If you enjoy this blog and would like to learn more about Indra and/or Vedas, I offer here my recommendations for English-language books that are exceptionally beautiful, insightful, and worthwhile.
Most of these texts are still in print, available for purchase and library loan, but please message me for assistance if you’d like to read a title and can’t find it. There are also some online essays linked at the bottom of this list.
- R.L. Kashyap, Indra: Lord of Divine Mind: This work is a densely-packed 84 pages of information, exploring Śrī Aurobindo’s key teachings about Indra’s qualities and importance. Those who can read Devanāgarī script will benefit from Śrī Kāvyakaṇṭha’s Indra Sahasranāma printed in the book’s final pages – both the stotram and its constituent names.
- Usha Choudhuri, Indra and Varuṇa in Indian Mythology: This is a published revision of the author’s PhD thesis. It is a wonderful exploration of Indra and Varuṇa through time, via their appearances and characterisations in Vedas, Itihāsas, and Purāṇas. The reader will gain a deep appreciation of these two Gods, both individually and as a complementary pairing.
Vedic Hymns and Religious Thought:
- Abinash Chandra Bose, Hymns From the Vedas and The Call of the Vedas: I have mentioned Bose’s work before in this post, as well as provided an excerpt here. It is worth the effort to locate this gentleman’s radiant prose, which instills not only understanding of Vedic religion, but great regard for it. (There is also a smaller, portable version of Bose’s Veda work available, called Thus Spake the Vedas.)
- William K. Mahony, The Artful Universe: An Introduction to the Vedic Religious Imagination: This excellent book, though written from an academic rather than a strictly devotional perspective, nonetheless follows J.G. Frazer’s maxim, “Without poetry, without tenderness, one cannot understand man or his creations.” I have written a brief review of this book already, which appears here.
- Jeanine Miller, Does Bhakti Appear in the Ṛgveda? and The Vedas: Harmony, Meditation, and Fulfilment: I have given a portion of her writing on the blog before. Miller interweaves solid scholarship and a refined religious sensibility, with engaging results. (She is especially kind to Indra in her writing, which endears her work to me even more.)
- Paṇḍit Vāmadeva Śāstrī (Dr. David Frawley), Wisdom of the Ancient Seers: Selected Mantras from the Rig Veda: I have already mentioned the limitless value of Dr. Frawley’s work in an earlier post. This text is a deep, profoundly wise explanation of the Ṛgveda‘s spiritual meaning, which will surely inspire awe in the inquiring devotee.
Vedic Ideas and Concepts:
- Jeanine Miller, The Vision of Cosmic Order in the Vedas: The all-encompassing, divinely ordained, cosmic continuum known as Ṛta is a pivotal point of Veda. This text is a comprehensive, accessible discussion of a difficult concept.
- Paṇḍit Vāmadeva Śāstrī (Dr. David Frawley), Soma in Yoga and Ayurveda and Yoga and the Sacred Fire: These books draw the reader on an inner journey through the esoteric, psychological, and religious vitality of Divine Bliss and Divine Fire, or Soma and Agni.
- Swami Harshananda, Vedic Sacrifices, An Outline: This little 30-page booklet is exactly as the title purports; it’s an easily-understood introduction to the different altars, offerings, and types of Vedic yajña. It’s an excellent guide for any reader who just wants to understand a bit more about the practices of Vedic religion, without delving into reams of ancient texts.
For those that would prefer to read summaries rather than entire books, or who prefer online texts to printed material, here are a few links:
- Nolini Kanta Gupta, A Vedic Conception of the Poet, An Introduction to the Vedas, and Commentary on the First Six Suktas of Rigveda: All three of these are expertly written and engrossing in both style and topic. The first article is a wonderful discussion of the Vedic epithet kavi, and what it means to be a Vedic poet-seer. The second contrasts the Western and Eastern views of Veda and gives some compelling reasons to study Veda. (My favourite section from this essay explains that, “the Puranas cannot be accepted as commentaries on the Vedas. No, not even the Upanishads can dare claim to be so. The Vedas alone are the proper commentaries on the Vedas. And to understand the Vedas no other book can be our guide save the Vedas.”) The last will, I think, encourage any reader to study the first six Ṛgvedic sūktas with reverent appreciation.
- Sri V. Sundar, The Purusha Sukta: The Vedic Hymn on the Supreme Being: This is an excellent translation and quite elabourate discussion of Ṛgveda X.90, one of the most commonly-known and frequently-referenced Vedic hymns.
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