Thursday, April 12, 2007

वेद: (The Vedas.)

The Vedas collectively refers to a corpus of ancient Indo Aryan religious literature that are considered by adherents of Hinduism to be revealed knowledge. The word Veda means Knowledge and is cognate with the word "wit" in English (as well as "vision" through Latin). Many Hindus believe the Vedas existed since the beginning of creation. The texts of the Vedas have several references to specific patterns in the ancient flows of the Ganges River, which coincide with the sites of its ancient (but now dried) tributaries.

The newest parts of the Vedas are estimated to date back to around 500 BCE.
The oldest text (RigVeda) found is now dated to around 1,500 BCE, but most Indologists agree that a long oral tradition possibly existed before it was written down.
They represent the oldest stratum of Indian Literature and according to modern scholars are written in forms of a language which evolved into Sanskrit. They consider the use of Vedic Sanskrit for the language of the texts an anachronism, although it is generally accepted.
The Vedas consist of several kinds of texts, all of which date back to early times. The core is formed by the Mantras which represent hymns, prayers, incantations, magic and ritual formulas, charms etc. The hymns and prayers are addressed to a pantheon of gods (and a few goddesses), important members of which are Rudra, Varuna, Indra, Agni, etc. The mantras are supplemented by texts regarding the sacrificial rituals in which these mantras are used as well as texts exploring the philosophical aspects of the ritual tradition, narratives etc.
The Mantras are collected into anthologies called Samhitas.

There are four Samhitas: the Rk (poetry), Saman (song), Yajus (prayer), and Atharvan (a kind of priest). They are commonly referred to as the Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda respectively. Each Samhita is preserved in a number of versions or recensions (shakhas), the differences among them being minor, except in the case of the Yajur Veda, where two "White" (shukla) recensions contain the Mantras only, while four "Black" (krishna) recensions interspersed the Brahmana parts among the Mantras.

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