The Rigveda (Sanskrit: ऋग्वेद ṛgveda, from ṛc "praise" and veda "knowledge") is an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns along with associated commentaries on liturgy, ritual and mystical exegesis. It is one of the four sacred canonical texts (śruti) of Hinduism known as the Vedas.
The core text, known as the Rigveda Samhita, is a collection of 1,028 hymns (sūktas) in about 10,600 verses (called ṛc, eponymous of the name Rigveda), organized into ten books (maṇḍalas). In the eight books that were composed the earliest, the hymns are mostly praise of specific deities. The younger books (books 1 and 10) in part also deal with philosophical or speculative questions, with the virtue of dāna (charity) in society and with other metaphysical issues in their hymns.
The oldest layers of the Rigveda Samhita are among the oldest extant texts in any Indo-European language, perhaps of similar age as certain Hittite texts. Philological and linguistic evidence indicates that the bulk of the Rigveda Samhita was composed in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, most likely between c. 1500 and 1200 BC, although a wider approximation of c. 1700–1100 BC has also been given.[note 1] The initial codification of the Rigveda took place during the early Kuru kingdom (c. 1200–900 BC).
The associated material has been preserved from two shakhas or "schools", known as Śākalya and Bāṣkala. The school-specific commentaries are known as Brahmanas (Aitareya-brahmana and Kaushitaki-brahmana) Aranyakas (Aitareya-aranyaka and Kaushitaki-aranyaka), and Upanishads (partly excerpted from the Aranyakas: Bahvrca-brahmana-upanishad, Aitareya-upanishad, Samhita-upanishad, Kaushitaki-upanishad).
The text is organized in ten "books", or maṇḍalas ("circles"), of varying age and length. The text clearly originates as oral literature, and "books" may be a misleading term, the individual mandalas are, much rather, standalone collections of hymns that were intended to be memorized by the members of various groups of priests.
This is particularly true of the "family books", mandalas 2–7, which form the oldest part of the Rigveda and account for 38 per cent of the entire text. They are called "family books" because each of them is attributed to an individual rishi, and was transmitted within the lineage of this rishi's family, or of his students.
The hymns within each of the family books are arranged in collections each dealing with a particular deity: Agni comes first, Indra comes second, and so on. They are generally arranged by decreasing number of hymns within each section. Within each such collection, the hymns are arranged in descending order of the number of stanzas per hymn. If two hymns in the same collection have equal numbers of stanzas then they are arranged so that the number of syllables in the metre are in descending order. The second to seventh mandalas have a uniform format.
The eighth and ninth mandalas, comprising hymns of mixed age, account for 15% and 9%, respectively. The ninth mandala is entirely dedicated to Soma and the Soma ritual. The hymns in the ninth mandala are arranged by both their prosody structure (chanda) and by their length.
The first and the tenth mandalas are the youngest; they are also the longest books, of 191 suktas each, accounting for 37% of the text. Nevertheless, some of the hymns in mandalas 8, 1 and 10 may still belong to an earlier period and may be as old as the material in the family books. The first mandala has a unique arrangement not found in the other nine mandalas. The first 84 hymns of the tenth mandala have a structure different than the remaining hymns in it.
Each mandala consists of hymns or sūktas (su- + ukta, literally, "well recited, eulogy") intended for various rituals. The sūktas in turn consist of individual stanzas called ṛc ("praise", pl. ṛcas), which are further analysed into units of verse called pada ("foot" or step).
The meters most used in the ṛcas are the gayatri (3 verses of 8 syllables), anushtubh (4×8), trishtubh (4×11) and jagati (4×12). The trishtubh meter (40%) and gayatri meter (25%) dominate in the Rigveda.
For pedagogical convenience, each mandala is divided into roughly equal sections of several sūktas, called anuvāka ("recitation"), which modern publishers often omit. Another scheme divides the entire text over the 10 mandalas into aṣṭaka ("eighth"), adhyāya ("chapter") and varga ("class"). Some publishers give both classifications in a single edition.
The most common numbering scheme is by book, hymn and stanza (and pada a, b, c ..., if required). E.g., the first verse is in three times eight syllables (gayatri):
Tradition associates a rishi (the composer) with each ṛc of the Rigveda. Most sūktas are attributed to single composers. The "family books" (2–7) are so-called because they have hymns by members of the same clan in each book; but other clans are also represented in the Rigveda. In all, 10 families of rishis account for more than 95 per cent of the ṛcs; for each of them the Rigveda includes a lineage-specific āprī hymn (a special sūkta of rigidly formulaic structure, used for rituals.
|Angiras||1.142||3619 (especially Mandala 6)|
|Kanva||1.13||1315 (especially Mandala 8)|
|Vasishtha||7.2||1276 (Mandala 7)|
|Vishvamitra||3.4||983 (Mandala 3)|
|Atri||5.5||885 (Mandala 5)|
|Kashyapa||9.5||415 (part of Mandala 9)|
|Grtsamada||2.3||401 (Mandala 2)|
The original text (as authored by the Rishis) is close to but not identical to the extant Samhitapatha, but metrical and other observations allow reconstruction (in part at least) of the original text from the extant one, as printed in the Harvard Oriental Series, vol. 50 (1994).
The surviving form of the Rigveda is based on an early Iron Age collection that established the core 'family books' (mandalas 2–7, ordered by author, deity and meter) and a later redaction, coeval with the redaction of the other Vedas, dating several centuries after the hymns were composed. This redaction also included some additions (contradicting the strict ordering scheme) and orthoepic changes to the Vedic Sanskrit such as the regularization of sandhi (termed orthoepische Diaskeuase by Oldenberg, 1888).
As with the other Vedas, the redacted text has been handed down in several versions, most importantly the Padapatha, in which each word is isolated in pausa form and is used for just one way of memorization; and the Samhitapatha, which combines words according to the rules of sandhi (the process being described in the Pratisakhya) and is the memorized text used for recitation.
The Padapatha and the Pratisakhya anchor the text's true meaning, and the fixed text was preserved with unparalleled fidelity for more than a millennium by oral tradition alone. In order to achieve this the oral tradition prescribed very structured enunciation, involving breaking down the Sanskrit compounds into stems and inflections, as well as certain permutations. This interplay with sounds gave rise to a scholarly tradition of morphology and phonetics. The Rigveda was probably not written down until the Gupta period (4th to 6th centuries AD), by which time the Brahmi script had become widespread (the oldest surviving manuscripts are from c. 1040 AD, discovered in Nepal). The oral tradition still continued into recent times.
