Hinduism is marked by rituals, rites, chanting mantras, and worshipping the divine. Where do pandits or sages take these hymns or verses from? They come right from the Vedas. Vedas are books of yore whose recensions exist today. They are invaluable scriptures meant to reach the divine. The importance of Vedas is beyond imagination and we will forever remain indebted of its existence and the remarkable influence it plays in our lives. In this article, we will be discussing about contributions of Vedas in modern life, the different types of Vedas, and know several other interesting things about them.
So, without delaying any further let us start our reading adventure!
What Are the Vedas in Hinduism?
- The Vedas are the oldest and most sacred scriptures in Hinduism, written by sage Vyasa. The word “Veda” means Knowledge and it can rightly be termed as a storehouse of immense wisdom.
- One who follows the Vedas wholeheartedly is sure to find liberation or Nirvana. The knowledge of the Vedas was obtained by sages who sat in meditation and underwent penance to have access to such deeper insights and realizations.
- The knowledge of the Vedas was initially transmitted orally and was written down only in the Vedic period (1500 C-500 BCE) on delicate palm leaves. The Vedas consists of numerous hymns that are divine revelations. When chanted, these hymns bear spiritual significance.
- The Vedas have made immense contributions in every field. Be it science, spiritual discipline, language, or mathematics, the Vedas expound all.
What are the Contents of the Vedas?
The Vedas are subdivided chronologically into four parts which are:
The Samhitas are the oldest part of the Vedas which are hymns in praise of God and consist of mantras.
The Brahmanas is like a handbook or a manual instructing Hindu priest in their performance of their rituals, sacrifices, and ceremonies.
The Aryankas deal with worshipping God and meditation. It also presents the ceremonies, sacrifices, rituals, and symbolic sacrifices.
The Upanishads consist of the philosophical lessons of Hinduism, spiritual knowledge, and meditation.
What are the Types of Vedas and their Meanings?
The types of Vedas are mainly four:
Hymns (Suktas): 1028
Written: 1800-1100 BCE
- Rigveda is the oldest of all the Vedas that consists of ten books called Mandalas. The term “Rigveda” means “Praise Knowledge”.
- The earliest books of the Rigveda discuss cosmology, rites, rituals and praise deities. These books were composed in the north-western part of India. The more recent books are philosophical questions, talks on virtues like charity, nature of divinity etc, and were composed in modern-day Haryana.
- The other Vedas often consist of verses from the Rigveda. These verses are still chanted today during prayers and rites of a wedding.
Written: 1200-1000 BCE
- Samaveda is the shortest of all the four Vedas. The Samhita of Samaveda has many verses from the Samhita of Rigveda. The verses in the Samaveda are for ritual application and therefore chanted during the ceremonies of Soma-sacrifice.
- It is a repository of melodious hymns and chants that is a part of Indian classical music and dance. The main objective of Samveda is upasana (worship with devotion) through musical chanting.
- Deities like Indra, Agni, Soma, are invoked along with the Supreme Being. There are now three revised editions of the text, namely Kathuma, Jaminiya and Ranayaniya.
Written: 1100-800 BCE
- Yajurveda was composed almost at the same time as the Samaveda. Like all other Vedas, it also consists of rituals, chants and mantras to worship the divine. The text is divided into two parts- 1. Krishna Yajurveda and 2. Shukla Yajurveda.
- The Krishna Yajurveda refers to Black or Dark where verses are not organised. On the other hand, the Shukla Yajurveda refers to White or Brightness where one can find verses arranged in a systematic manner.
- The four existing recensions of the Krishna Yajurveda are- Taittiriya Samhita, Maitrayani Samhita, Katha Samhita, and Kapishthala Samhita.
Written: 1000-800 BCE
- Atharvaveda elaborates on the code of conduct of living and the different chores to perform. It consists of 20 books.
- Atharva refers to a yogi who is immovably firm or has a stable mind. Similar to Samaveda and Yajurveda, Atharveda derives verses from Rigveda.
- Ayurveda is said to have originated from Atharvaveda. The mantras present in this Veda is said to cure many ailments. They are also claimed to protect a human against snake bites or other poisonous insects.
- Atharvaveda has mantras to ward off evil and is also a repository of philosophical thoughts.
- The two existing recensions of the Atharveda are- Saunakiya and Paippalada.
- Atharvaveda consists of three Upanishads namely Mundaka Upanishad, The Mandukya Upanishad and the Prashna Upanishad.
- It is the only Veda that narrates on materialism and spirituality.
What Are the Contributions of Vedas in Modern Life?
The relevance of Vedas in modern life is huge. It is the answer to most of our philosophical questions. Not simply that, the contributions of Vedas in modern life in other aspects is equally large. So, let us read about how the Vedas are relevant till today:
Ayurveda and Surgical Science
- Ayurveda is the oldest school of medicine that heals ailments through herbs and herbal compounds.
