Mandala 1

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The first Mandala ("book") of the Rigveda has 191 hymns. Together with Mandala 10, it forms the latest part of the Rigveda, its composition likely dating to the Early Iron Age.

Contents[edit]

Hymn 1.1 is addressed to Agni, arranged so that the name of this god is the first word of the Rigveda. The remaining hymns are mainly addressed to Agni and Indra. Hymns 1.154 to 1.156 are addressed to (the later Hindu god) Vishnu. Hymn 1.164.46 forms the basis for the well-known statement "Truth is one, sages call it by various names":

índram mitráṃ váruṇam agním āhur / átho divyáḥ sá suparṇó garútmān
ékaṃ sád víprā bahudhâ vadanty / agníṃ yamám mātaríśvānam āhuḥ
"They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni / and he is heavenly nobly-winged Garutman."
"To what is One, sages give many a title / they call it Agni, Yama, Matarisvan." (trans. Griffith)
Rigveda 1.164.46

Interpretation[edit]

Max Muller described the character of the Vedic hymns as a form of henotheism, in which "numerous deities are successively praised as if they were one ultimate God."[1] According to Graham, in the Vedic society it was believed that humans could contact the gods through the spoken utterances of the Vedic seers, and "the One Real" (ekam sat) in 1.164.46 refers to Vāc, both "speech" and goddess of speech,[2] the "one ultimate, supreme God", and "one supreme Goddess." In later Vedic literature, "Speech or utterance is also identified with the supreme power or transcendent reality," and "equated with Brahman in this sense."[3] Frauwallner states that "many gods are traced back to the one Godhead. The one (ekam) is not meant adjectively as a quality but as a substantive, as the upholding centre of reality."[4]

The Vedic henotheism may have grown out of a growing recognition of a "unitary essence beyond all the deities,"[1] in which the deities were conceptualized as pluralistic manifestations of the same divine essence beyond this pluraility.[5][6] The Vedic era conceptualization of the divine or the One, states Jeaneane Fowler, is more abstract than a monotheistic God, it the Reality behind and of the phenomenal universe, which it treats as "limitless, indescribable, absolute principle", thus the Vedic divine is something of a panentheism.[7] In late Vedic era, with the start of Upanishadic age (~800-600 BCE), from the henotheistic, panentheistic concepts emerge the concepts which scholars variously call nondualism or monism, as well as forms of non-theism.[7][8]

Selected hymns[edit]

Sukta Name Deity Rishi Metre Incipit
1.1 Agni-Sukta Agni Madhushchandhas Vaishvamitra gayatri agním īḷe puróhitaṃ
1.22 Vishnu-Sukta Ashvins and others Medhatithi Kanva gayatri prātaryújā ví bodhaya
1.32 Indra-Sukta Indra Hiranyastupa Angiras trishtubh índrasya nú vīríyāṇi prá vocaṃ
1.89 Shanti-Sukta Vishvedevas Gotama Rahugana jagati (trishtubh) â no bhadrâḥ krátavo yantu viśváto
1.90 Madhu-Sukta Vishvedevas Gotama Rahugana gayatri (anushtubh) ṛjunītî no váruṇo
1.99 Agni-Durga-Sukta Agni Kashyapa Marica trishtubh jātávedase sunavāma sómam
1.162 Ashvamedha-Sukta The Horse Dīrghatamas Aucathya (trishtubh) mâ no mitró váruṇo aryamâyúr


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Taliaferro, Harrison & Goetz 2012, p. 78-79.
  2. ^ Graham 1993, p. 70-71.
  3. ^ William A. Graham (1993). Beyond the Written Word: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion. Cambridge University Press. pp. 70–71. ISBN 978-0-521-44820-8.
  4. ^ Frauwallner 1973, p. xvii.
  5. ^ Ilai Alon; Ithamar Gruenwald; Itamar Singer (1994). Concepts of the Other in Near Eastern Religions. BRILL Academic. pp. 370–371. ISBN 978-9004102200.
  6. ^ Erwin Fahlbusch (1999). The Encyclopedia of Christianity. Wm. B. Eerdmans. p. 524. ISBN 978-90-04-11695-5.
  7. ^ a b Jeaneane D. Fowler (2002). Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism. Sussex Academic Press. pp. 43–44. ISBN 978-1-898723-93-6.
  8. ^ James L. Ford (2016). The Divine Quest, East and West: A Comparative Study of Ultimate Realities. State University of New York Press. pp. 308–309. ISBN 978-1-4384-6055-0.

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