What are the Vedas?
One would easily and singularly point to the vedas, being the most ancient as well as Modern written creation of this vast world. These Vedas are studded with the Mantras in plenty. The ancientness of the Vedas is eternal, unchallengeable. The origin of these vedas could be stretched to the past 1200 years before Christ, of the times of Mahabharat battle plus three thousand years prior to that. It therefore generally means a period, five thousand years back. It was the period of literary glory and grandeur. In the far ancient times the highly intellects and scholars so also the Rishis with high degree of TAPOBAL saw these Veda Mantras in reality. They got themselves closely acquainted and experienced. The dating back for the origin of vedas is considered like this. It could be even thousands of years earlier. The God (Bramhadeva) created this world, as well as those Rishis who lived in this world.
Bramhadeva was capacitated to pour life to this world, with the Upasana of only one single word and that was 'OM', for which he had to undertake 12 years rigorous meditation. This is a very long period. This is agreeable.
Before starting Tapasya Bramhadewa had got the Vedas. They were in existence before that. This would give us an idea about their ancientness.
We all know about Bhagwatgeeta. It has similar history. Its Philosophy is Shiva oriented (They call it Shambhavi), as is told by Saint Dnyaneshwar. Vyas who is supposes to be the writer of the Mahabharat, had the Philosophy of Geeta in his mind, even before the writing, was materialized Shiva who inherited the knowledge of the originators of the Vedas, was the knowledge for the well being of this world. Therefore Dnyaneshwar names it as Shambhavi (Shiva’s Philosophy) This meaning is acceptable, for practical purposes. These Shambavas (disciples of Shiva) were so to say, part and parcel of lord Shiva’s heart. Lord Shiva whispered in the ears of Mata Parvati, in attempting to answer her question about knowledge (Dnyana). It was a sort of an explanation, which Machhindra heard and derived meaning out of it. He spread this knowledge among his disciples in an attempt to spread the network of them. Before Machhindranath, this philosophy was told by Shrikrishna to Arjun. There after Maharshi Vyas, compounded it, in the form of letters with his exceptional inspirational power. He made it more lucid. That philosophy is now widely known and famous as Bhagwat Geeta.
Thus Geeta was born on the battlefield of Mahabharat and thus, the calculations of its birth period started to be determined. The scholars have almost unanimously accepted the same, some 2000 years before Christ. If considered even before this period. the same becomes uncountable with a conclusion that it is very ancient... as ancient as the Vedas.
The ancient scholars attributed the work of creation of Vedas by the Gods and not by any human being (Apaurusheya) or any Rishi.
This Veda is almost like a vast ocean of knowledge, which has come into being while the god was sleeping. It was stored in the heart of the god, which evaluated in the form of noise (Naod). How long this Noad lingered around is difficult to say.
Those ancient scholars, Rishis acquired the knowledge of the Vedas in the form of sound. The same got spread among the common intellects who further glorified the knowledge in the Vedas. To receive the correct interpreter and the deep meaning of the Vedas, from Bramhadeva and to experience it, the Rishis applied inner ears. They were overjoyed, being spellbound by the sound and seeing the maintestation of the Vedas. They in turn gave literary shape to this sound. This collection of letters is known as the 'Richas' of the Vedas. In turn these Richas are known as Mantras. The meaning of Mantras is more valuable than the letters with which they are written...sound even more valuable than meaning, and the effects of these sounds (Parinaam) are far more valuable than sounds. All together is called the knowledge of the Vedas (Veda Dynana)
The ancient Rishis gave shape to these (humming) sounds and from that emerged the visibility of these Vedas. The scholars (Rishi) who perfectly shaped those sound, needed the spread of these sounds among the others through ‘Deeksha Sanskaras (teachings). The former did their duty in this respect honestly. These Veda Mantras should be recited exactly as it is, with not the slightest deviation in utterance, for this, these Mantras used to be known as
‘Richas’. In simple terms ‘Richa’ means knowledge acquired through listening and then its utterance. In ancient days, practice of writing was very less, therefore the Vedas used to be traditionally preserved on the tongue. The letter formation process is a subsequent phenomenon. While transformation in writing was in progress the universal importance of these pronunciation and then creation of proper signs for these pronunciation was taken care of.
In ancient times, when the Vedas were supposed to be born, there was only one Veda in prevalence, no four Vedas, as we popularly know. It was very huge in volume and as Saint Dnyneshwar called it ‘Ocean of knowledge’, it had no limits (Aaseems). Maharshi Vyas simplified Geeta Dnyana (knowledge of Geeta) for the benefit of a common man, the knowledge which used to be beyond the words, was transformed into a language which had flow and liquidity. Thus the entire world owes greatly to Maharshi Vyas for this contribution.
Vyas has done something even more. Among that he contributed in removing the complexities in the Vedas. The Vedas are full of varied knowledge and it is necessary for the people to study them for their own use. They should thus lead the life peacefully. With this thing in mind, Maharshi Vyas classified Vedas in four, beyond that he entrusted the responsibility of teaching each part to his discipline.
Every part of the Vedas, thus seperated and named have a prestigious value and importance. The names of these four vedas are :
Name Name of the disciple of Vyas
1 Rigveda Pail
2 Yajurveda Vaishampayan
3 Samveda Jaimini
4 Atharvaveda Sumnata
A group of these discipled is known as Bramhasampadaya, the head being Brahmadeve, from whom the varsha flows further such as Vashishtha Shakit, Parashar and Vyas.
These vedas were further classified in branches and further sub-branches were formed. The reason for such further classification being to bring forward the principles, so far remaining secret, before the world, for the wel-being of the community as as whole.