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Re: Request : help about Rig passage

Posted By Shikaripura Harihareswara (HOYSALA@worldnet.att.net)
4 Jan 1997 19:50:08 GMT

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jacob.baltuch@infoboard.be (Jacob Baltuch) wrote:
>Can someone provide the exact quotation (in English translation)
>and the translitterated Sanskrit for the following approximate quotation
>of a passage of the Rigveda, which states something to the effect that:
> Only "he who is watching this world from on highest in heaven"
> knows what might have happened in the beginning, if indeed even
> he does. (Rigveda 10.129.7)


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Here is the answer to your request posted on the Internet in this Hindu Religion News-group:
1 The quotation is a part, being the concluding 7th mantra, of the famous 'NAsadIya sUkta' of the Rigveda samhitA, tenth mandala, 12=
9th sUkta, consisting of 7 mantras.
2 It runs like this:
iyam visriShtir yata A-babhUva yadi vA dadhe yadi vA na |
yo asya-adhyakShah parame vyoman tso anga veda yadi vA na veda ||
- by Rishi 'prajApati parameShThI', in the metre 'triShThup'(Ref. 1)

3 I am giving the translation of this mantra at the end of this article.

4 The nAsadIya sUkta, starting with : "nAsad AsInno sad AsIt tadAnIm, ...." (meaning, "Then neither Being nor non-Being was...") ha=
s, for several reasons, attracted the attention of many Vedic scholars, philosophers - both eastern and western. This sUkta of Cosmo=
logy has generated volumes of discussion because of its importance in the Vedic literature. The seeds of Upanishadic thoughts are s=
own in mystical hymns like these.
Frederich Max Muller says (Ref. 4, page 10) "..... and there are hymns, though few in number, in the Vedas, so full of thought and=
speculation that at this early period no poet in any other nation could have conceived them. I give but one specimen, the 129th hym=
n of the tenth book of the Rigveda." Paul Deussen exclaims (Ref. 5, pp 119 & 126)
" In its noble simplicity, in the loftiness of its philosophic vision it is possibly the most admirable bit of philosophy of olden t=
imes. .. .. .. No translation can ever do justice to the beauty of the original." And, Maurice Bloomefield summarizes ( Ref. 7, pp =
".... This remarkable production [of Creation hymn (10.129)] has always interested Sanskritists profoundly; it has also passed over =
into the general literature of religion and philosophy."

5 This Creation Hymn has been translated by:
Colebrooke, "Miscellaneous Essays" pp 33-4;
Muir, "Original Sanskrit Texts, V, pp 356-7,
Wallis, "Cosmology of the Rigveda", pp 59ff,
Whitney, "Journal of American Oriental Society", vol. xi, p cix,
and several other Vedic scholars such as, Mascaro, Macdonell,
Misch, Telang, Chubey, Renou, Zaehner, Geldner.
(Ref.10, p 623 & 3, p 59 )

6 I am now giving the translation of the Rigveda 10: 129:7 mantra per a few authors:

He from whom all this great creation came,
Whether his will created or was mute,
The Most High Seer that is in highest heaven,
He knows it- or perchance He knows not.
-F. Max Muller (Ref. 4, p11)

This creation - from whence it came into being,
Whether it made itself, or whether not-
He who is its overseer in highest heaven,
He surely knoweth - perchance he knoweth not.
- M. Bloomfield (Ref. 7, p 238)

He, from whom this creation came into being,
Whether He upheld it or He did not,
He who oversees it in the eternal region,
He verily knows it, or perhaps He does not know.
- A.C. Bose (Ref. 2, p153-4)

This creation, whence it came into being, whether it was established,
or whether not - he who is its overseer in the highest heaven, he verily
knows, or perchance he knows not.
- Franklin Edgerton (Ref. 8, pp 74)

He from whom this creation arose, he may uphold it or he may not
(no one else can); he who is its superintendent in the highest heaven,
he assuredly knows, or if he knows not (no one else does).
- H. H. Wilson (Ref. 9, pp 438)

He, the first origin of this creation,
whether he formed it all or did not form it,
Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven,
he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not.
- Ralph T. H. Griffith (Ref. 10, pp 622)

That out of which creation has arisen,
whether it held it firm or it did not,
He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
He surely knows - or maybe He does not!
- Raimundo Panikkar (Ref. 3, pp 58)

Where this creation came from, whether one supported it or not,
He who was supervising it from the highest heaven, He indeed
knows; or He knows not!
- V. Raghavan (Ref. 11, pp 17)

Whence this emanation hath arisen,
Whether [God] disposed it, or whether He did not,
Only He who its overseer in highest heaven knows,
[He only knows,] or perhaps He does not know!
- R C Zaehner (Ref.. 12, pp 11-12)

7 References:
1 "Rigveda samhitA" , (Sanskrit Original) Pub. by Nag Publications, New Delhi
2 Prof. Abinash Chandra Bose, "The Call of the Vedas"
3 Prof. Raimundo Panikkar, "The Vedic Experience- Mantra-manjari"
4 Frederich Max Muller, "The Vedas"
5 Paul Deussen, "History of Philosophy", vol. i
6 Prof. William D Whitney, Proceedings of American Oriental Society, vol. xi
7 Prof. Maurice Bloomefield, "The Religion of the Veda"
8 Prof. Franklin Edgerton, "The Beginnings of Indian Philosophy"
9 Prof. H. H. Wilson, "The Rigveda SamhitA", vol. 6
10 Prof. Ralph T. H. Griffith, "Hymns of the Rigveda", vol. ii
11 Prof. V. Raghavan, " The Indian Heritage"
12 R. C. Zaehner, "Hindu Scriptures"

8 If you have any questions, or need any more info on the topic, please e-mail them to me. I will try to answer them.

- Harihareswara


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