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Prayers are also addressed to groups of divinities like the Adityas and the Vishve Devas all the gods. Only a few hymns sing the praise of Vishnu and of shiva in his earlier form as Rudra, though these two deities became later the chief gods of the Hindu pantheon.

Goddesses play a small part, only Ushas, the goddess of dawn, has some twenty hymns in her honour; these poems are of exceptional literary merit. The number of secular hymns are small, but many of them are of particular interest. They are of various content. In one book X, 34 a gambler laments his ill luck at dice and deplores the evil passion that holds him in his grasp.

In the same book X, 18 there occurs a funeral hymn, from which important information may be gained concerning the funeral rites of the Vedic age. Evidently cremation was most in vogue, though burial was also resorted to. There are also some riddles and incantations or prayers exactly like those in the Atharva-Veda. Historical references are occasionally found in the so-called danastutis praises of gifts , which in most cases are not independent poems, but laudatory stanzas appended to some ordinary hymn, and in which the poet gives thanks for generosity shown to him by some prince.

Some six or seven hymns deal with cosmogonic speculations. It is significant that some of the hymns, chiefly in book X, are cast in the form of a dialogue. Here we may possibly discern the beginnings of the Sanskrit drama. The poetry of the Rig-Veda is neither popular nor primitive, as it has been erroneously considered, but is the production of a refined sacerdotal class and the result of a long period of cultural development. It was intended primarily for use in connection with the Soma sacrifice, and to accompany a ritual, which, though not so complicated as at the time of the Brahmanas, was far from simple.

The Rig-Veda has come down to us in only one recension, that of the Shakala school. Originally there were several schools: The "Mahabhashya" great commentary , about the second century B. In these schools the transmission of the hymns was most carefully attended to; a most elaborate mnemonic system was devised to guard against any changes in the sacred text, which has thus come down to us practically without variants.

Translations were made into: English verse by Griffith 2 vols. Its purpose was purely practical, to serve as a text- book for the udgatar or priest who attended the Soma sacrifice. The arrangement of the verses is determined solely by their relation to the rites attending this function. The hymns were to be sung according to certain fixed melodies; hence the name of the collection.

Though only two recensions are known, the number of schools for the veda is known to have been very large. The Sama- Veda was edited: with German tr. Calcutta, ; Engl.

Atharva Veda Atharvaveda Hindu, Hindu Dharma, Hinduism

Its purpose was also practical, but, unlike the Sama-Veda, it was compiled to apply to the entire sacrificial rite, not merely the Soma offering. The origin and meaning of these designations are not clear. Of the black there are again four recensions, all showing the same arrangement, but differing in many other respects, notably in matters of phonology and accent. By the Hindus the Yajur-Veda was regarded as the most important of all the Vedas for the practice of the sacrificial rites. Griffith Benares, ; 2 "Taittiriya S. It consists chiefly of a variety of spells and incantations, intended to curse as well as to bless.

There are charms against enemies, demons, wizards, harmful animals like snakes, against sickness of man or beast, against the oppressors of Brahmans. But there are also charms of a positive character to obtain benefits, to insure love, happy family-life, health and longevity, protection on journeys, even luck in gambling. Superstitions from primitive ages were evidently current among the masses. To some of the spells remarkably close parallels can be adduced from Germanic and Slavic antiquity. The Atharva-Veda is preserved in two recensions, which, though differing in content and arrangement, are of equal extent, comprising hymns and about stanzas, distributed in twenty books.

PDF The Hymns of the Atharvaveda: Book V

Many of the verses are taken from the Rig-Veda without change; a considerable part of the sayings is in prose. There are references to a divine creeper, the Soma, whose juice was an energizer. Some animals like horses, some rivers, and even some implements like mortar and pestle were deified.

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Rigveda contains a sense of intimate communion between Nature and the Rishis or visionaries. According to some, the concerns of Rigveda are those of simple, nomadic, pastoral Aryans. According to others, the people in the times of the Rigveda had a settled home, definite mode of life, developed social customs, political organizations, and even arts and amusements. Rigveda is the oldest, largest and most important of the Vedas, containing ten thousand verses forming poems in 20 groups. Yajurveda The Yajur-Veda 'Veda of sacrificial formulas' consists of archaic prose mantras and also in part of verses borrowed from the Rig-Veda.

Its purpose was practical, in that each mantra must accompany an action in sacrifice but, unlike the Sama-Veda, it was compiled to apply to all sacrificial rites, not merely the Soma offering.


The origin and meaning of these designations are not very clear. The White Yajur-Veda contains only the verses and sayings necessary for the sacrifice, while explanations exist in a separate Brahmana work. It differs widely from the Black Yajurveda, which incorporates such explanations in the work itself, often immediately following the verses.

Of the Black Yajurveda four major recensions survive, all showing by and large the same arrangement, but differing in many other respects, notably in the individual discussion of the rituals but also in matters of phonology and accent. Yajurveda refers to acts of worship such as oblations made into Agni or Fire.

It has two branches, Krishna or Black and Shukla or White. While both contain mantras or incantations to be chanted at rituals, Black Yajurveda also has many explanations. Those of White Yajurveda are Madhyanadina and Kanva. The literary value of Yajurveda is mostly for its prose, which consists of short terse sentences full of meaning and cadence. The name of this Veda is from the Sanskrit word saman which means a metrical hymn or song of praise.

It consists of stanzas, taken entirely except 78 from the Rig-Veda. Some of the Rig-Veda verses are repeated more than once. Including repetitions, there are a total of verses numbered in the Sama-Veda recension published by Griffith. A priest who sings hymns from the Sama-Veda during a ritual is called an udgat, a word derived from the Sanskrit root ud-gai 'to sing' or 'to chant'. A similar word in English might be 'cantor'.

The styles of chanting are important to the liturgical use of the verses. The hymns were to be sung according to certain fixed melodies; hence the name of the collection. Samaveda consists of a selection of poetry mainly from the Rigveda, and some original matter. The verses are not to be chanted anyhow, but to be sung in specifically indicated melodies using the seven svaras or notes. Such songs are called Samagana and in this sense Samaveda is really a book of hymns. Atharvaveda Atharvaveda means the Veda of the Wise and the Old.