Yoga in Ṛgveda

An Exploration of its Application and Meaning

  • Lewis Gwilt (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


The article explores the semantics and application of yoga in Ṛgveda. It evaluates the validity of yoga referring to a literal yoking of horses by providing an overview of its uses in Ṛgveda. This is compared with the middle (Kaṭha and Śvetāśvatara) Upaniṣads’ treatment of yoga, to assess whether they signify the inception of a spiritual understanding, which includes the employment of horses and chariots as metaphors. In Ṛgveda, there are mantras where the yoking of horses is achieved via the mind and, therefore, is not literal. The implications are that the Upaniṣads reflect a continuation of Ṛgveda’s understanding of horses and chariots and their role in yoga. In the literature stating that it is literal, there is an absence of a critical analysis of yoga’s application in Ṛgveda and, most importantly, supporting evidence.


yoga, horses, rgveda, yoking, chariot, application