Rig Veda included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register

UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme preserves and raises awareness of documentary heritage, the memory of the world, which reflects the diversity of languages, peoples and cultures. The Memory of the World Register was created in 1997 and includes 120 properties. This year 38 new items were added to the list including the thirty manuscripts of the Rig Veda dating from 1800 to 1500 BC.

The text submitted by India in 2006-2007 for the inclusion of the Rig Veda in the Memory of the World Register.

The Vedas are generally known as the scriptures of the Hindu community. However, being among the first literary documents in the history of humankind, they transcend far beyond their identity as scriptures. The Rig Veda, the oldest among the four Vedas, is the fountain source of the so-called Aryan culture in all its manifestations that spread beyond the Indian subcontinent to large parts of South and South East Asia, as well as parts of Central Asia. This valuable treasure of the ancient world has been preserved in the form of manuscripts in India, and handed down over centuries from generation to generation.

Out of the total number of 28,000 Manuscripts housed at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune, the 30 manuscripts of the Rig Veda form a valuable part of the collection. These manuscripts evince several unique features in terms of scripts, accentuation marks and support material used, among others. Even the pioneering Indologist, Prof. F. Max Müller, used one of the Rig Veda manuscripts currently at the Institute to prepare his famous critical edition of the Rigveda, complete with a translation of one of the earliest known commentaries – that of Sayana. The material in this collection of Rig Veda manuscripts was also used to prepare the well known Critical Edition of the Rig Veda by the Vaidika Samshodhana Mandala, a premier institute in Pune for Vedic Studies. These manuscripts are of a high value as unique examples of the intellectual and cultural heritage not only of India, but of the world.