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बेसिक इंग्लिश का दूसरा सत्र (कक्षा प्रारंभ : 22 अक्तूबर, शाम 3:30 से 5:30)
Vedic literature
Oct 29, 2013

The Vedic literatures are divided into two parts: the srutis and the smrtis. The srutis are the four Vedas: Rg, Sama, Atharva and Yajur, and the Upanisads, and the smrtis are the Puranas like the Mahabharata, which includes Bhagavad-gita.

Vedic literature means literature based on or derived from the Vedas.  The texts which constitute the Vedic literature are: 1. The four Vedas i.e. Samhitas, 2. the Brahmanas attached to each of the Samhitas, 3. the Aranyakas, and 4. the Upanishads.


The Vedas are probably the earliest documents of the human mind and said to have divine revelation. It is divided as:

a) Rig Veda:

  • It is a collection of 1028 hyms.

  • Books II and VII are oldest while I, VIII and X were added later.

  • Consists of hyms in praises of different gods.

  • It contains the famous Purushasukta that explains that the four varnas (Castes) (Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra) were born from the mouth, arms, belly and the legs of the Creator.  

  • The universally famous Gayatri mantra (Savitri) is also in Rig-Veda.  

b) Sam Veda:

  • It is a collection of melodies.

  • It contains stanzas taken from rig veda and set to the tune for the purpose of singing.

  • The Jha Samaveda is important in tracing the history of Indian music.

c) Yajur veda:

  • The Yajurveda prescribes the procedures to be adopted at the time of performing different sacrifices.  

  • There are two main texts of the Yajurveda: Sukla Yajurveda or Vajasaneyi (Madhyandin and Kanva) and Krsna-Yajurveda (Taittiriya, Kathaka, Maitrayani and Kapisthal) .  

  • It is a collection of short magic spells used by a certain class of priests at the time of sacrifices.

d) Atharva veda:

  • It describes the popular beliefs and superstitions of the humble folk.

  • It contains charms and spells in verses to ward off diseases and evils.

The Brahmanas:

The Brahmanas explain the hymns of the Vedas.  They act as the appendices to the Vedas. They are written in prose and they elaborately describe the various sacrifices and rituals, along with their mystic meanings.  

Each Veda has several Brahmanas. The two Brahmanas attached to the Rig-Veda are Aitareya Brahmana and Kausitaki Brahmana.  

The Sukla Yajurveda is appended with Satapatha Brahmana which recommends 'one hundred sacred paths' (Satapatha).  It is the most exhaustive and important of all the Brahmanas.  The Gopatha Brahmana is appended to the Atharvaveda.

The Aranyakas:

These are called the forest books mainly written for the hermits and students living in the jungle. They are appendices to Brahmanas. 

They deal with mysticism and symbolism.  They form the natural transition of the Upanishads.  They offer the bridge between Karma marga (way of deeds) which was the sole concern of the Brahmanas and the jnana marga (way of knowledge) which the Upanishads advocated.

The Upanishads:

It criticizes the rituals and lay stresses on the value of right belief and knowledge. The language of Upanishads was classical Sanskrit not the vedic Sanskrit. It states that goal of the life is to attain salvation which is possible through self control.

The philosophical principles of Sankara, Ramanuja, Ramakrishna Paramahans, Aurobindo and others are derived from Upanishads and, by and large, all the philosophical doctrines of subsequent and large, all the philosophical doctrines of subsequent days have borrowed something or the other from them. There are 108 Upanishads classified according to the Vedas, and were composed by several learned saints between 800 BC and 500 BC.  Some of the most renowned Upanishads are Aitareya, Kausitaki, Taittariya, Brhadaranyaka, Chhandogya and Kena. Our nation's motto Satyameva jayate is taken from the Mundakopanishad.  



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