The Rig Veda is a group of poems that people in India first sang and recited maybe about 1500 BC. That was soon after the Yamnaya – the Indo-Europeans – arrived in India. For hundreds of years, people passed down these poems by reciting them out loud. They added some poems and forgot some others. By about 1000 BC, the Rig Veda reached its final form, in the Sanskrit language. Then in the Guptan period, about 500 BC, people finally wrote the poems down. The Rig Veda is one of the most sacred texts of Hinduism.
This is a video of women dancing to a chant from the Rig Veda.
The Rig Veda tells the story of Prajapati, the first god who created the world. Prajapati means “Lord of Creatures”. Prajapati was sacrificed to himself by the younger gods Indra, Agni, and Varuna. Out of his body, the whole universe was made. The Rig Veda says that each of Prajapati’s other parts turned into a different group of people, so that Indian people thought of themselves as belonging to one of four castes, or groups. This idea of caste seems to be a Vedic idea.