Rigveda -The Earliest Of The Four Vedas

Rigveda -The Earliest Of The Four Vedas

The Rigveda is the earliest of the four Vedas (Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda) and one of the primary texts of Hinduism. It was composed sometime between 1700 and 1100 B.C.E. If we consider the Vedic collection (the four Vedas), the Rigveda stands out to be the largest and the most popular text in this collection.

Contents Of Rigveda

Rigveda that simply refers to Rigveda Samhita that is organized into ten books known as “Mandalas.” Each Mandala has many Anuvaks and each Anuvak has many Suktas (hymns or group of Mantras or verses). There are total of 1028 Suktas and 10,552 Mantras in the Rigveda. Each Sukta is associated with a particular Deity, Rishi (Sage or seer of hymns) and Chhanda (meter).

Deities In Rigveda

Rigveda deals with many Deities and natural phenomena. However, there are some who get much attention. Most of the hymns are dedicated to three top-rated Deities such as Indra (250 hymns), Agni (200 hymns), and Soma (over 100 hymns). Apart from these main Deities, the Rigveda has mentioned Adityas, Varuna, Usha, Vrihaspati, Rudra, Savitr, and Vishnu. Rigveda also pays respect to various natural phenomena such as Dyaus (the sky), Prithvi (Earth), Surya (sun), Vayu (wind), as well as various rivers.

Rishis And Rishikas In Rigveda

According to Hinduism, different Rishis and Rishikas (female Rishis) composed Rigveda Suktas (hymns). It is believed that as much as 329 Rishis and 27 Rishikas contributed towards the Rigveda. The contributions mainly came from Vishwamitra, Atri, Bharadwaja, Vashishta, Bhrigu, Gautama, Yajnavalkya, Angirasa, Vamdeva, Gargi ( one of the top 10 female sages in ancient Indian Vedic era) and Kanva. So, credit cannot be given to a single person for composing or writing the Rigveda. It is mentionable here that Atri and Angirasa belong to the Saptarshi living in Svayambhuva Manvantara. Maharshi Veda Vyasa collected and compiled the Vedic hymns in the form of Vedas including the Rigveda, as we know it today.

Rigveda First Mandala

Mandala 1 consists of 191 Suktas. It is primarily dedicated to Indra and Agni. Varuna, Surya, Mitra, Rudra, and Vishnu have also been mentioned here.

Rigveda Second Mandala

Mandala 2 consists of 43 Suktas. These are mainly addressed to Agni and Indra. Rigveda Mandala 2 is chiefly attributed to the Rishi Grtsamada Saunahotra.

Rigveda Third Mandala

Mandala 3 contains 62 Suktas dedicated to Agni, Indra, and Vishvedevas. The verse 3.62.10 has great importance in Hinduism as the Gayatri Mantra. Most Suktas in this Mandala are attributed to Visvamitra Gathinah.

Rigveda Fourth Mandala

Mandala 4 comprises 58 Suktas which mostly talk about Agni, Indra, Rbhus, and Vayu. It is believed that most of these Suktas were composed by Vamdeva.

Rigveda Fifth Mandala

Mandala 5 comprises 87 Suktas, mainly to Agni and Indra, the Visvedevas (“all the gods’), the Maruts, the twin-deity Mitra-Varuna and the Asvins. Two hymns each are dedicated to Ushas (the dawn) and to Savitr. Most Suktas in this book are attributed to the Atri clan.

Rigveda Sixth Mandala

Mandala 6 comprises 75 Suktas dedicated to Agni, Indra, Pusan, Ashvina, etc. The Suktas were composed by the Barhasaptya family of Angirasa especially to Bharadvaja.

Rigveda Seventh Mandala

Mandala 7 comprises 104 Suktas, most of which are dedicated to Agni, Indra, Maruts, and Mitra Varuna. There are also Suktas dedicated to River Saraswati. Most Suktas in this book are attributed to Vasistha Maitravaruni.

Rigveda Eighth Mandala

Mandala 8 comprises 103 Suktas dedicated to various deities. Suktas 1-48 and 60-66 are attributed to the Kanva clan, the rest to other (Angirasa) poets.

Rigveda Ninth Mandala

Mandala 9 comprises 114 Suktas, entirely dedicated to Soma Pavamana. This Mandala is also called Soma Mandala (Purifying Soma).

Rigveda Tenth Mandala

Mandala 10 comprises an additional 191 Suktas, frequently in later language, addressed to Agni, Indra and various other deities. It contains the Nadi Stuti Sukta praising the Rivers. It also contains the Nasadiya Sukta and the Purusha Sukta. It also contains Suktas that are traditionally chanted during wedding and death rituals.

By Krishna Das

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