There is a widely accepted timeframe for the initial codification of the Rigveda by compiling the hymns very late in the Rigvedic or rather in the early post-Rigvedic period, including the arrangement of the individual hymns in ten books, coeval with the composition of the younger Veda Samhitas. This time coincides with the early Kuru kingdom, shifting the center of Vedic culture east from the Punjab into what is now Uttar Pradesh. The fixing of the samhitapatha (by enforcing regular application of sandhi) and of the padapatha (by dissolving Sandhi out of the earlier metrical text), occurred during the later Brahmana period, in roughly the 6th century BC.
Several shakhas ("branches", i. e. recensions) of Rig Veda are known to have existed in the past. Of these, Śākalya is the only one to have survived in its entirety. Another shakha that may have survived is the Bāṣkala, although this is uncertain.
The surviving padapatha version of the Rigveda text is ascribed to Śākalya. The Śākala recension has 1,017 regular hymns, and an appendix of 11 vālakhilya hymns which are now customarily included in the 8th mandala (as 8.49–8.59), for a total of 1028 hymns. The Bāṣkala recension includes eight of these vālakhilya hymns among its regular hymns, making a total of 1025 regular hymns for this śākhā. In addition, the Bāṣkala recension has its own appendix of 98 hymns, the Khilani.
In the 1877 edition of Aufrecht, the 1028 hymns of the Rigveda contain a total of 10,552 ṛcs, or 39,831 padas. The Shatapatha Brahmana gives the number of syllables to be 432,000, while the metrical text of van Nooten and Holland (1994) has a total of 395,563 syllables (or an average of 9.93 syllables per pada); counting the number of syllables is not straightforward because of issues with sandhi and the post-Rigvedic pronunciation of syllables like súvar as svàr.
Three other shakhas are mentioned in Caraṇavyuha, a pariśiṣṭa (supplement) of Yajurveda: Māṇḍukāyana, Aśvalāyana and Śaṅkhāyana. The Atharvaveda lists two more shakhas. The differences between all these shakhas are very minor, limited to varying order of content and inclusion (or non-inclusion) of a few verses. The following information is known about the shakhas other than Śākalya and Bāṣkala:
Writing appears in India around the 3rd century BC in the form of the Brāhmī script, but texts of the length of the Rigveda were likely not written down until much later,[note 2] and the oldest extant manuscripts date to c. 1040 AD, discovered in Nepal. While written manuscripts were used for teaching in medieval times, they were written on birch bark or palm leaves, which decompose and therefore were routinely copied over the generations to help preserve the text. Some Rigveda commentaries may date from the second half of the first millennium AD. The hymns were thus composed and preserved by oral tradition for several millennia from the time of their composition until the redaction of the Rigveda, and the entire Rigveda was preserved in shakhas for another 2,500 years from the time of its redaction until the editio princeps by Rosen, Aufrecht and Max Müller.
There are, for example, 30 manuscripts of Rigveda at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, collected in the 19th century by Georg Bühler, Franz Kielhorn and others, originating from different parts of India, including Kashmir, Gujarat, the then Rajaputana, Central Provinces etc. They were transferred to Deccan College, Pune, in the late 19th century. They are in the Sharada and Devanagari scripts, written on birch bark and paper. The oldest of them is dated to 1464. The 30 manuscripts of Rigveda preserved at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune were added to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 2007.
Of these 30 manuscripts, nine contain the samhita text, five have the padapatha in addition. 13 contain Sayana's commentary. At least five manuscripts (MS. no. 1/A1879-80, 1/A1881-82, 331/1883-84 and 5/Viś I) have preserved the complete text of the Rigveda. MS no. 5/1875-76, written on birch bark in bold Sharada, was only in part used by Max Müller for his edition of the Rigveda with Sayana's commentary.
Müller used 24 manuscripts then available to him in Europe, while the Pune Edition used over five dozen manuscripts, but the editors of Pune Edition could not procure many manuscripts used by Müller and by the Bombay Edition, as well as from some other sources; hence the total number of extant manuscripts known then must surpass perhaps eighty at least.
The various Rigveda manuscripts discovered so far show some differences. Broadly, the most studied Śākala recension has 1017 hymns, includes an appendix of eleven valakhīlya hymns which are often counted with the eighth mandala, for a total of 1028 metrical hymns. The Bāṣakala version of Rigveda includes eight of these vālakhilya hymns among its regular hymns, making a total of 1025 hymns in the main text for this śākhā. The Bāṣakala text also has an appendix of 98 hymns, called the Khilani, bringing the total to 1,123 hymns. The manuscripts of Śākala recension of the Rigveda have about 10,600 verses, organized into ten Books (Mandalas). Books 2 through 7 are internally homogeneous in style, while Books 1, 8 and 10 are compilation of verses of internally different styles suggesting that these books are likely a collection of compositions by many authors.
The first mandala is the largest, with 191 hymns and 2006 verses, and it was added to the text after Books 2 through 9. The last, or the 10th Book, also has 191 hymns but 1754 verses, making it the second largest. The language analytics suggest the 10th Book, chronologically, was composed and added last. The content of the 10th Book also suggest that the authors knew and relied on the contents of the first nine books.
The Rigveda is the largest of the four Vedas, and many of its verses appear in the other Vedas. Almost all of the 1875 verses found in Samaveda are taken from different parts of the Rigveda, either once or as repetition, and rewritten in a chant song form. The Books 8 and 9 of the Rigveda are by far the largest source of verses for Sama Veda. The Book 10 contributes the largest number of the 1350 verses of Rigveda found in Atharvaveda, or about one fifth of the 5987 verses in the Atharvaveda text. A bulk of 1875 ritual-focussed verses of Yajurveda, in its numerous versions, also borrow and build upon the foundation of verses in Rigveda.
Altogether the Rigveda consists of:
In western usage, "Rigveda" usually refers to the Rigveda Samhita, while the Brahmanas are referred to as the "Rigveda Brahmanas" (etc.). Technically speaking, however, "the Rigveda" refers to the entire body of texts transmitted along with the Samhita portion. Different bodies of commentary were transmitted in the different shakhas or "schools". Only a small portion of these texts has been preserved: The texts of only two out of five shakhas mentioned by the Rigveda Pratishakhya have survived. The late (15th or 16th century) Shri Guru Charitra even claims the existence of twelve Rigvedic shakhas. The two surviving Rigvedic corpora are those of the Śākala and the Bāṣkala shakhas.
