What are the Vedas?

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For Hindus, all secular and spiritual knowledge is contained in the Vedas. The root of the word “Veda” is “Vid” which is to know, therefore all knowledge is in the Vedas. The date that the Vedas were written has never been conclusively fixed. According to Hindus, the Vedas are eternal.

The Vedas do not owe their authority to anyone, as they are considered an authority unto themselves. Since the Vedas are eternal, Hindus believe that they were never created, but rather that they have existed throughout time. Creation is considered infinite and eternal, without a beginning or an end, and so is God.

Hindus believe that Rishis, or seers, received this knowledge from God, like an antenna receives radio signals. A seer called Ved Vyas is believed to have compiled the content of the Vedas into four major books: Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. Each Veda consists of four parts: Samhitas, consisting of beautiful poems that glorify God; Brahmanas that enumerate procedures for carrying out rituals; Aranyakas (Forest Books), developed primarily for the forest dweller who devotes his time in pursuit of the Supreme Identity; and the Upanishads.

The Upanishads, Brahmsutras and the Bhagavad Gita form the basis of Hindu dharma and philosophy. These three are jointly considered the authoritative scriptures for Hindus and are written in the ancient language of Sanskrit.

Upanishads – The Upanishads, or Vedanta, is considered to contain the essence of the Vedas. Upanishadic thoughts have influenced Western philosophers significantly in both ancient and modern times. There are more than 250 Upanishads. The Brahmasutaras contain a description of each one. And the Bhagavad Gita summarizes the main thoughts of the Upanishads.