The Vedas, one of the foundations of Hindu religion and mythology, are a collection of ancient sacred texts. They are considered to be divine communications from the god Brahma* to seers called rishis. Composed between 1500 and 1000 B.C. , the Vedas were passed on orally for hundreds of years before being written down in Sanskrit, an ancient Indo-European language.

The Vedas consist of hymns and verses directed toward various gods and goddesses as well as ceremonial texts, magical spells, and curses. Many of the hymns, or mantras, are chanted or recited during religious rituals. Although the Vedas are not true myths or stories about the gods, they contain information that serves as the basis for mythology

seer one who can predict the future

ritual ceremony that follows a set pattern

incantation chant, often part of a magical formula or spell

Four collections of texts make up the Vedas. The Rig-Veda is the oldest and most important collection; the other three are the Sama-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, and the Atharva-Veda. The first three, known as the trayi-vidya (threefold knowledge), are concerned with public religious belief and ritual. The last collection, the Atharva-Veda, is more private in nature, dealing mainly with folk beliefs, such as magical spells and incantations. Because of their ancient authority and sacredness, the Vedas remain a central element in Hinduism.

See also Brahma ; Hinduism and Mythology ; Rig-Veda .

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