The Vedas are several texts whose origin can be traced back to the ancient India. The texts belong to the Vedic period. The Vedic period is the earliest time in Indian history that can be accounted for by texts and other forms of literature (Jamison and Witzel 2). These texts are often referred to as the Vedic literature. The Vedas are written in Vedic Sanskrit (Jamison and Witzel 2). Indians have always considered them to be “Apauruseya.” This phrase means that they were not written by a human author. They are said to be written by “Paramatman’s” breath (Fitzgerald 14). These texts are also considered to be written in his likeness. Once they were written, the Sages made the decision to give them as a gift to the human race.
The Vedas are thought to be the one true scripture. All sects of the Hindu religion can trace their history back to the Vedas. Furthermore, supporters of the Vedic religion argue that all religions in the world can trace their history back to the Vedas texts. In this regard, Vedic religion is the one true religion. In these texts, there are numerous deities mentioned. They include the Agin, Mitra, Varuna and Indra. These deities are different names, which all refer to the one single truth (Fitzgerald 19).
The Vedas provides individuals with a common scripture. This scripture offers people a guide on how they can lead their lives. Furthermore, the texts act as a guidebook, showing human beings how they can become the “Godhead” in their lives (Fitzgerald 19). Due to this, it is the human being’s duty to not only study them but also preserve them.
Unlike other forms of Indian scripts, the Vedas are often referred to as the “Sruti”. Common Indian scriptures such as the Vedic Sutras are referred to as “smrti”. The term “smrti” is directly translated to “remembered” (Jamison and Witzel 5). These scriptures were revealed to the primordial Seers, the Rsis and other authors, who then proceeded to write them as they remembered them. As opposed to this, “Sruti” means “hearing” (Jamison and Witzel 5). In this regard, the Vedas are considered to be the revelations experienced by the ancient Sages during their meditation rituals.
The Vedas texts are divided into four main types. They include Yajur Veda, Rg Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda (Jamison and Witzel 6). The most important Veda of these four is the Rg Veda. It is also the oldest amongst the four. This Veda is an important part of Veda rituals. Furthermore, it continues to be used in modern Indian religion. The Rg Veda is a Samhita of verses. These verses create hymns that seek to praise multiple divinities during ritualistic practices (Jamison and Witzel 6). These hymns are said to have been written by the Bardic families. This is evident in their stylistic and linguistic qualities that set them apart from other Vedas.
The Atharva Veda also has unique qualities. As opposed to the other three Vedas that highlight the Srauta ritualistic practices, this particular Veda contains both black and white magical spells. The Veda also contains hymns to be recited during rituals such as marriages and death. It also contains materials dealing with the Vratya as well as royal power (Jamison and Witzel 7). Conversely, the Sama Veda is composed of chants, referred to as the “Samans”. These verses can be sung during rituals and are all extracted from the Rg Veda (Jamison and Witzel 8). Unlike the other three, the Yajur Veda is a little complicated. It is divided into Black and White branches. The White section contains mantras with a separate Brahmana. The Black section is made up of several texts, whose types are often mixed up. It is also the most complex section of the Yurga Vida.
Fitzgerald, Michael O. The Vedic religion: Introductory the Religion without a Name. In Introduction to Hindu Dharma: Illustrated. Bloomington: World Wisdom Inc.
Jamison, S.W. & Witzel, Michael. Vedic Hinduism. Retrieved on 27th Oct, from http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/vedica.pdf