The Chronology of the Rigveda – 2
I) INTERRELATIONSHIPS AMONG COMPOSERS
The interrelationships among the composers of the hymns provide us with a very clear and precise picture.
We will examine the subject as follows:
A. The Family MaNDalas II-VII.
B. MaNDala I.
C. MaNDala VIII.
D. MaNDala I Detail.
E. MaNDala IX.
F. MaNDala X.
I.A. The Family MaNDalas II-VII.
We get the following direct relationships among the composers of the Family MaNDalas:
Prime facie, we get the following equations:
1. The family MaNDalas can be divided into Early Family MaNDalas (VI, III, VII) and Later Family MaNDalas (IV, II, V)
The Later Family MaNDalas have full hymns composed by direct descendants of RSis from the Early Family MaNDalas.
2. MaNDala VI is the oldest of the Early Family MaNDalas, since descendants of its RSis are composers in two of the Later Family MaNDalas: IV and II.
3. MaNDala V is the latest of the Later Family MaNDalas, since it has hymns by descendants of RSis from two of the Early Family MaNDalas: III and VII.
4. MaNDala VII is the latest of the Early Family MaNDalas since (unlike MaNDalas VI and III which do not have a single hymn composed by any descendant of any RSi from any other MaNDala) there are two joint hymns (VII.101-102) which are jointly composed by VasiSTha and KumAra Agneya (a member of the Agneya group of BharadvAja RSis), a descendant of BharadvAja of MaNDala VI.
5. MaNDala IV is older than MaNDala II because:
a. It has only two hymns composed by descendants of RSis from MaNDala VI, while the whole of MaNDala II except for four hymns is composed by descendants of RSis from MaNDala VI.
b. MaNDala II goes one generation further down than MaNDala IV.
6. MaNDala V, as we saw, has hymns by descendants of RSis from two of the Early Family MaNDalas: III and VII.
In addition, it also has a hymn by descendants of a RSi who (although not himself a composer) is contemporaneous with MaNDala VII: hymn V.24 is composed by the GaupAyanas who are descendants of Agastya, the brother of VasiSTha of MaNDala VII.
Conclusion: We get the following chronological order:
I.B. MaNDala I.
We get the following relationships between the composers of MaNDala I and the Family MaNDalas:
1. MaNDala I has full hymns composed by direct descendants of RSis from the Early Family MaNDalas. 54 of the hymns in MaNDala I fall into this category:
3. MaNDala I does not have a single hymn, full or joint, composed by any ancestor of any RSi from the Early Family MaNDalas.
4. On the other hand, MaNDala I has full hymns composed by ancestors of RSis from the Later Family MaNDalas. 21 of the hymns in MaNDala I fall into this category:
5. The above hymns, it must be noted, include full hymns by contemporaries of RSis from the Later Family MaNDalas, who are also, at the same time, descendants of RSis from the Early Family MaNDalas or from MaNDala I itself:
6. MaNDala I does not have a single hymn, full or joint, composed by any descendant of any RSi from the Later Family MaNDalas.
Conclusion: MaNDala I is later than the Early Family MaNDalas, but both earlier than as well as contemporary to the Later Family MaNDalas: Hence, we get the following chronological order:
I.C. MaNDala VIII
We get the following relationships between the composers of MaNDala VIII and those of the other seven MaNDalas:
1. There are only two direct relationships between the composers of MaNDala VIII, and the composers of the Early Family MaNDalas (VI, III, VII) and the two older of the Later Family MaNDalas (IV, II):
All other relationships, if any, are through composers from MaNDalas I and V.
