Vedas | The oldest texts of Hinduism

Vedas means – knowledge. Vedas are the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. We can also say that it is the oldest creation of human civilization. The language of the Vedas is the ancient Sanskrit language. People of Hindu religion have the opinion that the construction of Vedas has been created for the purpose of welfare of the living beings of the world.

Meaning of Vedas:-

Vedas are made from a combination of Vid dhatu and Achha dhatu of Sanskrit language. Vid literally means “knowledge”. Vid literally means “knowledge”. Later on these words like Vidya, Vidya and Vidit were formed.

Vedas are also called Apaurusheya in Hinduism. Apaurusheya means that which was not created by any man or human being. It is believed that the Vedas were created by God and he gave this knowledge to sages for the welfare of the living beings. He received this knowledge in the form of Shruti (Shruti means – listening, that is, he received this knowledge by listening to God), hence Vedas are also called Shruti.

There are two beliefs about the knowledge of Vedas received in the form of Shruti.

There is a belief that the Vedas were given in the form of Shruti to Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe first. There is a belief that the Vedas were given in the form of Shruti to sages Agni, Vayu, Angira and Aditya. Then he gave this knowledge to Lord Brahma in the form of Shruti. 

God had given the knowledge of 4 Vedas to 4 different sages which is as follows.

Veda Listener of the Vedas
Rig Veda Maharishi Agni
Sama Veda Maharishi Aditya
Atharva Veda Maharishi Angira
Yajur Veda Maharishi Vayu

Other texts were composed to understand the knowledge of the Vedas. Out of which 3 are more prominent.

They are mentioned below:-

  • brahmin granth
  • Aranyaka
  • Upanishads

Although the language of all these is Vedic Sanskrit. Which is different from Laukik Sanskrit.

Whenever there is talk of Vedas, then there is also talk of the language used in it. We mostly hear of two types of language for the Vedas.

Difference between Vedic Sanskrit and Vernacular Sanskrit

1. Vedic Sanskrit – Vardik Sanskrit is mostly called ancient Sanskrit or complex Sanskrit. Most of the texts composed in Vedic Sanskrit are found before 500 BC. Almost all the compositions before Panini were in Vedic Sanskrit. Vedas, Upanishads were composed in Vedic Sanskrit language.

2. vernacular sanskrit – vernacular sanskrit is an updated version of Vedic Sanskrit. At present all the creations are in the cosmic Sanskrit language. After Panini, the main creation of all Hindu religion has been done in vernacular sanskrit. The texts after 500 BC have been composed through the medium of the cosmic Sanskrit language. The two great epics of Hinduism, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were composed in vernacular sanskrit.

Time Period of Vedas

The exact time period of the composition of the Vedas cannot be ascertained. Scholars have different opinions about this. Most of the historians believe that the creation of Vedas must have happened around 1100-1500 BC. However, some mythological historians date the Vedas up to 7000 BC on the basis of internal astronomical evidence. However, people who believe in Hinduism believe that the creation of Vedas is premature. It is not right to add time to it. According to Vikram Samvat, the calendar of Hindu religion, the creation of Vedas can be 1,96,08,53,123 years old. Later it was scripted.

There has been a long debate on how old the Vedas are, but they all agree that the Vedas are the oldest scriptures of human civilization. Realizing its importance, UNESCO included it in its heritage list in the year 2007. 28 thousand manuscripts of Vedas have been kept in Bhanderkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune, Maharashtra. Out of these, 30 manuscripts of Rigveda which are very important were included in the list of their heritage.

Types of Veda

There are four types of Vedas. Which are the following respectively:-

  • Rigveda
  • Samaveda
  • Atharvaveda
  • Yajurveda


Rigveda is the oldest and also the largest of the four Vedas. Rigveda has the most importance among all the four Vedas. There is a difference of opinion among the scholars regarding how much the Ringveda is old. According to Balgangadhar Tilak, it must have been composed before 6000 BC. According to Max Müller, Rigveda may have been composed between 1000 to 1200 BC and this time period is most valid.

