5,000-Year-old Book: The Rig Veda is Composed

5,000 Year old Book: The Rig Veda is Composed

5,000-Year-old Book: The Rig Veda is Composed

The dates suggested for the composition of the Rig Veda range from c.6000 BCE  to 1000 BCE. The chronology of c.1200-1000 BCE for the family books of the rig Veda is based on the tentative dates put forward by the german Indologist max muller in the 19th century. He worked backward from dates of later text to arrive at c.1200 BCE for the beginnings of Vedic poetry. the reasoning he used is as follows : 

The Vedanga and sutra work was roughly contemporary with early Buddhism, so they can be dated c.600-200 BCE. As Vedic literature is older than Buddhist literature, it must have been composed before the 6th century BCE.

Going by the list of teachers and other contents of the brahmana texts, it can be assumed that the composition of this text must have stretched over at least 200year before 600BCE. That would mean a time bracket of c.800 – 600 BCE for Brahmanas.

The Vedic Samhitas are older than the Brahmanas. Their composition must also have stretched over about 200 years. i.e., c.1000 – 800 BCE.

The Vedic hymns must have evolved over about 200 years. This suggests c.1200 BCE as the date for the beginning of the composition of Vedic poetry. Max muller suggested this chain of reasoning only as a way of arriving at a rough date for the Rig Veda. Several Indologists such as H.H Wilson, G.Buhler, H.Jacobi, and Maurice Winternitz questioned the assigning of 200 years for the composition of various categories of text.

Winternitz thought that the Rig Veda was probably older than 1200 BCE. He suggested that the beginning of Vedic literature should be placed closure to 2500 or 2000 BCE, but added that he would prefer not to give any dates at all. Maxmuller accepted the criticism provoked by his hypothesis but reminded his critics i.e., dates were meant to be hypothetical and provisional.

Astronomical references in the Rig Veda have been used to date the text, but have given different results. For instance, Ludwig concluded that the text was composed in the 11th century BCE while Jacobi arrived at a 3rd millennium BCE date. Recently, Subhash kak (2001) has argued that the astronomical references in the Rig Veda can be dated c.4000-2000 BCE.

A 1380 BCE inscription found at bogaz koi in northeastern Syria records a treaty between a Hittite and a Mitanni king. it mentions the gods Indra, Mitras, Nastia, and Uruvanass deities who are mentioned in the Rig Veda.

While the majority of the Mitanni people spoke the local Hurrian language, the encryption indicated that their ruler’s Indo-Aryan sounding names and invoked indo-Aryan gods. Belonging about the same period is a Hittite text one horse training and chariotry, written by a Mitannian named kikkuli.

This uses several technical terms that resemble Indo Aryan ones. While these encryptions are relevant for the history of the Indo Aryan languages and gods, they do not give direct or definite information about the date of the Rig Veda.

There are close similarities between the language and culture reflected in the Rig Veda and the ancient Iranian text called the Avesta. This could be an important clue to dating the Rigveda but unfortunately, the dates of the Avesta are not certain. its oldest parts may go back to c.1500 BCE.

Very early dates for the Rig Veda that fall within the 7th or 6th millennium BCE are clearly not acceptable. one reason is that we know from archaeology that the northwestern part of the subcontinent was at that time still in the stone age, and the Rig Veda clearly belongs to the chalcolithic age.

Dates falling within the late 3rd millennium BCE or the early 2nd millennium BCE cannot be ruled out. the date of the Rig Veda remains a problematic issue.

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