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Vedic Literature : Most Important Points

Most important points about Vedic Literature 

Vedic Literature : Most Important Points for Prelims

What is the Vedic Period ?
  • The Vedic period is the period in the history of India when the Vedas were composed. This period started around 1500 B.C. with the arrival of Aryans to north-western parts of India.
  • Aryans were a linguistic group of semi-nomadic pastoral people who spoke a common Indo-Aryan language – ‘Vedic Sanskrit’.
Original Home of Aryans
  • Several theories given by different scholars. 
    • Central Asiaan theory by Max Muller 
    • Arctic Home theory by Bala Gangadhara Tilak
    • Tibet by Swami Dayanand Saraswati in his famous Satyarth Prakash.
  • When the Aryans migrated towards in indian subcontinent, they initially settled in the region called ‘Sapta Saindhava’ .
  • ‘Sapta Saindhava’ derives its name from seven rivers flowing through that region( Indus and its five tributaries + Saraswati ).
Timeline of Vedic Period
  • The period from 1500 BC to 600 BC is considered as Vedic Period which is divided into two parts :

    • Early Vedic Period or Rig Vedic Period (1500 B.C -1000 B.C) 
    • Later Vedic Period (1000B.C – 600 B.C).
Vedic Literature
  • The Vedic literature has been broadly classified into two categories –  Shruti and Smriti.
  • Shruti  literally means ‘that which has been heard’. They are the most-sacred assemblage  of Hindu literature.
  • All four Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads come under Shruti literature .
  • Smriti literally means ‘that which is remembered’.
  • They are the post Vedic Classical Sanskrit literature which are considered less authoritative than Shruti.
  • Vedangas, Shad Darshana, Puranas, Upvedas, Agamas, Upangas come under Smriti literature . 
The Vedas
  • There are four Vedas:

    •  Rig Veda - Oldest among all the four Vedas. It is known as “First testament” of mankind. It is a collection of 1028 hymns.
    • Yajur Veda - This is a book of sacrificial rules. This has also been divided into Black(Krishna) Yajurveda and White(Shukla) Yajurveda.
    • Sama Veda - Book of music and chants.  The origin of Indian classical music can be  traced to Sama Veda .
    • Atharva Veda - It describes the early traditions of magic and cure of diseases. It is also called the Veda of magical formulas. 
  • Prose texts which provide explanation and meaning of the hymns of Vedas.

  • Each Veda has its own Brahmanas.

  • Forest books which were written for the Rishis and students living in the forests.

  • They are the concluding portions of the Brahmanas.

  • There are only seven Aranyakas available and there is no Aranyaka attached to the Atharva veda.
  • They are the last layer of Vedic literature therefore they are also called Vedanta.

  • Their subject matter is Philosophical and they mainly deal with matters like Atman( soul/Self), Brahman ( Ultimate reality ), rebirth etc. 

  • There are a total 108 Upanishads.
  •  The latest Upnishad is Muktika Upnishad which was recorded by Dara Shikoh whereas  oldest Upnishad is Vrihadaranyaka Upnishad.
  • Satyameva Jayate in the National Emblem has been taken from Mundaka Upanishad.

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