Rig Veda

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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.