Mountains in Rigveda (ऋग्वेदे पर्वतानां विवेचनम्)

From Dharmawiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Geographically, mountains are a good source of information, as landmarks, as sources of rivers, and as bearers of minerals and ores we find their references in many texts. Rigveda is one such ancient text that offers references of many mountains. Poetic descriptions of mountains, even in the Rigvedic mantras, have been a source of delight to the scholarly readers. Additionally, they are important resources to reconstruct the conditions prevalent in Rigvedic times.

Mountains are referred to using the terms, parvata, giri (Rg. Veda. 1.37.7) and adri (Rg. Veda. 8.88.3). Just as the oceans, mountains are also alluded to as treasure houses (Rg.Veda 10.69.6). Rgvedic mantras give us a detailed account of how the earth was once full of mountains that could "move" around and how Indra made them firm and immovable (2.12.1). Kanva samhita and Maitrayani samhita both support the puranic version that in the very remote past mountains had 'wings' and they could travel to any place they chose. Indra cut those wings off and protected the people on earth from loss of life and property. The factual basis is debated yet the legend has a significant place in many texts.[1]

हिमवत् । Himavanta

In these texts there is a mention about 'Himavanta' (Himalayas) as the prominent mountain range of the region, however, their dimensions are not given.[2]

  • Described by the words "brhad parvat (बृहत् पर्वत्)", i.e., the huge mountain, the nature of the Himalayas is indicated; it is where Indra took on Sambara, the son of Kulitara (Rg.Veda. 4.30.14).
  • Raja Rathaviti dwelt upon the banks of the river Gomati and had his home on the skirts of the Himalaya mountains (Rg.Veda. 5.61.19).
  • Himalayas have snow peaks and the rivers Vipas and Shutudri rise in the Himalayas (Rg.Veda. 3.33.1).
  • The firmly seated mountain becomes the guardian of the prosperity of the people from the enemies (Rg. Veda. 6.52.4).

It can be said that among the mountains situated in the Saptasindhu region, the Himavat occupies a prominent position.[2]

मूजवत् । Mujavat

Rgveda (10.34.1) refers to a specific mountain peak called Moojavat on which grows the Somalata. It is located in the Himalayas. In the Nirukta, it has been referred to as a mountain, while its location is known from the Atharva samhita. Atharva samhita (5.22) mentions that Moojavat is a mountain located in the far North-western region of Gandhaar or Balhik country according to Pt. Baldev Upadhyay. Sayanacharya in his commentary on the Rgveda mantra mentions this as a mountain

munjavaan-nama parvatah somotpattisthanam... (Sayana on Rgveda 1.161.8)

This mountain is verily the native habitat of finest Somalata hence it is called Moujavat, from where it was brought for use in yajnas. सोम॑स्येव मौजव॒तस्य॑ भ॒क्षो..... (Rg. Veda. 10.34.1). As the people of those times moved to and settled in the eastern plains, bringing soma became difficult and commercial trade began. In the Somayaga, this aspect is the historical point behind "सोम-परिक्रमण"[1] It is stated that Mujavant was a hill from which the people took their name. Soma is called Maujavata, i.e., which grows in the Mujavat. About the location of this mountain, P. L. Bhargava holds that the Mujavat mountains can be identified with the modern Hindukush mountains.[2]

त्रिककुद् । Trikakud

It is considered as one of the superior mountains. Anjana (eye balm) is said to be found on this mountain. This is said to be the Suleiman ranges of the present day where "anjana" is still found.[3]

शर्यणावत् । Sharyanavat

The term Sharyanavat finds mention in the Rgveda samhita. According to Sayanacharya, it means the mountains of the lake Sharyanavat

दि॒वस्पृ॑थि॒व्योरव॒ आ वृ॑णीमहे मा॒तॄन्त्सिन्धू॒न्पर्व॑ताञ्छर्य॒णाव॑तः । (Rig.Veda. 10.35.2)

In another verse, it indicates a lake or district situated in Kurukshetra. According to P. L. Bhargava, Sharyanavat is the mountain, which now surrounds the Kashmir valley.[2]

आर्जीक । Arjika

According to K. N. Dvivedi and P. L. Bhargava, Arjika means a mountain and it gave rise to the river, Arjikiya, which is the modern Haro river. This river rises in the mountains north of Murree.[2]

सुशोम । Sushoma

Sushoma finds place along with Arjika and Sharyanavat and from the commentary of Sayanacharya, it can be said that Sushoma may also be an epithet of the mountain Arjika (which is also famous for Soma).

सु॒षोमे॑ शर्य॒णाव॑त्यार्जी॒के प॒स्त्या॑वति । य॒युर्निच॑क्रया॒ नर॑: ॥२९॥ (Rig. Veda. 8. 7.29)

According to P. L. Bhargava, Sushoma must have been the name of the range to the south of Murree and west of the Jhelum valley.

Other Mountains

In the Taittriya Aranyaka (1.31) we find a mention of Krauncha, Mainaka, and Sudarshana parvatas. In the same Aranyaka (1.7) there is a clear mention of Mahameru. That these mountains are also rich in treasures (minerals and natural ores) is clearly mentioned in the Rigveda

वसुमन्तं वि पर्रवतम् ॥ (Rg. Veda. 2.24.2)

In Rigveda, we do not find the any information about the Vindhya mountains nor the Narmada river which flows to the south of this mountain range. It indicates that people of the Rigvedic times lived mostly in the northern plains of India.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Pt. Upadhyaya, Baldev. (2012 Second Edition) Samskrit Vangmay ke Brihad Itihas, Vol 1, Veda. Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Sanskrit Sansthan. (Pages 515-531)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Deka, Barnali. (2015) Ph.D Thesis Title: A socio cultural study of the Rgvedasamhita. Gauhati University. (Chapter 5 : Geographical Information as recorded in the Rgvedasamhita)
  3. Dvivedi, Kapil Dev. (2000) Vaidika Sahitya evam Samskrti (Vedic Literature and Culture). Varanasi: Vishvavidyalaya Prakashan. (Pages 248-250)