2. On the other hand, not only are there close relationships between the composers of MaNDala VIII, and the composers from MaNDalas I and V, but there are also many composers in common:
Conclusion: We get the following chronological order:
Note: The BhRgu hymns in MaNDala VIII constitute a SPECIAL CATEGORY of hymns which stand out from the rest. These five hymns (VIII.79,84,100-102) are ascribed to ancient BhRgu RSis of the oldest period. Unlike in the case of MaNDala X, ascriptions in MaNDala VIII have to be taken seriously; and therefore the ascription of the above hymns to ancient BhRgu RSis is to be treated, in general, as valid (in general, in the sense that while hymns ascribed to, say, USanA KAvya, who is already a mythical figure even in the oldest MaNDalas, may not have been composed by him, they must at least have been composed by some ancient BhRgu RSi).
The historical reasons for the non-inclusion of these hymns in the Family MaNDalas, or even in MaNDala I, and for their late introduction into the Rigveda in MaNDala VIII, will be discussed in our chapter on the Indo-Iranian Homeland.
I.D. MaNDala I Detail.
MaNDala I consists of fifteen upa-maNDalas. On the basis of the interrelationships between the composers, we can classify these upa-maNDalas into four groups:
1. Early upa-maNDalas:
The upa-maNDalas which can be definitely designated as early upa-maNDalas are those which are ascribed to direct descendants of composers from the Early Family MaNDalas:
Madhucchandas upa-maNDala: I.1-11.
SunahSepa upa-maNDala: I.24-30.
ParASara upa-maNDala: I.65-73.
2. Middle upa-maNDalas:
The upa-maNDalas which can be designated as middle upa-maNDalas are those ascribed to ancestors or contemporaries of composers from the earliest of the Later Family MaNDalas:
NodhAs upa-maNDala: I.58-64.
Gotama upa-maNDala: I.74-93.
3. Late upa-maNDalas:
The upa-maNDalas which can be designated as late upa-maNDalas are those ascribed to ancestors or contemporaries of composers from MaNDala VIII:
MedhAtithi upa-maNDala: I.12-23.
KaNva upa-maNDala: I.36-43.
PraskaNva upa-maNDala: I.44-50.
4. General upa-maNDalas:
Those upa-maNDalas which cannot be definitely designated as either early or late upa-maNDalas on the basis of inter-relationships must be designated as general upa-maNDalas. These include:
a. Those ascribed to independent RSis not directly connected with specific groups of composers in other MaNDalas:
HiraNyastUpa upa-maNDala: I.31-35.
Savya upa-maNDala: I.51-57.
KakSIvAn upa-maNDala: I.116-126.
DIrghatamas upa-maNDala: I.140-164.
b. Those ascribed to descendants of persons (kings or RSis) contemporaneous with the composers of the Early Family MaNDalas, but not themselves composers of hymns either in the Early Family MaNDalas or in MaNDala I:
Kutsa upa-maNDala: I.94-115.
Parucchepa upa-maNDala: I.127-139.
Agastya upa-maNDala: I.165-191.
The Kutsa and Agastya upa-maNDalas are ascribed to the eponymous RSis Kutsa and Agastya themselves, but they are obviously late upa-maNDalas composed by their remote descendants. Among other things, the only references to these eponymous RSis within the hymns prove this:
The composers in the Kutsa upa-maNDala refer to the RSi Kutsa as a mythical figure from the past: I.106.6;112.9.
The composers in the Agastya upa-maNDala repeatedly describe themselves as descendants of MAna (Agastya): I. 165.14,15; 166.15; 167.11; 169.10; 169.8; 177.5; 182.8; 184.4, 5; 189.8.
I.E. MaNDala IX:-
As we saw, the chronological position of MaNDala IX after the eight earlier MaNDalas is beyond doubt.
But MaNDala IX ascribes many hymns to RSis from the earlier MaNDalas. According to some scholars, this indicates that while MaNDala IX came into existence as a separate MaNDala after the first eight MaNDalas, many of the individual hymns to Soma were already in existence, and were originally included in the other MaNDalas. Later they were “combed out of the other MaNDalas” and compiled into a separate MaNDala dedicated solely to Soma hymns.
This would appear to imply that the period of MaNDala IX (like that of MaNDala I) should be stretched out alongside the Periods of all the other MaNDalas.
