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Vedas

Mantras

Brahmanas

A collection of Mantras is typically called a


Samhita. Currently, and often in ancient Vedic
tradition as well, it is often the Samhita portion
which is referred to as the Veda. For instance,
the word Rigveda would typically mean the
Rigveda Samhita.

The Brahmanas have their own names and are


more like theological treatises of the Vedas.
Aranyakas / Upanishads
The end portions of many Brahmanas have an
esoteric content, called the Aranyakas.
Embedded in these Aranyakas, or at their very
end, are deeply spiritual treatises called the
Upanishads (upa=near, ni=down, shad=sit).
They were taught to those who sat down beside
their teachers to become enlightened with
spiritual understanding.

In Vedic culture, the available body of knowledge comes from the revealed
scriptures. The scriptures are mainly of the following three categories:
Nyaya - Prasthana

Sruti - Prasthana

Smrti - Prasthana

The Nyaya - Prasthana includes


the literature known as Vedantasutra the ultimate conclusions of
the Vedas.

The Sruti - Prasthana


comprises the four Vedas
with
their
subsidiary
branches like the Samhitas
(mantras and prayers),
Brahmanas (explanations
how to use the Samhitas),
Aranyakas (texts for hermits
in the forest), Upanishads
(secret teachings, most
important in philosophical
aspect). Sruti is composed
in Vedic Sanskrit

The third division of the Vedas the


Smrti-Prasthana
consists
the
Puranas,
Mahabharata
(that
Includes the Bhagavad-Gita),
Samhitas and Itihasas (histories),
the Ramayana etc.
Smrtis are written in laukika
Sanskrit or Sanskrit spoken by
people. Among the Smrti literature
there is a body of literature which
is also called Smrti such as ManuSmrti. These smrtis are part of
Dharmasastra or books giving
religious code. Smrti Shastras are
compiled by remembering the
meaning of the Sruti and thats
how the name Smrti (lit.
remembrance) comes about. The
smrtis change from age to age in
their structure but the essence is
same.

The four Vedas: Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva


According to the Vayu Purana, there was only one Veda the Yajur Veda. In the beginning
of the Kali yuga however, Srila Vaysadeva divided it into four branches (described in the
Srimad Bhagavatam and the Kurma Purana).

The Division

Rigveda

Yajurveda

Samaveda

Atharvaveda

21 branches

100 branches

1000 branches

9 branches

Samhita
Brahmana
Aranyaka
Upanishad

Samhita
Brahmana
Aranyaka
Upanishad

Samhita
Brahmana
Aranyaka
Upanishad

Samhita
Brahmana
Aranyaka
Upanishad

Altogether, the Vedas consisted of 1130 Samhitas, 1130 Brahmanas, 1130 Aranyakas, and 1130
Upanishads, a total of 4520 titles. By the influence of time, however, many texts have been lost. At
present only about 11 Samhitas, 18 Brahmanas, 7 Aranyakas, and 220 Upanishads are available.

The Upvedas and Vedangas


Upvedas- The supplementary texts of the four Vedas are called Upavedas or sub-Vedas

Rigveda

Yajurveda

Artha-veda
(science of sociology
and economics)

Dhanur-veda
(science of defense
and war and the
making of its related
appliances)

Samaveda

Atharvaveda

Gandharva-veda
(science of music,
both singing and
instrumental)

Ayurveda (the
medical science)

Vedangas - There are six Angas or explanatory limbs, to the Vedas: the Siksha and Vyakarana of
Panini, the Chhandas of Pingalacharya, the Nirukta of Yaska, the Jyotisha of Garga, and the Kalpas
(Srauta, Grihya, Dharma and Sulba) belonging to the authorship of various Rishis.
Siksha

Vyakarana

Chanda

Nirukta

Jyotisha

Kalpana

The science of
proper
articulation and
pronunciation of
the Vedic
syllables
(sounds). Siksha
is essential
because
mantras are
precise sound
formulas that
must be
executed
properly if the
desired result is
to manifest.

Sanskrit
grammar) Without
knowledge of
Vyakarana, one
cannot
understand the
Vedas.
Unfortunately the
very ancient
Sanskrit
grammar books
are all extinct.
The grammar
that we have now
is the Panini
grammar. It has
eight chapters so
it is called
Ashtadhyayi.

Is the science
of poetic
meter; in the
Vedas there
are eleven
Chandas such
as Gayatri,
Ushnik,
Anushtup,
Brihati, Pankti,
Trishtup,
Jagati,
Aticchanda,
Atyashti,
Atijagati and
Ativirat.

Is the
science of
etymology
and
lexicology or
in other
words a
dictionary of
words used
in the Vedas
and their
derivatives; a
famous
nirukta
was compiled
by Yaska.

The science of
astronomy and
astrology. The Yajur
and RigVedas have
sections attached to
them dealing with
astronomy, whereas
the Atharva Veda has
a section dealing with
astrology. Aside from
the Vedas, many
rishis such as
Parashara, Garga,
Narada, Shukadeva,
Bhrgu, etc., wrote on
this science and
preserved it in their
sampradayas
(disciplic
successions).

Is the science
of rituals and
observations
(viddhi).

The first pair of Angas, Siksa and Chanda, teach us how to speak the Vedas. The second pair,
Nirukta and Vyakarana, teach us how to understand the meaning of the Vedas. While the third pair,
Kalpana and Jyotisha, teach how to use the Vedas.