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Rigveda

Ananthaa Vai Vedaah
The voluminous vedas were edited into four parts by the intellectual colossus Maharshi Veda Vyaasa. The European scholars due to their lack of proper understanding of Aarshavidya, have attempted to bind the timeless in time

The present limited form of the vedas that are available are merely the observations of great seers that they experienced in their samaadhi. Any attempt to lend a chronological order to this eternal source of knowledge. Can only be termed as quite audacious. Yet all the scholars unanimously agree that the Rgveda is the oldest available literature.


Rigveda Murthy

The structure/form of Rigveda: The Rgveda is hymn-oriented. The Rgveda mantras are called Rcha because they are hymns, praising various devaas. The group/collection of such Rchaas is known as a sukta. Therefore, Rgveda is essentially the suktas compiled together.

Branches of Rigveda:
The various mantras such as the Rchas in the form of the Rgveda etc are for the Ritwiks’ use to perform different sacrificial activities. The compilation of the rchas in the Rgvedic form is for the facility of Hotr (Hota), the supreme among the Rtwicks. The composition of Rchas neither took place at a single period of time or place. We must, however, always remember that by the word ‘composition’ it is meant the flashes of realisation achieved by the Rshis during their samaadhi. Thus, the composition or the compilation of the Rchas was achieved by various masters teaching their pupil and the Hotas performing sacrifices hailing from different families and races. The result was that different editions of rchas evolved commonly called the Rgveda either independently or collectively. Thus, there were various branches of Rgveda based on its study, teaching and use in the sacrifices. Ekavimshathi bahufruchyam. According Mahabhashya, the commentary on Maharshi Paanini’s Ashtaadyaayi, by Bhagawan Patanjali, there were TWENTY ONE branches of Rgveda. The number of branches varies as stated by other texts. The Charanavyuha mentions Shaakalaa, Vaashklaa Aashvatayanee, Shaankhaayanee and Maandukaayanee as the most prominent branches of Rgveda. Each branch had its own samhitaa section and therefore it can be safely declared that there were as many samhitas as the branches. Unfortunately, only one branch of Rgveda is available today. Following the ancient tradition it is also known by it name as Shaakalaasamitaa. Whatever information perception and understanding we have Rgveda is based solely on this branch.

A collection of rchas is knowns as a sukta. There are 1028 suktaas in Rgveda. If the smallest sukta contains one rcha then the largest contains 58 rchas. In all there are about 10,600 rchas in all the suktas.

The Rgveda is classified in two ways.

  1. The whole Rgveda is divided into 8 parts known as Ashtakaani. Each ashtakam is further divided into eight parts known as adhyaaya. There are an indeterminate number of vargas in these adhyaayas that are a collection of about five or six rchas. Thus, there are eight ashtakas and 64 adhyaayas in Rgveda. This classification did not gain much following as it was hypothetical. Second one is a more authentic and natural classification. A sukta is the most genuine and smallest unit of Rgveda that conveys its own individual point. The 1028 suktas are divided into 10 mandalas. This classification is also historical in nature 20 divided that each mandala of six of the ten is attributed to either one of rshis hailing from the same gotra (Mandalas 2-7). The rshis of these mandalas in order are Grtsamada, Vishwamitra, Vaamadeva, Atri, Bharadwaaja and Vasishta along with their descendents. The fact that these mandalas are ascribed only to one family each and their sequential classification confirm them to be the oldest. The ninth mandala is also known as Pavamaanamandala.
  2. Singing the glory and worship of various deities is the fundamental subject matter of Rgveda. This veda is a vast collection of hymn in praise of the deities. The chief deities eulogised in this veda are Agni, Indra, Varuna, Vishnu, Savitaa, Marut, Mitra, etc. The hymns in praise of individual deva is known as suktas. The description of different factors related to the devaas also throws sufficient light on the social, historical, political and geographical conditions of those times. There are suktas devoted to other independent subjects other than the deities. Some describe a conversation, some preach ethics through the description of a game of dice. Others discuss social life and get others enumerate philosophical thoughts.

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