Veda, 7 Definition(s)
7 Definition(s) from various sources:
1) Veda (वेद): Collectively refers to a corpus of ancient Indo-Aryan religious literature that are considered by adherents of Hinduism to be revealed knowledge. Many Hindus believe the Vedas existed since the beginning of creation.
2) The Vedas are identified with Brahman, the universal principle (ŚBM 10.1.1.8, 10.2.4.6). Vāc "speech" is called the "mother of the Vedas" (ŚBM 22.214.171.124, 10.5.5.1). The knowledge of the Vedas is endless, compared to them, human knowledge is like mere handfuls of dirt (TB 126.96.36.199-5). The universe itself was originally encapsulated in the three Vedas (ŚBM 10.4.2.22 has Prajapati reflecting that "truly, all beings are in the triple Veda").
Veda is the highest authority in Hindu knowledge system and the authority of all other scriptures are based on the authority of the Veda. Vedas are four - Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. Rigveda contains prayers to Gods (Riks are the mantras). Yajurveda has methods to use Riks for sacrifices (Yajus-Yajna). Sama Veda introduces musical notes. Atharva Veda gives ways to make life successful, and contains methods to fulfill what can be called material aspirations.
Each Veda has three sections - Samhita, Brahmana and Aranyaka.
1) Samhita has prayers or Suktas. Brahmana has sacrificial methods.
2) Aranyaka has Mantras and methods that are practiced in the forests (that is, not for grhasthas).
3) Upanishads normally appear in the last part of Aranyaka and deal with spiritual philosophy. Some Upanishads are exceptions and appear in Samhita and Brahmana too. Thus Upanishad, as it appears in the last part of the Veda, is called Vedanta. There are 108 Upanishads and 10 of them are famous. Since Upanishads mostly philosophical they are found in prose. But there are Upanishads like Taittireeya and Ganapathi Atharva Seersha that have svara.
veda : (m.) religious feeling; knowledge; the brahmanic canon of authorised religious teaching.
Veda，(fr．vid，or more specifically ved as P．root) 1．（cp．vediyati & vedanā） （joyful） feeling，religious feeling，enthusiasm，awe，emotion，excitement （something like saṁvega） D．II，210 （°paṭilābha+somanassa-paṭilābha）； M．I，465 （uḷāra）； Sn．1027 （=pīti SnA 585）； J．II，336； III，266．attha-veda+dhamma-veda enthusiasm for the truth （for the letter & the spirit） of Buddha’s teaching M．I，37； A．V，329 sq．333，349，352； veda here interpreted as “somanassaṁ” at MA．I，173．-- See also cpd．°jāta．-- 2．（cp．vedeti & vijjā） （higher） knowledge （as “Buddhist” antithesis to the authority of the “Veda”），insight，revelation，wisdom：that which Bdhgh at MA．I，173 defines with “ñāṇa，” and illustrates with vedagū of Sn．1059； or refers to at DA．I，139 with defn “vidanti etenā ti vedo．” Thus at Sn．529 & 792 （=vedā vuccanti catūsu maggesu ñāṇaṁ paññā Nd1 93），cp．SnA 403．-- As adj．veda Ep．of the Buddha “the knower” or the possessor of revelation，at M．I，386．See also vedagū．-- 3．the Veda（s），the brahmanic canon of authorized religious teaching （revelation） & practice； otherwise given as “gantha” i．e．“text” at MA．I，173，& illustrated with “tiṇṇaṁ vedānaṁ pāragū．” The latter formula is frequent in stock phrase describing the accomplishments of a Brahmin，e．g．at D．I，88； M．II，133； Sn．1019； A．I，163； DhA．III，361．In the older texts only the 3 Vedas （irubbeda=Rg； yaju° & sāma°） are referred to，whereas later （in the Commentaries） we find the 4 mentioned （athabbana added），e．g．the three at S．IV，118； J．I，168； II，47； III，537； Miln．10； Vism．384； the four at DA．I，247； Miln．178．-- Unspecified （sg．）：SnA 462．As adj．veda “knowing the Vedas” SnA 463 （ti°），cp．tevijja．-- The Vedas in this connection are not often mentioned，they are almost identical with the Mantras （see manta） and are often （in Com．） mentioned either jointly with manta or promiscuously，e．g．Pv．II，613 （the Vedas with the 6 aṅgas，i．e．vedāṅgas，called manta）； SnA 293 （manta-pāragū+veda-pāragū），322，448．
--antagu “one who has reached the end of knowledge，” i．e．one who has obtained perfection in wisdom Vin．I，3； Sn．463．--gū one who has attained to highest knowledge （said of the Buddha）．Thus different from “tiṇṇaṁ vedānaṁ pāragū，” which is brahmanic．The expln of vedagū is “catūsu maggesu ñāṇaṁ” Nd2 612，& see above 2．-- S．I，141，168； IV，83，206； A II 6； IV，340； Sn．322，458，529，749，846，947，1049，1060； Nd1 93，204，299，431．A peculiar meaning of vedagū is that of “soul” （lit．attainer of wisdom） at Miln．54 & 71．--jāta thrilled，filled with enthusiasm，overcome with awe，excited A．II，63； Sn．995，1023； Kvu 554=Vv 3427 （=jāta-somanassa VvA．156）； J．I，11； Miln．297．--pāragū one who excels in the knowledge of the Vedas，perfected in the Veda SnA 293； cp．above 3．--bandhu one who is familiar with the Vedas SnA 192．（Page 647）
The Vedas are groups of hymns and chants containing religious and spiritual insights of the ancient sages and seers. Each Veda consists of four parts:
- Mantras (or Samhitãs),
- Ãranyakas, and
1) Mantras are poetic compositions and hymns of supplication and incantation addressed to the deities, the symbolic representations of the Supreme Lord.
2) The Brãhmanas deal with rules and regulations for proper performance of religious rites, rituals and ceremonies.
3) The Ãranyakas (as forest books) provide the symbolic and spiritual basis for the Brãhmanas.
4) The Upanishads reveal the knowledge about Brahman and are known as Vedãnta, meaning "end of the Vedas." They are the concluding portions of the Vedas.
Whereas the Upanishads represent the essence of the Vedas, the Bhagavad Gîtã, the most popular scripture of Hindus, contains the essence of the Upanishads. The Vedas reflect the dawn of spiritual insight, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gîtã contain the full splendor of a spiritual vision.
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