The Rigvedic hymns are dedicated to various deities, chief of whom are Indra, a heroic god praised for having slain his enemy Vrtra; Agni, the sacrificial fire; and Soma, the sacred potion or the plant it is made from. Equally prominent gods are the Adityas or Asura gods Mitra–Varuna and Ushas (the dawn). Also invoked are Savitr, Vishnu, Rudra, Pushan, Brihaspati or Brahmanaspati, as well as deified natural phenomena such as Dyaus Pita (the shining sky, Father Heaven), Prithivi (the earth, Mother Earth), Surya (the sun god), Vayu or Vata (the wind), Apas (the waters), Parjanya (the thunder and rain), Vac (the word), many rivers (notably the Sapta Sindhu, and the Sarasvati River). The Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, Sadhyas, Ashvins, Maruts, Rbhus, and the Vishvadevas ("all-gods") as well as the "thirty-three gods" are the groups of deities mentioned.
Of the Brahmanas that were handed down in the schools of the Bahvṛcas (i.e. "possessed of many verses"), as the followers of the Rigveda are called, two have come down to us, namely those of the Aitareyins and the Kaushitakins. The Aitareya-brahmana and the Kaushitaki- (or Sankhayana-) brahmana evidently have for their groundwork the same stock of traditional exegetic matter. They differ, however, considerably as regards both the arrangement of this matter and their stylistic handling of it, with the exception of the numerous legends common to both, in which the discrepancy is comparatively slight. There is also a certain amount of material peculiar to each of them.
The Kaushitaka is, upon the whole, far more concise in its style and more systematic in its arrangement features which would lead one to infer that it is probably the more modern work of the two. It consists of 30 chapters (adhyaya); while the Aitareya has 40, divided into eight books (or pentads, pancaka), of five chapters each. The last 10 adhyayas of the latter work are, however, clearly a later addition though they must have already formed part of it at the time of Pāṇini (c. 5th century BC), if, as seems probable, one of his grammatical sutras, regulating the formation of the names of Brahmanas, consisting of 30 and 40 adhyayas, refers to these two works. In this last portion occurs the well-known legend (also found in the Shankhayana-sutra, but not in the Kaushitaki-brahmana) of Shunahshepa, whom his father Ajigarta sells and offers to slay, the recital of which formed part of the inauguration of kings.
While the Aitareya deals almost exclusively with the Soma sacrifice, the Kaushitaka, in its first six chapters, treats of the several kinds of haviryajna, or offerings of rice, milk, ghee, etc., whereupon follows the Soma sacrifice in this way, that chapters 7–10 contain the practical ceremonial and 11–30 the recitations (shastra) of the hotar. Sayana, in the introduction to his commentary on the work, ascribes the Aitareya to the sage Mahidasa Aitareya (i.e. son of Itara), also mentioned elsewhere as a philosopher; and it seems likely enough that this person arranged the Brahmana and founded the school of the Aitareyins. Regarding the authorship of the sister work we have no information, except that the opinion of the sage Kaushitaki is frequently referred to in it as authoritative, and generally in opposition to the Paingya—the Brahmana, it would seem, of a rival school, the Paingins. Probably, therefore, it is just what one of the manuscripts calls it—the Brahmana of Sankhayana (composed) in accordance with the views of Kaushitaki.
Each of these two Brahmanas is supplemented by a "forest book", or Aranyaka. The Aitareyaranyaka is not a uniform production. It consists of five books (aranyaka), three of which, the first and the last two, are of a liturgical nature, treating of the ceremony called mahavrata, or great vow. The last of these books, composed in sutra form, is, however, doubtless of later origin, and is, indeed, ascribed by Hindu authorities either to Shaunaka or to Ashvalayana. The second and third books, on the other hand, are purely speculative, and are also styled the Bahvrca-brahmana-upanishad. Again, the last four chapters of the second book are usually singled out as the Aitareya Upanishad, ascribed, like its Brahmana (and the first book), to Mahidasa Aitareya; and the third book is also referred to as the Samhita-upanishad. As regards the Kaushitaki-aranyaka, this work consists of 15 adhyayas, the first two (treating of the mahavrata ceremony) and the 7th and 8th of which correspond to the first, fifth, and third books of the Aitareyaranyaka, respectively, whilst the four adhyayas usually inserted between them constitute the highly interesting Kaushitaki (Brahmana-) Upanishad, of which we possess two different recensions. The remaining portions (9–15) of the Aranyaka treat of the vital airs, the internal Agnihotra, etc., ending with the vamsha, or succession of teachers.
The Vedic Sanskrit text of the redacted version of the Rig Veda was transmitted remarkably unchanged, preserving, apart from certain prosodic changes (the systematic application of sandhi rules) the linguistic stage of the Late Bronze Age. Because of the faithful preservation of the text, the language was no longer immediately understandable to scholars of Classical Sanskrit by about 500 BC, necessitating commentaries interpreting the meaning of the text of the hymns. The Brahmanas contain numerous misinterpretations, due to this linguistic change, some of which were characterised by Sri Aurobindo as "grotesque nonsense."
The earliest text were composed in greater Punjab (northwest India and Pakistan), and the more philosophical later texts were most likely composed in or around the region that is the modern era state of Haryana.
Philological estimates tend to date the bulk of the text to the second half of the second millennium.[note 3]
Being composed in an early Indo-Aryan language, the hymns must post-date the Indo-Iranian separation, dated to roughly 2000 BC. A reasonable date close to that of the composition of the core of the Rigveda is that of the Mitanni documents of c. 1400 BC, which contain Indo-Aryan nomenclature. Other evidence also points to a composition close to 1400 BC.
The Rigveda's core is accepted to date to the late Bronze Age, making it one of the few examples with an unbroken tradition. Its composition is usually dated to roughly between c. 1500 BC – 1200 BC.[note 4]
The Rigveda is far more archaic than any other Indo-Aryan text. For this reason, it was in the center of attention of western scholarship from the times of Max Müller and Rudolf Roth onwards. The Rigveda records an early stage of Vedic religion. There are strong linguistic and cultural similarities with the early Iranian Avesta, deriving from the Proto-Indo-Iranian times, often associated with the early Andronovo culture (or rather, the Sintashta culture within the early Andronovo horizon) of c. 2000 BC.
The Rigveda offers no direct evidence of social or political system in Vedic era, whether ordinary or elite. Only hints such as cattle raising and horse racing are discernible, and the text offers very general ideas about the ancient Indian society. There is no evidence, state Jamison and Brereton, of any elaborate, pervasive or structured caste system. Social stratification seems embryonic, then and later a social ideal rather than a social reality. The society was semi-nomadic and pastoral with evidence of agriculture since hymns mention plow and celebrate agricultural divinities. There was division of labor, and complementary relationship between kings and poet-priests but no discussion of relative status of social classes. Women in Rigveda appear disproportionately as speakers in dialogue hymns, both as mythical or divine Indrani, Apsaras Urvasi, or Yami, as well as Apāla Ātreyī (RV 8.91), Godhā (RV 10.134.6), Ghoṣā Kākṣīvatī (RV 10.39.40), Romaśā (RV 1.126.7), Lopāmudrā (RV 1.179.1-2), Viśvavārā Ātreyī (RV 5.28), Śacī Paulomī (RV 10.159), Śaśvatī Āṅgirasī (RV 8.1.34). The women of Rigveda are quite outspoken and appear more sexually confident than men, in the text. Elaborate and esthetic hymns on wedding suggest rites of passage had developed during the Rigvedic period. There is little evidence of dowry and no evidence of sati in it or related Vedic texts.
