The Rigveda, is an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns dedicated to Rigvedic deities and the foremost among the four Hindu canonical sacred texts (shruti) known as the Vedas. Based on internal evidence (philological and linguistic), the Rigveda was composed roughly between 1700–1100 BCE (the early Vedic period) in the Punjab (Sapta Sindhu), putting it among the world's oldest religious texts in continued use, as well as among the oldest texts of any Indo-European language.
The word 'RigVeda' is a tatpurusha compound of rik "praise, verse" and veda "knowledge") in Sanskrit. It consists of 1,028 hymns (or 1,017 discounting the valakhīlya hymns 8.49–8.59) in Vedic Sanskrit, many of which are intended for various sacrificial rituals. This long collection of short hymns is mostly devoted to the praise of the gods. It is organized in 10 books, known as Mandalas. Each mandala consists of hymns, called sūkta (literally, "eulogy"), which in turn consist individual verses called rik, plural rcas.
The text in its surviving form was redacted in the Iron Age (ca. 9th to 7th century BC). The fixed text was preserved for more than a millennium by oral tradition alone and was probably not put in writing until the Gupta period. It is preserved by two major shakhas ("branches", i. e. schools or recensions), Śākala and Bāskala. Considering its great age, the text is spectacularly well preserved and uncorrupted, the two recensions being practically identical, so that scholarly editions can mostly do without a critical apparatus. Associated to Śākala is the Aitareya-Brahmana. The Bāskala includes the Khilani and has the Kausitaki-Brahmana associated to it.