Ṛg Veda (Skt., ‘knowledge in verse’). The oldest of the Veda collections of hymns (c.13th cent. BCE) and the most important for its scope and originality. It consists of sung strophes (ṛc) arranged into hymns (sukta) by the hotṛ priests. Altogether the collection includes 1,028 hymns (or 1,017 excluding Vālakhilya hymns attached to the 8th maṇḍala) divided into ten maṇḍalas (circles or schools). Maṇḍalas 2 to 7 are family collections, and are the oldest core of the Ṛg Veda. These are arranged according to the gods they address and according to decreasing length. Maṇḍala 8 collects hymns from a number of families. Maṇḍala 9 is devoted exclusively to the god Soma. Maṇḍalas 1 and 10 preserve late hymns for the most part, including the more speculative hymns and those to figures otherwise unmentioned in the Ṛg Veda. In tone the Ṛg Veda is generally devotional and laudatory. The sacrificer calls upon the gods through his singing and asks for some blessing.
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