By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Rgvidhana, RgvidhAna, Rgvidhaana
The vidhānas are a class of Vedic literature which describe the ritualistic use of the Vedic mantras for securing the objects of desire or fulfilling one’s wishes. The Rgvidhāna of Śaunaka is the earliest of such works. It is a metrical work composed in the anuṣṭubh and the triṣṭubh metres. Apart from the Ṛgvidhāna, Śaunaka has been credited with the authorship of nine more works. All his ten works collectively are called as Śaunakasmrti.
Contents of Ṛgvidhāna
There are five adhyāyas or chapters in all. The last one is the smallest as it is the phalaśruti. The verses in the adhyāyas are divided into vargas of four or five verses each. In total there are 744 verses grouped into 139 vargas.
The various mantras of the Ṛgveda are used mostly in Vedic sacrifices. Very often, their meanings fit in well with the rites wherein they are used. However, in the Rgvidhāna, these ṛks or mantras are employed for various purposes like magical rites or charms or for effecting supernatural results. In this respect, this work is akin to the tantra literature and hence may be considered as its precursor. The contents of this work can be summarized as follows:
- Fourfold objects of desire:
- Various kṛcchras or penances
- Rites for pacification
- Rites for prosperity
- Rites for progeny
- Rites for long life
- Rites for heaven
- Rites for wealth
- Rites for destruction of sins committed
- Rites for freedom from diseases
- Rites for destruction of enemies
- Rites for securing intelligence and supernormal vision
- The methods prescribed include japa, homa, pujā, stotra , tapas and yoga.
- A few samples of the use of the ṛks may now be given:
- For prosperity
- Pacification of planetary influences
- Mental peace
- Long life
- Attaining heaven
- Getting wealth
- For progeny
- For graceful speech
- For knowledge
- The language of the work seems to be pre-Pāṇinian.
- Some of the earlier authorities quoted in the work are:
Commentary on Ṛgvidhāna
There is only one commentary on this work, the Ṛgvidhānapadapañcikā by Mātṛsunu. He was a native of Northern India and had composed a work on Vedānta in the name of Subodhapañcikā. This is the only available information regarding him. Mātṛsunu has given the references of the Vedic passages referred in the text.
- He lived in circa 500 B. C.
- Phalaśruti means eulogy of the work.
- Japa means repetition of Vedic mantras.
- Homa means offering oblations into duly consecrated fire.
- Pujā means ritualistic worship of Viṣṇu.
- Strotra means chanting of hymns.
- Tapas means austerities.
- Yoga means art of meditation.
- Rks 1.66
- Rks 2.62
- Rks 3.45
- Rks 1.50.13
- Rks 1.84.16-18
- Rks 3.53
- Rks 7.46
- Rks 8.101.6
- Rks 1.114
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore