veda वेद

Definition: m. Name of certain celebrated works which constitute the basis of the first period of the Hindu religion (these works were primarily three, viz. 1. the ṛg-veda-, 2. the yajur-veda- [of which there are, however, two divisionsSee taittirīya-saṃhitā-, vājasaneyi-saṃhitā-],3. the sāma-veda-;these three works are sometimes called collectively trayī-,"the triple vidyā-"or"threefold knowledge", but the ṛg-veda- is really the only original work of the three, and much the most ancient [the oldest of its hymns being assigned by some who rely on certain astronomical calculations to a period between 4000 and 2500 B.C., before the settlement of the Aryans in India;and by others who adopt a different reckoning to a period between 1400 and 1000 B.C., when the Aryans had settled down in the Panjab];subsequently a fourth veda- was added, called the atharva-veda-, which was probably not completely accepted till after manu-, as his law-book often speaks of the three veda-s-calling them trayam brahma sanātanam-,"the triple eternal veda-", but only once [ ] mentions the revelation made to atharvan- and aṅgiras-, without, however, calling it by the later name of atharva-veda-;each of the four veda-s has two distinct parts, viz. 1. mantra-, id est words of prayer and adoration often addressed either to fire or to some form of the sun or to some form of the air, sky, wind etc., and praying for health, wealth, long life, cattle, offspring, victory, and even forgiveness of sins, and 2. brāhmaṇa-, consisting of vidhi- and artha-vāda-, i.e. directions for the detail of the ceremonies at which the mantra-s were to be used and explanations of the legends etc. connected with the mantra-s [see brāhmaṇa-, vidhi-],both these portions being termed śruti-,revelation orally communicated by the Deity, and heard but not composed or written down by men[ see ] , although it is certain that both mantra-s and brāhmaṇa-s were compositions spread over a considerable period, much of the latter being comparatively modern;as the veda-s are properly three, so the mantra-s are properly of three forms, 1. ṛc-, which are verses of praise in metre, and intended for loud recitation;2. yajus-, which are in prose, and intended for recitation in a lower tone at sacrifices;3. sāman-, which are in metre, and intended for chanting at the soma- or Moon-plant ceremonies, the mantra-s of the fourth or atharva-veda- having no special name;but it must be borne in mind that the yajur- and sāma-veda- hymns, especially the latter, besides their own mantra-s, borrow largely from the ṛg-veda-;the yajur-veda- and sāma-veda- being in fact not so much collections of prayers and hymns as special prayer- and hymn-books intended as manuals for the adhvaryu- and udgātṛ- priests respectively [see yajur-veda-, sāma-veda-];the atharva-veda-, on the other hand, is, like the ṛg-veda-, a real collection of original hymns mixed up with incantations, borrowing little from the ṛg- and having no direct relation to sacrifices, but supposed by mere recitation to produce long life, to cure diseases, to effect the ruin of enemies etc.;each of the four veda-s seems to have passed through numerous śākhā-s or schools, giving rise to various recensions of the text, though the ṛg-veda- is only preserved in the śākala- recension, while a second recension, that of the bhāṣkala-s, is only known by name;a tradition makes vyāsa- the compiler and arranger of the veda-s in their present form: they each have an Index or anukramaṇī- [ q.v ], the principal work of this kind being the general Index or sarvānukramaṇī- [ q.v ];out of the brāhmaṇa- portion of the veda- grew two other departments of Vedic literature, sometimes included under the general name veda-, viz. the strings of aphoristic rules, called sūtra-s [ q.v ], and the mystical treatises on the nature of God and the relation of soul and matter, called upaniṣad- [ q.v ], which were appended to the āraṇyaka-s [ q.v ], and became the real veda- of thinking Hindus, leading to the darśana-s or systems of philosophy;in the later literature the name of"fifth veda-"is accorded to the itihāsa-s or legendary epic poems and to the purāṇa-s, and certain secondary veda-s or upa-veda-s [ q.v ] are enumerated;the vedāṅga-s or works serving as limbs [for preserving the integrity] of the veda- are explained under vedāṅga-below: the only other works included under the head of veda- being the pariśiṣṭa-s, which supply rules for the ritual omitted in the sūtra-s;in the bṛhad-āraṇyaka- upaniṣad- the veda-s are represented as the breathings of brahmā-, while in some of the purāṇa-s the four veda-s are said to have issued out of the four mouths of the four-faced brahmā- and in the viṣṇu-purāṇa- the veda- and viṣṇu- are identified)