“ऋच्यन्ते स्तुयन्ते अनया इति ऋक” means The Veda of praise of the gods or the prayers offered towards them is called Rigveda. Rig means status and Veda means knowledge. The Rigveda describes the prayer, praise of the gods and their position in their world.  The Brahmanas and Aranyakas of the Ringveda are the Aitareya and Sankhyana, and its Upanishads are the Aitareya and Kaushitiki. According to the book Charanvyuh, five branches of Rigveda have been told. Which is as follows:-

  1. Shakal
  2. Vashkala
  3. Ashvalayani
  4. Shankhayani
  5. Mandukayani


rig veda
Presently only Shakal branch is available. However, Maharishi Patanjali has accepted 21 branches of the Rigveda.
It has 10 mandalas, 85 anuvakas and 1017 suktas according to the divisions of Rigveda. Apart from these suktos, there are 11 more sutras which are famous by the name Valkhilya. After which the total number of sutras becomes 1028. Rigveda consists of 10600 mantras.
The Rigveda is a compilation of prayers to the gods Agni, Surya, Indra, Varuna. Its part from second to seventh circle is the best part. In the Rigveda, the description of the four varnas of Hindu religion is also found, in which Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra have been mentioned. Apart from this, one of the most powerful mantras of Hinduism, Gayatri Mantra and Mahamrityunjaya Mantra are also mentioned in it.
Apart from this, there is also a description of water therapy, air treatment, mind therapy, solar therapy and therapy by Havan. In its tenth circle, there is description of Aushadhi Sukta i.e. medicines. In this, a total of 125 types of medicine have been mentioned, which are found at 107 places on earth. There is a special description of medicine Som.


Samaveda is one of the four types of Vedas. Samaveda is the shortest of all the Vedas. Sama means song and Veda means knowledge. That’s why it is called the Veda of music. However, here too it has been talked about attaining God through song. The deity of Samveda is Aditya and Acharya is Jaimini. Patanjali has given 1000 branches of Samveda. Presently 3 branches are available. Presently 3 branches are available. Which is as follows:-

  • Kauthumiya
  • explainable
  • Gemini
Samveda is divided into two parts. The first part is called Purvachirak and the second part is called Uttarachirak. The total number of mantras in Samveda is 1875. Out of which 1504 mantras are taken from Ringveda.Only 104 mantras of Samveda are original. Many mantras are repeated in Samveda.
Sama veda
Note – The noun for a group of mantras in Samaveda is called Archika.
According to Samveda, 4 types of Samagan have been told.
  • Gramgaan
  • aranyagaan
  • uhhgaan
  • uhaygaan
There are 5 parts of Samagan mantras in Samveda.
  • Prashtaav
  • Udigatha
  • Pratihar
  • Updrav
  • Nidhan
Gandharvaveda is a sub-veda of Samveda. One who sings Samveda is called Samag. Presently 450 mantras of Samveda could not be sung. Samveda describes 7 swaras, 3 grams, 21 morchanas and 49 tones. Most of the “Gayatri” and “Pragadh” verses have been used in Samveda.


Atharvaveda is one of the four Vedas. Atharva means motion or effort. Out of the four Vedas, this is one such Veda which has been named after Atharva Rishi. It was composed by Maharishi Atharva, hence its name Atharvaveda. In this Veda, praise of the gods, science, medicine and philosophy are also explained through mantras. There are different opinions about how old the Atharvaveda is, some people believe it to be 900 BC, but Max Muller’s research on the Vedas says that the Atharvaveda is probably 700 BC.  Atharvveda is also known as the Veda that calms the mind. Ritvik of Atharveda is Brahma. Its teacher is Sumantu and its deity is Som. 

