The Vedas are a collection of teachings, hymns, rituals and poems. There are four Vedas in total, the oldest of which is the "Rig Veda" that dates back to approximately 1500 B.C.E. It is here that the word, “yoga,” is first used and defined.
The four Vedas are:
- "Rig Veda" - the most important Veda. It contains mantras and hymns for happiness, health and wisdom, including the famous Gayatri mantra.
- "Sama Veda" - a collection of musical hymns and mantras that form the basis for kirtan, the devotional chanting of Bhakti yoga.
- "Yajur Veda" - the instructional handbook for the technical aspects of ceremonies, sacrificial acts and worship of the deities. This is used by Vedic priests.
- "Atharva Veda" - a collection of magical rites and spells to dispel demons and disease, as well as hymns for marriage and cremation.