The Indus valley in India was a very fertile tract of land .The vedic Aryans populated it ( the controversy on whether they immigrated from central Asia are were sons of the soil, is not relevant here) They had a highly organized society, were industrious , creative and depending as they did mainly on the vagaries agriculture, were deeply religious. The most worshipped of their gods was naturally Indra who was well endowed with the might to subdue vala the ‘draught monster’ and release the heavenly waters from captivity. His closest ally in his fight against vala were the wind gods known as maruts
Their society was very virtuous too, as they strongly believed in the well-ordered character of the universe which they termed RRta and which not only regulated the cosmic order but also human ethics. Ideas of Virtue and sin were deeply ingrained in them..There was a separate god who implemented and supervised the moral order in both their inner and the outer worlds. This god of virtue was varuNa who is described as “the third wherever two plotted in secret” No virtuous or sinful deed of man, ever escaped his notice. There were many other gods who were personified powers of Nature. Hymns were composed by their gifted poets in praise of each god. Thus a whole collection of Hymnology was compiled and it went by the name of samhita. The earliest of such collections was the RRig veda which is the earliest known literary work of man. Each hymn went by the name of a sUkta. The collection of hymns is further subdivided in to ten groups called mandala s and the last of them is the tenth mandala .It is believed to be considerably later in date than the earlier ones, though how much later, is not certain,
It may be noted in passing that their climate was salubrious, they were plentifully endowed with the goods of this world and being thus freed from the rat race for acquiring ‘more of the same’. They had the leisure for calm refection on the ultimate philosophical questions. Besides the Himalayan mountains were close by to provide them the aesthetic milieu and the solitude needed for deep meditation.
Modern scholars are inclined to believe that vedic Revelation had an evolving pattern from the times of the earliest samhita’s up to the Upanishads, in its various progressive phases of the outer religion, through ritualism, to inner religion, Even so the emphasis never swerved from the underlying religious experience rather than the ceremonial piety and the religious punctilio.
During the course of this evolution of vedic thought , that appeared to resemble polytheism, gradually yielded place to what Max Mueller called henotheism , a phase in which one god was sought to be raised above the rest in, worthiness of worship. Eventually the process lent itself to monotheism and a distinct tilt towards monism, with the coming in to vogue of phrases such as ekam sat (though gods may be called by many names, the power behind all of them is One) and tat ekam (That One which accounts for al).
It is to this phase of thought in the RRigveda, that the ‘Song of Creation’ belongs. This hymn is believed to herald the full-blown advaita of the Upanishads of a later period. It is thus a tuning point in vedic thought and has become so famous for its philosophic insight and poetic beauty that it has now passed in to world literature. It is said that the poem contains ‘the flower of Indian thought’
to be continued