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Rig Veda Study Questions Essay

Study Questions – As you read the mantras in the Chapters Creation and Agni, consider these questions. Write down your thoughts and bring your notes to class on Thursday. We will meet in small groups to compare notes and help each other work out the meaning of the verses.

1. What is your initial response to the Creation Hymn? What parts of it make sense to you? What parts of it do you find confusing? As you read, make notes of these parts.

2. What is your interpretation of the line, “There was neither existence nor non-existence then?”

3. What is the role of water in creation?

4. What does the Creation Hymn say about desire? What is the role of desire in creation?

5. The Creation Hymn ends with an open question about the role of an ultimate creator. What is this question? What is the significance of this question?

6. What is the Golden Embryo? What is its role in creation?

7. In Purusha, Hymn of Man, why do the gods dismember Purusha? What is Purusha? What is the meaning of the sacrifice? What is the result of it?

8. In The Birth Of The Gods, only two gods are actually mentioned by name. Who are they? How were they “born?”

Agni:

1. Agni is the god of what? What is his role? What benefits does he bring his worshippers? (note: the verses are a bit obscure and riddle-like. You may need to do some internet searching for this.)

2. Agni and The Gods, (Page 99 verses five through nine) describe the meaning of which important Hindu Ceremony? What is happening during this ceremony? What is meant by the statement that whether the sacrifice is offered to this god or that god, the oblation is always to Agni?

3. In The Birth Of Agni, what does the first verse mean in which it is said that the mother concealed the birth from the father?

4. In The Child Of The Waters, (a pseudonym for Agni), the god born in the water manifests as a fire that “burns without fuel” and “shines forever with undarkened flames.” Yet in the final verses, women bring him butter (ghee) as his food, and offer him oblation. What is meant here by Agni being both inexhaustible and yet also in need of being brought food?


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