The AnukramaNIs or Indices of the Rigveda provide us with the most basic information about each of the 1028 hymns of the Rigveda:
a. The RSi ( Rishi: ऋषि ) or composer of each hymn or verse.
b. The DevatA ( देवता ) or deity of each hymn or verse.
c. The Chhanda ( छंद ) or metre of each hymn or verse.
For the purpose of our historical analysis of the Rigveda, we will be concerned only with the index which deals with the most undeniably historical aspect of the Rigveda: the index of RSis which provides us with details about the living and breathing historical personalities who composed the hymns.
The Rigveda consists of 10 MaNDala ( मंडल ) or Books, which contain 1028 sUktas ( सूक्त ) or hymns, consisting of 10552 mantras ( मंत्र ) or verses as follows:
|No. of Hymns 191
|No. of verses 2006
The AnukramaNIs give us details, regarding these hymns, which are so basic and indispensable that it is inconceivable that any serious scholar could consider it possible to analyse the hymns without taking the AnukramaNIs as the very basis for his analysis.
But, ironically, not only are the AnukramaNIs generally ignored by the scholars, but this ignorance of, and indifference to, the details contained in the AnukramaNIs is even flaunted by them.
Consider the following statements by eminent scholars who consider themselves qualified to make pronouncements on Rigvedic history:
B.K. Ghosh: “The first MaNDala falls naturally into two parts: the first fifty hymns have the KaNvas as authors like the eighth MaNDala…”.
Actual fact: I.1-11, 24-30 (eighteen hymns) are by ViSvAmitras.
I.31-35 (five hymns) are by ANgirases
I.12-23, 36-50 (twenty-seven hymns) are by KaNvas
DD Kosambi: “The principal Vedic god is Agni, the god of fire; more hymns are dedicated to him than to any other. Next in importance comes Indra.”
Actual fact: The ratio between the number of hymns and verses to the two gods, by any count, is Indra: Agni = 3:2.
The flippant attitude of these scholars towards factual details, when it comes to Rigvedic studies, is underlined by the nature of Kosambi’s error: he misinterprets the fact that hymns to Agni are generally placed before hymns to Indra, to mean that there are more hymns to Agni than to Indra!
Maurice Bloomfield, in his invaluable work on Rigvedic Repetitions (i.e. verses, verse-sections or phrases, which occur more than once in the Rigveda) claims that these repetitions prove the falsity or dubiousness of the information contained in the AnukramaNIs:
Under the title “Untrustworthiness of AnukramaNI-statements Shown by the Repetitions”, Bloomfield remarks that “the statements of the SarvAnukramaNI …. betray the dubiousness of their authority in no particular more than in relation to the repetitions …. the AnukramaNI finds it in its heart to assign, with unruffled insouciance, one and the same verse to two or more authors, or to ascribe it to two or more divinities, according as it occurs in one book or another, in one connexion or another. The AprI stanzas 3.4.8-11 = 7.2.8-11 are ascribed in the third book to ViSvAmitra GAthina, in the seventh book to VasiSTha MaitrAvaruNI.”
1. The repetitions do not disprove the authenticity of the AnukramaNIs:
a) The repetitions in the Rigveda are representative of a regular phenomenon in Classical and liturgical literature throughout the world. Consider for example what Gilbert Murray says about similar repetitions in Greek literature: “descriptive phrases…… are caught up ready made from a store of such things: perpetual epithets, front halves of lines, back halves of lines, whole lines, if need be, and long formulae. The stores of the poets were full and brimming. A bard need only put in his hand and choose out a well-sounding phrase. Even the similes are ready-made.” Quoting this, B.K. Ghosh notes: “All this may be maintained, mutatis mutandis, also of Rigvedic poetry.”
In the case of the Rigveda it is significant that every single repetition pertains to a literary or liturgical phrase. In fact, the more literary or liturgical the reference, the more the likelihood of repetitions: the longest repetition of three consecutive verses is in the liturgical AprI-sUktas of the ViSvAmitras and VasiSThas: III.4.8-11 = VII.2.8-11.
Not a single repetition pertains to any historical reference: even when the same historical reference is found in four different verses, the phrasing is different: I.53.10; II.14.7; VI.18.13; VIII. 53.2.
