Vedas

Vedic period which lasted from about 1500 BC to 500 BC was named after collection of sacred texts known as the Vedas. Vedas are the oldest form of Sanskrit literature and according to the majority of scholars the texts were created between 1500 and 1200 BC. Vedas consist of 4 books: Rigveda, Yarurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda of which Rigveda is believed to be the oldest.

Rigveda manuscript in Sanskrit from the 19th century
Rigveda in Sanskrit, 19th century manuscript

Rigveda (Knowledge of the Verses) consisting of 1,028 poems or hymns organized in 10 mandalas (books) was composed in archaic form of Sanskrit in today’s Punjab region about 1500 BC but it was preserved orally before it was finally written down about 300 BC. Rigveda as well as other vedas - Yarurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda are religious texts intended for reciting, performing sacrifices and chanting but despite their religious nature the four Vedas are the most important historical source for the period following the collapse of Indus Valley Civilization. Vedas provide a lot of information about the society, economy and political organization in the Vedic Period.

Besides for the four Vedas, the Vedic literature also includes Brahmanas (commentaries to the Vedas), and Upanishads and Aranyaka (philosophical texts which greatly influenced the later Hindu Philosophy) which were probably composed between 900 and 600 BC.


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