However, the contention that the hymns in MaNDala IX could be “combed out of” the other MaNDalas is not quite correct. Any “combing out” would be relevant only in the case of the five older MaNDalas (VI, III, VII, IV, II); since the other three MaNDalas (I, V and VIII) were finalised just before MaNDala IX, and Soma hymns which should have been included in these MaNDalas could just as well have been left out of the MaNDalas even before their finalisation, as the idea of a separate Soma MaNDala may already have fructified by then.
And an examination of MaNDala IX shows that it is a late MaNDala. MaNDala IX has 114 hymns. If we exclude the fourteen BhRgu hymns, which we will refer to again in our chapter on the Geography of the Rigveda, the following is the chronological distribution of the hymns:
1. Forty-nine of the hymns are ascribed to RSis belonging to the period of MaNDala IX (i.e. new RSis not found in earlier MaNDalas) or the period of MaNDala X (i.e. R is with strange names and of unknown family identity):
MaNDala IX: IX.5-26, 39-40, 44-46, 61, 63, 68,
70, 72-73, 80-83, 99-100, 111-112.
MaNDala X: IX.33-34, 66, 102-103, 106, 109-110.
2. Forty hymns are ascribed to RSis belonging to the last layer of MaNDalas to be finalised before MaNDala IX (i.e. MaNDalas V, VIII and I):
MaNDala V: IX.32, 35-36, 53-60.
MaNDala VIII: IX.27-30. 41-43, 95, 104-105.
MaNDala I: IX.1-4, 31, 37-38, 50-52, 64, 69, 74,
3. Only eleven hymns can even be alleged to have been composed by RSis belonging to the five earlier Family MaNDalas (VI, III, VII, IV and II), if one takes the ascriptions at face value.
But, in the case of at least nine of these hymns, it is clear, on the basis of evidence within the AnukramaNIs themselves, that these ascriptions are fictitious, and that the hymns are not composed by the early RSis belonging to these five Family MaNDalas, but by late RSis belonging to the period of MaNDalas IX and X.
These nine hymns are: IX. 67, 84, 86, 96-98, 101, 107-108.
An examination of the ascriptions in these nine hymns establishes their lateness:
a. IX.67 and IX.107 are artificial hymns ascribed to the SaptaRsi or Seven RSis: BharadvAja, ViSvAmitra, Jamadagni, VasiSTha, Gotama, KaSyapa and Atri. (Incidentally, no other hymn is ascribed to BharadvAja or ViSvAmitra, and of the two other hymns ascribed to VasiSTha, one ascription is clearly fictitious.)
It is clear that these RSis belonged to different periods and could not have been joint composers in any hymn. The hymns are clearly composed by their descendants, or perhaps even by some single RSis in their many names. In the case of IX.67, Pavitra ANgiras (a RSi who clearly belongs to the period of MaNDala IX itself, being a new RSi and also the composer of IX. 73 and 83) is named as a joint composer with the SaptaRSi, and he is probably the composer even of the entire hymn.
b. IX.84 and IX.101 are ascribed to PrajApati VAcya (VaiSvAmitra), but this is clearly not the PrajApati VAcya (VaiSvAmitra) of MaNDala III. He is clearly a RSi belonging to the late period, identifiable as one of the PrAjApatya group of RSis whose hymns appear only in the late MaNDalas (V.33-34, X.90, 107, 121, 129-130, 161, 177, 183-184).