Therefore, regardless of the number of verses or verse-sections common to any two hymns ascribed to two different RSis, the hymns in question have to be regarded as compositions of the two RSis to whom they are ascribed: that one RSi has borrowed from the composition of the other is no criterion in judging the correctness of the AnukramaNIs.
b) The AprI-sUktas of the ViSvAmitras and VasiSThas contain the longest repetitions, of three verses, in common: III.4.8-11 = VII. 2.8-11. Bloomfield points to these particular repetitions as evidence in support of his contention that the repetitions disprove the correctness of the AnukramaNIs. But, ironically, it is these very repetitions which disprove the correctness of his contention.
The composers of the Rigveda were members of ten priestly families, and each family had its own AprI-sUkta composed by a member of the family. In later times, during the performance of any sacrifice, at the point where an AprI-sUkta was to be recited, the conducting RSi was required to recite the AprI-sUkta of his own family.
The AprI-sUkta of the ViSvAmitras was therefore undoubtedly composed by a ViSvAmitra, and that of the VasiSThas by a VasiSTha. If these two hymns contain repetitions in common, it constitutes the ultimate proof that repetitions in common are no evidence of two hymns not having been composed by two different RSis.
2. There is no logical reason to doubt the authenticity of the authorship ascriptions in the AnukramaNIs, which are corroborated by:
a. The very existence of the AnukramaNIs as a part and parcel of the Rigvedic text from the most ancient times.
b. The very division of the Rigveda into MaNDala, many of which are family MaNDala.
c. The uniformity of style in hymns ascribed to single RSis or families (eg. Parucchepa).
d. The common refrains occuring in the concluding verses of hymns ascribed to certain RSis or families (eg. Kutsa).
e. The common contexts in hymns ascribed to certain RSis or families (eg. the repeated references to SudAs in hymns by VasiSThas).
f. Specific statements within the hymns, where the composers refer to themselves by name.
g. Most important of all, the perfectly logical way in which an analysis of the historical references in the hymns, as we shall demonstrate in this book, produces a pattern of historical correspondences and inter-relationships which fits in perfectly with the ascriptions in the AnukramaNIs.
With this, we may now turn to the actual details given in the AnukramaNIs regarding the names of the composers of the different hymns in the Rigveda:
MaNDala.I (191 hymns)
SunahSepa AjIgarti later DevarAta VaiSvAmitra
MaNDala II (43 hymns)
|GRtsamada Saunahotra, later GRtsamada Saunaka
GRtsamada Saunahotra, later GRtsamada Saunaka
GRtsamada Saunahotra, later GRtsamada Saunaka
MaNDala III (62 hymns)
VaiSvAmitra GAthina, Ghora ANgiras
VaiSvAmitra GAthina, Prajapati VaiSvAmitra/VAcya
PrajApati VaiSvAmitra /VAcya
VaiSvAmitra GAthina, Jamadagni BhArgava
MaNDala IV (58 hymns)
PurumILha Sauhotra, AjamILha Sauhotra
MaNDala V (87 hymns)
|Budha/ GaviSThira Atreya
KumAra/VRSa JAna Atreya
Dyumna ViSvacarSaNI Atreya
Bandhu, Subandhu, Srutabandhu,
AvatsAra KASyapa, various Atreyas
MaNDala VI (75 hymns)
MaNDala VII (104 hymns)
VasiSTha MaitrAvaruNI Sakti VAsiSTha
VasiSTha MaitrAvaruNI, Kumara Agneya
MaNDala VIII (103 hymns)
|PragAtha KANva, MedhAtithi KANva,
MedhAtithi KANva, Priyamedha ANgiras
GoSUktin KANva, ASvasUktin KANva
ViSvamanas VaiyaSva, VyaSva ANgiras
Manu Vaivasvata or KaSyapa MArIca
NAbhAka KANva, ArcanAnas Atreya
Matsya SAmmada or MAnya MaitrAvaruNI
KRSna ANgiras, ViSvaka KArSNI
KRSna ANgiras, DyumnIka VAsiSTha,
NRmedha ANgiras, Purumedha ANgiras
Vindu ANgiras, PUtadakSa ANgiras
Prayoga BhArgava, Agni BArhaspatya