The Rigvedic hymns mention rice and porridge, in hymns such as 8.83, 8.70, 8.77 and 1.61 in some versions of the text, however there is no discussion of rice cultivation. The term "ayas" (metal) occurs in the Rigveda, but it is unclear which metal it was. Iron is not mentioned in Rigveda, something scholars have used to help date Rigveda to have been composed before 1000 BC. Hymn 5.63 mentions "metal cloaked in gold", suggesting metal working had progressed in the Vedic culture.
Some of the names of gods and goddesses found in the Rigveda are found amongst other belief systems based on Proto-Indo-European religion, while words used share common roots with words from other Indo-European languages.
The horse (ashva), cattle, sheep and goat play an important role in the Rigveda. There are also references to the elephant (Hastin, Varana), camel (Ustra, especially in Mandala 8), ass (khara, rasabha), buffalo (Mahisa), wolf, hyena, lion (Simha), mountain goat (sarabha) and to the gaur in the Rigveda. The peafowl (mayura), the goose (hamsa) and the chakravaka (Tadorna ferruginea) are some birds mentioned in the Rigveda.
The Vedas as a whole are classed as "shruti" in Hindu tradition. This has been compared to the concept of divine revelation in Western religious tradition, but Staal argues that "it is nowhere stated that the Veda was revealed", and that shruti simply means "that what is heard, in the sense that it is transmitted from father to son or from teacher to pupil". The Rigveda, or other Vedas, do not anywhere assert that they are apauruṣeyā, and this reverential term appears only centuries after the end of the Vedic period in the texts of the Mimamsa school of Hindu philosophy. The text of Rigveda suggests it was "composed by poets, human individuals whose names were household words" in the Vedic age, states Staal.
By the period of Puranic Hinduism, in the medieval period, the language of the hymns had become "almost entirely unintelligible", and their interpretation mostly hinged on mystical ideas and sound symbolism.
According to Hindu tradition, the Rigvedic hymns along with the other Vedas, the Mahabharata and the Puranas were compiled by sage Vyāsa. According to the Śatapatha Brāhmana, the number of syllables in the Rigveda is 432,000, but the surviving Rigveda does not confirm this number. The Rigveda does have embedded numerical patterns such as 10,800 stanzas, which corresponds to 30 times 360, and a fourth of 432 that appears in many Hindu contexts (108 Upanishads). The Shatapatha Brahmana claims that there are 10,800,000 stars in the sky. According to Thomas McEvilley, an art historian and academic who compared Greek and Indian literature, the numbers such as 432 and 108 may be of significance to the Hindus, but many numerology claims do not verify and the "believer is left with the consolation of thinking that the missing" are there "but unmanifest".
The authors of the Brāhmana literature discussed and interpreted the Vedic ritual. Yaska was an early commentator of the Rigveda by discussing the meanings of difficult words. In the 14th century, Sāyana wrote an exhaustive commentary on it.
A number of other commentaries (bhāṣyas) were written during the medieval period, including the commentaries by Skandasvamin (pre-Sayana, roughly of the Gupta period), Udgitha (pre-Sayana), Venkata-Madhava (pre-Sayana, c. 10th to 12th centuries) and Mudgala (after Sayana, an abbreviated version of Sayana's commentary).
In the 19th- and early 20th-centuries, some reformers like Swami Dayananda Saraswati—founder of the Arya Samaj, Sri Aurobindo—founder of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, discussed the Vedas, including the Rig veda, for their philosophies. According to Robson, Dayanand believed "there were no errors in the Vedas (including the Rigveda), and if anyone showed him an error, he would maintain that it was a corruption added later".
Dayananda and Aurobindo interpret the Vedic scholars had a monotheistic conception. Aurobindo attempted to interpret hymns to Agni in the Rigveda as mystical. Aurobindo states that the Vedic hymns were a quest after a higher truth, define the Rta (basis of Dharma), conceive life in terms of a struggle between the forces of light and darkness, and sought the ultimate reality.
Rigveda, in contemporary Hinduism, has been a reminder of the ancient cultural heritage and point of pride for Hindus, with some hymns still in use in major rites of passage ceremonies, but the literal acceptance of most of the textual essence is long gone. Louis Renou wrote that the text is a distant object, and "even in the most orthodox domains, the reverence to the Vedas has come to be a simple raising of the hat". Musicians and dance groups celebrate the text as a mark of Hindu heritage, through incorporating Rigvedic hymns in their compositions, such as in Hamsadhvani and Subhapantuvarali of Carnatic music, and these have remained popular among the Hindus for decades. However, the contemporary Hindu beliefs are distant from the precepts in the ancient layer of Rigveda samhitas:
The social history and context of the Vedic texts are extremely distant from contemporary Hindu religious beliefs and practice, a reverence for the Vedas as an exemplar of Hindu heritage continues to inform a contemporary understanding of Hinduism. Popular reverence for Vedic scripture is similarly focused on the abiding authority and prestige of the Vedas rather than on any particular exegesis or engagement with the subject matter of the text.— Andrea Pinkney, Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia
While the older hymns of the Rigveda reflect sacrifical ritual typical of polytheism, its younger parts, specifically mandalas 1 and 10, have been noted as containing monistic or henotheistic speculations.
A widely-cited example of such speculations is hymn 1.164.46:
They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, and he is heavenly nobly-winged Garutman.
To what is One, sages give many a title they call it Agni, Yama, Matarisvan.
Max Muller notably introduced the term "henotheism" for the philosophy expressed here, avoiding the connotations of "monotheism" in Judeo-Christian tradition. Other widely-cited examples of monistic tendencies include hymns 1.164, 8.36 and 10.31, Other scholars state that Rigveda includes an emerging diversity of thought, including monotheism, polytheism, henotheism and pantheism, the choice left to the preference of the worshipper. and the Nasadiya Sukta (10.129), one of the most widely cited Rigvedic hymns in popular western presentations.
