This chapter discusses both the nature of Ṛgvedic divinity and the qualities and characteristic deeds of the most important individual gods. It draws the distinction between the organized pantheons familiar from Classical sources and the more complex and less integrated collection of gods in the Ṛgveda. Older attempts to find organizing principles, such as associating each god with a cosmic region or a force of nature, were not successful. Some gods are associated with natural forces, while others belong to the social sphere and still others have primarily ritual analogues. Many of the prominent gods of later Hinduism, such as Viṣṇu and Śiva, have only a shadowy presence in the Ṛgveda, and later tropes, such as the enmity between the Devas and the Asuras, have not yet developed.
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