MS 5371
Description MS in Sanskrit on paper, Rajasthan, India, 1778-79, 2 vols. 446+446 ff., 9x24 cm, single column, (5x19 cm), 7 lines in Devanagari script of high quality, Vedic accents and margins in red, 4 full-page paintings depicting Rama playing his flute, Rama and Sita enthroned, Hanuman and the Great Goddess, and Krishna and Vishnu atop the bird-vehicle Garuda.
Binding Rajasthan, India, 1779, poti bevelled wooden covers. Context: For a 4-volume set of Rigveda-Samhita see MS 2097. See also MS 2162-2164, grammar, commentary and performance manual on the Rigveda. Most surviving mss are from 19th c. The oldest MS is from 11th c.
Provenance 1. Brahmin, Rajasthan, India (1779-); 2. Private collection, England (ca. 1965-1995); 3. Sam Fogg, London, Catalogue “Dreams, Devotion and Romance, illustrated mss from India” (2006), acq. Dec. 2006.
Commentary From its composition ca. 1700-1100 BC the text of Rigveda has been handed down in two versions. The first is Samhitapatha, which is the text used for recitation. The second is Padapatha, which is used for memorization. The Rigveda records an early stage of Vedic religion, still close to the pre-Zoroastrian Persian religion. It is believed that Zoroastrianism and Vedic Hinduism originated either from an earlier common religious Indo-Iranian culture or from the Indus Valley civilization. Rigveda consists of 1028 hymns, largely organised by subject/matter. It is an anthology collected from the larger number of hymns in use in the many priestly families of ancient India. The language in which hymns were composed is the form of Aryan, which was spoken around 1000 BC. Modern scholars think that the corpus of texts was organised in its present textual and linguistic form around 600 BC, but was further orally transmitted from master to pupil until ca. 300-200 BC, when it was finally committed to writing. The Vedas (knowledge) is regarded as the source of Hinduism, directly heard at the beginning of the world-cycle by rishis or inspired sages, and is still a living part of Hinduism. The archaic linguistic forms are the most valuable source for the investigation of the oldest stages of the Indo-European languages, as Homeric Greek and Hittite. The text preserves a stage of Indian religion quite different from modern Hinduism, the rituals being centred on animal sacrifice and the consumption of Soma, an intoxicating drink, and the pantheon being that of Indo-European steppe-dwellers. Texts 2-10 in volume 2 are a compilation of texts designed to provide a concise and thorough guide to Vedic recitation and ritual. They deal with grammar, poetics, phonetics, etymology, as well as public and private ritual. Text 5 has a colophon with the date Samvat 1835 (1778-79 AD). Exhibited: Dreams, Devotion and Romance, Illustrated Manuscripts from India, an exhibition in conjunction with Asiatic Art in London, 2-17 Nov. 2006.
Place of origin Rajasthan, India.
Dates 1778-79