Examples from Mandala 1 adduced to illustrate the "metaphysical" nature of the contents of the younger hymns include: 1.164.34: "What is the ultimate limit of the earth?", "What is the center of the universe?", "What is the semen of the cosmic horse?", "What is the ultimate source of human speech?"; 1.164.34: "Who gave blood, soul, spirit to the earth?", "How could the unstructured universe give origin to this structured world?"; 1.164.5: "Where does the sun hide in the night?", "Where do gods live?"; 1.164.6: "What, where is the unborn support for the born universe?"; 1.164.20 (a hymn that is widely cited in the Upanishads as the parable of the Body and the Soul): "Two birds with fair wings, inseparable companions; Have found refuge in the same sheltering tree. One incessantly eats from the fig tree; the other, not eating, just looks on.".
The first published translation of any portion of the Rigveda in any European language was into Latin, by Friedrich August Rosen (Rigvedae specimen, London 1830). Predating Müller's editio princeps of the text by 19 years, Rosen was working from manuscripts brought back from India by Colebrooke. H. H. Wilson was the first to make a complete translation of the Rig Veda into English, published in six volumes during the period 1850–88. Wilson's version was based on the commentary of Sāyaṇa. Müller's Rig Veda Sanhita in 6 volumes Muller, Max, ed. (W. H. Allen and Co., London, 1849) has an English preface The birch bark from which Müller produced his translation is held at The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune, India.
The Rigveda is the earliest, the most venerable, obscure, distant and difficult for moderns to understand – hence is often misinterpreted or worse: used as a peg on which to hang an idea or a theory.— Frits Staal, Discovering the Vedas: Origins, Mantras, Rituals, Insights
Like all archaic texts, the Rigveda is difficult to translate into modern language, "There are no closely contemporary extant texts, which makes it difficult to interpret."  and early translations contained straightforward errors. Another issue is the choice of translation for technical terms such as mandala, conventionally translated "book", but more literally rendered "cycle".
Some notable translations of the Rig Veda include:
|Rigvedae specimen||Friedrich August Rosen||1830||Latin||Partial translation with 121 hymns (London, 1830). Also known as Rigveda Sanhita, Liber Primus, Sanskrite Et Latine (ISBN 978-1275453234). Based on manuscripts brought back from India by Henry Thomas Colebrooke.|
|Rig-Veda, oder die heiligen Lieder der Brahmanen||Max Müller||1856||German||Partial translation published by F. A. Brockhaus, Leipzig. In 1873, Müller published an editio princeps titled The Hymns of the Rig-Veda in the Samhita Text. He also translated a few hymns in English (Nasadiya Sukta).|
|Ṛig-Veda-Sanhitā: A Collection of Ancient Hindu Hymns||H. H. Wilson||1850-88||English||Published as 6 volumes, by N. Trübner & Co., London.|
|Rig-véda, ou livre des hymnes||A. Langlois||1870||French||Partial translation. Re-printed in Paris, 1948–51 (ISBN 2-7200-1029-4).|
|Der Rigveda||Alfred Ludwig||1876||German||Published by Verlag von F. Tempsky, Prague.|
|Rig-Veda||Hermann Grassmann||1876||German||Published by F. A. Brockhaus, Leipzig|
|Rigved Bhashyam||Dayananda Saraswati||1877-9||Hindi||Incomplete translation. Later translated into English by Dharma Deva Vidya Martanda (1974).|
|The Hymns of the Rig Veda||Ralph T.H. Griffith||1889-92||English||Revised as The Rig Veda in 1896. Revised by J. L. Shastri in 1973.|
|Der Rigveda in Auswahl||Karl Friedrich Geldner||1907||German||Published by W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart. Geldner's 1907 work was a partial translation; he completed a full translation in the 1920s, which was published after his death, in 1951. This translation was titled Der Rig-Veda: aus dem Sanskrit ins Deutsche Übersetzt. Harvard Oriental Studies, vols. 33–37 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: 1951–7). Reprinted by Harvard University Press (2003) ISBN 0-674-01226-7.|
|Hymns from the Rigveda||A. A. Macdonell||1917||English||Partial translation (30 hymns). Published by Clarendon Press, Oxford.|
|Series of articles in Journal of the University of Bombay||Hari Damodar Velankar||1940s-1960s||English||Partial translation (Mandala 2, 5, 7 and 8). Later published as independent volumes.|
|Rig Veda - Hymns to the Mystic Fire||Sri Aurobindo||1946||English||Partial translation published by N. K. Gupta, Pondicherry. Later republished several times (ISBN 9780914955221)|
|RigVeda Samhita||Pandit H.P. Venkat Rao, LaxmanAcharya and a couple of other Pandits||1947||Kannada||Sources from Saayana Bhashya, SkandaSvami Bhashya, Taittareya Samhita, Maitrayini Samhita and other Samhitas. The Kannada translation work was commissioned by Maharaja of Mysore HRH Jayachama Rajendra Wodeyar. The translations were compiled into 11 volumes.|
|Rig Veda||Ramgovind Trivedi||1954||Hindi|
|Études védiques et pāṇinéennes||Louis Renou||1955-69||French||Appears in a series of publications, organized by the deities. Covers most of Rigveda, but leaves out significant hymns, including the ones dedicated to Indra and the Asvins.|
|ऋग्वेद संहिता||Shriram Sharma||1950s||Hindi|
|Hymns from the Rig-Veda||Naoshiro Tsuji||1970||Japanese||Partial translation|
|Rigveda: Izbrannye Gimny||Tatyana Elizarenkova||1972||Russian||Partial translation, extended to a full translation published during 1989–1999.|
|Rigveda Parichaya||Nag Sharan Singh||1977||English / Hindi||Extension of Wilson's translation. Republished by Nag, Delhi in 1990 (ISBN 978-8170812173).|
|Rig Veda||M. R. Jambunathan||1978-80.||Tamil||Two volumes, both released posthumously.|
|Rigvéda – Teremtéshimnuszok (Creation Hymns of the Rig-Veda)||Laszlo Forizs (hu)||1995||Hungarian||Partial translation published in Budapest (ISBN 963-85349-1-5)|
|The Rig Veda||Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty||1981||English||Partial translation (108 hymns), along with critical apparatus. Published by Penguin (ISBN 0-14-044989-2). A bibliography of translations of the Rig Veda appears as an Appendix.|
|Pinnacles of India's Past: Selections from the Rgveda||Walter H. Maurer||1986||English||Partial translation published by John Benjamins.|
|The Rig Veda||Bibek Debroy, Dipavali Debroy||1992||English||Partial translation published by B. R. Publishing (ISBN 9780836427783). The work is in verse form, without reference to the original hymns or mandalas. Part of Great Epics of India: Veda series, also published as The Holy Vedas.|
|The Holy Vedas: A Golden Treasury||Pandit Satyakam Vidyalankar||1983||English|
|Ṛgveda Saṃhitā||H. H. Wilson, Ravi Prakash Arya and K. L. Joshi||2001||English||4-volume set published by Parimal (ISBN 978-81-7110-138-2). Revised edition of Wilson's translation. Replaces obsolete English forms with more modern equivalents (e.g. "thou" with "you"). Includes the original Sanskrit text in Devanagari script, along with a critical apparatus.|
|Ṛgveda for the Layman||Shyam Ghosh||2002||English||Partial translation (100 hymns). Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi.|
|Rig-Veda||Michael Witzel, Toshifumi Goto||2007||German||Partial translation (Mandala 1 and 2). The authors are working on a second volume. Published by Verlag der Weltreligionen (ISBN 978-3-458-70001-2).|
|ऋग्वेद||Govind Chandra Pande||2008||Hindi||Partial translation (Mandala 3 and 5). Published by Lokbharti, Allahabad|
|The Hymns of Rig Veda||Tulsi Ram||2013||English||Published by Vijaykumar Govindram Hasanand, Delhi|
|The Rigveda||Stephanie W. Jamison and Joel P. Brereton||2014||English||3-volume set published by Oxford University Press (ISBN 978-0-19-937018-4). Funded by the United States' National Endowment for the Humanities in 2004.|
The Vedic texts were orally composed and transmitted, without the use of script, in an unbroken line of transmission from teacher to student that was formalized early on. This ensured an impeccable textual transmission superior to the classical texts of other cultures; it is, in fact, something like a tape-recording of ca. 1500–500 BC. Not just the actual words, but even the long-lost musical (tonal) accent (as in old Greek or in Japanese) has been preserved up to the present. On the other hand, the Vedas have been written down only during the early second millennium ce,...
