Vedas – Meaning, 4 Vedas Name, Types of Vedas

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The Vedas are considered the most sacred books in India and the oldest literary record of the Indo-Aryan civilization. Vedas are the original Hindu scriptures containing spiritual knowledge that covers all aspects of life. The four types of Vedas are Rig, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva. They contain vast knowledge about life in India at various times and places.

The Vedas are written in Sanskrit, an ancient Indo-Aryan language, and their verses are composed in a poetic and rhythmic style. Questions about Vedas are often asked in the history section of the UPSC Syllabus. Candidates preparing for the upcoming IAS Exam must comprehensively cover the topics for both the Prelims and Mains Exam.

What are Vedas?

The term ‘Vedas’ is taken from the Sanskrit word ‘Vid’ which means knowledge or to know. The Vedas contain a vast amount of information about life in India at various times and places. Shruti is another word for Vedas.

The most sacred text in India is known as the Vedas – Rig, Sama, Yajur & Atharva, collectively called ‘Samhitas’ (a collection). They contain vast knowledge about life in India at various times and places.

How many Vedas are there?

Ancient History is mainly derived from Vedic literature. They are known to form the basis of classical Hinduism. There are four types of Vedas & all of them together are known as Chaturveda. Let’s see the four types of Vedas below:

  • The Rig Veda: Book of Mantras
  • The Sama Veda: Book of Chant
  • The Yajur Veda: Book of Ritual
  • The Atharva Veda: Book of Spell

Types of Vedas

The Vedas are classified into four primary types, known as the Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda. Each Veda has its own distinct characteristics and serves a specific purpose within the Vedic tradition. Let us learn about each of the 4 Vedas here in detail.


Rigveda is a Sanskrit term meaning “sacred text.” It refers to a collection of hymns and prayers compiled by the Vedic religion. Rigveda is considered the foundation of the Indian faith.

  • It is among the oldest texts worldwide, dating to around 1500 BCE.
  • The name “Rigveda” comes from the Sanskrit word “rig,” meaning “sacred text.” Rigveda deals with hymns, prayers, and stories that are all important to Indian culture. Rigveda is also known as the “holy book” or “sacred scripture.”
  • The Rigveda contains over 300 hymns and over 600 prayers. Each hymn or prayer has a specific purpose and purpose for India. The purpose of each prayer is to help people find God. Each devotion has a particular meaning for India and can be used for any purpose.
  • Many people use these prayers for different purposes: to find God, to ask for guidance, or to ask for help from others.


Yajurveda (Yajurveda) is a branch of Vedic science that deals with the methods and practices of meditation. It is the oldest branch of Hinduism and is still practised today by many Hindus.

  • The main body of Yajurveda is called Yoga, which means “practice.” Yajurveda teaches meditation, breathing, and techniques such as Yoga, pranayama, and kriya yoga.
  • Yajurveda also teaches about various aspects of life, such as health, wealth, and happiness.


Samaveda is one of the essential Vedic texts. It is an amalgamation of hymns and prayers compiled in the 3rd century BCE. The hymns are categorised into groups based on themes like “the beginning of knowledge” or “the beginning of wisdom.” The book’s first part contains prayers for various deities, including Shiva, Vishnu, and Indra.

  • Prayers for different animals, such as cows, bulls, and horses, are included in the second section.
  • The third part contains prayers for various plants and animals, including trees and flowers.
  • The hymns are arranged in a series of themes that are often linked to the themes of the Vedas.
  • For example, the first section contains prayers for Shiva and his consort Durga; the second includes prayers for Shiva and his consort Durga; and so on.
  • The hymns also contain references to other sacred texts such as the Rigveda, Yajnavalkya Purana, Mahabharata, Ramayana, and Mahabharata (the epic poem), Mahabharata (the epic poetry), Bhagavata Purana (the epic poem), Ramayana (the epic poem), Srimad.


Atharvaveda is one of the parts of the Vedas which deals with the knowledge and understanding of the Vedas.