MaNDala IX (114 hymns)
|1 .Madhucchandas VaiSvAmitra, MedhAtithi KANva
2. SunahSepa AjIgarti
3. HiraNyastUpa ANgiras
4. Asita KASyapa, Devala KASyapa
SaptaRSis, Pavitra ANgiras
Atri Bhauma, GRtsamada Saunaka,
AkRSTa MASA, Sikata NivAvarI, PRSni AjaUSanA KAvya
VasiSTha MaitrAvarunI, Indrapramati
VAsiSTha, VRSagaNa VAsiSTha, Manyu
VAsiSTha, Upamanyu VAsiSTha,
VyAghrapAda VAsiSTha, Sakti VAsiSTha,
KarNaSrut VAsiSTha, MRLIka VAsiSTha,
Vsukra VAsiSTha, ParASara SAktya,
Kutsa ANgiras.AmbarISa VArSAgira, RjiSvan ANgiras
AndhIgu SyAvASvI, YayAtI NAhuSa, NahuSa
MAnava, Manu SamvaraNa, PrajApati
Parvata KANva, NArada KANva
Agni CakSuSa, CakSu MAnava, Manu Apsava
GaurIvIti SAktya, Sakti VAsiSTha, Uru ANgiras,
Agni DhISNya AiSvaraya
TryaruNa TraivRSNa, Trasadasyu Paurukutsa
MaNDala X (191 hymns)
TriSirAs TvASTra, SindhudvIpa AmbarISa
Yama Vaivasvata, YamI VaivasvatI
Matitha YAmAyana, or BhRgu, or Cyavana
Vimada Aindra, VasukRt VAsukra
Bandhu, Subandhu, Srutabandhu,
JaratkarNa Sarpa AirAvata
Agni SaucIka or Sapti VAjambhara
VRSAkapi Aindra, Indra, IndrANI
Arbuda KAdraveya Sarpa
PurUravas AiLa, UrvaSI
Baru ANgiras, Sarvahari Aindra
Sumitra Kautsa, Durmitra Kautsa
Divya ANgiras, DakSiNA PrAjApatya
RAma JAmadagnya, Jamadagni BhArgava
Agni, VaruNa, Soma
KuSika Saubhara, RAtrI BhAradvAjI
JUti, VAtajUti, ViprajUti, VRSAnaka,
Karikrata, EtaSa, RSyaSRnga (VAtaraSanas)
SArNga, JaritR, DroNa, SArisRkva,
Bhuvana Aptya, SAdhana Aptya
RSabha VairAja SAkvara
Sibi AuSInara, Pratardana KASirAja, Vasumanas RauhidaSva
Pratha VAsiSTha, Sapratha BhAradvAja,
There are obviously corruptions in the AnukramaNIs in the form of ascriptions to fictitious composers. This is particularly the case in MaNDala X, where a large number of hymns are ascribed to composers whose names, or patronyms/epithets, or both, are fictitious.
However, in the first eight MaNDala, except in the case of one single hymn (VIII.47), it is very easy to identify the actual composer (by which we mean the RSi who actually composed the hymn, or his eponymous ancestor to whose name the hymn is to be credited as per the system followed in the particular MaNDala) of a hymn ascribed to a fictitious composer.
Hence, in our listing of the composers of the first eight MaNDalas, we have replaced the fictitious names in the AnukramaNIs with the names of the actual composers, whose identity is clear from those same AnukramaNIs.
In all these cases, the actual composer is the RSi of the hymn or the RSi of the MaNDala. The hymns in question are:
(1) Hymns where the entire hymn, or verses therein, are ascribed solely (in III.23 and IV.42) or alternatively (in the others) to RSis or kings who are referred to within the hymns by the actual composer:
AmbarISa, Sahadeva, BhayamAna, SurAdhas
Trasadasyu, TryaruNa, ASvamedha
(2) Dialogue hymns, in some of which verses are ascribed to Gods and even rivers:
Indra, Maruts, (epon.) Agastya
Indra, (epon.) Agastya
(epon.) Agastya, LopAmudrA, a pupil
(epon.) ViSvAmitra, Rivers
(epon.) VAmadeva, Indra, Aditi
(3) Hymns which are ascribed alternatively to the actual composers and to their remote ancestors:
Fictitious ComposersActual Composer
III.31KuSika AiSIrathIViSvAmitra GAthinaVIII.27-31Manu VaivasvataKaSyapa MArIcaVIII.71PurumILha ANgirasSudIti PurumILha
1.The History and Culture of the Indian People
2. The Culture and Civilization of Ancient India in Historical Outline by D.D. Kosambi, Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd, Delhi-Bombay-Bangalore-Kanpur, 1975 (first printed 1970).
3. Rgveda Repetitions Vol.2 by Maurice Bloomfield, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachussetts, 1916. p. 634
4. The Rise of the Greek Epic by Gilbert Murray
Courtesy: – Rigveda: A historical Analysis by Shrikant G. Talageri