Veda.
The last of the Vedas was in its final form at the very latest by 900 BC, because by this date the Upanishads began to be gleaned and set apart from the Vedas.