Divisions of Vedas?

Categories: Hinduism FAQ

  • The Rig Veda is the most important and the oldest and it is divided into 10 books with a total of 1028 hymns in praise of various deities. It also contains the famous Gayatri mantra and the prayer called the Purusha Sukta (the story of Primal Man).
  1. The Yajur Veda is a priestly handbook for use in the performance of yajnas (sacrifices).
  2. The Sama Veda consists of chants and melodies to be sung during worship and performance of yajna.
  3. The Atharva Veda contains hymns, mantras and incantations, largely outside the scope of yajna.

Within each of these 4 books there are 4 types of composition or divisions:

  • The Samhitas are literally “collections”, in this case of hymns and mantras.
  • The Brahmanas are prose manuals of ritual and prayer for guiding priests. They tend to explain the Samhitas.
  • The Aranyakas are literally “forest books” for hermits and saints. They are philosophical treatises.
  • The Upanishads are the books of philosophy and are also called “Vedanta”, the end or conclusion of the Vedas.

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