The Vedas are an extremely large and comprehensive scripture that form the core of Hinduism. They are considered to be one of the integral scriptural foundations of Hinduism. Many Hindus believe that the Vedas were not written by anyone including Ishwar the term used for God among the Hindus , but are eternally existing apauruseya. While many historians regard the Vedas as some of the oldest surviving texts in the world, they estimate them to have been written down between and BCE.
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Composed in Vedic Sanskrit , the texts constitute the oldes]]t layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. The sounds and texts have been orally transmitted since the 2nd millennium BCE with the help of elaborate mnemonic techniques. The Sanskrit term veda as a common noun means "knowledge". Marai literally means "hidden, a secret, mystery". Such writings include the Divya Prabandham aka Tiruvaymoli.
The Veda, for orthodox Indian theologians, are considered revelations seen by ancient sages after intense meditation, and texts that have been more carefully preserved since ancient times. The Vedas are among the oldest sacred texts. Michael Witzel gives a time span of c. Witzel makes special reference to the Near Eastern Mitanni material of the 14th century BCE, the only epigraphic record of Indo-Aryan contemporary to the Rigvedic period. The Vedas were orally transmitted since their composition in the Vedic period for several millennia.
Holdrege and other Indologists  have noted that the emphasis is on the phonology of the sounds and not on the meaning of the mantras. According to Holdrege, srotiyas [note 6] "frequently do not understand what they recite. As long as the purity of the sounds is preserved, the recitation of the mantras will be efficacious, irrespective of whether their discursive meaning is understood by human beings.
A literary tradition is traceable in post-Vedic times, after the rise of Buddhism in the Maurya period , [note 7] perhaps earliest in the Kanva recension of the Yajurveda about the 1st century BCE; however oral tradition of transmission remained active. The Vedas were written down only after BCE,    but only the orally transmitted texts are regarded as authoritative, given the emphasis on the exact pronunciation of the sounds.
The Vedas, Vedic rituals and its ancillary sciences called the Vedangas , were part of the curriculum at ancient universities such as at Taxila , Nalanda and Vikramashila. The corpus of Vedic Sanskrit texts includes:.
Together, the Vedas and these Sutras form part of the Vedic Sanskrit corpus. While production of Brahmanas and Aranyakas ceased with the end of the Vedic period, additional Upanishads were composed after the end of the Vedic period. The Brahmanas , Aranyakas , and Upanishads , among other things, interpret and discuss the Samhitas in philosophical and metaphorical ways to explore abstract concepts such as the Absolute Brahman , and the soul or the self Atman , introducing Vedanta philosophy, one of the major trends of later Hinduism.
In other parts, they show evolution of ideas, such as from actual sacrifice to symbolic sacrifice, and of spirituality in the Upanishads. The texts considered "Vedic" in the sense of "corollaries of the Vedas" is less clearly defined, and may include numerous post-Vedic texts such as the later Upanishads and the Sutra literature.
As Axel Michaels explains: . The Upanishads are largely philosophical works, some in dialogue form. They are the foundation of Hindu philosophical thought and its diverse traditions. Multiple recensions are known for each of the Vedas. Some of these texts have survived, most lost or yet to be found. Each of the four Vedas were shared by the numerous schools, but revised, interpolated and adapted locally, in and after the Vedic period, giving rise to various recensions of the text.
Some texts were revised into the modern era, raising significant debate on parts of the text which are believed to have been corrupted at a later date. Prodigious energy was expended by ancient Indian culture in ensuring that these texts were transmitted from generation to generation with inordinate fidelity. The texts were subsequently "proof-read" by comparing the different recited versions.
The Vedas were likely written down for the first time around BCE. Each Veda has been subclassified into four major text types — the Samhitas mantras and benedictions , the Aranyakas text on rituals, ceremonies such as newborn baby's rites of passage, coming of age, marriages, retirement and cremation, sacrifices and symbolic sacrifices , the Brahmanas commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices , and the Upanishads text discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge.
Only one version of the Rigveda is known to have survived into the modern era. Who really knows? Who can here proclaim it? Whence, whence this creation sprang? Gods came later, after the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen? Whether God's will created it, or whether He was mute; Only He who is its overseer in highest heaven knows,. The Rigveda Samhita is the oldest extant Indic text. The books were composed by poets from different priestly groups over a period of several centuries from roughly the second half of the 2nd millennium BCE the early Vedic period , starting with the Punjab Sapta Sindhu region of the northwest Indian subcontinent. Finally, the meter too is systematically arranged from jagati and tristubh to anustubh and gayatri as the text progresses.
There are similarities between the mythology, rituals and linguistics in Rigveda and those found in ancient central Asia, Iranian and Hindukush Afghanistan regions. The Samaveda Samhita  consists of stanzas, taken almost entirely except for 75 mantras from the Rigveda. Just as in the Rigveda, the early sections of Samaveda typically begin with hymns to Agni and Indra but shift to the abstract.
