Vedas – The base of Indian culture

School of Yoga explains – the Vedas.

The Vedas are a large body of texts composed in Vedic Sanskrit originating in the Indian Subcontinent. In fact, the Vedic texts are the oldest body of Indian literature and scriptures. Also, Vedas have their root in the Sanskrit word vid which means without limit. Lastly, Vedas are the philosophical base on which yoga is build.

Those that consider the Veda as scriptural authority of Hinduism are called आस्तिक (āstika believers). In fact, these followers believe that the Vedas are अपौरुषेय (apauruṣeya – not of man). Consequently, those that do not accept the authority of the Veda are called नास्तिक (nāsthik – non-believers). These are followers of Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Buddhism and any Hindu with similar views.

Vedas are also called śruti (that which is heard), possibly because these were composed before 4000 BCE, well before the formulation of Sanskrit grammar, syntax and rules by Panini around 400 BCE.

School of Yoga explains the subdivision of the Veda.

There are four major Vedic branches or śākhā – RigYajur, Sāma and Atharva.

Each Veda is subdivided into,

  • Mantra or saṃhita (संहिता) part, this being a collection of hymns used in yagna or sacrifice.
  • Brāhmaṇā (ब्राह्मण) part, where the procedures, meanings and commentaries of the mantra are detailed.
  • Upaniṣad (उपनिषद्) – These are philosophical portions which deal with the gross and subtle nature of the Brahman.
  • Upaveda or Tantra (तन्त्र) – These form the bedrock of the scientific explanation of Brahman and techniques of transcending material state. Yoga comes under this aspect. However, books in tankrika are not generally regarded as part of Vedas anymore.
  1. Rig Veda– is the oldest extant vedic text. It is a collection of 1028 stanzas and 10600 verses organised into 10 mandalas or books/ chapters. Also, this Veda deals primarily with the origins of the universe, various Gods and ancient rituals and practices.
  2. Yajur Veda– this Veda was composed much later than Rig Veda and has around 1875 shokas or verses. It contains detailed instructions for conducting yagna or sacrifice and is split into two major subgroups;
  • Kṛṣṇa (dark) Yajur Veda – where saṃhita (hyms) are interspersed with Brāhmana (commentary).
  • Śukla (white) Yajur Veda – where saṃhita are kept discrete from the corresponding Brāhmana (commentary).
  1. Sāma Veda– consists of 1549 shokas or verses, almost all taken from Rig Veda. The Sāma Veda consists of;
  • Gāna (गान) – a set of 4 melody collections.
  • Ārchika (आर्चिक) – a set of 3 books containing verses sung to the melody of the Gāna.
  1. Atharva Veda– consist of 760 shlokās or hymns out of which 160 are common with the Rig Veda. Composed primarily by Āngiras and Atharvān, it is a later Veda, composed between 900 BC and 1000 BC. It deals with rites, rituals and practices of the period, mainly marriage and cremation.

What you should know after reading this blog;

  • What are the Vedas? Why are they important?
  • How many Vedas exist?
  • What are the elements of each Veda?
  • Expllain the design of each Veda?
  • What is the difference between each of the Vedas?
Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
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Introduction to vedas presented in a simple way so that common man can understand.
It is amazing to know that vedic times is much earlier to origin of other religions. If the communication was as good as present sanatana dharma would have been followed all over the world.

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