Glimpses of Vedic Literature

1

The Four Vedas

The term Veda is derived from the Sanskrit root vid, to know. Its Latin cognate video to see, has also the same connotation. The Rishis, who composed the contents of the Veda, were the seers of hymns, which when studied rightly, are found to embody knowledge of eternal value. Veda is, therefore, the Book of Knowledge.

Veda is a collective term, indicating the four Vedas, viz.: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. The Vedas are called Samhitas because they are collections or anthologies of hymns and mantras. The great sage Vyasa has been regarded as the compiler of these collections.

Among the Vedas, the Rigveda Samhita occupies a prominent place. It is divided into ten Mandalas [chapters] comprising 1017 hymns or Suktas.1 The total number of mantras in this Samhita is more than ten thousand. Only one Shakha2 of this Samhita is available.

The Yajurveda Samhita has two versions, viz., Shukla and

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