In IX.101, this PrajApati is a joint composer with AndhIgu SyAvASvI (who is clearly a late RSi belonging to the period of MaNDala IX, itself, being a descendant of SyAvASvI Atreya of MaNDalas V and VIII) and with various RSis of unknown family identity (a circumstance which places them in the late period of MaNDalas IX-X).
c. IX.86. is ascribed jointly to Atri and GRtsamada, and not only do these RSis belong to different periods, but they are joint composers with various RSis with strange names and of unknown family identity, which places the provenance of this hymn in the late period of MaNDalas ix-x.
d. IX.96 is ascribed to Pratardana DaivodAsI, but this RSi is clearly the same late Bharata RSi (descendant of the actual Pratardana) who is also a composer in the late MaNDala X (i.e. X. 179.2).
e. IX.97 is ascribed jointly to VasiSTha, Kutsa, and various descendants of VasiSTha. This hymn clearly belongs to the late period, since three of its composers are also composers in MaNDala X: MRLIka (X. 150), Manyu (X.83-84) and Vasukra . (. X.27-29).
f. IX.98 and IX.108 are ascribed to RjiSvan ANgiras or BhAradvAja. But this is clearly not the RjiSvan of MaNDala VI:
In the case of IX.98, the name RjiSvan is clearly a confusion for the name RjrASva VArSAgira, since the hymn is jointly ascribed to RjiSvan and AmbarISa VArSAgira (of 1.100).
In the case of IX. 108, this RjiSvan is joint composer with GaurivIti SAktya (composer of V.29), RNañcaya (patron of the composer of V.30), and various RSis of unknown family identity (whose provenance is clearly in the late period of MaNDalas IX-X).
In short, these nine hymns are clearly composed by RSis belonging to the late period of MaNDalas I-V-VIII-IX-X, and not the period of the five earlier Family MaNDalas.
4. Ultimately, the only two hymns which can be ascribed to RSis belonging to the five earlier Family MaNDalas, and only for want of clear contrary evidence, are:
IX.71 (ascribed to RSabha VaiSvAmitra of MaNDala III)
IX.90 (ascribed to VasiSTha MaitrAvaruNI of MaNDala VII)
It is therefore clear that MaNDala IX is a late MaNDala, and that there was not much of “combing out” of hymns to Soma from earlier MaNDalas in the process of its compilation.
The chronological position of MaNDala IX after the eight earlier MaNDalas is therefore certain.
I.F. MaNDala X
MaNDala X, as we saw, was composed after the other nine MaNDalas, and compiled so long after them that its language alone, in spite of attempts at standardisation, is sufficient to establish its late position.
The ascription of hymns in this MaNDala is so chaotic that in most of the hymns the names, or the patronymics/epithets, or both, of the composers, are fictitious; to the extent that, in 44 hymns out of 191, and in parts of one more, the family identity of the composers is a total mystery.
In many other hymns, the family identity, but not the actual identity of the composers, is clear or can be deduced: the hymns are ascribed to remote ancestors, or even to mythical ancestors not known to have composed any hymns in earlier MaNDalas.
Chronologically, the hymns in MaNDala X fall in three categories:
a. Hymns composed in the final period of the Rigveda, long after the period of the other nine MaNDalas.
b. Hymns composed in the period of MaNDala IX, after the eight earlier MaNDalas were finalised, by composers whose Soma hymns find a place in MaNDala IX.
c. Hymns composed in the late period of MaNDala VIII, which somehow missed inclusion in that MaNDala.
The hymns of the second and third category were kept aside, and later included, in changed linguistic form, in MaNDala X.
To round off our examination of the interrelationships among the composers, we may note the following instances of composers in MaNDala X who are descendants of RSis from the latest MaNDala VIII and IX:
In conclusion, we can classify the periods of the MaNDalas into the following major periods:
1. The Early Period: The period of MaNDalas VI, III, VII and the early upa-maNDalas of MaNDala 1.
2. The Middle Period: The period of MaNDalas IV and II and the middle upa-maNDalas of MaNDala I; as also the earlier part of the general upa-maNDalas of MaNDala I.
3. The Late Period:
a. The period of MaNDalas V and VIII and the late
upa-maNDalas of MaNDala I; as also the later
part of the general upa-maNDalas of MaNDala I.
b. The period of MaNDala IX.
4. The Final Period: The period of MaNDala X.
Courtesy:- Rigveda: A historical analysis by Shrikant G. Talageri