Rigveda is the earliest scriptures of Hinduism from which many cultural and spiritual traditions arose. In this book the author has translated a selected group of hymns from the four Vedas; the Rigveda, Yajurveda, Atharvaveda, and Samaveda and presented in the order of five yogas of Bhagavadgita, namely; Jnanayoga (path of knowledge), Karmayoga (path of action), Bhaktiyoga (path of devotion), Vibhutiyoga (path of splendor), and Rajayoga (path of mysticism). In addition, two more chapters about the hymns of Death and Earth have been included which illustrates the Vedic seers zest for life, their deep attachment for spiritual values, and respect for the departed soul.
A large part of Rig Vedic hymns were chanted (Samaveda was sung) at rituals. Yajurveda, the sacrificial formula in the prose form were also chanted at the ritual, and Atharvaveda is the Veda of prayers. Some hymns from Atharvaveda are related to removing spells and charms, but majority of them carry the spirit of Rigveda, and generally mystical in character, which lie midway between the Vedas and the Upanishads.
A brief summary of this book is as follows: The Vedic concept of spiritual values has been presented in a nutshell. It is said that in the beginning of creation, Rita (Eternal Order) and Satya (Truth) were born out of blazing Tapas (austerity and discipline). This is the foundation of Vedic culture and religion. The Atharvaveda speaks of two more concepts; Shradda (reverence, faith) and Vrata (dedicated work), both of which are required in the realization of truth and in the pursuit of Satya and Rita. Atharvaveda also speaks of Diksha (consecration) which according to Yajurveda leads to Faith and Truth. Brahman (prayer) and Yajna (ritual sacrifice) are the practical form in which the spirits of Rita and Satya expresses themselves. Rita refers to the correct order in which Vedic ritual has to be performed. Vedas demand devoted pursuit of Vedic practices as the moral law
Another interesting aspect of this work is that there are some selected hymns that illustrates that Rigveda is the early source for the philosophical thought developed in Upanishads and later expounded in Vedanta. Modern Vedic scholars such as Max Muller had originally suggested that Rigveda did not have any philosophy, but careful examination of Vedic scriptures illustrates that Veda were the source and inspiration for Vedic seers and poets of Upanishads for the concept of Brahman, the Supreme Soul. The author's approach to the rendering of Vedic hymns and its English translation is beautifully executed.
Vedas speak of divinity in various ways. It speaks of absolute, indiscriminate essence, in neutral terms like Aksharam, the indestructible, the eternal (Rigveda III.55.1, also in Bhagavadgita VIII.11), Ekam, the one (Rigveda X.129.2; I.164.46; III.54.8; VIII.58.2), Sat or Tat Sat (Rigveda I.164.46; X.114.5; Yajurveda 32.8, the Ultimate Reality, Brahma, the divine essence, as OM (an indestructible word), the Ultimate Being, and Atman (Rigveda I.115.1; Atharvaveda X.8.43-44), the Supreme Self or Oversoul. Rigveda speaks of Cosmic Spirit as Atman as in; "Surya, the Atman in all that moves and all that stands still" - Rigveda I.115.1. Similarly in Atharvaveda X.843-44, it is said; ....
That, verily, the Brahman-knower knows, desireless, serene, immortal, self-existent, contented with the essence, lacking nothing is That: One fears not death who has known That Atman, serene, unaging, ever youthful
Chandogya Upanishad 8.1.1-5 makes a reference to this and amplifies the idea of Immanent Spirit and thus we are led to the concept of Jivatman and Parmataman, the relative and absolute Self that makes the core of Vedanta. This view is exemplified in Yajurveda. VS. 40.17., where it stated that "the Spirit (Purusha) yonder in the sun and That which dwells there, I am - Om, the eternal Brahman.
Jnana-yoga demands the discipline of the body and mind and rousing up the power of the intellect through Tapas (the kindling of spiritual fire.) It expects a man to rise above the human plane to a higher plane of existence, being reborn, on the spiritual plane. Vedic schools followed jnana-yoga through stern simplicity, austerity, selflessness, and sublimation of instincts, by the quiet settings of forest life. Karma yoga differs from other yogas (that encourage detachment from the worldly affairs) by accepting family as the foundation for social and spiritual fulfillment. Bhakti yoga expects a man to show extreme form of love for God, pure devotion and the emotional intensity is unrelated to the intellect. Rajayoga (the Mystical Path) and Vibhuti-yoga (the Path of Splendor) described in the Bhagavadgita, IX and X takes us deep into the secret heart of reality, and the other exhibiting the glory and wonder of its external manifestation. It was a natural transition from the awareness of the soul within our soul to the identification of our self with the Supreme Self, as we find at the close of Yajurveda: Sa asau aham, Om kham Brahma - "That (Purusha) I am the Supreme Being, the Eternal Brahman." Here in Vedic Rajayoga we find the core of monistic philosophy of Vedanta.