The Ribhus (ṛbhú- meaning "clever, skillful, inventive , prudent", cognate to Latin labor and Gothic arb-aiþs "labour, toil", and perhaps to English elf)[1] are three semi-divine beings of the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda, Ribhu, Vaja and Vibhvan, collectively called by the name of their leader. In later Hindu mythology (Vishnu Purana), Ribhu is a son of Brahma.

They are supposed to dwell in the solar sphere, and are the artists who formed the horses of Indra, the carriage of the Ashvins, and the miraculous cow of Brihaspati. They made their parents young, and performed other wonderful works. They are supposed to take their ease and remain idle for twelve days (the twelve intercalary days of the winter solstice) every year in the house of the Sun (Agohya), after which they recommence working.

When the gods heard of their skill, they sent Agni to them with the one cup of their rival Tvashtar, the artificer of the gods, bidding the Ribhus construct four cups from it. When they had successfully executed this task, the gods received the Ribhus among themselves and allowed them to partake of their sacrifices.

They appear generally as accompanying Indra, especially at the evening sacrifice; in later mythology, Ribhu is a son of Brahmā.[2] All the three are said to be the sons of Sudhanvan, a descendant of Angiras. [3]

Eleven hymns of the Rigveda are dedicated to them, RV 1.20, 110, 111, 161, RV 3.60, RV 4.33-37, RV 7.48.

The adjective in its lexical meaning "skillful" is also applied to Indra, Agni and the Adityas in the Rigveda.


  1. suggested in OED
  2. The Song of Ribhu: Translated from the Original Tamil version of Ribhu Gita: Translated by Dr. H. Ramamoorthy and Nome, Published by Society of Abidance in Truth
  3. "RigVeda Samhita Vol I According to the translation of H.H.Wilson and Bhasya of Sayanacarya by Ravi Prakash Arya and K.L.Joshi"