The Vedas are the four holiest books of the Hindu religion. They are believed to be one of the oldest books ever made by mankind. They are written in an old Indian language called Sanskrit. They have words (called mantras) which are chanted at the religious ceremonies.
Although they were finally written down sometime between 1,500 and 500 BC they are actually much much older and were passed down orally from one generation to the next possibly over thousands of years. The Vedas have stories about the Hindu gods, instructions for rituals, hymns, poetry, and prayers. The word "Vedic" means something about the Vedas. The language of the Vedas is called Vedic Sanskrit.
Hindus believe the Vedas are the basis of all Hindu religion. Even later types of Hinduism that are very different from the types of Hinduism that follow the Vedas respect them.
The four Vedas [change]
The four Vedas are:
Rig Veda [change]
Rig Veda is the first Veda of the four Vedas. Rig Veda means a Veda of praise. This Veda has several verses (hymns). These hymns praise a number of gods. This Veda is also the oldest Hindu holy book.
Yajur Veda [change]
Yajur Veda is the third Veda of the four Vedas. Yajur Veda means the Veda of the Yajus. Yajus were mantras sung during religious activities. Yajur Veda is divided into two parts. The name of the first part is Black Yajurveda, called Taittiriya. The name of the second part is White Yajurveda, called Vajasaneyi.
Sama Veda [change]
Sama vedha is the second Veda of the four Vedas. Sama Veda means the Veda of sacred songs. This Veda also has many hymns. They were sung by the Hindu priests and other Hindus during religious activities.
Atharva Veda [change]
Atharva Veda is the 4th Veda out of the four Vedas. Atharva Veda means the Veda of knowledge.
All these books are considered by Hindus to be of ultimate knowledge on both types of education: spiritual and mental.
- Flood, Gavin. An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1996. ISBN 0-521-43878-0.
- Michaels, Axel. Hinduism: Past and Present. Princeton University Press: 2004. ISBN 0-691-08953-1.
- Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli; and Moore, Charles A. A Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton University Press, 1957; Princeton paperback 12th edition, 1989. ISBN 0-691-01958-4.
- Walker, Benjamin Hindu World: An Encyclopedic Survey of Hinduism, (Two Volumes), Allen & Unwin, London, 1968; Praeger, New York, 1968; Munshiram Manohar Lal, New Delhi, 1983; Harper Collins, New Delhi, 1985; Rupa, New Delhi, 2005, ISBN 81-291-0670-1.
- Winternitz, Moriz. History of Indian Literature. Vol. 1 (of two volumes), p. 1. (Calcutta 1926)