Vedas - Types of Vedas, Vedic literature, Short Notes

By Shubhra Anand Jain|Updated : August 19th, 2022

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.

Vedas UPSC Topic is often asked in the history section of the UPSC Syllabus. Candidates preparing for the upcoming IAS Exam must comprehensively cover the topics for both Prelims and Mains Exam.

Table of Content

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.

Download Types of Vedas Notes for UPSC Exam

Shruti Literature and Smriti Literature

The Vedic literature is cleaved into two categories, i.e Shruti and Smriti. Shruti means to hear'. It is presented as eternal and consists of revelation and undeniable truth. It explains the sacred texts that have the principal norm of Hinduism, like the Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, & Upanishads.

Smriti is derived from the Sanskrit word smr- 'to remember. Those Vedic texts that come under smriti are those recognized texts from old teachings which are compiled by the education we have heard & are called Shruti.

It encompasses Vedanga, Shad darshana, Puranas, Itihasa, Upveda, Tantras, Agamas, and Upangas

Differences Between Shruti And Smriti

  1. The difference between Shruti and smriti is that the former is a form of meditation, while the latter is an act of worship.
  2. The former involves a process of contemplation, while the latter consists of an act of worship.
  3. In both cases, it is necessary to be open to your thoughts and feelings as they arise in you. This process can be complicated at first but will become easier with practice. It can be done by reading or listening to books on meditation or meditating on your thoughts and feelings as they arise in you.
  4. There are two different ways to experience God's love for us. One way is through our senses, which brings us into contact with Him directly through His breath (Shiva) and touch (smriti).
  5. The other way we experience God's love is through our minds, which indirectly connect us with Him through our thoughts (sati) and speech (smrti).

Types of Vedas

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

Rigveda

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 contains 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 (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.

  • 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, happiness, and happiness.

Samaveda

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

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 & Upnishads.

Brahmanas

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

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

  • They are an amalgamation of the 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

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.

Vedas UPSC

Topic Vedas for UPSC is an essential topic in History Syllabus for UPSC. To cover the topic and other related sections properly, download the NCERT Books for UPSC and other relevant History Books for UPSC. It is important to practice UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to have a proper understanding of what kind of questions are asked in UPSC Prelims and IAS Mains.

Download Types of Vedas Notes for UPSC Exam

Vedas UPSC Prelims Sample Question

Question- The division of the Vedic society into four classes is clearly mentioned in the?

  1. Yajurveda
  2. Purusa-sukta of Rigveda
  3. Upanishads
  4. Shatapatha Brahmana

Answer- B

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FAQs about Vedas

  • The only Brahmana, a category of prose books outlining Vedic ceremonies and linked to the Atharvaveda, is the Gopatha Brahmana. The Atharvaveda's Shaunaka and Paippalada recensions are related to the text.

  • Hinduism's earliest scriptures are known as Vedas, which is Sanskrit for "knowledge." They were written down in Sanskrit from 1500 to 500 BCE. They were first orally cited & then written down.

  • If finding original Vedas that were originated by the original authors so they are not existing. They were translated the same way as the Homeric poems in Greece i.e., from verbally to hand-written.

  • The four Vedas are written by Veda Vyasa & stolen by Madhu-Kaitabha.

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