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The Vedas (Sanskrit véda वेद "knowledge") are a large corpus of texts originating in Ancient India. They form the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature[1] and the oldest sacred texts of Hinduism.[2]

The Vedas are classified into four strata:

  1. Samhita
  2. Brahmana
  3. Aranyaka
  4. Upanishad

Hindus normally use the term "Veda" to refer to all four of these, which are all regarded by most Hindus as equally sacred. Western scholars tend to use the term to refer to the Samhitas only.

According to Hindu tradition, the Vedas are apauruṣeya "not human compositions"[3], being supposed to have been directly revealed, and thus are called śruti ("what is heard").[4][5] Vedic mantras are recited at Hindu prayers, religious functions and other auspicious occasions.

Philosophies and sects that developed in the Indian subcontinent have taken differing positions on the Vedas. Schools of Indian philosophy which cite the Vedas as their scriptural authority are classified as "orthodox" (āstika). Two other Indian philosophies, Buddhism and Jainism, did not accept the authority of the Vedas and evolved into separate religions. In Indian philosophy these groups are referred to as "heterodox" or "non-Vedic" (nāstika) schools.[6]

Relationship to Yoga

The Rig Veda, mentions Yoga as a kind of discipline.

The fifteenth book of the Atharva Veda, the Vratya Kanda, connects it with pranayama (breath control), for the purpose of improving the musical quality of hymns sung to Rudra.

See also


  • Apte, Vaman Shivram (1965), The Practical Sanskrit Dictionary (4th revised & enlarged ed.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0567-4.
  • Smith, Brian K., Canonical Authority and Social Classification: Veda and "Varṇa" in Ancient Indian Texts-, History of Religions, The University of Chicago Press (1992), 103-125.
  • Sullivan, B. M. (Summer 1994). "The Religious Authority of the Mahabharata: Vyasa and Brahma in the Hindu Scriptural Tradition". Journal of the American Academy of Religion 62 (1): 377-401.
  1. see e.g. MacDonell 2004, p. 29-39; Sanskrit literature (2003) in Philip's Encyclopedia. Accesed 2007-08-09
  2. see e.g. Radhakrishnan & Moore 1957, p. 3; Witzel, Michael, "Vedas and Upaniṣads", in: Flood 2003, p. 68
  3. Apte, pp. 109f. has "not of the authorship of man, of divine origin"
  4. Apte 1965, p. 887
  5. Muller 1891, p. 17-18
  6. Flood 1996, p. 82