(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.