RIGVEDA

RIGVEDA

Introduction

The word 'Veda' is evolved from the root 'Vid' which means 'to know'. In other words one can say that 'knowing' is synonymous to the word 'knowledge'. The term 'Veda' means knowledge.

Vedas are also known as
'Shru' the word 'Shruti'is evolved from the root 'Shru' which means 'to hear'. It is said that the Gods dictated the Vedas and the Sages first 'heard them' and memorised them. It was passed on verbally to successive generations for thousands of years until it was compiled in the form of books.

There are Four Vedas -
Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda and Atharvaveda.

The Richas of the Rigveda are eulogies and prayers through which deities have been invoked. The Yajurveda speaks of the different types of Yagya (religious sacrifices). The Samveda consists of many a richas which also finds mention in 'Rigveda'. These Samvedic Richas are famous for their lyrical and musical beauty. The Atharvaveda contains a lot of information on both the material and spiritual worlds.

What is the Rigveda? And what are its contents?

The Richas of the Rigveda are called 'Suktis, which mean
'beautiful statements'. In other words, a collection of beautifully composed incantations is a Sukta. The Sukta is also synonymous with the Richas. 'Rit' means - an incantation that contains 'eulogies' and 'Veda' means knowledge. It is difficult to understand the Rigveda without proper understanding of vedic sanskrit, the language in which 'Richas' or 'Suktas' were composed.

The Richas of the Rigveda are in fact eulogies through which deities have been invoked. Apart from that, it also has incantations containing 'brilliant-thoughts', which our ancient sages arrived at after their minute observations, contemplation and analysis of the natural phenomena they came across. Each and every phenomenon of nature was a matter of contemplation for the sages. They marveled at the orderly way in which mother nature functions. The Rigvedic Richas are beautiful expressions of their feelings.

Rigveda is the oldest Veda. It comprises of
10 Mandals, 102 Suktas and contains 10,552 mantras. These mantras are filled with powerful and inspiring thoughts. These Richas are inexhaustible sources of knowledge. They enlighten the human mind by removing the darkness of ignorance. Darkness symbolizes 'ignorance' or 'lack of knowledge', which makes us no better than an animal.

The Rigveda is divided into 2 parts-
(i) Mandal, Anuvak and Sukta
(ii) Ashtak, Adhgaya and Sukta


On the basis of the first division, the Rigveda consist of 10 Mandalas. Mandalas are comprised of Suktas while Suktas are comprised of Richas. All together, there are 1028 Suktas in all the Ten mandalas. Evidently, there is an uneven distribution of Suktas in all the Ten Mandalas. The First and the Tenth Mandala contain the maximum number of Suktas(191) while the Second Mandal contains just 43 Suktas.

The following chart shows the distribution of Suktas and mantras in every Mandala

Mandala

Sukta

Number of Mantras

1

191

2006

2

43

429

3

62

617

4

58

589

5

87

727

6

75

765

7

104

841

8

103

1716

9

114

1108

10

191

1754

10

1028

10,552

So, the 10 Mandalas of Rigveda contains 1028 Suktas and 10,552 mantras in all.

The 'Brahmanas' come next to the Vedas in importance. They provide us information on the appropriate methods and procedures of performing Yagya and rituals. The Brahmanas are divided into 3 parts.
(i) Brahmana,
(ii) Aranyaka,
(iii) Upanishad


There are two main Brahmana texts i.e.
Kausheetki and Aitereya. These texts share a very intimate relation. In both these above mentioned Brahmana texts, the meaning of the mantra related with the same subject does not match, sometimes they are even contradictory. These Brahmanas texts describe the procedure of performing yagyas like Soma and Rajasuya.

A large portion of the Upanishads texts also find mention in the '
Aranyaka'. The Aitereya and Kausheetki are the two prominent Aranyakas.

There are five prominent Upanishads-Aiteraya, Shatapatha, Kaushetki, Taittiriya and Chandogya and each of them is known as
Aranyaka. The 2nd(Shatapatha) and 3rd(Kaushetki) are Brahmana texts but the remaining three are Upanishads. Kausheetki Aranyaka comprises of three parts. The first two parts of this Aranyaka contain information on the appropriate performance of rituals. The third part is referred to as Kausheetki Upanishad.
First Mandal  Second  Mandal   Third  Mandal   Fourth  Mandal  Fifth Mandal   
Sixth  Mandal  Seventh Mandal   Eighth Mandal   Ninth  Mandal   Tenth Mandal