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Ved / Vedas / वेद

The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in Ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, dated around 1500 B.C.The Veds, four in number, were said to have been produced from the four mouths of Brahma and were carried in the memories of the priests for centuries. The scriptures, as well as detailed commentaries, in prose, were taught by the sages to their disciples and were learned by them by heart. The present arrangement of the holy scriptures was given to it by Vyas. The four Veds are Rigveda, Samveda, Yajurveda and Atharveda, the last the most modern and said to have been added much later to the canon which originally consisted of the first three, Rigved, Samved and Yajurved, regarded as threefold knowledge. The Rigved is the most ancient scripture, containing 1028 hymns of praise. The Samved consists of hymns sung at Som sacrificial rites. Most of it: verses occur in the Rigved, though they were modified in various ways. The Yajurved is the sacrificial prayer-book. Its verses are also borrowed largely from the Rigved, but have been dissected and rearranged with additional stanzas for sacrificial purposes. The Atharvved includes spells and incantations for practice of sorcery to be used against the powers of evil. This Ved, like the Rigved, is an original work. Every Ved is made up of four parts, the Sanhitas, the Brahmans, the Aranyaks and the Upnishads. The Sanhitas consist of the basic Vedic hymns. The Brahmans are prose commentaries on the sacrifice and its significance. The Aranyaks are treatises written for the forest-dweller. Its contents are the allegorical significance of ritual and sacrifices and the mystic meaning of the Veds. The Upnishads are considered to be attached to the Aranyaks and expand on the esoteric and mystical meaning of the Vedic scriptures. The Vedic hymns extol the personifications of the several powers of nature, which personifications were worshipped as deities. The total number of deities mentioned in the Veds are only thirty-three. Indra and Agni are given more importance than Vishnu. Varun, Surya, Ashvini Kumars, Maruts, Rudra are the other chief gods to which the hymns are addressed. Many verses glorify the fermented juice of the Som plant used in sacrifices.

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