Vedas are considered the “sacred knowledge” of the Aryans, a set of people from the Middle East, who invaded India during the 1600 B.C. There was a great influence from the Aryan culture in India, gradually when they settled in India. Thus, their beliefs and rituals formed the Hindu religion, and their Vedas became the most sacred Hindu Scriptures. The Vedas were composed between 1500 and 1000 B.C in the language of Sanskrit, an ancient Indo-European language. It was only transmitted orally for a period of hundred years and eventually it was written down. By around 300 BC, the Vedas took what is their current form now. Here are a few interesting facts about the four Vedas – Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva.
1. The Rig Veda consists of 1,028 mantras or hymns that are chanted to the Gods and the ‘Pancha Bhutani’ or the five natural forces, namely ‘Pruthvi (Earth), ‘Jalam (Water), ‘Vayu’ (Wind), ‘Agni’ (Fire) and ‘Aakash’ (Sky).
2. The mantras in the Rig Veda are organized into ten books called mandalas or circles.
3. Rig Veda is considered as the oldest, obscure, distant and difficult for the modern to understand.
4. The Rig Veda consists of several explanations with regard to how the world originated, what is the power of the Gods, and advices on the way of living and how those ways can help lead a peaceful and a prosperous life.
5. Many of the mantras in the Rig Veda are chanted to the Gods and they mean to praise them for their power, asking them to help us with the battle against the evils and asking them for wealth, good health, long life and protection against evils.
6. The Sama Veda, also known as the Veda of Melodies or Chants consists of most of what Rig Veda consists, however, in the form set to music.
7. Sama Veda is believed to have been composed around 1000 BC and some of the oldest parts of the Sama Veda can be dated to as old as composed during the 1700 BC.
8. The Sama Veda is the shortest of all four Vedas. The total number of verses in the Sama Veda numbers to 1875, of which 1771 Verses are taken from the Rig-Veda and only 99 verses belong to the Sama Veda.
9. The Sama Veda is considered to be the oldest music organization in the world. It contains all the strands of music, including metre, mantra, chhanda and, linguistics.
10. The Sama Veda was mainly compiled so that its verses could be chanted at the ceremonies of the ‘Soma-sacrifices’ – offering chopped vegetables or killed animals to the God. They were sung by ‘Udgatar’ priests and the chants mainly reflected of their world view.
11. Yajur Veda mainly talks about how the religious rituals are performed. It is a step-by-step guide explaining the right way of performing religious ceremonies and sacred rituals.
12. But, when one digs deeper into the meaning of Yajur Veda, they can realize that it has much deeper magnitude than a book talking about rituals.
13. As part of the four Vedas, Yajur Veda was the main Vedic scripture that was mostly used by the priests in ancient India.
14. Yajur Veda helps in creating a deeper level of consciousness among people. It attributes to a yogic practice that purifies the mind, body and the soul. It helps in awakening the consciousness within, thus opening new avenues of learning and understanding of life in a better manner.
15. Often known as the fourth and the last Veda, the Atharva Veda stands out from all other three Vedas. The hymns present in Atharva Veda are diverse in nature and character when compared to the Rig, Sama and Yajur Vedas.
16. Classical Atharva Veda relates to religion and socio-cultural attributes of the society. It is known to provide knowledge at a different level.
17. In contrary to the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda is in simpler language.
18. Most scholars do not consider Atharva Veda as the part of the Vedas.
19. The Atharva Veda is associated with the area and the cult of occult science and the dark side of science. It is said to deal with death, spirits and the afterlife.
20. There is a belief that if pregnant women attend a ritual where Atharva Veda is chanted, the effects of it can be so powerful that it can cause an abortion.