What are the Rig Vedas?
The Rig Veda Samhitas are the oldest Sanskrit texts we know of and form the basis of modern day Hinduism. Although translations into English are said to be unreliable, the books still reveal important lessons that are as pertinent today as they were thousands of years ago.
Scholars and educated Yogis are in disagreement as to when the Vedas were first published. The general consensus is the ancient myths were written some time around the 4th Century BCE, although it has been muted they could date back as far as 12,000 BCE. Western scholars date the books to around 1500 BCE.
The Samhitas are a compilation of mantras, hymns and prayers originally written in ancient Sanskrit. Some Vedic texts are so old they have not been able to be translated. And the prose that has been translated is often misunderstood because of a lack of knowledge in ancient symbolism.
There are four in total; the oldest is the Rig-Veda, followed by Sama-Veda, Yajur-Veda and Atharva-Veda. The text is a collection of 1,028 hymns featuring a total of 10,600 verses which describe consciousness and the subtle relationship between mind and emotions.
According to the 19th century scholar H.H. Wilson, who is considered as one of the leading scholars to translate the ancient texts, the last book has a completely different style and appears to have been written much later than the original three. It also borrows heavily from the original Rig Veda and supporting texts of the Upanishads.
Other scholars say the last three were all compiled some time after the original Rig Veda, which may account for the significant time lapse between the dates offered by historical experts.
The lessons we can learn from the Vedas are extremely valuable, albeit somewhat complex to understand given the writers masked the true meaning of life in esoteric symbolism.
As noted by religiousfacts: “much of the religion presented in the Vedas is unknown today and plays little to no role in modern Hinduism.”
The 33 Gods of the Rig Vedas
According to the officialdom of Google’s knowledge graphs, there are 330 million Hindu Gods. However, finding anyone to name all 330 million, or even find an entire list is impossible. It’s probably bullshit.
The answer to how many gods there are can be found in the Vedas themselves. In Chapter 3 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, philosophical writings that are an extension of the Vedas, a conversation between the sages Yajnavalkya and Sakalya reveal there is actually just one God:
Briadaranyaka Upanishad, Chapter 3
Sakkalya: “How many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?”
Yajnavalkya: “303 gods are there”. Then, he continued. “There are 3003 gods. 33 gods. 6 gods. 3 gods. 2 gods. 1 ½ gods are there.”
Finally Yajnavalkya said: “There is one God.”
Sakalya was confused. He asked: “How so?”
Yajnavalkya continued: “All these three thousand and all that I mentioned – they are not really gods. They are only manifestations of the 33. The 33 are the principal manifestations. Others are only their radiances.”
So how many Gods are there? The answer is right there: one. And that is you my friend.
However, it should be noted there are 33 aspects of you – or rather your spiritual nature. To become god-like you have to overcome the aspects of human nature. Your choices, the free will that makes us human, fracture into thousands of different permutations that manifest your reality.
But essentially you are in control.
The Rig Vedas are a guide to help you learn how to master the 33 aspects of nature that transform you from a human being into a super human being.
The Gods of the Rig Vedas are rich in symbolism but are essentially personifications of mankind. Mind and emotions are reflected through fire, water, cosmic energy, the soma plant and sacrifice.
The 33 gods are broken down in categories – 12 adyitas, 11 rudras, 8 vasus, 2 Aswins, Indra, and Prajapati, – but only 12 gods feature predominantly throughout the text. Minor gods are fragments of the principle gods.
Indra, the rain God and Agni, the fire receive the most attention. Known as the God of the Gods, Indra appears as the most powerful character in the vedas. In later Vedic literature, Indra loses importance and is replaced by Shiva in the highest echelons of the Hindu pantheon.
From the point of view of symbolic numerology, it is interesting to note that 37 hymns are dedicated to Agni and 45 to Indra.
By applying the ancient numerology system of gematria, 45 (4+5) is nine, the highest level of human consciousness, represented in the Vedas by Indra, god of the gods.
Ten represents new beginnings and as the sacrificial fire, Agni represents the new traits, beliefs, emotions or actions we can bring into our lives by sacrificing old values and ways of living that we no longer need.
Over the coming weeks, I will deal with each of the principle gods and categories of gods mentioned in the Rig Vedas and publish them on this website. You will be able to find direct links to them from the Decoded Symbolism page, together with dozens of other decoded symbols we find in ancient mythology.