Books & Composers of the Rig Veda

The hymns of the Rig Veda were composed by a families of seers or rishis.

The major families that composed these hymns are the Bharadvajas, Visvamitras, Vasisthas, Vamadevas, Grtsamadas and Atris. Each of these is attributed a Mandala (or Book) in the Rig Veda. These Mandalas are thus referred to as the Kula Mandalas (Family Books).

Family Mandala
Grtsamadas II
Visvamitras III
Vamadevas IV
Atris V
Bharadvaja VI
Vasisthas VII

The eighth Mandala contains hymns composed by members of the Kanva family and the Angirasas.

Other families that contributed to the composition, but not attributed an entire Mandala are: Kashyapas, Bharatas, Bhrigus, Agastyas.

The primeval family of seers

The Angirasas are a group of families with a common lineage and comprise amongst others the following families: Bharadvajas, Vamadevas and the Kanvas. Along with the Atharvans and the Brghus, they form the earliest known family of seers in Vedic history. Apart from being major contributors to hymns in the Rig Veda, they are also associated with the other Vedas, particularly the Atharva Veda.

The Atharva Veda, was previously known as the Atharvangiras, then renamed as the Bhrgvangiras and then finally as the Atharva Veda. The names clearly suggest the close association between the three primeval families and also their contribution to the Atharva Veda.

The Angirasas were clearly the dominant family line during the Rig Vedic times. However during the times of the Epics (Mahabharata and Puranas), which came several millennia later, the Brighus had surpassed the Angirasas, causes for which are yet to be explored.

Suffice to state that all three families were closely associated with the fire-cult (Agni worship) and to a large extent the soma-cult. Between them, the three families established practices that later became fundamental aspects of Hinduism and Zoroastrianism. They were ardent worshipers of Indra and Varuna. The Angirasas seemed to tilt in favour of Indra whereas the Brghus in favour of Varuna.

Another reason why they can be truly classified as “primeval” is due to references to their being part of several Indra legends. But we shall leave those for another post, another day.

Notable seers and persona of the Rig Veda

As mentioned in the preceding section, the Rig Veda is authored in large part by the Angirasas. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the stand-out persona and seer is one from the Angirasa stocks – Bharadvaja Barhaspatya, the progenitor of the Bharadvaja family.

Vishvamitra, Vasistha and Brghu were progenitors of their respective families and together with Bharadvaja find prominent mention in the Epics and Puranas as well.

Other prominent seers/persona are: Angiras, Usija, Brhaspati, Kutsa and Atharvan.

Index of major seer families



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