The Treasure of Vedas
The word ‘Veda’ has been derived from the root word “vid” which means “to know.” Hence Vedas means knowledge. Vedas, truly personifies a vast universe of knowledge. Vedas can teach a man the highest truths and enable him to find ‘God’ within his/her soul. According to Hindu mythology, when Brahma was given the charge of ‘Creation’, he became the recipient of the Vedas, which are believed to be uttered by the Supreme God. Hence, Vedas are primarily in the form of sound itself. They are not termed as man-made but the ‘heard-ones.’ That’s why Vedic Mantras are sensitive to vibrations and when uttered properly will have the desired effect.
Vedas, not only offers us the true knowledge of Nature, but also a genuine and honest cognition of one’s own self which is highly necessary to gain the ultimate liberation. There are four primary aims of human life; meeting religious duties, earning wealth, a quest for pleasure, and finally gaining liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Vedas teach us the way to live our life with a perfect balance between these four primary purposes.
The Structure And The Constitution of The Vedas
The four Vedas are Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda. Each one of these is further sub-divided into four parts namely the Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas and the Upanishads.
- Rig-Veda: Knowledge of the Hymns of Praise.
- Sama-Veda: Knowledge of the Melodies.
- Yajur-Veda: Knowledge of Sacred Formulas; a set of rules for performing a religious ceremony.
- Atharva-Veda: Knowledge of the Magic Formulas.
The Rig-Veda is the largest of all. It is further sub-divided into ten books known as Mandalas and contains 1028 hymns. The Sama-Veda’s content is mostly from the Rig-Veda itself. But the content of Sama-Veda is written and arranged in a different way as it is meant to be chanted. Yajur-Veda is further sub-divided into White Yajur-Veda and Black Yajur-Veda and contains an explanation as to how to perform religious rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices. The Atharva-Veda has charms and conjurations in it. It consists of a ritual recitation of words that are believed to have magical effects.
The Four Parts of The Vedas
- They contain hymns which are used for religious prayers or offerings.
- The Samhitas of the Rig-Veda are mostly chants while of the Sama-Veda has poetic and musical quality.
- Though several mythological accounts are listed in Vedas, a majority of the hymns are in reference to Indra, Varuna, Agni and Soma (a holy plant whose juice was considered sacred).
- The Samhitas of the Yajur-Veda depicts rules for performing a religious ceremony. For Atharva-Veda, the Samhitas go more towards the Tantra side. It consists of various spells and charms.
- This part deals with the knowledge of performing rituals.
- It contains accounts that a ritual must be performed correctly in order to garner its full benefit.
- As the name tells these are forest books.
- These books served as guides to the ascetic groups, hermits or individuals who lived in the forests.
- The Atharva-Veda doesn’t contain Aranyakas of its own.
- They mainly contain the philosophical and technical sides of Vedic practices.
- These books were a tool for people who used to leave their homes and proceeded towards living in forests.
- The Aranyakas has mystical and significant knowledge of birth, breath, liberation, self, and re-birth.
- The fourth part of the Vedas is collectively known as Vedanta means the end of Vedas.
- Upanishads means “sitting near.”
- They are said so as they contain secret knowledge which is not meant to be distributed to all.
- Major subjects which are talked about in the Upanishads are liberation, a journey of the soul after death, food, rituals, spells, the importance of bodily organs and rebirth.
- The knowledge contained in the Upanishads is deep and penetrating. They tell oneself how to live a life of spirituality. Yoga and meditation are also discussed elaborately in the Upanishads.
Finally, I will like to conclude that Vedas are a storehouse of all worldly knowledge. In addition to it, knowledge of one’s own self is contained in them. However, the authority of the Vedas is fast decreasing in present day world and new ideas are taking over. But still for living a harmonious, proportionate and a symmetrical life the Vedas are especially relevant because all the queries which a rational mind can ask are answered beautifully in the Vedas.
Also check: Influence of Indian Culture on the World