The Vedas

The Vedas developed from a group of sages and rishis(in the Vedic sense, a seer or inspired poet), who discovered the truths and realities that lie behind human existence and formulated a set of rules for good living. These rules, known as dharma and anti-dharma (adharma), are components of Hinduism. They are eternal truths and applicable to all times. The Vedas are highly developed mythology. These sacred texts are divided into two groups: sruti(“revealed “) and smriti(“remembered”), and were kept by people through oral tradition, from one generation to the next.

People disagree over what is included in the Vedas. Some believe the Vedas comprise only the ancient collection of hymns to the Aryan gods. Others believe they comprise the entire literature, including the hymns as well as the later additions of the Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and the Upanishads.

Estimates about the time the Vedas were written vary widely, with some scholars maintaining they were recorded prior to 2000 B.C.E., before the arrival of the Aryans, and were still being developed as late as the sixth century B.C.E. Other estimates contend that the Vedas were composed anywhere from 1500 to 400 B.C.E. They were composed and transmitted orally before they were committed to writing, and centuries lapsed between their origin and completion. The four basic collections of Vedas include the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda.

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