RIGVED: THE OLDEST AND GRANDEST BOOK OF HUMAN CIVILIZATION AND HUMAN KNOWLEDGE SYSTEM Professor and Dr. Dev Tewari What is a book? As per the Merriam Webster dictionary, a book is a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers. There are obvious limitations to this definition of a book, but it is beyond the scope of this article to comment further on what should constitute a definition of a book. It is not important whether the content of the book is written on modern or primitive kinds of paper or other materials. In today's context, eBooks are books, although they are not written on paper, but can be printed if desired. Rigved qualifies for a definition of a book overwhelmingly. First reason, it’s written in praise of Gods and Goddesses and basic guiding principles for human welfare. Second reason, it is written in the ancient Sanskrit language, a very sophisticated language. Sanskrit is incidentally now considered appropriate for computer programming purposes as acknowledged by the National Aeronautic Space Agency based in the USA. Final reason, Its ideas are arranged in an awe-inspiring manner. There are some 10 chapters or Mandals in the Rigved. Each Mandal is then divided into Shukta which is a collection of mantras or Richa. According to Shaunak Rishi, there are 1028 Shukta in Rigved and 10580.5 Richas or mantras. All of these mantras constitute 153826 words and 432000 letters. Using these criteria for defining a book, Rigved is indeed a book which for more than 1000 years remained in neurons of human minds and was transferred from one generation to the next through Guru-Shisya transmission or Dharma transmission. Only after 1000 years or so it was then written on paper materials. The next task is to determine how old the Rigved is. But before we do that we need to know what are the oldest books. Google search shows the oldest book is the Bulgarian Etruscan Gold Book dating back from around 600 BCE which makes it about 2620 years old by the year 2020. This book comprised of 6 sheets of 24-carat gold bound together with rings; the plates were written in Etruscan characters and depicted a horse, horseman, s siren, a lyre and soldiers. The Etruscans were an ancient people from Modern Turkey who later migrated to other parts of Europe. Now we come to the history of the Rigved. How old the Rigved is has long been a controversial question as there are many schools of ideas in this respect. I have my own views in this context and briefly outline some of those here. The noted German Indologist Max Muller, assessed its origin to be around 1200 BCE to 100BCE, that is at most about 3200 years old to date. Bal Gangadhar Tilak believed it to be created around 6000 BCE, which means Rigved is about 8020 years old to date. As per Witzel, it was written around 800 to 100 CE which means just about 1200 to 1900 years old to date. This approach of dating Rigved has depended upon the experts' understanding of the past based on the evidence at that point in time in history. I will call it the obsolete expert estimates about the dating of the Rigved. These estimates should be treated as obsolete in the context of new knowledge that has emerged in the modern times. I present below two pieces of new evidence. Rigved is written in Sanskrit so let us now determine how old is the Sanskrit language. We know that Sage Panini wrote Astadhyayi treaties on grammar and phonetics of the classical Sanskrit language in 4000 sutras about 6th to 5th BCE; that was about 2500 to 2600 years ago to date. A commentary on this was later written by Patanjali Mahabhasya or great commentary on Panini’s Astadhyayi around 2 BCE. So there is a difference of three or four centuries between them. It is now known that about 3000 years ago Sanskrit was a mature and well-developed language; although I believe that Sanskirt is as old as Rigved and commonsense demands it. Sanskrit has been the language of Sanatan or Hindu Shastras and all books and commentaries are written in Sanskrit and it is believed to be the language of Hindu Gods and Goddess. After all Panini got this knowledge from Lord Shiva. Sanskrit must have developed before the Vedas were written. So no way Sanskrit can be younger than Rigved. Life of Rigved and Sanskrit should therefore be linked with the Sanatan Dharma civilization. Now let us look at the two recent discoveries which reflect the existence of Sanatan Dharma. First is the Ramsetu, although British named it as Adams Bridge, which does not make sense; it is now believed to be man-made or made by Lord Ram and his army during his time to cross the ocean to go to Sri Lanka. As per the news published in Deccan Chronicle on January 31, 2018, Ram Setu is 18,400 years old; it is a 35 km long stretch of shoal and sandbank under the sea between the Pamban Island of Tamil Nadu and Mannar Island of Sri Lanka. The bridge which is submerged in the water is roughly 100 meters wide and up to 10 metres in depth. The other estimate is that this bridge is about 1.7 million years old. Without worrying too much about dates, one thing is very clear that there is some evidence of Hindu civilization as far as back from 18800 to 1.7 million years. Ramayana confirms that Guru Vashishth taught all Vedas to all princes of King Dasrath. Based on this evidence, it is very clear that all above assessments by Western experts are just guesstimates and we have solid evidence of Ramsetu and that confirms the Rigved is at least as old 18800 to 1.7 million years from to date. This is one assessment. Now look at the second evidence of sunken Dwarka that has been found. Interestingly enough Lord Krshna appeared after Lord Ram on earth. Without going much into details, it is dated about 10000 BCE or about 12000 years ago. So certainly Rigved existed then and the old expert evidence is nullified as the Vedas are an integral part of Hindu culture(http://mahabharataresearch.com/about%20the%20epic/the%20lost%20city%20of%20dwarka.html). Once again, Nilesh Nilkanth Oak a cultural historian of India says that there is a clear evidence of connecting Indian or Hindu or Rigved civilization for the 17000 plus years and it is going to extend as new evidence is being collected (Timeline of 17000+ Years of Unbroken Indian Civilization | Nilesh Nilkanth Oak). We know that Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) is now falsified and we do not need to go into it. In brief, Rigved is at least 18800 years based on present evidence, but I am sure it is much older. The new evidence is clear proof that there is no way we can conclude that Vedas are recent creations of humanity. This proves that Rigved is not only the oldest book of human civilization but is a highest creation of knowledge in the human history. This article is the personal opinion of the author and does not represent the opinion of his employer. Prof Tewari is a Faculty member of the University of Zululand, South Africa.