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 RIGVEDA SAMHITA
 

Rigveda Samhitas

A. Nature and Importance:

The Rigveda is the oldest and the most highly valued work of the Hindus. This Samhita (Collection) is unique in its nature. In fact, it is not a book, but a compilation composed of several books which can be individually distinguished from each other. The present form of this Samhita clearly indicates that the collection is not a single work, but consists of multiple elements. Various indications of language, style and ideas prove this point. Different hymns of this Samhita were composed long before they were systematically arranged. Being a compilation of different stages, there is something which stamps the Rigveda with an individuality of its own. It is much more natural in character and form than other Samhitas.

The Rigveda is oldest and biggest amongst all the four Vedas. All the features of Classical Sanskrit poetry can be traced to the Rigveda. In it we find the seeds of India's religious and philosophical development. Thus, the Rigveda should be studied by one who wants to understand Indian literature and spiritual culture. The value of the Rigveda today is not confined to India, for its well-preserved language and mythology have helped a better understanding of languages, literatures and cultures of the whole world.

B. Form and Division:

The whole of the Rigveda-Samhita is in form of verses, known as Rik, from the root rc means ‘to praise’. 'Rik' is the name given to those Mantras which are meant for the praise of the deities. Thus the collection (Samhita) of Riks is known as Rigveda-Samhita. Only one recession or school (Shakha) of the Rigveda is available today and it is the Shaakala. The Rigveda Samhita contains about 10552 Mantras, classified into ten books called Mandalas. Each Mandala is divided into several sections called Anuvakas. Each Anuvaka consists of a number of hymns called Suktas and each Sukta is made up of a number of verses called riks. This division of the Rigveda is most popular and systematic. There is also the ashtaka system of dividing the contents of the Rigveda, but today that is uncommon among the students of the Veda.

A Sukta is a group of Mantras. The number of Mantras in a Sukta is not fixed. Some Suktas have a small number of Mantras while others have a large number of Mantras. It is important to note that every Rik has a seer i.e. Rishi, a deity i.e. Devata and a metre i.e. Chandas. Often, this is common to entire sukta. The Samhita of the Rigveda comprises 10 Mandalas, 85 Anuvakas, 1028 Suktas and 10552 Mantras. Usually Anuvaka is not mentioned for the reference of a Mantra of the Rigveda. For example RV 3.16.7 simply means the seventh Mantra of the sixteenth Sukta of the third Mandala of the Rigveda.

Even considered it a date were to be fixed to the Vedas, The Rigveda is the oldest and the most highly valued work of the Hindus. This Samhita (Collection) is unique in its nature. In fact, it is not a book, but a compilation composed of several books which can be individually distinguished from each other. The present form of this Samhita clearly indicates that the collection is not a single work, but consists of multiple  elements. Various indications of language, style and ideas prove this point. Different hymns of this Samhita were composed long before they were systematically arranged. Being a compilation of different stages, there is something which stamps the Rigveda with an individuality of its own. It is much more natural in character and form than other Samhitas.

 

B. Form and Division:

The whole of the Rigveda-Samhita is in form of verses, known as Rik, from the root rc “to praise”.  'Rik' is the name given to those Mantras which are meant for the praise of the deities. Thus the collection (Samhita) of Riks is known as Rigveda-Samhita. Only one recession or school (Shakha) of the Rigveda is commonly available today and it is the Shaakala. The Rigveda Samhita contains about 10552Mantras, classified into ten books called Mandalas. Each Mandala is divided into several sections called Anuvakas. Each Anuvaka consists of a number of hymns called Suktas and each Sukta is made up of a number of verses called riks. This division of the Rigveda is most popular and systematic, is also the Astaka system, dividing the contents of the Rigveda, but today that is uncommon among the students of the Veda.

A Sukta is a group of Mantras. The number of Mantras in a Sukta is not fixed. Some Suktas have a small number of Mantras while others have a large number of Mantras. It is important to note that every Rc has a seer i.e. Rishi, a deity i.e. Devata and a metre i.e. Chandas . Often this is common to an entire Sukta. The Samhita of the Rigveda comprises 10 Mandalas, 85 Anuvakas, 1028 Suktas and 10552 Mantras. Usually Anuvaka is not mentioned for the reference of a Mantra of the Rigveda. For example RV 3.16.7 simply means the seventh Mantra of the  sixteenth Sukta of the third Mandala of the Rigveda.

Through this chart we can know the division of Mandalas, number of Suktas in each Mandala and name of Rishis of some Mandalas.

Mandala Suktas Mantras Name of Rishis
01 191 2006 Maducchanda, Medhatithi, Gotama and many others
02 43 429 Gritasamada and his family
03 62 617

Vishvamitra and his family

04 58 589 Vamadeva and his family
05 87 727 Atri and his family
06 75 765 Bhardvaja and his family
07 104 841 Vashistha and his family
08 103 1716 Kanva, Angira and their family
09 114 1108 Soma Devata but different Rishis
10 191 1754 Vimada, Indra, Shachi and many other


C. Some Important Hymns:

Among 1028 Suktas of the Rigveda Samhita some suktas are very popular and frequently referred by the readers of Vedas. Some of them are:
1. Purusha Sukta
2. Hiranya-garbha Sukta
3. Dhana-anna-dana Sukta
4. Aksha Sukta
5. Nasadiya Sukta
6. Duhsvapna-nashna Sukta
7. Yama-yami-samvada Sukta

Besides this, there are Suktas offered to different deities, such as, Indra, Marut, Varuna, Ushas, Surya, Bhumi, Soma, Agni etc.

Thus we can briefly say about the contents of Rigveda that it has various subjects, which are narrated by Vedic seers poetically, philosophically or religiously.


 

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