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They are called "family books" because each of them is attributed to an individual rishi, and was transmitted within the lineage of this rishi's family, or of his students.
The hymns within each of the family books are arranged in collections each dealing with a particular deity: Agni comes first, Indra comes second, and so on.
This redaction also included some additions (contradicting the strict ordering scheme) and orthoepic changes to the Vedic Sanskrit such as the regularization of sandhi (termed orthoepische Diaskeuase by Oldenberg, 1888).
As with the other Vedas, the redacted text has been handed down in several versions, most importantly the Padapatha, in which each word is isolated in pausa form and is used for just one way of memorization; and the Samhitapatha, which combines words according to the rules of sandhi (the process being described in the Pratisakhya) and is the memorized text used for recitation.
The meters most used in the ṛcas are the gayatri (3 verses of 8 syllables), anushtubh (4×8), trishtubh (4×11) and jagati (4×12).In the eight books that were composed the earliest, the hymns are mostly praise of specific deities..The school-specific commentaries are known as Brahmanas (Aitareya-brahmana and Kaushitaki-brahmana) Aranyakas (Aitareya-aranyaka and Kaushitaki-aranyaka), and Upanishads (partly excerpted from the Aranyakas: Bahvrca-brahmana-upanishad, Aitareya-upanishad, Samhita-upanishad, Kaushitaki-upanishad).The original text (as authored by the Rishis) is close to but not identical to the extant Samhitapatha, but metrical and other observations allow reconstruction (in part at least) of the original text from the extant one, as printed in the Harvard Oriental Series, vol.50 (1994).) and a later redaction, coeval with the redaction of the other Vedas, dating several centuries after the hymns were composed.
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Another scheme divides the entire text over the 10 mandalas into aṣṭaka ("eighth"), adhyāya ("chapter") and varga ("class").