- It is an excellent contribution by the Vedas to humanity
- Charak Samhita is the father of Indian medicine who consolidated Ayurveda 2,500 years ago.
- Surgery emerged during the Vedic period as evidenced through the Vedas.
- The surgical procedures and the specialized equipment were used nearly 26,000 years ago.
- India is truly indebted to Sushruta who was the father of surgical science.
- Be it Ayurveda or surgical science, the human body was carefully observed, and researched on and a cure was provided for every form of ailment. Both Ayurveda and surgical science paved the way for modern-day treatment.
- Yoga is 5000 years old and its earliest mention is found in the Rigvedas. It is one of the 6 schools of philosophy. The other schools of philosophy from the Vedas are – Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Samkhya, Mimansha, and Vedanta.
- Yoga improves one’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It is about harmonizing the polar opposite energies within ourselves and ultimately attaining moksha or liberation.
- Yoga was first introduced in the West by Swami Vivekananda during his illuminating speech in 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions.
- Yoga is an extremely enlightening contribution to the world from the Vedas. Nowadays, people are practicing yoga more as a fitness mantra than for liberation. However, yoga continues to be influential to the greater population.
- Sanskrit is the foundational language gifted to us by the Vedas. All languages in the world emerged out of Sanskrit. Words like karma, loot, jungle, avatar are originally derived from Sanskrit.
- As per American philosopher Will Durant, Sanskrit is the “mother of Europe’s language”.
- The language is so perfect with its syntax and grammar that it has not been modified by anyone.
- Sanskrit is also important in the technical field. The Forbes Magazine notes that Sankrit is the most suitable language for computer software.
- Although not spoken today, school students and language enthusiasts are still learning Sanskrit.
- The Vedas talk about numbers being as early as 100 BC.
- The numberic system originated in India and was passed over to the Arabs, for which it is often referred as Hindu-Arabic numeral system.
- Other mathematical derivations include Pythagoras theorem, Trigonometry, Algebra, Calculus and Binary System.
- The numberic system in Vedas laid the foundation for the modern-day mathematics.
- The world is still deriving its benefits through the numeric inventions mentioned in the Vedas.
The Invention of Zero
- Zero was invented by the ancient mathematician Aryabhatta. One can find the mention of zero in the Vedas.
- Zero has immense significance and its astounding discovery is revolutionary.
- Zero also means shunya, moksha, or liberation as it implies a state of nothingness or oblivion. The Universe (everything) is said to be created from the Hiranyagarbha (womb) which implies nothingness.
- Mathematics is incomplete without the value of 0 which is nought.
- Zero’s usage as a placeholder to add or multiply numbers makes mathematics comparatively easier.
- Zero is very essential for the decimal system to exist.
- Modern-day computing depends on zero for gadgets like laptops, mobiles, tablets etc to exist.
- Vastu is one of the important contributions of the Vedas. It is mentioned in the Stapadya Veda which is a part of the Atharvaveda.
- Vastu is a traditional set of rules to build an architecture in a particular way.
- Vastu was confined to the architects (Sthapatis) of yore who transmitted the knowledge to their heirs.
- Vastu is very important, particularly for Hindus before they construct a building. A house or an architecture that is aligned with the rules of vastu is a happy one. If the vastu of a structure is not right, it can bring miseries and mishaps.
- Thus, the ancient knowledge of vastu is very useful to us in modern-day life as well.
It is a surprising fact that Vedas inspite of being the oldest books continues to hold importance today. That is because true wisdom and knowledge never fades and is all pervading. In other words, the Vedas are ultra-modern. Through such texts, cosmic intelligence is revered and efforts are always made to preserve them. No matter how much our generation relies on technology, we will continue to praise the Vedas for the advanced intelligence it bestows on us. The next time you see rites or rituals being performed, you will not simply observe them but recall the incredible influence of Vedas in modern life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who wrote Vedas?
Maharishi Vyasa wrote the Vedas.
What Religion Is Vedas?
The religion of Vedas is Hinduism.
How Old Are Vedas?
Most scholars agree that the Vedas were as old as 1500-1200 BCE.
What does Vedas contain?
Vedas contain hymns, verses, mantras, rites, meditation, rituals etc.
What Is God According to Vedas?
The Brahman is God according to the Vedas. Also termed Sat-cit-Ananda (truth-consciousness-bliss), it is our true identity which one must meditate upon in order to grow spiritually. The Vedas mention Brahman as the cosmic principle.
Why Are the Vedas Important to Us Today?
Vedas has made several contributions for which we remain indebted. These inventions or discoveries include yoga, the numeric system, surgical science, ayurveda, astrology and vaastu etc.
What are the benefits of Vedas?
If the mantras from the Vedas are chanted with the right pronunciation, one will grow spiritually. The Atharvaveda also talks about materialism and the code of conduct that a householder must follow. Chanting mantras from Vedas can cure depression and anxiety.