What are Vedas?
The Vedas are ancient India’s great cultural heritage and intellectual assets. The word Veda is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Vida’ denoting gyan or knowledge. Vedas are the backbone of our great historical and cultural tradition. These Vedas are great sources of wisdom and knowledge and they are four in number. The Vedas contain various hymns and religious texts presenting key Hindu teachings regarding divine mysticism. These Vedas describe the eternal truths of the universe. The Vedas were passed down through an oral tradition for thousands of years prior to Veda Vyasa and were believed to have compiled them in written form.
In the Vedas, God is described as Sachchidananda Swaroop, formless, omnipotent, just, compassionate, unborn, infinite, unchanging, sinless, eternal, incomparable, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipresent, immortal, fearless, eternal, holy, perfect, regulator and creator.
The Vedas are extremely revered in Hinduism and are considered authoritative and authentic sources of spiritual and philosophical insight. They contain hymns, prayers, and rituals performed during ancient times and provide insights into the early beliefs and practices of the Hindu tradition. They have had an intense influence on Hindu philosophy, rituals, and cultural traditions throughout its history.
The Vedas are considered the oldest scriptures in the Hindu tradition and are believed to have been composed between 1500 BCE and 500 BCE.
The Rigveda is considered the oldest and most important Veda. Rig Veda is considered the earliest Veda. It gives knowledge of the hymns of praise for recitation. It is a collection of 1028 hymns and divided into 10 books. These ten books are called manuals. It is written between 1700-1500 B.C. Rig Veda contains the sacred and famous Gyatri Mantra. Rig Veda is written by several seers (rishis). These rishis are Atri, Kanva, Vasihtha, Gautam, Vishwamitra, Bhardwaja and Jamdagni. It is known to be sung by Hotra. Rig Veda defines India as Bharat and Jambudweepa. Rig Veda is a source of that period’s religious, political, social and economic information.
Samveda is a collection of melodies. Sama denotes soma which is Amrita (Drink for immortality). It consists of 1063 hymns. Sam Veda is considered to be sung by Udgata. It is composed in the form of rags. Sam Veda is the foundation of Indian music tradition.
Unlike other Vedas, Yajur Veda is written in prose. It is considered to be compiled by Vyasa. It is a collection of 730 hymns having 6000 mantras. Yajurveda is divided into Shukla Yajurveda and Krishna Yajurveda. It is divided into twenty books dealing with rituals and ceremonies. Aadhavayu recites Yajurveda. In fact, Yajur Veda is a guiding book for the priests who performed various rituals. It is composed between 1400 BC to 1000 BC.
Atharva Veda consists of spells, and prayers especially to protect crops from natural tragedies. Atharva Veda is a collection of 711 hymns. It is also known as Brahma Veda. It is said to be the work of non-Aryans. Ayurveda, Mathematics and geometry are considered to have arisen from Atharva Veda. It is believed to be written between 1200 BC to 1000 BC.