Veda (Sanskrit veda, knowledge) is a collection of religious texts in Hinduism of the vedic period from about 1500 BC. It based on an oral tradition and was gradually written down since 500 A.D..
The core of the Veda are the texts of the shruti, i. of Rishis (sages) 'heared' texts or revelations in the distinction of other religious texts called smṛti ("recalled"). The origin of the Vedas is regarded as apauruṣeya or nonhuman and they were only passed on to dvijas (reborn or self-realized initiates).
The Vedic texts are also divided into four canonical collections of metric material, known as Saṃhitās, the first three of which are related to the yajna (sacrifice) of the Vedic religion.
Each Veda contains four layers of text: :
- the Aitareya- and the Kaushitaki-Aranyaka (Rig-Veda)
- the Taittiriya-Aranyaka (Black Yayur-Veda)
- the Brihad-Aranyaka (White Yayur-Veda)
Nowdays are no Aranyaka for the Sama- and Atharva Veda preserved.
The six Vedangas listed in the Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.5 are considered indispensable for the study of the Vedas :
Regarding the latter four, each Veda has its own texts.
The orally passed Vedas had in the last millennium several commentators. A well-known commentator was Sayanacharya.
Sri Aurobindo wrote a book on the Veda and explained several secret meanings of the Veda.