Angiras (Sanskrit: अङ्गिरस् / áṅgiras, pronounced [ɐ́ŋɡiɽɐs̪]) is a Vedic rishi (sage) of Hinduism. He is described in the Rigveda as a teacher of divine knowledge, a mediator between men and gods, as well as stated in other hymns to be the first of Agni-devas (fire gods). In some texts, he is considered to be one of the seven great sages or saptarishis, but in others he is mentioned but not counted in the list of seven great sages. In some manuscripts of Atharvaveda, the text is attributed to "Atharvangirasah", which is a compound of sage Atharvan and Angiras. The student family of Angiras are called "Angirasa", and they are credited to be the authors of some hymns in the first, second, fifth, eighth, ninth and tenth book of the Rigveda.Angiras is common name, and the numerous mentions in ancient and medieval Indian texts may reflect different people with the same name. In the Hindu Epics and Puranas, his legends and mythologies are highly inconsistent.Asura
Asuras (Sanskrit: असुर) are a class of divine beings or power-seeking deities related to the more benevolent Devas (also known as Suras) in Hinduism.
Asuras are sometimes considered nature spirits. They battle constantly with the devas. Asuras are described in Indian texts as powerful superhuman demigods with good or bad qualities. The good Asuras are called Adityas and are led by Varuna, while the malevolent ones are called Danavas and are led by Vritra.
In the earliest layer of Vedic texts Agni, Indra and other gods are also called Asuras, in the sense of them being "lords" of their respective domains, knowledge and abilities. In later Vedic and post-Vedic texts, the benevolent gods are called Devas, while malevolent Asuras compete against these Devas and are considered "enemy of the gods".Asuras are part of Indian mythology along with Devas, Yakshas (nature spirits) and Rakshasas (ghosts, ogres). Asuras feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism.Atri
Atri (Sanskrit: अत्रि) or Attri is a Vedic sage, who is credited with composing a large number of hymns to Agni, Indra and other Vedic deities of Hinduism. Atri is one of the Saptarishi (seven great Vedic sages) in the Hindu tradition, and the one most mentioned in its scripture Rigveda.The fifth Mandala (Book 5) of Rigveda is called the Atri Mandala in his honour, and the eighty seven hymns in it are attributed to him and his descendants.Atri is also mentioned in the Puranas and the Hindu Epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.Brahmana
The Brahmanas (; Sanskrit: ब्राह्मणम्, Brāhmaṇam) are a collection of ancient Indian texts with commentaries on the hymns of the four Vedas. They are a layer or category of Vedic Sanskrit texts embedded within each Veda, and form a part of the Hindu śruti literature. They are primarily a digest incorporating myths, legends, the explanation of Vedic rituals and in some cases speculations about natural phenomenon or philosophy.The Brahmanas are particularly noted for their instructions on the proper performance of rituals, as well as explain the original symbolic meanings- translated to words and ritual actions in the main text. Brahmanas lack a homogeneous structure across the different Vedas, with some containing chapters that constitute Aranyakas or Upanishads in their own right.Each Vedic shakha (school) has its own Brahmana. Numerous Brahmana texts existed in ancient India, many of which have been lost. A total of 19 Brahmanas are extant at least in their entirety.
The dating of the final codification of the Brahmanas and associated Vedic texts is controversial, which occurred after centuries of verbal transmission. The oldest is dated to about 900 BCE, while the youngest Brahmanas (such as the Shatapatha Brahmana), were complete by about 700 BCE. According to Jan Gonda, the final codification of the four Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and early Upanishads took place in pre-Buddhist times (ca. 600 BCE).Brahmavadini
Brahmavadini or "an expounder of the Veda" are those women who composed any hymns of the Vedas The prominent among them were Lopamudra, Vishwawara, Sikta, Ghosha and Maitreyi.
Lopamudra was the wife of the sage Agastya. A hymn in the Rigveda is attributed to her. Maitreyi, the wife of Yajnavalkya, is accredited with about ten hymns in Rig VedaTwo suktas (hymns) of the tenth Mandala (book) of Rigveda, 39 and 40, each containing 14 verses, have been attributed to Ghosha. The first hymn praises the Ashvins. The second hymn is a personal wish expressing her intimate feelings and desires for married life.Dyaus
Dyáuṣ Pitṛ́ (Vedic Sanskrit: Dyáuṣpitṛ́, द्यौष्पितृ, literally 'Sky Father') is the 'Father Heaven' deity of the Vedic pantheon derived from the Proto-Indo-European Sky father god, Dyeus, who appears in hymns with Prithvi Mata 'Mother Earth' in the ancient scriptures of Hinduism. He is significant in comparative philology scholarship of Proto-Indo-European religion as similar vocative and nominative concepts share a similar derivation from the Indo-European language, such as Dies Pater and Jupiter (Latin), Zeus Patér (Zεύς πατήρ, Ancient Greek), Dievas, Tius or Zio (Old High German) and Toutiks dipater (South Picene), all of which like Dyáuṣ Pitṛ́ mean 'sky father'.In the Rigveda, Dyaus Pitr appears in verses 1.89.4, 1.90.7, 1.164.33, 1.191.6, 4.1.10. and 4.17.4 He is also referred to under different theonyms: Dyavaprithvi, for example, is a dvandva compound combining 'heaven' and 'earth' as Dyaus Pitr and Prithvi Mata.
