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Immortality in the Rg Veda

Ancient Sanskrit hymn on praise and knowledge

With three quarters the Man has risen above, and one quarter of him still remains here.
With three quarters the Man has risen above, and one quarter of him still remains here.

The Man has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet. He pervades the earth everywhere and extends beyond for ten fingers’ breadth. The Man himself is all this, whatever has been and whatever is to be. He is the lord of immortality and also lord of that which grows on food. Such is his greatness, and the Man is yet greater than this. All creatures make up a quarter of him; three quarters are the immortal heaven. With three quarters the Man has risen above, and one quarter of him still remains here, whence he spread out everywhere, pervading that which eats and that which does not eat…. When the gods spread the sacrifice, using the Man as the offering, spring was the clarified butter, summer the fuel, autumn the oblation. They anointed the Man, the sacrifice, born at the beginning, upon the sacred grass. With him the gods, Sadhyas, and sages sacrificed…. With this sacrifice the gods sacrificed; these were the first dharmas. And these powers reached the dome of heaven where dwell the ancient Sadhyas and gods.

— from Hymn 1.2 of the Rg Veda

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The Rg Veda is a collection of ancient Vedic Sanskrit hymns. The title means, in Sanskrit, “praise, shine” (rg) and “knowledge” (veda). One of the four canonical texts of Hinduism known as Vedas, the book is organized into ten sections called Mandalas. In the eight earliest books, the hymns meditate on creation and the relationship between immortality and mortality, such as the above hymn indicates. It is thought that the Rg Veda was composed between 1500 and 1200 BC.

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With three quarters the Man has risen above, and one quarter of him still remains here.
With three quarters the Man has risen above, and one quarter of him still remains here.

The Man has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet. He pervades the earth everywhere and extends beyond for ten fingers’ breadth. The Man himself is all this, whatever has been and whatever is to be. He is the lord of immortality and also lord of that which grows on food. Such is his greatness, and the Man is yet greater than this. All creatures make up a quarter of him; three quarters are the immortal heaven. With three quarters the Man has risen above, and one quarter of him still remains here, whence he spread out everywhere, pervading that which eats and that which does not eat…. When the gods spread the sacrifice, using the Man as the offering, spring was the clarified butter, summer the fuel, autumn the oblation. They anointed the Man, the sacrifice, born at the beginning, upon the sacred grass. With him the gods, Sadhyas, and sages sacrificed…. With this sacrifice the gods sacrificed; these were the first dharmas. And these powers reached the dome of heaven where dwell the ancient Sadhyas and gods.

— from Hymn 1.2 of the Rg Veda

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The Rg Veda is a collection of ancient Vedic Sanskrit hymns. The title means, in Sanskrit, “praise, shine” (rg) and “knowledge” (veda). One of the four canonical texts of Hinduism known as Vedas, the book is organized into ten sections called Mandalas. In the eight earliest books, the hymns meditate on creation and the relationship between immortality and mortality, such as the above hymn indicates. It is thought that the Rg Veda was composed between 1500 and 1200 BC.

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