Atharva Veda

Patanjali and Shaunak have accepted 9 branches of Atharvaveda, although at present only 2 branches are available that are followings:

  • Pippalad
  • shaunak
According to Shaunak branch, Atharvaveda has 20 Kandas, 760 Suktas and 5987 Mantras. It is believed that the 20th episode was added later. About 1200 mantras in Atharveda are taken from Rigveda. Its Brahmins are Gopath Brahmins. It does not have any Aranyaka like other Vedas. Its Upanishads are Prashnopanishad, Mundakopanishad, and Mandukyopanishad.


Yajurveda is one of the four Vedas. This is the oldest Veda after Rigveda. The meaning of Yaju would be Yajna, that is, the collection of mantras for performing Yajna is called Yajurveda. It tells you about the mantra and its method of performing the Yagya. The Awadhi of Yajurveda is most valid from 1000 to 1400 BC.

Yajur veda

Maharishi Patanjali accepted 100 branches of Yajurveda. Shaunak has accepted 86 branches in Charanvyuh. The main deity of Yajurveda is Vayu. Its main teacher is Vaishmapayan. Dhanurveda is a sub-veda of Yajurveda. There are two main parts of Yajurveda:-

  • Shukla Yajurveda
  • Krishna Yajurveda
Its brahmin is the Shatapatha brahmin and the Aranyaka is the Brihadaranyaka. Its Upanishad is Ishavasyopanishad, Brihadaranyakopanishad. The total number of mantras in Yajurveda is 1975 and it has 40 chapters.


Parts of Vedas/Vedic Literature

parts of vedas

There are four types of Vedas. Apart from this, there are also four parts of Vedas or Vedic literature. Which is as follows:-

  1. Samhita
  2. Brahmin
  3. Aranyaka
  4. Upanishads


The first part of the four parts of Vedas is called Samhita. Samhita means a set of mantras. The collective part of the mantras of the Vedas is called Samhita. The code was composed in verse form. Samhita is the most complex interpretation of the Vedas, which is very difficult to understand. Samhita is found in all the four Vedas.


The second part of the four parts of the Vedas is called Brahman. The Brahmana is actually an interpretation of the Samhita itself. The code of the Vedas was very complex to understand, so the verses of the code were composed in the form of prose. Its prose form is called Brahmin. Like Samhita, there are Brahmins of all the four Vedas.


The Upanishads are currently one of the most accessible sources for understanding the Vedas. Upanishads are discourses given by ancient sages in accessible language after studying the Vedas. However, the Upanishads are also a type of shruti – that is, to acquire the knowledge of the Vedas by sitting in front of a sage. Upanishads also belong to all the four Vedas.


Aranyaka means forest. A special solitude is needed to understand the virtues and mystical subjects of the Vedas and the forest is a good means of solitude. That’s why the subjects which were studied in solitude or forests were called Aranyak. The Aranyakas are the later part of the Brahmana texts. However, not all Vedas have Aranyakas. There is no Aranyaka of Atharva Veda.

What is Vedatrayi ?

The three types of Vedas are called Vedatrayi. At present we compile four Vedas. But earlier only three Vedas were considered. Which is as follows:-

  • Rigveda
  • Samveda
  • Yajurveda
Initially Atharvaveda was not recognized as Veda. Much later it got the title of Veda. Atharvaveda is one such Veda which is named after a sage.

Difference between Smriti and Shruti

Two terms are widely used for Vedic literature or Veda. Smriti and Shruti. Smriti and Shruti are a special basis in the composition of Vedas.


Shruti means hearing or listening to the voice of God. There is no change in its words with time, hence Shruti is also called unchanging. One meaning of Shruti is also mother. All our Vedas are called Shruti according to Vedic scriptures.


Smriti means writing the stories heard in one’s own way. Changes are made in it with the passage of time. It is changeable. All our Puranas, Upanishads, epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata are called Smriti. They are also translated into regional language.

4 thoughts on “Vedas | The oldest texts of Hinduism

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *