By Swami Harshananda
Bṛhad-devatā literally means ‘a big work dealing with the Vedic deities’.
The sage Śaunaka (500 B.C.) has done yeomen service to the preservation of the Vedic literature by composing ten works, generally classed as ‘anukramaṇīs’. These works are included in the celebrated work, Bṛhad- devatā. It is an index of the Vedic gods, more extensive than other similar works.
This treatise on the Vedic deities is in the form of verses in the anuṣṭubh meter spread over eight adhyāyas or chapters, corresponding to the eight aṣtakas of the Ṛgveda. The first two chapters contain 125 verses of an introductory nature which discuss several aspects of Vedic grammar useful in the analysis or interpretation of the Vedic words. Then the book takes up the difficult task of determining and describing the devatās or deities of the various suktas of the Rgveda, often narrating interesting anecdotes also, related to those deities.
Some of the more ancient sages mentioned in this work are:
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore