THE VEDIC AGE 1500BC–600BC


The Vedic Texts

The word veda is derived from the root vid which means ‘to know’.

The word veda means the sacred knowledge contained in the texts known as Vedic text.

Two categories of texts are included in the corpus of the Vedic literature.

These are Mantra and Brahmana.

 

The Mantra

The Mantra category forms the core of the Vedic texts and has four separate collections.

These are the Rigveda, the Samaveda, the Yajurveda, and the Atharvaveda.

 

The Brahmanas

The Brahmanas not to be confused with Brahaminical class are prose texts containing the explanations of the mantras as well as the sacrificial rituals.

 

The four Vedas together with their Brahmanas are also known as shruti or ‘hearing’, that which was directly heard by the sages.

The Aranyakas (literally forest treatises) and the Upanishads (sitting down beside) are mainly appendices to the Brahmanas.

These are also known as the Vedanta (end of the Veda) and contain philosophical discussions.

 

The Rigveda

The Rigveda is a collection of 1,028 hymns divided into 10 mandalas.

They are the earliest compositions and hence depict the life of the early Vedic people in India.

Recently, the Rigveda has been included by the UNESCO in the list of literature signifying World Human Heritage.

 

The Samaveda

The Samaveda is a collection of verses mostly taken from the Rigveda but arranged in a poetic form to facilitate singing.

 

The Yajurveda

The Yajurveda is found in two recensions, Black and White, and are full of rituals to be performed publicly or individually.

 

The Atharvaveda

The Atharvaveda is a collection of magic spells and charms to ward off the evil spirits and diseases.

 

The Rigveda which is the oldest Vedic text reflects one stage of social and cultural development whereas the other three Vedas reflect another stage.