Definition - What does Vedas mean?

The Vedas are the oldest Hindu sacred texts, considered by many to be the most authoritative of all the texts. They are also the oldest known texts that contain yogic teachings. The Vedas are written in Sanskrit and originated in ancient India. There are four Vedas, or books, which make up the collection of Vedic literature.

The Vedas were written down thousands of years ago, but it is believed that they contain knowledge and wisdom that originated even long before then, passed down orally. Very little is known about the writers of the texts. In fact, Hindus regard the Vedas to be authorless, or not of man. Instead, they believe that they were originally revealed to ancient sages through divine inspiration.

Yoga that derives from the Vedas is known as Vedic yoga.

Yogapedia explains Vedas

The Sanskrit word, veda, means "knowledge." The Vedas are also referred to by some as sruti literature, meaning “what is heard,” as opposed to other sacred smrti texts, meaning “what is remembered." In this way, they are considered to be the direct word of the Divine.

Orthodox schools of Indian philosophy take the Vedas as their spiritual authority. Other schools may not accept them as the authority, but still teach ideas that are expressed in the Vedas, such as the concept of karma.

The four books, or texts, of the Vedas are the "Rig Veda" (which is the oldest), the "Yajur Veda," the "Sama Veda" and the "Atharva Veda." They contain four types of text:

  1. The Samhitas - Mantras and hymns for chanting
  2. The Arankayas - Details of rituals and ceremonies for liturgy
  3. The Brahmanas - Commentaries on rituals and ceremonies
  4. The Upanishads - Discussion of meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge

The underlying philosophy, or teaching, of the Vedas is the concept that the individual is not an independent entity, but, rather, a part of the Universal Conscious.

The texts refer to many gods, including Indra, Agni and Soma. They also present many different creation stories.

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