India and the Vedas
About India and the Vedas:
India is religiously inclined towards its culture and tradition. It takes pride in following the practices that have been handed over from generation to generation. It has large collections of religious books some of which are as old as the world itself. It is one of the biggest followers of Hinduism in the world.
The Aryans take up residence in this land after the Harappan Civilization. They used to ardently practice Hinduism and offer prayers to many gods. They believed that each God has a specific purpose and is meant to take care of that particular thing. For example, if you want to have a good rainfall, then you must pray to the rain god. Likewise, if you want to fulfill a wish or perform a ritual, then you must invoke the Agni Dev (Fire God). To perform all the rites and ceremony be it a marriage, birth, naming a child, or death, there was need of incantations (mantra) followed by the necessity of sacred books. Hence, the Aryans started writing hymns which were called as the Vedas.
These Vedas are the testament of the Indo-Aryan Civilization and their immense faith in divinity. Though the exact period in which the writing of the hymns and incantations took place is uncertain, some of the scholars point them to be from the 300 BC. These holy books were meant to call or pray the Aryans gods. It shows the path of enlightenment and liberation from greed, fleshy pleasures and sins. It imparts knowledge of karma and the life cycle. These sacred texts are considered the supreme power and directives to Hindus.
The four letter word 'Veda' has a deep meaning. It guides people to inculcate good and sound practices, gain the skills to win over anger, greed and bad conscience. The main purpose of the Vedas is to spread social and legal causes supplemented with preaches and practices in domestic and religious life. Even today, no Hindu ceremony related to a marriage, birth and death is complete without chanting the mantras and hymns from the Vedas.
In all, four Vedas are written that are sacred for Hindus. They are Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda.
This is the oldest of all the four Vedas and contains huge collections of hymns to praise or worship the Aryan gods. It has over 1000 hymns on the legend of Hindu gods. The Hindu religion is laid on the foundations of these holy texts. It is written in Sanskrit language and gives information of the Rig-Vedic civilization. It has different mantras that have to be chanted in Sanskrit. The hymns in the Rig Veda relate to the existence of one and more God.
The mantras are divided into eight songs and sections which are again sub-divided into groups and have 10,600 stanzas. This holy book is the work of the rishis who were blessed by the god to spread the wisdom, knowledge and vision to the people. These authors had the power of prophecy and they can see in their mind who will happen in the future. Vishwamitra, Gotama, Bharwadwaj, Atri, Kanwa, Vashistha and Jamadagri are the seven fortune-teller who contributed their knowledge in this book.
This holy writings are purely a collection of chants and is inspired by the eighth and ninth books of the Rig Veda. It is basically used for recital purpose. The songs from this book is recited during performing the soma ceremonies. This type of ceremony is a ritual that explains the true essence of life and death. As the sermons (chants) were too difficult to remember, it was necessary to bring them into a textbook which could be referred by priests during the ceremony. The text also explains how and which part or section of the song is to be stressed. It also included when to intake and exhale air while reciting the song.
Offering sacrifices to God is an age-old practice in Hindu religion. However, the present and modern generation avoids this custom and the government also dose not allows it. During the old days, sacrifices were performed by priests who were known as adhvaryu. The whole act of pleasing the deity was to be carried out by chanting sacred mantras. The Yajur Veda is the guidebook that includes the conventional collection of sacrifices that is to be followed before, during and after the sacrificial ceremony. It also includes the chant to respect the instruments used in the procedures.
This is the fourth Veda that is composed by the Atharvans and the Angirasa which were the two groups of rishis. It is a tradition in the Hindu religion that all the religious ceremony must be performed by the Brahmins as they are believed to have the wisdom and knowledge. Hence, the responsibility of collecting the hymns and transforming them into a book were rested on them. They choose the hymns from the Rig Veda and converted them into simple and understanding language. This holy book just contains the spell and grandeur of the original book and puts lets us envision the real life of the Vedic society of those times.
These are the four Vedas that are sacred to Hindus and are used in all the rituals and religious sacrifices, if any, even in this time. This is all about India and the Vedas.
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