- Published: Saturday, 19 March 2016 12:55
A large body of hymns, liturgical texts, forest treatises, and philosophic speculations compiled in four collections: Rg (often written Rig), Sama, Yajus, and Atharva. To each of the collections of hymns (samhita), each with its own particular style of chanting, is appended Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and Upanishads. Scholars believe the hymns were composed between 1500 and 900 BC, although Hindus and Helena P. Blavatsky (Collected Writings 14:361) claim they are very much older, dating back to as much as 30,000 BC. The word veda is derived from the Sanskrit root vid, “know,” “understand,” or “be wise.” This large body of literature is called sruti (“heard”) and is claimed to have been revealed to sages (rsis) by the gods; until relatively recent times it was considered so sacred that it was not written down. Another body of sacred literature, termed smti (“remembered”) and including several Puranas and the two long epic poems, Mahabharata and Ramayana, was written and forms the basis of what is usually called popular Hinduism. Some time during the Common Era, the portion of the Mahabharata known as the Bhagavad Gita gained such popularity that it is now treated almost on a par with sruti.