A rebel in the Rig Veda

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A rebel in the Rig Veda

Post  Guest on Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:41 am

There is an interesting poet in the Rig Veda named Kutsa; his verses are compiled in the first book of the Rig Veda. We do not know the exact cause of his dissatisfaction with the new order; this much, however, is clear that he was a rebel from the distinct tone of defiance in his compositions. (There is also a story about him in the Rig Veda x.38.5 which describes him keeping Indra in captivity.)

I quote some verses attributed to the poet Kutsa (all verses from Rig Veda (RV) Book 1):

All these gods, who are in the three spheres, where is the rita of yours gone? Where, again, the absence of the rita? Where, as of old, are the yajna (ahutih) of ours? Know this of me, Oh Heaven and Earth (RV i.105.5)

Where, O Gods, is the holding of the rita, where is the watchfulness of Varuna? Where, again, is the path of the great ways of Aryaman? And hence are we fallen in misery. Know this of me, Oh Heaven and Earth. (RV i.105.6)

We ask of Varuna, the knower of the path and the maker of food--I utter this from my heart, let the rita be born anew (navyah jayatam ritam). Know this of me, Oh Heaven and Earth. (RV i.105.15)


The concept of rita is crucial for understanding the verses. It may be taken to represent the cosmic order, as well as the moral order. The Rig Vedic poets apparently raised this principle of the cosmic-and-moral order to the most exalted position. Further, Varuna is the Rig Vedic God most strongly associated with rita. The poet Kutsa seems to be suggesting that a decline in the importance attached to the concept of rita has occured during his lifetime, and hence his plea 'let the rita be born anew'.

This is a tentative question, but i shall ask it anyways: Does the emerging hierarchial norm have anything to do with the decline in the importance of the rita to which the poet Kutsa is referring to? (Note that Book 1 of the Rig Veda is *not* belonging to the earliest strata of Rig Vedic poetry, but to the later stratum.)

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Re: A rebel in the Rig Veda

Post  Guest on Fri Feb 20, 2015 1:33 am

Rashmun wrote:There is an interesting poet in the Rig Veda named Kutsa; his verses are compiled in the first book of the Rig Veda. We do not know the exact cause of his dissatisfaction with the new order; this much, however, is clear that he was a rebel from the distinct tone of defiance in his compositions. (There is also a story about him in the Rig Veda x.38.5 which describes him keeping Indra in captivity.)

I quote some verses attributed to the poet Kutsa (all verses from Rig Veda (RV) Book 1):

All these gods, who are in the three spheres, where is the rita of yours gone? Where, again, the absence of the rita? Where, as of old, are the yajna (ahutih) of ours? Know this of me, Oh Heaven and Earth (RV i.105.5)

Where, O Gods, is the holding of the rita, where is the watchfulness of Varuna? Where, again, is the path of the great ways of Aryaman? And hence are we fallen in misery. Know this of me, Oh Heaven and Earth. (RV i.105.6)

We ask of Varuna, the knower of the path and the maker of food--I utter this from my heart, let the rita be born anew (navyah jayatam ritam). Know this of me, Oh Heaven and Earth. (RV i.105.15)


The concept of rita is crucial for understanding the verses. It may be taken to represent the cosmic order, as well as the moral order. The Rig Vedic poets apparently raised this principle of the cosmic-and-moral order to the most exalted position. Further, Varuna is the Rig Vedic God most strongly associated with rita. The poet Kutsa seems to be suggesting that a decline in the importance attached to the concept of rita has occured during his lifetime, and hence his plea 'let the rita be born anew'.

This is a tentative question, but i shall ask it anyways: Does the emerging hierarchial norm have anything to do with the decline in the importance of the rita to which the poet Kutsa is referring to? (Note that Book 1 of the Rig Veda is *not* belonging to the earliest strata of Rig Vedic poetry, but to the later stratum.)

By "emerging hierarchical norm" is meant the emergence of the stratified society exemplified by the Hindu caste system. It is true that the Rig Veda does mention the four castes but one must remember that the Rig Veda is a highly stratified work composed over a period of at least a few centuries. And it is only in the later strata of the Rig Veda that we find mention of the caste system, not in the earlier strata.

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