Rig veda I.110 says about Ṛbhus

  1. When, seeking your enjoyment onward from afar, ye, certain of my kinsmen, wandered on your way, Sons of Sudhanvan, after your long journeying, ye came unto the home of liberal Savitar.

  2. Savitar therefore gave you immortality, because ye came proclaiming him whom naught can hide; And this the drinking-chalice of the Asura, which till that time was one, ye made to be fourfold.

Can we infer from the above that religious rituals other than Spirituality were being practised in Vedic era? Any commentator of any period on Veda gave explanation to this mantra?

  • Yes, people in vedic times mainly did kāmya karmas (yajnas for material fruit).
    – Ikshvaku
    Sep 11, 2019 at 3:42
  • Can you quote reference please? @Ikshvaku Sep 11, 2019 at 4:33

1 Answer 1


Does the story about Ṛbhus indicate practice of religious rituals other than Spirituality in Vedic era?

Yes, many people in the Vedic era did Kamya karmas, or yajnas for material rewards like wealth or heaven (swarga).

The traditional understanding is that the Vedas consist of two parts: the karma kanda, and the jnana kanda.

The karma kanda talks about different yajnas for the devas that reward material benefits like wealth and fame here on earth, as well as heaven (swarga) where the residents enjoy unlimited sense gratification.

The jnana kanda talks about the jivatma, Brahman, and how to attain Brahman.

The karma kanda comes before the jnana kanda. The karma kanda consists of the Samhitas and Brahmanas of the Vedas, whereas the jnana kanda consists of the Aranyakas and Upanishads.

The Manusmriti explains the two paths:

  1. The acts prescribed by the Veda are of two kinds, such as procure an increase of happiness and cause a continuation (of mundane existence, pravritta), and such as ensure supreme bliss and cause a cessation (of mundane existence, nivritta).

  2. Acts which secure (the fulfilment of) wishes in this world or in the next are called pravritta (such as cause a continuation of mundane existence); but acts performed without any desire (for a reward), preceded by (the acquisition) of (true) knowledge, are declared to be nivritta (such as cause the cessation of mundane existence).

  3. He who sedulously performs acts leading to future births (pravritta) becomes equal to the gods; but he who is intent on the performance of those causing the cessation (of existence, nivritta) indeed, passes beyond (the reach of) the five elements.

The idea is, one should first study the karma kanda, come to the realization that the fruit of yajnas is temporary, and then proceed to inquire about Brahman who is described in the jnana kanda, the fruit of which is eternal.

The first sutra of the Brahma Sutras is "athatho brahma jijnasa", or "then therefore, one should inquire into brahman." This means, "after studying the karma kanda and realizing that the fruits of yajnas is temporary, one should inquire into Brahman, the knowledge of which results in eternal bliss."

Ramanujacharya comments on the first sutra:

The purport of the entire Sûtra then is as follows: 'Since the fruit of works known through the earlier part of the Mîmâmsâ is limited and non-permanent, and since the fruit of the knowledge of Brahman--which knowledge is to be reached through the latter part of the Mîmâmsâ--is unlimited and permanent; for this reason Brahman is to be known, after the knowledge of works has previously taken place.'

Now you may be wondering whether the practice of performing yajnas for material benefits was common, and the answer is yes, much more than meditation on Brahman, and that's because most people care about material fruits. As the Bhagavad Gita says, one who is a devotee of Bhagavan and has knowledge of him is a rare soul. Also, the Purva Mimamsa school, which focused on the karma kanda and performing yajnas, was the most popular school in India shortly before the time of Buddha.

  • Your answer certainly gave good inputs. Can you add any references from Samhita part of Rig Veda, which hint at the same? @Ikshvaku Sep 12, 2019 at 2:04
  • @srimannarayanakv Can I answer with verses from the Taittiriya Brahmana? Why do you want verses from the Rig Veda Samhita?
    – Ikshvaku
    Sep 12, 2019 at 20:36
  • 1
    Please add @Ikshvaku Sep 12, 2019 at 23:49
  • what is "vedic" era ?
    – mar
    Nov 24, 2019 at 7:08
  • To be precise, in Rig Vedic era:-) @ram Nov 24, 2019 at 7:53

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