Alfred Hillebrandtês Vedische Mythologie, together with his Ritual-Literatur: Vedische Opfer und Zauber forms a pioneering contribution to Vedic studies. Vedische Mythologie originally appeared in three volumes in 1891, 1899 and 1902. In 1910 Hillebrandt had also brought out a shorter version entitled Vedische Mythologie, Kleine Ausgabe. Subsequently he thoroughly revised the original edition, rewriting some parts quite afresh, and arranged the material in two volumes, the first of which was publishedin 1927 and the second posthumously in 1929. The present English translation is of this second revised edition. Following the method of philological exegesis and shunning unsubstantiated theories, Hillebrandt analyses and interprets here the concepts of Vedic gods.
Volume I contains a long introduction where he lays down his methodology and prin-ciples of interpretation. Then follow four chapters dealing respectively with Usas, Asvins, Agni and Soma. The chapter on Soma occupies more than half of the volume, expounding his major thesis that Soma denoted the moon throughout the Rgveda. There is an extensive appendix on the preparation and offering of the Soma drink according to the Srauta Sutras and another appendix on the tribe of the Panis.
Volume II discusses the various classes of gods. It has six chapters dealing respec-tively with the Adityas; Savitr and the ?Rbhus; Indra and the Maruts; Visnu, Pusan and lesser deities; Manes, Demons and Asuras; and Rudra. The second volume also contains the bibliography, a concordance of all the Vedic passages that are cited or translated in the work, an index and a bibliography of Hillebrandtês works.
Hillebrandtês account of Vedic gods and myths is based closely upon the Vedic texts and he has meticulously followed the principle of philological exegesis characteristic of the nineteenth century European Indologists...
The extensive body of notes and references constitute an important source of valuable information which will be prized by all serious students of mythology, anthropology and comparative religion. _L.M. JOSHIThe Journal of Religious Studies
Hillebrandt lectured and wrote on various subjects concerning Indian cultural history but the work under review is his major contribution to the Vedic studies. It at once reflects his deep understanding and extensive study of Sanskrit literature...
Vedic Mythology is by any standards a great work and the most well informed of Vedic scholars would find it a rewarding study. The English translation is well done and the translator and publisher both have earned the gratitude of Indologists by making available to them this much awaited publication in two handy volumes. _O.B. BHARADWAJ Journal of Indological Studies
The two volumes of Vedic Mythology are of immense value... I rejoice at finding this great work done in a lucid translation along with notes enabling research scholars to follow this pattern of a great work which reveals the ancient treasure of our Vedas. _S. VISVANATHAN The Hindu
About the Author(s)
ALFRED HILLEBRANDT was born on 15th March, 1853, in Grossnaedlitz near Breslau. He began his Sanskrit studies under A.F. Stenzler at the University of Breslau. He continued his education at the University of Munich, where he became the chief pupil of Martin Haug, the great Avestan scholar, from whom he inherited his deep interest in Vedic ritual and mythology. Hillebrandt joined the University of Breslau in 1883 where he succeeded his teacher Stenzler as full Professor. He was also Vice-Chancellor of his University twice. His more than two hundred articles, reviews and books deal with a vast range of subjects like Veda, Avest‘, _rauta Sµutras, Sanskrit Dharma, Poetry, Grammar, Ar-thaʑstra, and Indian History. The lastmajor work he completed just before his death in 1927 was the revision of the Vedische Mythologie.