The Newsletter 53 Spring 2010

'Meaningless' mantras and birdsong?: discovering the Vedas

Annette van der Hoek

Staal, Frits. ed. 2008. Discovering the Vedas Origins, Mantras, Rituals, Insights. Penguin Books India, New Delhi. 419 pages. ISBN 978 0 14 309986 4

Veda, from the Sankrit root ‘vid’ (‘to know’), literally means ‘knowledge’. It conjures up ideas of ancient and sacred texts brimming with knowledge and wisdom. Moreover, to most Hindus the Vedas are the divine base on which present-day Hinduism rests. The Vedas were not originally books, however, but orally transmitted insights into the vernacular of the time and place. Frits Staal’s book invites readers to take a fresh look at the Vedas and the people who first brought them to India.

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