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
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.
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.
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.
is classified in two ways.
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 Paaninis
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.
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.
- 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.
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