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The Hindu Literature

The Vedas
Rig Veda

10 books or Mandals.
1017 hymns (suktas) + 11 others Valakhiyas, i.e., total 1028 hymns.
10,580 Richas.
Only Veda that was created and compiled during early Vedic period.
Duration of compilation 1500BC-1000BC.
The 7th and the 2nd mandals are called the Vansha Mandals are they were
created at the very first composition.
The 10th and 1st mandals are the last to be compiled, hence are called
Kshepak Mandals.

Sama Veda

It consists of hymns taken from Rig Veda and sets to tune for the purpose of
singing.
The Samaveda is the collection of melodies.
It has 1549 Slokas (richas) but except 78 all the rest were borrowed from Rig
Veda for tuning purposes.
Sama Veda has two parts: Purvachika and Uttarchika.
Purvachika has six divisions, called Apathaka and Uttarchika has nine, called
Prapathaka.
The book of chants and is said to be the book of origin for Indian music.

Yajur Veda

Mantras for the purpose of recitation & rules to be observed at the time of
sacrifice.
The Yajurveda is broadly grouped into two the "black" (Krishna) Yajurveda
and the "white" (Shukla) Yajurveda. The term "black" implies "the unarranged, unclear, motley collection" of verses in Yajurveda, in contrast to the
"white" which implies the "well arranged, clear" prose version of Yajurveda.
It has 40 chapters and 2000 hymns.
Ishopanishad, the last chapter of Yajurveda, is philosophical and metaphysical
where as other parts focus on the subject matter of law and legislation of
various yajnas.

Atharva Veda

Compiled by non-Aryan, esp. Atharva Sage.


Veda of formulas, hymns of charm, spells & magic.
A collection of 731 hymns with about 5,987 mantras, divided into 20 books.
About 1200 Mantras has been taken from the Rig Veda. Shaunk and
Pippalad are the two available branches of Atharva Veda.
Also known as Brahm Veda or Atharvagiras Veda.

NOTES

Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda were compiled during later Vedic
period (1000BC-600BC).
Rig Veda & Sama Veda are complete verse while Yajur Veda has both Verse &
Prose type of mantras.
In Rig Veda, we have 40 rivers and the Saraswati is called the mother of
rivers.
Indus/Sindhu is the most mentioned river in Vedas.
The name of four oceans in the Rigveda are Apar, Purva, Saraswat &
Sharyajavat.

Upvedas
Vedas
Rig Veda
Sama Veda
Yajur Veda
Atharva Veda

Upavedas
Dhanur Veda
Gandharva Veda
Sthapatya Veda/Silpa
Veda
Ayur Veda

Dealing with
Warfare, mostly archery.
Music & Dance
Architecture
Medical

Brahmanas

Ritual matter and prose commentary on the Vedas.


They deal with the science of sacrifices and inform us about theology,
philosophy, manners & customs in later Vedic period.
There are 18 brahmanas to be known.
Each Veda has various Brahmanas attached to it.

Vedas (No. of
Brahmanas)
Rig Veda (2)

Name of Brahmana

Notes

Kaushitaki

40 chapters. Also called


Sankhyayana Brahman.
Both Rig Brahmanas deal
with sacrifices.
All three contain a lot of
information about the
non-Arya
with the perspective of
Aryans.
Brahmana of Krishna
Yajur
Brahamana of Shukla
Yajur.
Most Important
Brahmana. Gives precious

Aitareya
Sama Veda (3)

Tandya Maha
Khadvinsa
Jaiminiya

Yajur Veda (2)

Taittriya
Shatapatha

info from Kuru-Panchala


to Videha.
Atharva Veda (1)

Gopatha

NOTES

Aitareya, Kaushitaki (Shankhyayana), Taittiriya & Jaiminiya are


also Aranyakas, as they also deal with jungle environment of Rig Vedic
period and mysticism & philosophy in particular parts.
Aitareya, Kaushitaki & Taittiriya are again, Upanishads too.
Unlike Brahamanas, Aranyakas do not deal with rituals but mostly the
philosophical aspects of Vedas.
There are seven Aranyakas, remaining three are: Maitrayani,
Madhyanandin & Talvakar.