The name Dyauṣ Pitṛ is etymologically connected to theonyms such as the Greek Zeus Pater, and closely related to Latin (Roman) Jupiter. Both Dyauṣ and Zeus stem from a Proto-Indo-European *Dyeus (also *Dyḗus Ph₂tḗr, alternatively spelled *Dyḗws). This, and many other parallels such as the similarity of Vedic rain god Parjanya to Slavic Perun, Lithuanian Perkūnas, and Norse Thor
and Fjörgyn, led 19th-century scholars to comparative mythology studies and a conjecture that Vedic, post-Vedic, Greek, and Roman rituals likely had more ancient Proto-Indo-European roots.The noun dyaús (when used without the pitā́ 'father') refers to the daylit sky, and occurs frequently in the Rigveda, as an entity. The sky in Vedic writing was described as rising in three tiers, avamá, madhyamá, and uttamá or tṛtī́ya.Garbhadhana
Garbhadhana (Sanskrit: गर्भाधान, Garbhādhāna) (literally: attaining the wealth of the womb) is the first of the 16 saṃskāras (sacraments, rites of passage) in Hinduism.Gritsamada
Gritsamada (Sanskrit: गृत्समद) is a rishi, credited with most of Mandala 2 of the Rigveda (36 out of 43, hymns 27-29 being attributed to his son Kurma and 4-7 to Somahuti). Grtsamada was a son of Shunahotra of the family of Angiras, but by Indra's will he was transferred to the Bhrigu family.
In the plural, the name refers to the clan of Grtsamada, so used in RV 2.4, 19, 39, 41.Hindu cosmology
In Hindu cosmology, the universe is cyclically created and destroyed. Its cosmology divides time into four epochs or Yuga, of which the current period is the Kali Yuga.Indra
Indra (, Sanskrit: इन्द्र) is a Vedic deity in Hinduism, a guardian deity (Indā, Pālī) in Buddhism, and the king of the highest heaven called Saudharmakalpa in Jainism. His mythologies and powers are similar to other Indo-European deities such as Jupiter, Perun, Perkūnas, Taranis, Zeus, and Thor.In the Vedas, Indra is the king of Svarga (Heaven) and the Devas. He is the god of the heavens, lightning, thunder, storms, rains, river flows, and war. Indra is the most referred to deity in the Rigveda. He is celebrated for his powers, and the one who kills the great symbolic evil (malevolent type of Asura) named Vritra who obstructs human prosperity and happiness. Indra destroys Vritra and his "deceiving forces", and thereby brings rains and the sunshine as the friend of mankind. His importance diminishes in the post-Vedic Indian literature where he is depicted as a powerful hero but one who is getting in trouble with his drunken, hedonistic and adulterous ways, and the god who disturbs Hindu monks as they meditate because he fears self-realized human beings may become more powerful than him.Indra rules over the much sought Devas realm of rebirth within the Samsara doctrine of Buddhist traditions. However, like the Hindu texts, Indra also is a subject of ridicule and reduced to a figurehead status in Buddhist texts, shown as a god that suffers rebirth and redeath. In the Jainism traditions, like Buddhism and Hinduism, Indra is the king of gods and a part of Jain rebirth cosmology. He is also the god who appears with his wife Indrani to celebrate the auspicious moments in the life of a Jain Tirthankara, an iconography that suggests the king and queen of gods reverentially marking the spiritual journey of a Jina.Indra's iconography shows him wielding a lightning thunderbolt known as Vajra, riding on a white elephant known as Airavata. In Buddhist iconography the elephant sometimes features three heads, while Jaina icons sometimes show the elephant with five heads. Sometimes a single elephant is shown with four symbolic tusks. Indra's heavenly home is on or near Mount Meru (also called Sumeru).Mandala 1
The first Mandala ("book") of the Rigveda has 191 hymns. Together with Mandala 10, it forms the latest part of the Rigveda, its composition likely dating to the Early Iron Age.
Hymn 1.1 is addressed to Agni, arranged so that the name of this god is the first word of the Rigveda. The remaining hymns are mainly addressed to Agni and Indra. Hymns 1.154 to 1.156 are addressed to (the later Hindu god) Vishnu.
índram mitráṃ váruṇam agním āhur / átho divyáḥ sá suparṇó garútmān
ékaṃ sád víprā bahudhâ vadanty / agníṃ yamám mātaríśvānam āhuḥ
"They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni / and he is heavenly nobly-winged Garutman."
"To what is One, sages give many a title / they call it Agni, Yama, Matarisvan." (trans. Griffith)
– Rigveda 1.164.46Hymns such as the above in Mandala 1 led scholars such as Max Muller to describe the theology of Vedic religion as a form of henotheism. Muller noted that the hymns of the Rigveda, the oldest scripture of Hinduism, mentions many deities, but praises them successively as the "one ultimate, supreme God", alternatively as "one supreme Goddess", thereby asserting that the essence of the deities was unitary (ekam), and the deities were nothing but pluralistic manifestations of the same concept of the divine (God).The Vedic era conceptualization of the divine or the One, states Jeaneane Fowler, is more abstract than a monotheistic God, it the Reality behind and of the phenomenal universe, which it treats as "limitless, indescribable, absolute principle", thus the Vedic divine is something of a panentheism. In late Vedic era, with the start of Upanishadic age (~800-600 BCE), from the henotheistic, panentheistic concepts emerge the concepts which scholars variously call nondualism or monism, as well as forms of non-theism.Rigvedic deities
There are 1000 hymns in the Rigveda, most of them dedicated to specific deities.
Indra, a heroic god, slayer of Vritra and destroyer of the Vala, liberator of the cows and the rivers; Agni the sacrificial fire and messenger of the gods; and Soma, the ritual drink dedicated to Indra, are the most prominent deities.
Invoked in groups are the Vishvedevas (the "all-gods"), the Maruts, violent storm gods in Indra's train and the Ashvins, the twin horsemen.
There are two major groups of gods: the Devas and the Asuras. Unlike in later Vedic texts and in Hinduism, the Asuras are not yet demonized, Mitra and Varuna being their most prominent members.
Aditi is the mother both of Agni and of the Adityas or Asuras, led by Mitra and Varuna, with Aryaman, Bhaga, Ansa and Daksha.
Surya is the personification of the Sun, but Savitr, Vivasvant, the Ashvins and the Rbhus, semi-divine craftsmen, also have aspects of solar deities. Other natural phenomena deified include Vayu, (the wind), Dyaus and Prithivi (Heaven and Earth), Dyaus continuing Dyeus, the chief god of the Proto-Indo-European religion, and Ushas (the dawn), the most prominent goddess of the Rigveda, and Apas (the waters).
