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RigVeda |  YajurVeda  |  SamVeda  |  AtharvVeda
The word Veda means knowledge, and the Vedas   are considered the most sacred scripture of Hinduism referred to as sruti, meaning what was heard by or revealed to the rishis or seers. The most holy hymns and mantras put together into four collections called the Rig, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva Vedas are difficult to date, because they were passed on orally for about a thousand years before they were written down. More recent categories of  Vedas include the Brahmanas or manuals for ritual and prayer, the Aranyakas or forest texts for religious hermits, and the Upanishads or mystical discourses.

The Richas of the Rigveda comprise of prayers and praises of the gods. The Yajurveda speaks of the different types of Yagya (religious sacrifices). The Samveda consists of many a richas from the Rigveda, which are indeed lyrical and musical. The Atharvaveda contains a lot of knowledge of the physical world and spirituality.

Now let us know more about Rigveda. What is Rigveda? And what does it comprise of?

Rig Veda

The hymns of the Rig Veda are considered the oldest and most important of the Vedas, having been composed between 1500 BC and the time of the great Bharata war about 900 BC. More than a thousand hymns are organized into ten mandalas or circles of which the second through the seventh are the oldest and the tenth is the most recent. The Hindu tradition is that even the Vedas were gradually reduced from much more extensive and ancient divine revelations but were perverted in the recent dark age of Kaliyuga. As the only writings from this ancient period of India they are considered the best source of knowledge we have, but the ethical doctrines seem to have improved from the ancient hymns to the mystical Upanishads.
Essentially the Rig Veda is dominated by hymns praising the Aryan gods for giving them victories and wealth plundered from the local Dasas through warfare. The Aryans apparently used their advances in weaponry and skill in fighting to conquer the agricultural and tribal peoples of the fading Harappan culture. Numerous hymns refer to the use of horses and chariots with spokes which must have given their warriors a tremendous advantage. Spears, bows, arrows, and iron weapons are also mentioned. As a nomadic and pastoral culture glorifying war they established a new social structure of patriarchal families dominated by warriors and, eventually with the power of the Vedas themselves, by priests also.
Generally the hymns of the Rig Veda praise the gods and ask them for worldly benefits such as wealth, health, long life, protection, and victory over the Dasa peoples.

He, self-reliant, mighty and triumphant,
brought low the dear head of the wicked Dasas.
Indra the Vritra-slayer, Fort-destroyer,
scattered the Dasa hosts who dwelt in darkness.
For men hath he created earth and waters,
and ever helped the prayer of him who worships.
To him in might the Gods have ever yielded,
to Indra in the tumult of battle.
When in his arms they laid the bolt,
he slaughtered the Dasyus
and cast down their forts of iron.

Rigveda is a Veda in form of Sukti's, which mean 'beautiful statements'. A collection of very beautifully composed incantations itself is a Sukta. The Sukta is also synonymous to Richas. 'Rit' means - an incantation that contains praises and Veda means knowledge. The knowledge of the Richas or Suktas itself is the literal meaning of Rigveda.
The Rigveda Richas comprises mainly of the praises of God. Other than this it also has incantations containing thoughts which are evolved by the sages through their minute observation, contemplation and analysis. Every element of nature was an issue to contemplate upon for the sages. In this process they have randomly even spoken about the mysteries of the universe, which are not only worth reading but also for practical usage.
Rigveda is the oldest Veda. It comprises of 10 Mandals, 102 Suktas and containing 10,552 mantras. These mantras are filed with good thoughts and they have the ability to inspire us greatly. The ultimate aim of all these mantras is to purify the human mind through knowledge. Darkness is symbol of lack of knowledge or illusionary living, which makes us devoid of justness and sagacity.
The Rigveda is divided into 2 parts-
(i) Mandal, Anuvak and Sukta
(ii) Ashtak, Adhgaya and Sukta
According to the first division, the Rigveda consist of 10 Mandalas. There are Suktas that comprise the Mandalas. In every Sukta there are mantras or Richas. The quantity of Suktas is 1017 and the other additional Suktas account to 11. In this way, the total number is unequal. There seem to be maximum Suktas in the 1st and 10th Mandala and there are very few Suktas in the 2nd Mandala.
The following tables show the no. of Suktas and mantras in every Mandala
Mandala Sukta Number of Mantras
1 191 2006
2 43 429
3 62 617s
4 58 589
5 87 727
6 75 765
7 104 841
8 103 1716
9 114 1108
10 191 1754
10 1028 10,552
Inclusively in 10 Mandalas there are 1028 Suktas which in turn comprise of 10,552 mantras.
The Brahmanas stand second to the Vedas. The ultimate aim of these books is procedures of performing Yagya and rituals. The Brahmanas are divided into 3 parts.
(i) Brahmana,
(ii) Aranyaka,
(iii) Upanishad
There are 2 Rigveda Brahmin texts i.e. Kausheetki and Aitereya. These 2 texts share a very intimate relation. In both these texts critical appreciation is done of the same subject and the meaning of the mantras is surprisingly contradictory. These Brahmana speak about the Soma and Rajasuya Yagya.
A big portion of the Upanishads seems to have been taken in the Aranyaka. The Aitereya and Kausheetki are the 2 Aranyakas of the Rigveda.
There are 5 texts of the Aitereya and each of these is known as Aranyaka. The 2nd and 3rd are independent Upanishads. In the 2nd half of the last 4 paragraphs are counted as Vedanta texts that is why they are referred to Aitereya Upanishads. There are 3 parts of the Kausheetki Aranyaka. The 2 parts of this Aranyaka are filled with rituals. The 3rd part is referred to as Kausheetki Upanishad.

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