Vedic Literature (Shruti) Best Notes

Complete Exam-oriented notes on Vedic Literature (Part 1 of the complete notes of The Vedic Period and Vedic Text), designed and written in such a strategic way to cover all the important points like – who were Aryans? What is Shruti? what is Smriti? Students will also get brief and to-the-point notes on Samhitas (Vedas), Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Upanishads, Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda, Vedangas, Smritis Dharmashastras, Mahakavyas, Puranas, Upvedas, Shad Dharshanas etc.

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Vedic Literature (Shruti)

The Vedic Literature

“Part 1 of Compete Notes on The Vedic Period”

In the Last post, we studied the Harappan civilization. The time period of the Harappan Civilization was 2500 BC – 1750 BC but around 1900 BC, this civilization started declining. Now, the largest urban civilization of the world is divided into many Rural civilizations. During this period, the entry of the Aryans or Indo Aryans is known. Aryans were the nomadic people that come to India from the Central Asiatic region. The native place of Aryans is still a controversy. Many Scholars believe that they migrated to India from Central Asia while some others believe that they came from Europe and according to a few others, Aryans migrated from the Arctic region.

The migration of Aryans from Central Asia is called Max Muller theory whereas the migration of Aryans from the Arctic Region is as per the Bal Gangadhar Tilak. but most of the pieces of evidence like spoked wheels, fire cult, evidence of horses, cremation, Boghazkai inscription etc. were found from the Central Asiatic Region that supports the Max Muller theory.

About Boghazkai inscription

Mentioned the Vedic Gods Indra, Varun, Mitra, and Nasatyas.

Present in Turkey

When Aryans settled in North-Western India, the culture occupied by them is called Vedic Culture and the Text written by them is called the Vedic Text. while reading all Vedic Texts, we can easily realise the socio-cultural evolution of Aryans. This evolution has two stages. One – Literature development and the Second – Social and Cultural development.

The Vedic Literature: What does Veda mean?

The root word of Veda is Vid which means to know. so, the Veda actually means sacred knowledge. There are two types of texts in all Vedic literature.

  1. Mantra (Like Chant)
  2. Brahmana (Like Prose or explanation)
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Types of Vedic Literature –

There are four types of Vedic Literature, collectively called Shruti. Shruti means “that which is heard”. We have mentioned this in the Historical Sources Topic. Watch Video for a better understanding.

The four types of Vedic Literature are

  1. Samhitas or Vedas
  2. Brahamans
  3. Aranyakas
  4. Upanishads

Samhitas or Vedas

Vedas are the most important Vedic Literature and it is also called Apaurasheya. Apaurashya means “Not created by Man and God gifted”. It is also called Nitya which means “existing in all eternity”.

There are four types of Vedas –

  1. Rig Veda
  2. Yajur Veda
  3. Sama Veda
  4. Atharva Veda

The first three Vedas i.e. The Rig Veda, Yajur Veda and Sama Veda are collectively called Vedatrayi.


Rig Veda

  • It is the oldest text in the world and that’s why known as the first testament of mankind.
  • The Rig Veda contains 1028 hymns and 10580 Verses.
  • It is divided into 10 parts called Mandalas.
  • Indra is the chief deity in Rig Veda.
  • Other gods mentioned in Rig Veda are Varuna (god of the sky), Agni (God of fire), and Surya (God of Sun).
  • The god of storms and mountains Rudra as cited in Rig Veda is the origin of Lord Shiva.
  • Gayatri Mantra (Savitri) is also in Rig Veda.
  • The four Verna System is also mentioned in Rig Veda.
  • The 10th Mandala contains the famous Purushasukta which explains the 4 varnas – Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudras.
  • The Hymns of Rig Veda are recited by the Hotri priest.
  • Ayurveda is the Upveda of Rig Veda.

Yajur Veda

  • It is based on rituals and is called the book of sacrifices.
  • Its hymns were recited by Adhvaryus priest who had to do practically all ritualistic works.
  • This Veda is again divided into Krishna Yajur Veda (Black/Dark) and Shukla Yajur Veda (White/Bright).
  • The Krishna Yajur Veda is characterised by a mixture of mantra and Brahmana whereas the Shukla Yajur Veda maintains the clear separation of the two. It has arranged and clear verses.
  • Dhanurveda is the Upaveda of Yajur Veda.

Sama Veda

  • It is a book of Chant.
  • It has 1549 verses. All verses (excluding 75) were taken from the Rig Veda.
  • The Hymns of the Sama Veda were recited by Udgatri Priest.
  • This Veda is important for Indian Music.
  • Sama Veda is the shortest of all the four Vedas and is closely connected with Righ Veda.
  • Dhrupad Rag is present in Sama Veda.
  • Gandharva Veda is a Upaveda of Sama Veda.

Atharva Veda

  • It is the book of magical formulae.
  • It contains mantras against evils and diseases.
  • Arthaveda and Shipaveda are the Upaveda of Atharva Veda.

Brahmanas

  • It explains the hymns of the vedas.
  • It is in the prose commentary of Vedas.
  • The oldest Brahmanas is of Yajur Veda.
  • Shatapatha is the oldest and the largest Brahamana.

Aranyakas

  • It was written by the forest sages (Hermits).
  • These are the concluding portions of the Brahmanas (As it explains those parts of Vedas, not covered in Brahmans)

Upanishads

  • Upanishads mean sitting close to the teacher to learn.
  • These works of Vedic literature are the philosophical text (like Rituals, incarnation etc)
  • These are the most recent parts of the Vedas.
  • Upanishads are also called Vedanta.
  • There is a total of 108 Upanishads.
  • Satyameva Jayate is taken from Mundaka Upanishad.
  • ‘Tamso Maa Jyotirmay’ is taken from Vrihadnayaka Upanishad.

Best Notes on the Vedic Age for India’s Top Government Exams

PART 2Literature of Vedic Tradition (Smriti Literature)
PART 3The Vedic Period
Sources of Our Notes:
1. Vedic Heritage Portal, Government of India
2. NCERT Books
3. NIOS History Books
4. Lucent Gk Books

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

what is the other name of the later Vedic age?

The early Vedic age or the early Vedic period called as Rig Vedic Period as the Rig Veda was composed during this period (1500BC – 1000BC). The Later Vedic Age or the Later Vedic period (1000BC – 600 BC) and in this period Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads were written.

Who were the Aryans?

Aryans were the nomadic people who had migrated from the central Asiatic region to north-western India. They were the compositor of Vedas.

What does Veda mean?

The root word of Veda is Vid which means to know. so, the Veda actually means sacred knowledge. There are two types of texts in all Vedic literature.

What are the Post-Vedic and Pre-Vedic Periods?

The Post-Vedic period is the period after the Vedic age means the period after 600 BC is called Post Vedic Period. The pre-Vedic Period is the time period before the Vedic age i.e. before 1500 BC.

who is the supreme god of the early Vedic age?

Indra is the chief deity (supreme god) in the Early Vedic period (also called Rig Vedic Period).

who was the composer of rig Veda?

The Indo-Aryans

What is the content of the 10th Mandala of Rig Veda?

the 10th Mandala of Rig Veda contains the famous Purushasukta which explains the Verna System.

Gayatri Mantra (Savitri) is a part of which Veda?

it is a part of Rig Veda.

In which part of Yajur Veda Aswamedham can be found?

Aswamedham can be found in Yajur Veda’s Achidram, Taitiriya Samhita – Aaranyakam 

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