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The Rig Veda

The Rig Veda is a collection of brilliant songs or hymns and is a main source of information in detail on the social, religious, political and economic background of the Rig­Vedic civilization. It is the oldest book in any Indo-­European language and contains the earliest form of all Sanskrit mantras. Even though some of the hymns of Rig Veda characterize monotheism (belief in the existence of one god), naturalistic polytheism (belief in more than one god,) and monism (belief of different paths to the one god), in general, can be found in the hymns of Rig Veda. The Rig­Vedic ‘samhita’ (collection of mantras) consists of 1,017 ‘suktas’ (hymns) divided into eight ‘ashtakas’ (songs) each having eight ‘adhyayas’ (sections), which are sub­divided into various groups with a total of about 10,600 stanzas. The hymns are collection of the work of many authors called ‘rishis’ (according to post Vedic tradition “seers”). Atri, Kanwa,Vashistha, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Gotama and Bharadwaja are considered as the seven primary seers. The hymns are devoted to thirty­three different gods, most of them nature gods like Indra (rain god), Agni (fire god), Rudra (storm god) etc. A sizeable chunk of the verses are also dedicated to Soma (air god).