Namboothiri Websites, Calicut, Kerala
(A Voluntary and Non-profit-oriented forum for documenting Namboothiri traditions in web)

1. Rigvedam

In Yaagam, Hothan, through chant of Rigveda Manthrams, invokes the gods into the Yajnavedi, and their divine virtues into our souls (minds). Chanting of the Manthrams with the knowledge of their meaning and concepts results in cleansing the mind of its demoniac aspects. Rigvedam teaches to recognise divinity in everyone and everything around you - big and small, living and non-living. Praising them ensures beneficial results.

The Rigveda Manthrams are full of Chhandass, with Gaayathri (shortest) having 24 letters, and increasing in four-letter steps to the longest Athidhruthi with 76 letters in 8 Paadams, with each Paadam varying in length from 4 to 16 letters. Each Chhandass is related to a specific god (Devan) like Indran, Mithran, Varunan, Agni and so on. Knowledge about these intricate relationships slowly leads one to understand the deeper and wider concepts contained in the Vedam.

Two Branches (Saakhhas)
1 ________________________|________________________ 2
|                                                                                                |
Saakalam (Aaswalaayanam)
Aachaaryan : Aaswalaayanan
Baashkalam (Kausheethakam)
Aachaaryan : Kausheethiki
[Common : 10 Mandalams - Daasathayee]

(Two Versions)
1 ________________________|______________________ 2
|                                                                                             |

(This version is more common             
among Namboothiris)             



1. Saatharchinam Saatharchin 24
2. Grithsamadam Grithsamadan 4
3. Viswaamithram Viswaamithran 5
4. Vaamadevam Vaamadevan 5
5. Aaathreyam Athri 6
6. Bharadwaajam Bharadwaajan 6
7. Vasishthham Vasishthhan 6
8. Pragaathhans Kanwa Gothra Jaathanmaar 10
9. Pavamaanam (All Rishis) 7
10. Kshudra & Mahaasookthams (Several) 12
Total Anuvaakams : -----

          Contains Riks and Nigadams (prose).
        Includes : Mahaanaamni,

Rigvedam has two branches : Saakalam with Aaswalaayanan as its Aachaaryan, and Baashkalam under Kausheethiki. The branches are commonly known as Aaswalaayanam and Kausheethakam. The common part of the Manthrams in the two is called "Daasathayee", in ten Mandalams. The remaining part is called "Parisishtam", with divisions such as Mahaanaamni, Vidaamaghavan, etc.

The Rigvedam text is divided into Mandalam, Anuvaakam, Sooktham and Rik, in one version, and into Ashtakam, Adhyaayam, Vargam, Rik and Antham in another version (see table above). The first three Anuvaakams of Pavamaana Mandalam are of special importance, and are known as "Cherumaanam" among Namboothiris. The Sookthams in these are used for consecration in temples and other important rituals.

The Rik Samhitha (text) available to us is apparently only a very insignificant portion of the original Samhitha. It is believed that there were 1,000 Sookthams, starting with a one-Rik Sooktham and increasing by one Rik each time. This would mean a total of 5,00,500 Riks, almost fifty times what is available today.

After Upanayanam (Click Here for Shodasakriyakal), a Brahmachaari prepares for learning the Vedam through a Vratham known as Saakwara Vratha Deeksha (that which gives Sakthi, or inner strength), seeking to receive the power to enable him to learn and understand the Vedam. Later this had reduced to a one-year formality in which he listens to the Guru (teacher) and repeats after him the entire Vedam once (one Mura), and called the Aanduvratham (year-long Vratham), or Muthal Mura (one-time recitation from the beginning). The Vratham ends with a meaningful ritual in which the Brahmachaari, under the guidance and advice of the Guru, spends a full day and night without sleep blindfolded and in divine meditation. He is then advised the last portions of Vedam which begins with "Vidaamaghavan", and the "Eva Manthrams", seeking the blessings of the gods.

The blindfold is removed and offered to the Guru along with a plate smeared with ghee (melted butter). The former signifies transfer of his inward concentration to his Guru, and the latter, a total submission to the Guru for learning Vedam. [Here, milk represents Vedam, curd its meaning, and the resulting ghee, the concept and philosophy of Vedam. When smeared on the plate, Vedam in its entirety pervades over the whole inner mind or soul which is now surrendered to the Guru. Thus, Vedam is much more than the mere text and Manthrams, but goes to higher realms with its practice and sublime experience].

As mentioned earlier (see table), the ninth Mandalam of Rigvedam is Pavamaana Sthuthis in praise of Soman, who is supposed to cleanse and purify the entire person. Soman personifies Aanandam (spiritual bliss) (Yajurvedam also describes it thus), and is not a different entity than Sivan (in various forms) or Vishnu - depends on personal choice. The 24 Sookthams of the first Anuvaakam represents the purification of the 24 Thathwams that constitute the physical body (Sthhoola Sareeram); the 36 Sookthams of the second Anuvaakam is to purify the 36 Kalas that make up the mind (Sookshma Sareeram); and the seven Sookthams of the third Anuvaakam is for purifying the seven regions of the spirit (Kaarana Sareeram). It is said that if the entire three Anuvaakams cannot be recited, the last two Sookthams of the third Anuvaakam would give the same result. The very last Sooktham owes its origin to the combined divine vision of the seven sages (Saptha Rishis), and its last two Riks explain the benefits of the Pavamaana Manthrams. Such explanations are not found anywhere else in Rigvedam, and signifies the special importance of these Manthrams, the learning and chanting of which completely purifies the person.

In the first Mandalam of Rigvedam, there are some Sookthams through which the sacrificial animal in Yajnam, after praying to Agni, Savithaavu, Varunan, etc. find out that, only by praying to Ushass, it can be, and is in fact, set free. In Veda Manthram, Ushass is described as a personification of Sakthi (power). One becomes child-like while praying to Ushodevi as mother, and all that is required is the firm belief that she will protect and guide her children. Simlarly, in Agnishtoma Yajnam (Click Here for Yaagam), the first and last Ishti in Somakrayam (Click Here) are dedicated to Adithi. On other occasions, Indran and Agni are the deities for whom definitions are offered. Yet it is made clear that all these deities including Pavamaana Soman, are one and the same, God Almighty.

| Article No:4.2.1 | Last update of this article:12h November 2001 |
Article by : K N Krishnan Namboodiri (Keezhmundayoor Mana), Ramadevi Mandiram, Poonkunnam, Thrissur - 680 002

Home | What is New.. | Members | Welcome, Sponsors ! | Search For.. | Your Feedback

Copyright © 2000 Namboothiri Websites Calicut. All rights reserved.