  • It is among the oldest parts of the Vedas and has been passed down through many generations.
  • It is also propounded as one of the most critical parts of the Vedas as it contains all the crucial teachings in all the other parts.
  • Chapters in each part teach about different aspects such as food, sex, and so on.
  • Each chapter has a specific purpose, and they can be used for various purposes, such as teaching about sex or teaching about food.
  • Another thing you must know is that each part has a specific meaning that it uses to teach you about them.
  • For example, some chapters may have a sexual meaning, while others may have a philosophical sense.

Vedic Literature

There are three main types of Vedic literature – Brahmanas, Aranyakas & Upanishads.


The Brahmanas are a collection of Vedic texts, including the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda. They were compiled in the early centuries BCE by Soma-Veda, a contemporary of the Vedic scholars who had preceded him.

  • The Brahmanas contain many stories, some of which later Vedic scholars have retold many times.
  • The most famous story is Vyasa’s battle with Partha, a son of Rama and Janaka (the legendary king of Ayodhya). Various authors have retold the report numerous times; it is also one of the oldest tales known to us.
  • The Brahmanas are divided into four sections.
  • The first section contains “Sutras”, or sacred texts, primarily hymns and prayers for salvation from death and other misfortunes.
  • The second section includes “Sutras” on marriage, family life, politics, medicine, and law.
  • The third section contains “Sutras” on topics such as agriculture, commerce, and art; this section is called “Darshanas”.

Finally, there is an appendix called “Brahmacharya Sutras”. These Sutras were initially composed in Sanskrit, but many have been translated into English through translations by Christian missionaries such as John Wesley (1733-1803) & Thomas Henry Huxley (1820-1902).


Aranyakas [forest books] is a collection of Vedic scholars’ books describing sacrifices from various perspectives.

  • They are an amalgamation of information about the birth & death cycle & different complexities of the soul.
  • During that time, it was taught by Munis that the holy & learned men lived only in the forest.


Upanishads are Vedic literature. They are the oldest known texts in the world. They are written in a language that is similar to Sanskrit, and they contain many of the same philosophical concepts.

  • Upanishads contain several different teachings, but they all share one common theme: that everything is relative. The Upanishads teach that everything is close and can be understood in comparable positions.
  • The Upanishads also teach that there are no absolute truths and only relative truths. No one knows what is accurate or not & nobody knows the consequences if someone tries to predict it.
  • This means that Upanishads are like a guidebook for life: they give you a general idea of what to do, but they don’t tell you exactly how to do it.
  • The most important thing to remember about Upanishads is this: they’re just an overview of life. They’re not a complete guide to life.

Learn about the Difference between Vedas and Upanishads here.

Vedas UPSC

The syllabus for the UPSC exam does not explicitly mention the Vedas as a separate topic. However, questions related to ancient Indian history, philosophy, religion, and culture may include references to the Vedas indirectly. Vedas UPSC notes are crucial to cover the history syllabus for CSE. It is important to practice UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to have a proper understanding of what kind of questions on 4 types of Vedas are asked in UPSC Prelims and Mains exams.

Q1. Which of the following is the oldest Veda? – (a) Yajurveda, (b) Samaveda, (c) Atharvaveda, (d) Rigveda

Answer: d) Rigveda

Q2. Which Veda is primarily associated with melodies and musical chants? – (a) Yajurveda, (b) Samaveda, (c) Atharvaveda, (d) Rigveda

Answer: b) Samaveda

Q3. Which Veda provides prose formulas and instructions for performing rituals and sacrifices? – (a) Yajurveda, (b) Samaveda, (c) Atharvaveda, (d) Rigveda

Answer: a) Yajurveda

Q4. Which Veda contains hymns, spells, and incantations for various purposes, including healing and protection? – (a) Yajurveda, (b) Samaveda, (c) Atharvaveda, (d) Rigveda

Answer: c) Atharvaveda

Q5. The Vedas were primarily transmitted and preserved through: (a) Written manuscripts, (b) Stone inscriptions, (c) Oral tradition, (d) Papyrus scrolls

Answer: c) Oral tradition

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