Survey Of Literature
First of all i want to clear that this article is going to be very helpful for those students who are looking for some quick way to understand everything about the Vedas.
Vedas:- Survey of literature means the review of literature (written texts which have some intellectual value) by archaeologists or Historians.
Introduction(Survey of literature)
Vedas:’According to certain European historians like Max-Muller,the meaning of Aryans is the language.Historian William Jones says vedic language sanskrit has a definite connection with other European and Asian languages like Latin,Greek,German and Gothic Language.
Rigveda mentions that Aryan first of all settled in northwestern region (sapt-sindhu) or land of seven rivers.Aryans are the founders of vedic culture in India who are believed to be immigrants in 2000 BC to 1500 BC.
It is mostly believed that Aryans came to India from Iran and Central Asian areas,however there are different theories regarding this like central asian theory,Arctic theory,Sapt-Sindhu theory and Tibetian Theory.
The word ‘Veda’ comes from sanskrit word ‘VID‘ which means to know,so Veda means knowledge in general.
Hindus considered Vedas as revealed books and are titled as Apaurushya means not made by man and Nitya means it is eternal.
It is believed that vedas were composed by Rishis and knowledge of vedas was passed on generetion to generation verbally,therefore these were also callled as Shruti which means to hear.
When Indo-Aryans settled in India, they are believed to have composed these into texts.They were considered sacred as they used to be learnt by heart.
The term vedic literature means four vedas and their allied literature based on the knowledge of vedas.Vedas can be classified as below:
Early Vedic Literature comprises of Rigveda,Samveda and Yajurveda are collectively called as ‘Trio‘ or Trayi.Every Veda is further divided into Samhitas.
•)It contains 1028 hymns also called as Suktas.These were sung in praise of different Gods.
•)It is the oldest religious text in the world.
•)Also called “First Testament of Mankind” as it first of all states a connection between mankind and God.
•)Rigveda is divided into 10 Mandals(texts) which are compiled according to the names of Rishis who composed them.
•)First and last Mandals are believed to be composed later as the style of language is different from other ones.
•)There is mention of Purush Sukta in 10th Mandal who explains about four varnas of Hindu society and the origin of four varnas.
•)It explains the origin of Brahmans from mouth,Kshtriyas from arms,Vaishyas from thighs and Shudras from foot of Lord Brahma(Purusha).
•)In Rigveda OM is mentioned 1028 times and Gan (cow) is mentioned 179 times which reflects the importance of these at that time.
•)Hotris(special class of priests) recited the hymns of Rigveda.
•)The famous Gayatri Mantra devoted to solar diety Savitri is contained in 3rd Mandal.
Moreover,Rigveda also provides us with information of Political,Social,Economical and Religious life of Vedic People.
Sam is derived from word “Saman” which means melody.
•)This book is a collection of Melodies and also called as “Book of Chants”
•)The chants of Samveda shows that vedic people were fond of music.
•)It contains 1603 hymns except 99 hymns all other are borrowed from Rigveda.
•)These hymns were recited by Udgatri class of Brahmans.
•)Hymns of Samveda were sung at the time of holding Soma sacrifice.
Moreover,the famous “Dhrupad” Raag is also contained in Samveda.
•)It is a ritual text
•)This is called as “Book of Sacrificial Prayers”.
•)It contains various hymns which are to be recited and rituals which are to be performed at the time of performing the sacrifices.
•)Yajurveda has 40 chapters and about 2000 mantras which were recited by Adharvayu class of priests.
Yajurveda is divided into two main texts:
a)Krishan Yajurveda (Black yajurveda):-It is older and contains prose,commentaries and hymns.It contains Taitriya,Maitraiyi and Kathaka samhita.
b)Shukla Yajurveda (White Yajurveda):-Shukl Yajurveda has only hymns.It is preserved in Vajsaneyi recensions.
For a long time it was not considered as veda as it is entirely different from early three vedas.It is last of the four Vedas.
•)It is believed to be a non-aryan text.
•)This book is divided in 20 Kandas(books) and has 711 or 731 hymns.
•)This book is important because it contains and describes about popular beliefs and superstitions of people at that time.
•)It is a collection of songs,charms and spells to ward off evils of society and diseases among people.
•)There are certaim hymns which greatly explain the omnipresence of God and in praise of Earth.
Atharveda is divided into two parts:
b)Saunakya or Sonaka
So this was all related to some basic knowledge about the four vedas.