The Religion of the Rigveda

Oberlies, Thomas. 2024. The religion of the Rigveda. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This comprehensive new presentation of the religion of the Rigveda is the result of a thorough-going endeavour to extrapolate historical circumstances from that literary text and present them chiefly from the perspective of the adherents to this religion. For them society, social life, and religion were inextricably bound. This helps to explain the meanings of rights and rituals. Which rituals are to be performed at what times is influenced by the way of life of these Vedic tribes which alternates between peaceful settling and predatory raids. The ‘priests’ who carry out the rituals embody the gods of the Rigvedic pantheon.

In telling the story of these rituals, Thomas Oberlies highlights particular connections — such as the association of the war god Indra with the priest who recites the hymns which invite the gods — that help us solve many of the riddles which the text of the Rigveda still poses to this day. The Religion of the Rigveda includes a wealth of quotations from primary sources which form the basis of this approach to a religion that would later become Hinduism. A comprehensive index of subjects makes the book eminently accessible for use in further studies.