Upanishads or Vedantas

There are 108 Upanishads, of which 12 are known be Shruti or the divine
revelation.
The Upanishads are anti-rituals discussing the theories of creations of the
universe and defining the doctrine of action with the goal to attain salvation
through meditation and self-control.
The famous doctrine of Adwaitism is ascertained in the Upanishads.
These are assumed to be written around 800-500BC.
Important Upanishads are:
Jesh
Kath or Kathaka Nachiketa & Yama dialogue. Yajnavalkya & his
wife dialogue.
Ken
Mandukya
Brihadaranyaka Idea of rebirth.
Mundaka Unity in diversity.
Chhandogya Tat tvam asi (thou art that), initial references of
Lord Krishna.
Taittiriya Aitareya
Kaushitaki
Svetasavatara initial references of Lord Shiva.
As usual, Aitareya & Kaushitaki are related to Rig Veda, Taittirya, Kath &
Brihanaranyaka are related to Yajur Veda, Mundaka is related to Atharva
Veda.

Vedangas

These are supplementary texts for proper understanding of the Veda


Samhitas.
These were created in c. 600-200BC.
There are six Vedangas:
o Shiksha (Phonetics/Pronunciation)
Pratisakhya is the oldest text on phonetics.
o Kalpa Sutras (Sacrificial rituals)
It is divided into three classes:
i.
Shrauta Sutras / Shulva Sutras deal with sacrifices.
ii.
Grihya Sutras deal with the domestic ceremonies and
sacrifices meant be performed by the householders.
iii.
Dharma Sutras deal with the laws, manners and customs of
people in general.
o Vyakarana (Grammar)
Ashtadhyayi of Panini is the oldest grammar treatise.
o Nirukta (Etymology)
Based on Nighantu of Kashyap, it is the collection of difficult
Vedic words.
o Chhanda (Metrics)
Chhandasutras of Pingal is a famous text for metrics.
o Jyotisha (Astronomy)
Vedanga Jyotisha by Cagadh Muni is the oldest Jyotisha text.

The Smriti

There are six famous smrities:


Manu commentators: Vishwarupa, Meghatithi, Gobindraj,
Kulluk Bhatt.
It is the oldest smriti, created in Pre-Gupta period.
Yajnvaika commentators: Vishwarupa, Vijnyaneshwar, Aparaka.
Created in Pre-Gupta period.
Narada - commentators: Vishwarupa, Vijnyaneshwar, Aparaka.
Gupta Period
Parashara commentator: Madhavacharya.
Gupta Period
Brihaspati
Gupta Period
Katyayan
Gupta Period

Puranas

There are 18 Puranas, in which Matsya Purana is the oldest.


Lomharsha & his son Ugrashrava are said to be the compilers of Puranas.

Epics

Ramayana (Valmiki) oldest (probably) as it is called the Adi Kavya.


Original Ramayana had five kands with 6000 verses.

First & Seventh kands, namely Bal & Uttar kand were added later
to make the verses upto 24000.
Now it consists of 7 kands (Bal, Ayodhya, Aranya, Kishkindha,
Sundar, Lanka & Uttar) and 24,000 verses.
Mahabharata (Ved Vyasa)
Worlds largest epic, consisting more than 100,000 shlokas in 18
Parvans or chapters.
Shanti Parvan is the largest parvan.
The Bhagvad Gita is extracted from Bhishma Parva.
Originally, Jay Samhita it had 8,800 shlokas. Later it was
extended to Chaturvinshati Shahastri Samhita or Bharata,
consisting on 24,000 shlokas.
It is also called Panchamveda, or the fifth Veda.

Darshanas

There are six schools of Indian philosophy (darshan) known as Khaddharshans.


Sankhya (Kapil)
Yoga (Patanjali)
Nyaya (Akshapad Gautam)
Vaishesika (Uluka Kanada)
Purva Mimansa (Jaimini)
Vedanta or Uttar Mimansa (Badarayana)
The four acons (yugas) : Krita, Treta, Dvapara, Kali.

PREVIOUS YEARS QUESTIONS


1. Who among the following was a Brahmavadini who composed some hymns of
the Vedas?
a. Lopamudra
b. Gargi
c. Leelavati
Brahmavadinis are
d. Savitri
Lopamudra, Vishwawara,
2. The term Yavanapriya
mentioned in
Sikta, Nivavari & Ghosa.
ancient Sanskrit texts
denoted:
a. A fine variety of Indian Muslim.
b. Ivory
c. Damsels sent to Greek court for dance performance
d. Pepper
3. The river most mentioned in the early Vedic literature?
4. Allowance of divorce to a wife by her husband, ancient mention?
5. Ancient scripts to be written from right to left?
6. The famous dialogue between Nachiketa & Yama.
7. Which Veda deals with magical charms & spells?