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Rig Veda

The Rig Veda or Rig Veda Samhita is the oldest and the most important of the four Vedas. It consists of ten mandalas (books), which have 1,028 suktas or ruchas (hymns) comprising of 10,552 mantras known as ruks (verses) that were revealed to various rishis at different periods of time. The mantras are prayers mainly to the nature gods to grant riches, progeny, long life, peace, and eternal happiness; and some mantras refer to victories of princes and kings in wars, subjects like marriage, generosity and other mundane things. The main devas or gods of the Rig Veda were Agni (fire-god), Indra (rain-god), Varuna (ocean-god), Mitra (sun-god), Vayu (wind-god), Prajapati (creator) and the Ashwins (divine physicians). The Rig Veda also has mantras like the Nasadiyasukta and Purushasukta that are concerned with cosmology and creation. The Rig Veda contains philosophical ideas that form the basis of later philosophies derived and developed by the rishis. Bhakti or devotion also has its origin in the Rig Veda Samhita. It teaches monotheism or belief in one Supreme Reality who is called by different names. The worship of the Supreme Reality having a form and qualities (saguna upasana) is also referred to in the Rig Veda. The Aitareya and Kaushiraki Aranyakas and Upanishads were developments from the Rig Veda.

The Vedic rishis were both male and female. Some of the prominent male rishis included Angiras, Agastya, Vasishtha, Vishwamitra, Grutsamada. The main female rishis were Ghosha, Godha, Apala, Kuhu, Sarama and others.

The special priest of the Rig Veda is called a bots, He is an expert who recites the mantras of the Rig Veda to invoke the devas for receiving the oblations.

The mantras of the Rig Veda are in Vedic Sanskrit. For thousands of years these mantras have been meticulously transmitted orally, and finally when they came to be first written in the last few millennia, they were inscribed on dried palm leaves. Consequently, for thousands of years up to the present, there has been no change or corruption in the chanting and meaning of the Vedic mantras.


Q1. How many books are there in Rigveda?


The Rig Veda consists of 1028 hymns and 10,600 verses organized into ten (10) books known as maṇḍalas.


Important among them are Nasadiya, Purusha, Aksha, Dhana-anna-dana, Hiranyagarbha, Yama-Yami-samvad, Duhsvapna-nashna etc.


Additionally, Suktas are offered to various gods, including Indra, Maruta, Varuna, Usha, Surya, Bhumi, Soma, Agni, etc. So, in a nutshell, we may say that in Rigveda a variety of issues are explained in poetic, philosophical, or religious terms by Vedic seers. The first and tenth Mandalas are the youngest and the longest. The Gayatri mantra is in Rig Veda, and is taken from Mandala 3.

Q2. How is Rigveda different from books?


The most important point of difference between the Rigveda and modern books is that today books are written and read. The Rigveda was chanted and heard; it was later handwritten and passed on to the later generations by speaking, listening, and then memorizing. The text of the Rigveda is in Sanskrit, while most of the current books are either in English or some other modern language. In praise of gods and goddesses, the Rig Veda includes hymns. Modern books may be about any topic at all.

Q3. What is the purpose of Rigveda?


It is a large collection of hymns in praise of the gods, which are chanted in various rituals. They were composed in an ancient language named Vedic that gradually evolved into classical Sanskrit. The Rig Veda consists of 1028 hymns, organized into ten books known as maṇḍalas.

The Rig Veda is all about how one can attain liberation. It contains the timeless knowledge of this and especially the power of chanting and the liberating effect on the mind that mantras have. The correct chanting of mantras helps to tranquilise the mind. What we get to know from the Rigveda is the role of sound and vibration in liberation.

Q4. Who created Rigveda?


The Rigveda is a collection of hymns or sūktas on various gods and goddesses composed of different Rishis - 329 males and 27 females (Rishikas). They are considered “authorless” because they were the insights or visions of these extraordinary poets - thus they are called “seers” those who “see”. The Aryans refined old hymns, and composed new hymns that eventually were compiled to form the Rig Veda, by sage Veda Vyasa, who is widely revered and credited for compiling much of Hinduism's most prominent and influential spiritual texts, including the Vedas in Sanskrit. Veda Vyāsa then taught them to his four disciples for preservation and transmission, Jaimini, Pila, Vaisampayana, and Sumantha.

Q5. How old is the Rigveda?


There is no definite and conclusive answer to how old the Rig Veda is. But scholars now agree that Rig Veda can be dated around 4500 – 5000 BC, even much older. In 1985, the Indian National Science Academy published a volume, History of Astronomy in India, wherein the Harappan civilization and the Brahmana period are correlated, and the Rig Veda is dated to about 7th millennium B.C. Rig Veda is the oldest of the Vedas, the sacred texts of Hinduism. It means “The Knowledge of Verses”. Written in Sanskrit around 1500 BC, Rig Veda consists of 1028 poems arranged into 10 circles or Mandalas. Puranic historians have dated the Vedas, based on internal astronomical evidence, to 7,000 BCE (9,000 years ago).

Q6. Where is the original Rigveda kept?


The first written manuscripts of Veda were lost millennia ago and certainly do not exist anymore. The texts we have now are all copies of copies of copies and so on. We do not have the original manuscripts. The earliest known surviving copies (the 30 manuscripts) are copies of the Rig Veda and Atharva Veda form a valuable part of the collection. They are currently held in the Bhandarkar Oriental Institute in Pune, Maharashtra, India. They are dated around the thirteenth century AD, roughly 2,500 years or so after the earliest Vedas are most often thought to have been composed. These manuscripts reveal several unique features in terms of scripts, accentuation marks, and support material used, among others.

Q7. Who wrote rig veda?


The Rigveda is a collection of hymns and suttas on various gods and goddesses compiled by different Rishis – 329 males and 27 females (Rishikas). They are considered authorless because they were the insights or visions of these extraordinary poets. Thus they are called “seers” those who see”.


Veda Vyāsa (the “compiler of the Veda”) was supposed to have been a sage who collected them and compiled the Veda as we know it today. Veda Vyāsa then taught them to his four disciples for preservation and transmission. Sage Ved Vyasa‘s parents have been rishi Parashara (Father) and Satyavati (Mother)