Rig-Veda is probably the oldest religious text in the world and is also known as “First testament” of mankind. It was composed around 1700 BC. Last hymns were composed between 1500-1200 BC.

Mandalas of Rig-Veda

Each Veda is a collection of hymns by a number of priest families. Rig-Veda is also organized in 10 books called Mandalas. The first and 10th Mandalas are the youngest and the longest books. Second to Seventh Mandalas are oldest parts of Rig-Veda but the shortest books. 8th and 9th books are of mixed ages. Notable facts about Mandals are as follows:

  • The Famous Gayatri mantra is in Rig Veda Mandala 3
  • Each mandala consists of Suktas which are basically eulogies.
  • Rig-Veda has two recensions or Branches. The major surviving branch is Śākalya. Another branch is Bāskala or Vatkal.
  • The first word of Rig-Veda is Agni. Hymn 1.1 is addressed to Agni.
  • The 10thmandala contains the purush Sukta which explains the 4 Varnas were born from the Mouth, arms, thighs and feet of the Brahma or Purusha. It is said to have been added later.
  • Mandala 9 is completely devoted to Soma.
  • Nasadiya Sukta which talks about the origin of the Universe is in 10th Mandala. It begins by paradoxically stating “not the non-existent existed, nor did the existent exist then” and has attracted large body of literature of commentaries both in Indian theology and in Western philology.

The Above Information has been arranged in the following Table for your convenience.

MandalaHymnsAge and length 
Mandala I191Youngest and LargestFirst word first hymn Agni
Mandala II43Oldest and Shortest 
Mandala III62Oldest and ShortestContains Gayatri mantra
Mandala IV58Oldest and Shortest 
Mandala V87Oldest and Shortest 
Mandala VI75Oldest and Shortest 
Mandala VII104Oldest and Shortest 
Mandala VIII103Mixed Ages 
Mandala IX114Mixed AgesDevoted to Soma
Mandala X191Youngest and largestContains Purush Sukta, Nasadiya Sukta

The Brahmans and Upanishads of Rig Veda are shown below:

Origin of the Varnas and the Rig-Veda Varna system is of later Vedic origin. The tenth mandala, which was added later to the Rig-Veda, contains the famous Purushasukta which explains that the four Varnas (Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra) were born from the mouth, arms, thighs and feet of the primeval being Brahma (Purusa).

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