Rig Veda

(ca. 1700–1200 BCE)

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The earliest stratum of Indian literature, called the Vedas, consists of four books: the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda, and the Atharva Veda. Of these, the Rig Veda is the oldest and longest. As the word rig means “verse” and the word veda means “knowledge,” the Rig Veda, composed in poetic verse, is considered the source of all sacred knowledge.

Consisting of 1,028 metrical hymns, the Rig Veda was composed in roughly two stages. Books 2–9, the core of the text, were composed...