Their meters shift also in a descending order. The songs in the later sections of the Samaveda have the least deviation from the hymns derived from the Rigveda. In the Samaveda, some of the Rigvedic verses are repeated. The Yajurveda Samhita consists of prose mantras. The earliest and most ancient layer of Yajurveda samhita includes about 1, verses, that are distinct yet borrow and build upon the foundation of verses in Rigveda. The term "black" implies "the un-arranged, motley collection" of verses in Yajurveda, in contrast to the "white" well arranged Yajurveda.
The Artharvaveda Samhita is the text 'belonging to the Atharvan and Angirasa poets. It has about hymns, and about of the hymns are in common with the Rigveda. The Atharvaveda is sometimes called the "Veda of magical formulas",  an epithet declared to be incorrect by other scholars.
The Atharva veda has been a primary source for information about Vedic culture, the customs and beliefs, the aspirations and frustrations of everyday Vedic life, as well as those associated with kings and governance. The text also includes hymns dealing with the two major rituals of passage — marriage and cremation. The Atharva Veda also dedicates significant portion of the text asking the meaning of a ritual.
The Brahmanas are commentaries, explanation of proper methods and meaning of Vedic Samhita rituals in the four Vedas.
The substance of the Brahmana text varies with each Veda. For example, the first chapter of the Chandogya Brahmana, one of the oldest Brahmanas, includes eight ritual suktas hymns for the ceremony of marriage and rituals at the birth of a child. The sixth through last hymns of the first chapter in Chandogya Brahmana are ritual celebrations on the birth of a child and wishes for health, wealth, and prosperity with a profusion of cows and artha.
The Aranyakas layer of the Vedas include rituals, discussion of symbolic meta-rituals, as well as philosophical speculations.
Aranyakas , however, neither are homogeneous in content nor in structure. Two theories have been proposed on the origin of the word Aranyakas.
One theory holds that these texts were meant to be studied in a forest, while the other holds that the name came from these being the manuals of allegorical interpretation of sacrifices, for those in Vanaprastha retired, forest-dwelling stage of their life, according to the historic age-based Ashrama system of human life. The Upanishads reflect the last composed layer of texts in the Vedas. Aranyakas are sometimes identified as karma-kanda ritualistic section , while the Upanishads are identified as jnana-kanda spirituality section.
The Vedangas developed towards the end of the vedic period, around or after the middle of the 1st millennium BCE. These auxiliary fields of Vedic studies emerged because the language of the Vedas, composed centuries earlier, became too archaic to the people of that time.
Vedangas developed as ancillary studies for the Vedas, but its insights into meters, structure of sound and language, grammar, linguistic analysis and other subjects influenced post-Vedic studies, arts, culture and various schools of Hindu philosophy. Naturally classified with the Veda to which each pertains, Parisista works exist for each of the four Vedas.
However, only the literature associated with the Atharvaveda is extensive. The term upaveda "applied knowledge" is used in traditional literature to designate the subjects of certain technical works. The Charanavyuha mentions four Upavedas: .
Some post-Vedic texts, including the Mahabharata , the Natyasastra  and certain Puranas , refer to themselves as the " fifth Veda ". Combined with an epic story, tending to virtue, wealth, joy and spiritual freedom, it must contain the significance of every scripture, and forward every art. Other texts such as the Bhagavad Gita or the Vedanta Sutras are considered shruti or "Vedic" by some Hindu denominations but not universally within Hinduism. The Bhakti movement , and Gaudiya Vaishnavism in particular extended the term veda to include the Sanskrit Epics and Vaishnavite devotional texts such as the Pancaratra.
The Puranas is a vast genre of encyclopedic Indian literature about a wide range of topics particularly myths, legends and other traditional lore. The Puranas have been influential in the Hindu culture. Hindu reform movement such as Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj accepted the authority of Vedas,  while the authority of the Vedas has been rejected by Hindu modernists like Debendranath Tagore and Keshub Chandra Sen ;  and also by social reformers like B.
The study of Sanskrit in the West began in the 17th century. In the early 19th century, Arthur Schopenhauer drew attention to Vedic texts, specifically the Upanishads.
The importance of Vedic Sanskrit for Indo-European studies was also recognized in the early 19th century. Griffith also presented English translations of the four Samhitas, published to From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Ancient scriptures of Hinduism. For other uses, see Veda disambiguation and Vedic disambiguation.
Other scriptures. Bhagavad Gita Agamas. Ramayana Mahabharata. Shastras and sutras. Chronology of Hindu texts. Main article: Vedic period. Main article: Shakha. Shakala Bhashkala. Krishna Yajurveda. Shukla Yajurveda.
The Holy Vedas: Rig Veda,Yajur Veda Sama Veda and Atharva Veda
Composed in Vedic Sanskrit , the texts constitute the oldes]]t layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. The sounds and texts have been orally transmitted since the 2nd millennium BCE with the help of elaborate mnemonic techniques. The Sanskrit term veda as a common noun means "knowledge". Marai literally means "hidden, a secret, mystery". Such writings include the Divya Prabandham aka Tiruvaymoli. The Veda, for orthodox Indian theologians, are considered revelations seen by ancient sages after intense meditation, and texts that have been more carefully preserved since ancient times.
The Four Vedas of Hinduism – Rig, Sama, Yajur & Atharva
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