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2/7/2015

Vedas - A Thorough Explanation

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The Vedas are a large body of texts containing hymns, poems, and ceremonial formulas
originating in Ancient India. They form the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the
oldest sacred texts of Hinduism. There are four Vedas, the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur
Veda and Atharva Veda. The Vedas are the primary texts of Hinduism. They also had a
vast influence on Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Initially the Vedas were considered
so sacred that they were only transmitted orally from one generation to the next
spanning 100,000 years. They came to us in written form between 4-6,000 years ago.
According to Hindu tradition, the Vedas are 'not of human agency', having been directly
revealed, and thus are called sruti ('what is heard'). Vedic mantras are recited at Hindu
prayers, religious functions and other auspicious occasions. The mystic dimensions and
applications of these mantras as a way of obtaining the physical immortality was
elaborated in Sri Aurobindo's, The Secret of the Veda.
The Four Vedas

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Rigveda
The Rig-Veda Samhita is the oldest significant extant Indian text. It is a collection of
1,028 Vedic Sanskrit hymns and 10,600 verses in all, organized into ten books
(Sanskrit: mandalas). The hymns are dedicated to Rigvedic deities. The books were

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composed by sages and poets from different priestly groups over a period of at least
500 years, which Avari dates as 1400 BCE to 900 BCE, if not earlier According to Max
Mller, based on internal evidence (philological and linguistic), the Rigveda was
composed roughly between 1700-1100 BCE (the early Vedic period) in the Punjab
(Sapta Sindhu) region of the Indian subcontinent. Michael Witzel believes that the Rig
Veda must have been composed more or less in the period 1450-1350 BCE. There are
strong linguistic and cultural similarities between the Rigveda and the early Iranian
Avesta, deriving from the Proto-Indo-Iranian times, often associated with the
Andronovo culture; the earliest horse-drawn chariots were found at Andronovo sites in
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the Sintashta-Petrovka cultural area near the Ural mountains and date to ca. 2000 BCE.
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Video: Wisdom Teachings
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explores (like
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Sacred Geometry

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2/7/2015

Vedas - A Thorough Explanation


The study
of sacred
geometry
concerns
of Rigveda
are
those ofwas
simple, nomadic, pastoral Aryans. According to others,
passed down over thousands of years

the people in the times of the Rigveda had a settled home, definite mode of life,
developed
Video: Symbolic
social customs,
Meaning Ofpolitical
Numbersorganizations, and even arts and amusements.
Avia Venefica discusses the symbolic
Rigveda
is the oldest, largest and most important of the Vedas, containing ten
meaning of numbers as a tool!

thousand verses forming 1017 poems in 20 groups.


Yajurveda
The Yajur-Veda ('Veda of sacrificial formulas') consists of archaic prose mantras and also
in part of verses borrowed from the Rig-Veda. Its purpose was practical, in that each
mantra must accompany an action in sacrifice but, unlike the Sama-Veda, it was
compiled to apply to all sacrificial rites, not merely the Soma offering. There are two
major recensions of this Veda known as the 'Black' and 'White' Yajur-Veda. The origin
and meaning of these designations are not very clear. The White Yajur-Veda contains
only the verses and sayings necessary for the sacrifice, while explanations exist in a
separate Brahmana work. It differs widely from the Black Yajurveda, which incorporates
such explanations in the work itself, often immediately following the verses. Of the
Black Yajurveda four major recensions survive, all showing by and large the same
arrangement, but differing in many other respects, notably in the individual discussion
of the rituals but also in matters of phonology and accent.
Yajurveda refers to acts of worship such as oblations made into Agni or Fire. It has two
branches, Krishna or Black and Shukla or White. While both contain mantras or
incantations to be chanted at rituals, Black Yajurveda also has many explanations. The
recensions of Black Yajurveda are Taittirya, Katthaka, Maitrayani and Kapishtthala.
Those of White Yajurveda are Madhyanadina and Kanva. The literary value of Yajurveda
is mostly for its prose, which consists of short terse sentences full of meaning and
cadence.

Samveda
The Sama-Veda is the 'Veda of chants' or 'Knowledge of melodies'. The name of this
Veda is from the Sanskrit word saman which means a metrical hymn or song of praise.
It consists of 1549 stanzas, taken entirely (except 78) from the Rig-Veda. Some of the
Rig-Veda verses are repeated more than once. Including repetitions, there are a total
of 1875 verses numbered in the Sama-Veda recension published by Griffith. Two major
recensions remain today, the Kauthuma/Ranayaniya and the Jaiminiya. P> Its purpose
was liturgical and practical, to serve as a songbook for the 'singer' priests who took
part in the liturgy. A priest who sings hymns from the Sama-Veda during a ritual is
called an udgat, a word derived from the Sanskrit root ud-gai ('to sing' or 'to chant'). A
similar word in English might be 'cantor'. The styles of chanting are important to the
liturgical use of the verses. The hymns were to be sung according to certain fixed
melodies; hence the name of the collection.
Samaveda consists of a selection of poetry mainly from the Rigveda, and some original
matter. It has two parts, Purva-Archika (First Adoratona) and Uttar-Archika (Later
Adoration), containing verses addressed to the three gods Agni (Fire), Indra (King of
Gods) and Soma (Energizing Herb). The verses are not to be chanted anyhow, but to
be sung in specifically indicated melodies using the seven svaras or notes. Such songs
are called Samagana and in this sense Samaveda is really a book of hymns.
Atharvaveda
Atharvaveda means the Veda of the Wise and the Old. It is associated with the name
of the ancient poet Atharvan (The Wise Old One). It is also called Atharva-Angirasa,
being associated with the name of another rishi, Angiras. Although later in age, the
Atharvaveda reveals a more primitive culture than the Rigveda. The custom is to
enumerate Yajurveda and Samaveda after the Rigveda, and mention Atharvaveda last.

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2/7/2015

Vedas - A Thorough Explanation


Atharvaveda contains about 6 thousand verses forming 731 poems and a small portion
in prose. About one seventh of the Atharvaveda text is common to the Rigveda.
Atharvaveda contains first class poetry coming from visionary poets, much of it being
glorification of the curative powers of herbs and waters. Many poems relate to diseases
like cough and jaundice, to male and female demons that cause diseases, to sweetsmelling herbs and magic amulets, which drive diseases away. There are poems
relating to sins and their atonement, errors in performing rituals and their expiatory
acts, political and philosophical issues, and a wonderful hymn to Prithvi or Mother Earth.

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