What are Vedas?

The word Veda comes from "Vid", which literally means "To Know", whereas Vidya means knowledge. Vedas are the
lifestyle and its knowledge because,
in the universe of Vedas, the whole universe of knowledge comes in.
Ananta Vei Vedah - अनंता वै वेदा:

The word "Ananta" means "Infinitive", Vei means those, so the sentence Ananta Vei Vedah - अनंता वै वेदा: means The Knowledge of Vedas is infinitive

Composed in Vedic Sanskrit between 1500 and 500 BCE, Vedas are the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. It is said that the texts were received by scholars direct from God and then passed down to the next generation by word of mouth. The Vedas are therefore regarded as Sruti means “what is heard”, it distinguishes them from other religious texts, which are called Smṛti means "what is remembered".

The Vedas are split into four major texts and contain hymns, mythological accounts, prayers, poems and formulas considered sacred to the Vedic religion.

HISTORY OF VEDA

VEDABHOOMI - the land of knowledge, one of the names of India. Long before the Islamic invasion and European colonization, India has been one of the very few civilizations which has a very advanced education system of that time. From Western Europe to China people travelled to India to understand its rich knowledge system. Travellers like Megasthenese, Al Beruni and Hiuen Tsang have mentioned how advanced was the Indian education system at that time in their respective books. The knowledge of ancient India is one of the most comprehensive and complex education systems in the world. The heritage of the Vedic Education & Value system has been largely preserved by the inscriptions on the temples, manuscripts and verbally transmitted from a teacher to the students (Guru Shisya Parampara). The era between 1500BCE and 500 BCE is known as the Vedic Period due to the compilation of Veda. According to the puranic tradition, Ved Vyasa compiled all the four Vedas and later taught Rigveda Samhita to Paila. An alternate version states that Shakala complied with the Rigveda from the teaching of Vedic rishis.  

Structure of the Vedas

The Vedas were transmitted by an oral tradition from the teacher (guru) to students (shisya) or from father to son, believed to be initiated by the Vedic Rishis who heard the primordial sounds. There are four Vedas: the Rigveda contains the hymns about mythology, the Yajurveda contains instruction for religious rituals, the Samaveda consists mainly of hymns of religious rituals and the Atharvaveda describes the spell against sorcerers, and diseases.

Each Veda has four subdivisions –

  • the Samhitas are the most ancient section of the Vedas, including mantras, benedictions and hymns of praise to God or compilation of all realized hymns,
  • the Aranyaka are the texts on rituals, prayers, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices, or the internal observances one needs to follow,
  • the Brahmanas describes the commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices, or explanations of how to put them to practice and
  • the Upanishads consist of texts discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge or it is a footnote that captures the essence of the entire Veda.

There are 4 Vedas:

Vedic Literature is one the best source of Ancient Indian History. There are four Vedas known as Rigveda, Yajurved, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda, all of them together are attributed to as Chaturveda.

  • Rig Veda
  • Samaveda
  • Yajurveda
  • Atharvaveda

  • RIG VEDA

    Rigveda or Ṛgveda means “The knowledge of Verses”. It is derived from the Sanskrit word Rig means praise. It explains in various hymns praising the elements of Nature & Cosmos. The oldest and biggest amongst all the four sacred Vedas. It is one of the most important texts of the Hindu tradition. It describes the hymns in the praise of the Gods, which are recited in various rituals. Rig Veda is a collection of 10 books known as Mandalas with a compilation of 1,028 hymns in about 10,600 verses (suktas). The hymns in Rigveda describe, and praise the properties of various natural elements around us, giving them personified forms of Agni, Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Soma, and so on. The philological and linguistic evidence indicates that the RigVeda is one of the ancient existing texts in any Indo-European language and was composed as early as around 1500BCE.

  • YAJUR VEDA

    The second classification is called the Yajurveda, where the word yajus literally means ‘a practice, worship, or a ritual. It dates back to 1100-800 BCE; corresponding to Samaveda. It explains different procedures of worship of Nature & Cosmos. This Veda has 1875 verses mostly taken from Rigveda. The Yajurveda is also considered significant for its presentation of philosophical doctrines. The Yajur Veda has two major divisions: the Taittiriya Samhita or Krishna (Black/Dark) Yajur Veda and the Vajasaneyi Samhita or Shukla (White/Bright) Yajur Veda. The verses of Krishna Yajurveda are unclear, unarranged, and disparate/ dissimilar while the verses in Shukla Yajurveda are well-arranged and impart a particular meaning.

  • SAMA VEDA

    Sama means ‘song’, the Sam Veda means melody of knowledge or song or knowledge. It dates back to 1200-800 BCE. It gives a music-driven canonical format to other Vedas for ease of recitation. It is a work of liturgical songs, chants and texts meant to be sung. Derived from the Rig Veda. The Sam Veda comprises 1,549 verses divided into two sections the ganas (melodies) and arcika (verses). Except for 75 verses all have been derived from the Rigveda. There are two Upanishads embedded in Samaveda- Chandogya Upanishad and Kena Upanishad. It is also considered the root of the Indian Classical music and dance tradition. The text of this Veda has useful information about agriculture, economic and social life during Vedic period.

  • ATHARVA VEDA

    Atharva means ‘stable mind’. The fourth and final of four Vedas sets the rules for steady-state daily life activities. It dates back to 1000-800 BCE. It consists of 730 hymns (suktas), 6000 mantras, and 20 mandalas. This scripture is also known as “the Veda of Magic Formulas”. It is more often viewed not in connection with the three other Vedas but as a discrete scripture. The Atharva Veda is a mixture of hymns (for marriage and cremation), chants, magical rites, spells (to dispel demons and disease), and prayers. Three Upanishads namely Mundaka Upanishad, Mandukya Upanishad, Prashna Upanishad. The Atharva Veda is indeed a collection of all sorts of speculations that quite often leave us bewildered. It is the only Veda which is related to both worldly happiness and spiritual knowledge.

Vedas are the best preparation for life. If someone is able to understand the Vedas can learn lifestyle. The knowledge in this word is available in 2 forms:

  • What you understand
  • What you do not understand