Rivers play an important role, deified as goddesses, most prominently the Ganges Sapta Sindhu and the Sarasvati River.
Yama is the first ancestor, also worshipped as a deity, and the god of the underworld and death.
Vishnu and Rudra, the prominent deities of later Hinduism (Rudra being an early form of Shiva), are present as marginal gods.
The names of Indra, Mitra, Varuna and the Nasatyas have also attested in a Mitanni treaty, suggesting that some of the religion of the Mitannis was very close to that of the Rigveda.Rigvedic rivers
Rivers, such as the Sapta Sindhavah ("seven rivers" Sanskrit: सप्त सिन्धव:) play a prominent part in the hymns of the Rig Veda, and consequently in early Historical Vedic religion. Vedic texts have a wide geographical horizon, speaking of oceans, rivers, mountains and deserts. “Eight summits of the Earth, three shore or desert regions, seven rivers.” (asthau vyakhyat kakubhah prthivyam tri dhanva yojana sapta sindhun RV.I.35.8).
The Vedic land is a land of the seven rivers flowing into the ocean. It encompasses the regions from Gandhara to Kurukshetra.Samaveda
The Samaveda (Sanskrit: सामवेद, sāmaveda, from sāman "song" and veda "knowledge"), is the Veda of melodies and chants. It is an ancient Vedic Sanskrit text, and part of the scriptures of Hinduism. One of the four Vedas, it is a liturgical text which consists of 1,549 verses. All but 75 verses have been taken from the Rigveda. Three recensions of the Samaveda have survived, and variant manuscripts of the Veda have been found in various parts of India.While its earliest parts are believed to date from as early as the Rigvedic period, the existing compilation dates from the post-Rigvedic Mantra period of Vedic Sanskrit, c. 1200 or 1000 BCE, roughly contemporary with the Atharvaveda and the Yajurveda.Embedded inside the Samaveda is the widely studied Chandogya Upanishad and Kena Upanishad, considered as primary Upanishads and as influential on the six schools of Hindu philosophy, particularly the Vedanta school. The classical Indian music and dance tradition considers the chants and melodies in Samaveda as one of its roots.It is also referred to as Sama Veda.Varuna
Varuna (; Sanskrit: वरुण, IAST: Varuṇa, Malay: Baruna) is a Vedic deity associated initially with the sky, later also with the seas as well as Ṛta (justice) and Satya (truth). He is found in the oldest layer of Vedic literature of Hinduism, such as hymn 7.86 of the Rigveda. He is also mentioned in the Tamil grammar work Tolkāppiyam, as the god of sea and rain.In the Hindu Puranas, Varuna is the god of oceans, his vehicle is a Makara (part fish, part land creature) and his weapon is a Pasha (noose, rope loop). He is the guardian deity of the western direction. In some texts, he is the father of the Vedic sage Vasishtha.Varuna is found in Japanese Buddhist mythology as Suiten. He is also found in Jainism..Vasishtha
Vashishtha (Sanskrit: वशिष्ठ, IAST: vaśiṣṭha) is one of the oldest and most revered Vedic rishis. He is one of the Saptarishis (seven great Rishis) of India. Vashishtha is credited as the chief author of Mandala 7 of Rigveda. Vashishtha and his family are mentioned in Rigvedic verse 10.167.4, other Rigvedic mandalas and in many Vedic texts. His ideas have been influential and he was called as the first sage of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy by Adi Shankara.Yoga Vashishtha, Vashishtha Samhita, as well as some versions of the Agni Purana and Vishnu Purana are attributed to him. He is the subject of many mythologies, such as him being in possession of the divine cow Kamadhenu and Nandini her child, who could grant anything to their owners. He is famous in Hindu mythologies for his legendary conflicts with sage Vishvamitra.Vedas
The Vedas (; Sanskrit: वेद veda, "knowledge") are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya, which means "not of a man, superhuman" and "impersonal, authorless".Vedas are also called śruti ("what is heard") literature, distinguishing them from other religious texts, which are called smṛti ("what is remembered"). The Veda, for orthodox Indian theologians, are considered revelations seen by ancient sages after intense meditation, and texts that have been more carefully preserved since ancient times. In the Hindu Epic the Mahabharata, the creation of Vedas is credited to Brahma. The Vedic hymns themselves assert that they were skillfully created by Rishis (sages), after inspired creativity, just as a carpenter builds a chariot.According to tradition, Vyasa is the compiler of the Vedas, who arranged the four kinds of mantras into four Samhitas (Collections). There are four Vedas: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda. Each Veda has been subclassified into four major text types – the Samhitas (mantras and benedictions), the Aranyakas (text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices), the Brahmanas (commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices), and the Upanishads (texts discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge). Some scholars add a fifth category – the Upasanas (worship).The various Indian philosophies and denominations have taken differing positions on the Vedas. Schools of Indian philosophy which cite the Vedas as their scriptural authority are classified as "orthodox" (āstika). Other śramaṇa traditions, such as Lokayata, Carvaka, Ajivika, Buddhism and Jainism, which did not regard the Vedas as authorities, are referred to as "heterodox" or "non-orthodox" (nāstika) schools. Despite their differences, just like the texts of the śramaṇa traditions, the layers of texts in the Vedas discuss similar ideas and concepts.Vedic Sanskrit
Vedic Sanskrit is an Indo-European language, more specifically one branch of the Indo-Iranian group. It is the ancient language of the Vedas of Hinduism, texts compiled over the period of the mid-2nd to mid-1st millennium BCE. It was orally preserved, predating the advent of Brahmi script by several centuries. Vedic Sanskrit is an archaic language, whose consensus translation has been challenging.Extensive ancient literature in the Vedic Sanskrit language has survived into the modern era, and this has been a major source of information for reconstructing Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Indo-Iranian history. Quite early in the pre-historic era, Sanskrit separated from the Avestan language, an Eastern Iranian language. The exact century of separation is unknown, but this separation of Sanskrit and Avestan occurred certainly before 1800 BCE. The Avestan language developed in ancient Persia, was the language of Zoroastrianism, but was a dead language in the Sasanian period. Vedic Sanskrit developed independently in ancient India, evolved into classical Sanskrit after the grammar and linguistic treatise of Pāṇini, and later into many related Indian subcontinent languages in which are found the voluminous ancient and medieval literature of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.Vedic meter
Vedic meter refers to the poetic meter in the Vedic literature. The study of Vedic meters, along with post-Vedic meters, is part of Chandas, one of the six Vedanga disciplines.