Ideas for Your Paper on the Vedas

1.  Choose a Vedic hymn not covered in class, read three translations, and write an analysis of the hymn focusing on its religious and philosophical significance.  Herman will be a good guide.  If you choose a hymn from Doniger's translation and is not found in the Source Book  or Zaehner, then look for other translations in the library.

2. After rereading all of the assigned selections, try to find as many examples of polytheism, henotheism, monotheism, agnosticism, and monism as you can.

3. Read and analyze all the hymns dealing with soma in Doniger, then research the library and web for references to sacred mushroom (the fly acaric, amnita muscaria) and R. Gordon Wasson.  You must take note of a competing thesis that the Ephedra plant is the Indo-Iranian soma.  See R. Kochhar's The Vedic People on department reserve.

4.  Write a paper on the Vedic goddesses.  The best resource to use is Pinchtman's book The Rise of the Goddess in the Hindu Tradition (chap. 1, on departmental reserve).

5.  Write a paper on the Purusha hymn and its various incarnations, such as the first hymn of the Atharva Veda in the Zaehner trans.  Also see  Spiritual Titanism  for comparisons between Chinese Panku and Purusha (208-211) and for an analysis of the Purusha hymn (104-109).

6.  Using web resources (some of them are linked on your readings page) write a paper on the connection between the Indus-Sarasvati civilization and the Vedas.

7.  Read the paper by Rejesh Kochhar and summarize his argument against the current thesis that the Rigvedic Sarasvati is located in present-day India.  See also his book on departmental reserve.