Is this from the Atharva Veda?
January 23, 2007 4:47 AM   Subscribe

Is quote really from the Atharva Veda? "We are birds of the same nest, We may wear different skins, We may speak in different tongues, We may believe in different religions, We may belong to different cultures, Yet we share the same home – our Earth...

The rest of the quote:

"...Born on the same planet, covered by the same stars, breathing the same air,
We must learn to happily progress together or miserably perish together. For man can live individually, but can only survive collectively"

My google-foo has bought up several instances of people using the quote and attributing it to the Atharva Veda, but I can't find a source in the Atharva Veda itself. I'd like to confirm it origins, but I've only got a little bit of understanding of the Vedas, and I'm not sure if I should expect to find a direct quote, like you could for a bible verse, for instance.

We want to use it in an interfaith event that we are organising, that will be attended by an international audience. I'm happy with the message of the quote, but I don't want to falsely attribute it...
posted by Helga-woo to Religion & Philosophy (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't find it in any of the online texts I googled up. I did find (in the translation here) a "Charm against pigeons regarded as ominous birds" ("may not, ye gods, the pigeon here do harm to us!") that city dwellers might find useful, but nothing about "birds of the same nest" except in the sort of quotes you mistrust, apparently with some reason.
posted by pracowity at 5:49 AM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

I would be willing to bet money that it's not. It sounds exactly like the zillion other feel-good "quotes" that people e-mail to each other and attribute to some suitably impressive and hard-to-verify source. (The only online text of the Atharva Veda has "about one third of the entire material.") It doesn't sound anything like genuine Vedic text, which tends to go more like "The asvattha-tree is the seat of the gods in the third heaven from here. There the gods procured the kushtha, the visible manifestation of amrita." Good rule of thumb: if it sounds twenty-first-century, it is twenty-first-century.
posted by languagehat at 6:01 AM on January 23, 2007

i'll 3rd it being bullshit.
posted by empath at 9:29 AM on January 23, 2007

By the way, it'd take languagehat to really say so, but if it is a genuine quotation, I'm almost certain that it's an awful translation. The words "religion" and "culture" stand for pretty large and complex west-specific concepts, and are therefore pretty useless to all but the most bold (read: foolish) translators.

I'd like to know what the words "religion" and "culture" translate to in Sanskrit. "Culture" in particular is a late-nineteenth-century German concept; it's not by any means universal. Furthermore, we means something utterly different by the word "religion" than the Vedic literature dealt with, methinks.
posted by koeselitz at 10:43 AM on January 23, 2007

arg, means
posted by koeselitz at 10:51 AM on January 23, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the help, you've confirmed my suspicions...! I have a few other leads to follow up as well.

And yes, I agree, it's like something from a motivational calender, but I didn't choose the quote! I'm just the person who says, "No, too Christian", and makes sure we don't infringe on copyright....
posted by Helga-woo at 4:05 AM on January 26, 2007

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