The Rg Veda

1. The RG Veda MANTRAS(hymns) are the oldest and most philosophical of the Vedas.

2. It is the oldest religious text still in common use today. There are 1028 SANSKRIT hymns in the Rg veda.

3. The hymns are addressed to the different Gods of Heaven, Earth & Sky, the chief deities being to the Aryans:

¨ INDRA – the God of war & thunderstorms

¨ AGNI – the God of Fire

¨ SOMA – Lord of the Ritual Sacrifice

¨ YAMA – Lord of the Dead & Underworld

¨ APAS – Lord of the Waters

¨ VAYU – Lord of the Wind

¨ SAVITR/SURYA – Lord of the Sun

¨ VARUNA – Saviour deity power to forgive sins and prevent the punishment and suffering

4. Hinduism subsequently evolved into a kind of Monotheism where one God became the Supreme God, best summarisied by the chant – ‘He is One, but people call Him by many different names.’

5. Varna Dharma (Colour/Law)– The Origin of the Four Classes

i.) The Caste/Class was set out in the Veda in a creation story which sets out the origin of everything through the sacrifice of a giant person(PURUSA), creating the:

ii.) BRAHMIN – Priests

iii.) KSATRIYA – Warrior/ruling class

iv.) VAISYA – Merchant/property class

v.) SUDRA – The serving class ‘The Brahmin was his mouth, his two arms made the Ksatriya; his two thighs made the Vaisya; and from his feet was made theSudra.’ Rg Veda X 90.11-12

vi.) Since 1947 the Constitution of the Republic of India has made a crime that of discrimination because of a particular caste.


6. What Problems were the people then facing and wanting solved?

¨ They wanted, land, cattle & wealth

¨ But were worried about the Gods’ wrath and the fact they might commit a sin against the Gods.

7. The concerns of Vedic man were that he would not have sufficient material goods in the world and he would not get to heaven when he died. The worry was they might be transgressing the eternal laws, neglecting the Gods and ritual sacrifice.

8. The Solution to the problem lay in securing the power to gain both wealth & heaven. Sacrifice was principal way of gaining this, there were two kinds:

¨ SRAUTA (‘solemn’) – which used three fires & several priests.

¨ GRHYA (‘domestic’) – used household fire & one priest (PUROHITA)

9. The sacrifices carried out by the Brahmins could help Vedic man’s problems in this world & the next.

10. Through this the Brahmins became a very powerful class.

11. RTA (‘the course of things’) – this is the way in which to guarantee that you will find the ways to liberate yourself from suffering. Rta is a principle of cosmic order with powers to keep everything in their proper and physical and moral places in the Universe. RTA is personified as a deity in the RG veda.

12. RTA also vies for power with the God VARUNA who has the ability to counter the punishments.

An overview

PROBLEMS –  Anxiety about getting wealth in this world and heaven in the next.

CAUSES –  Disobedience and neglect of the eternal laws and the Ritual sacrifice.

SOLUTION – Achieving the power to obtain wealth and heaven

WAYS – Leading a moral life and paying attention to the Gods, through prayer & sacrifice, i.e., through the way of Action in this world.


1. The power of the Brahmins was enormous a basic petition from a ‘sinner’ would go along these lines:

Goes to a Brahmin with problem – Brahmin diagnosis problem –  Conducts ritual sacrifice bringing the Gods to the feast – Then presents the petition to the Gods from his Sinner. This was known as ORDINARY Brahminism.

2. The priests then made two new concepts transforming Brahminism into EXTRAORDINARY Brahminism:

i.) First, the Holy chantings of the sacrifice compelled the Gods to attend the sacrifice & do the priests bidding

ii.) Second, they did not need the Gods only their power. The power was contained in the sacrificial chant – therefore whoever knew the chant held the POWER. The name for this chant/hymn was ‘BRAHMAN’. Brahman began to become identified not with the chant but the power itself.

3. This gave the Brahmins an enormous concentration of power.

4. It came in the form of the UPANISHADS – Where ANYONE who was properly qualified and practiced the right kind of discipline to know Brahman thereby possessed the Power of Brahman.