- Rigveda and hymns
- Major families of languages
- Interpretation of Rigveda by historians
The first Veda was composed around 3500 years ago. There are four Vedas, viz. Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Athravaveda. Out of them, the Rigveda was the first Veda to be composed.
Rigveda contains more than 1000 hymns and each hymn is called sukta. The term sukta means well said. These hymns are in praise of gods.
Three main gods have been mentioned in the Rigveda. Agni is the god of fire, Indra is the god of rains and Soma was named after a plant. This plant was used for making a special drink.
The hymns in the Rigveda show the importance of rain and fire for the people. We know that rain is required for good harvest. Rain is also necessary for getting adequate drinking water. Fire is useful for cooking and for various other purposes.
The hymns were composed by sages (rishi) who were highly learned men. Some of the hymns were also composed by women. An older form of Sanskrit was used for writing the Rigvedas. The Sanskrit which we use today is entirely different from the Sanskrit in the Rigveda.
Some Major Families of Languages
- Indo-European Family: German, French, English, Spanish, Greek, Sanskrit, Hindi, Bangla, Assamese, Gujarati, Sindhi, Punjabi, etc. belong to this family.
- Tibeto-Burman Family: Languages of this family are spoken in the north-eastern part of India.
- Dravidian Family: Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam belong this family.
- Austro-Asiatic Family: Languages of this family are spoken by tribes in Jharkhand and in some parts of central India.
How Historians Interpret the Rigveda
Various important information can be taken out from the Rigveda. The lesson in the NCERT book shows an excerpt from the Rigveda which is a dialogue between Vishwamitra and rivers. Following is a loose translation of the dialogue:
The sage has compared the river with horses, cows and chariots. He wants to cross the river. He is praying to the river for his safe journey. This shows following things:
- The people of that period lived in an area where rivers were present.
- Horses and cows were important animals for people.
- Chariot was being used for transportation.
- Wading through a river was probably the only means to cross it. There must have been risk to life while crossing a river.
The Rigveda mentions Indus and its tributaries. River Saraswati has also been mentioned in the Rigveda. The Ganges and the Yamuna are mentioned only once in the Rigveda. Based on this information, we can make some conclusions. Most of the people lived near the Indus and its tributaries; when the Rigveda was composed. But people were also aware about the Ganges and the Yamuna.