The Vedas are the first and most important religious texts that talk about Hinduism. These scriptures were formed around 2500 - 2000 BC and serve as a foundation for everything related to Hinduism.
How did it start?
- It is assumed that the Vedic hymns were either taught by God or revealed themselves to the sages. Over the centuries, the masters passed down the Vedas verbally to students until they were finally written down around 1500 - 500 BC.
- The focus of the Vedas is on the message rather than the messengers (such as Buddha or Jesus Christ in their respective religions)
- Vedic masters would have students memorize the Vedas with emphasis on pronunciation to keep what was originally heard intact.
- The Vedas are known as Shruti meaning "what is heard". As opposed to Mahabharata and Ramayana that are known as Smritis ("what is remembered")
There are 4 classification of Vedas
Each Veda has different types of text included within them
- The Samhitas is the collection of mantras and hymns for chanting
- The Brahmanas is the explanation on rituals and ceremonies
- The Arankayas is the explanation on rituals performed in remote area (for example- meditation in forests)
- The Upanishads is the explanation on meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge (reincarnation, karma, moksha, Trimurthi etc)
Some examples that we use till today
- The Yajur Veda talks about the ritual of exchange - Bring an offering to God and get a "prasad" in return
- Gayatri mantra was first recorded in the Rig Veda around 2500 years ago
- The Upanishads talk about reincarnation and the concept of Trimurthi (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva)
- The Upanishads also talk about Dharma and Karma, and how to free oneself from the cycle of rebirth and death (Samsara) to attain Moksha
- The Atharva Veda introduced Ayurveda (Oldest system of healing) to the world - A great contribution to modern medical science.
- The earliest mention of yoga is found in the Rigvedas
In other words, the Vedas have been and will always be the foundation and the heart of Hinduism.
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