What does Rigveda say on its origin? Divine or human?


There is a lot of debate about whether the Vedas are a divine or human creation. One school of thought opines that the Vedas came into existence with the creation of this universe (god-made), while the others say that Vedas are man-made. To enquire better into the subject, I decided to look into the Vedas, specifically Ṛgveda (the foremost Veda) to see what does it have to say about the creation of the Vedic hymns. I found certain hymns directly pointing to the human creation of the Ṛgvedic hymns. The hymns are:

1. navaṃ nu stomaṃ agnaye divaḥ śyenāya jījanaṃ. vasvaḥ kuvid vanāti yaḥ. (ṛṣi vasiṣṭhaḥ) [Ṛgveda 7.15.4] Here it is said that ‘I create a new hymn’. The verb used to denote ‘creation’ is ‘jījanaṃ’ which is translated by Sāyaṇa as ‘janayāmi’ meaning ‘I create’. Here a new hymn has been created for Agni. The composer of this mantra is Sage Vasiṣṭha.

2. athā somasya prayatī yuvābhyāṃ indrāgnī stomaṃ janayāmi navyam. (ṛṣi kutsaḥ) [Ṛgveda 1.109.2] Here it is clearly said that ‘I am creating a new hymn for indrāgnī’. And here the verb ‘janayāmi’ (I make or I create) has been directly used. The composer of this mantra is Sage Kutsa.

3. imā hi tvā matayaḥ stomataṣṭā indra havante sakhyaṃ juṣāṇāḥ. (ṛṣi viśvāmitraḥ) [Ṛgveda 3.43.2] In this hymn, Sāyaṇa has translated ‘matayaḥ’ as ‘hymns’ and the word ‘stomataṣṭā’ straightforwardly means the ‘hymns created by the creators of hymns’. The composer of this mantra is Sage Viśvāmitra.

4. ete dyumnebhir viśvamātiranta mantraṃ ye vāraṃ naryā atakṣan. (ṛṣi vasiṣṭhaḥ)  [Ṛgveda 7.7.6] In this hymn the verb used in relation to hymns is ‘atakṣan’ which means ‘created or perfected or carved’ (3rd person plural). Sāyaṇa translates ‘naryā’ as ‘manuṣyāḥ’. The composer of this mantra is Sage Vasiṣṭha.

5. ṛṣe mantrakṛtāṃ stomaiḥ kaśyapodvardhyangiraḥ. (ṛṣi kaśyapaḥ mārīcaḥ) [Ṛgveda 9.114.2] This hymn breaks the base of the divine-creation myth of the Vedic hymns. Here an adjective has been used for the Ṛṣis or sages that is ‘mantrakṛt’ which directly means ‘makers of the mantra’. Although in the explanation of this hymn Sāyaṇa translates the word ‘ṛṣi’ as ‘seer of the mantra’ (sūktadraṣṭā). But here’s the point, even if we keep in mind the poetic meter used here, if the poet really meant ‘seer of the hymns’ then he could have used the word ‘mantradṛṣ’ (dṛṣ = seer, mantra=hymn). So any deviation is unnecessary. The composer of this mantra is Sage Kaśyapa Mārīca.

Sāyaṇa or Sāyaṇācārya as he is regarded, is one of the main authorities in the field of the explanation of the Vedic hymns (bhāṣya). These hymns are directly from the Ṛgveda. The words are clear. Still the protagonists of the divinity of the Vedas might use the last card that Vedic words have many many meanings. This proposition can be refuted by just one fact that there is solid linguistic evidence that the Vedic language was a spoken language of a wide area, so such a highly ambiguous language couldn’t have served the purpose of communication. Also that all natural languages have some element of ambiguity, but that doesn’t so much hinder the process of successful communication.

Last but not the least, let us give our Ṛṣis or poets their due credit for composing such beautiful rhythmic hymns. If we take God or a supreme being to be the creator of Vedic hymns, then it would seem that the creator of the whole world is begging from the Vedic gods for a full ripe age, for gifts, for success, etc. For me it is enough for pride that back in the day, our ancestors had made this huge compilation of various hymns of various poets (including a few female poets). As it is the Vedic hymns that themselves refute the theory of divine origin of the Vedas, so no further third party ideas need to be entertained.