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Rig Veda

by Stephen T. Naylor
The Rig Veda is the oldest and most important of the four Vedas. Rig means praise in Sanskrit, and the Rig Veda is a collection of hymns which sing praise for the gods. To this day, the book is considered the most holy of all Hindu texts, even though many of the gods who are the chief subjects in the hymns have lost much of their importance. Indra is easily the most praised, with nearly a quarter of the over one thousand hymns dedicated to him. Agni, Soma, Surya, and Varuna are also highly spoken of. Of the major gods in later Hinduism, Vishnu has his origin here, but he is of minor importance. Shiva is not mentioned at all, though his precursor Rudra has some significance. Brahma makes no appearance.

The ultimate authority of the Rig Veda is said to lie with the gods, for they are the origin of thought and poetry. Some of the hymns are attributed to human authors who are considered to be great sages or seers but whose actual historical existence is not confirmed. The hymns were handed down from their origins in the distant past from bard to bard until they were finally set down in writing as a collection somewhere around 900 BCE.

Article details:

  • Also known as:
    Rg Veda

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