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Vedic religion

The religion of the Vedic civilization is the predecessor of

classical Hinduism, usually included in the term. Its liturgy is
reflected in the text of the Vedas. The religion centered on a
clergy (the Brahmins) administering sacrificial rites.

Texts considered to date to the Vedic period, composed in Vedic

Sanskrit, are mainly the four Vedas, but the Brahmanas, and some
of the older Upanishads are also considered Vedic. The Vedas
record the liturgy connected with the rituals and sacrifices
performed by the purohitas.

To the rishis, the hymns of the Rigveda and other Vedic hymns
divinely revealed and they were rather "hearers", of divine
revelation. (shrauta means "what is heard").

The mode of worship was performance of sacrifices and chanting

of hymns (see Vedic chant). The priests helped the common man
in performing rituals. People prayed for abundance of children,
cattle and wealth.

The main deities of the Vedic pantheon were Indra, Agni (fire),
and Soma. Other deities were Varuna, Surya (the Sun), Mitra,
Vayu (the wind). Goddesses included Ushas (the dawn), Prithvi
(the Earth) and Aditi. Rivers, especially Sarasvati, were also
considered goddesses. Deities were not viewed as all-powerful.
The relationship between the devotee and the deity was one of
transaction, with Agni (the sacrificial fire) taking the role of
messenger between the two. Strong traces of a common Indo-
Iranian religion remain visible, especially in the Soma cult and the
fire ritual also preserved in Zoroastrianism. The Ashvamedha
(horse sacrifice) has parallels in the 2nd millennium BC Andronovo
culture, in India allegedly continued until the 4th century AD.

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Vegetarianism, the practice now thought by many to be so
characteristic of Hinduism, arose only in late or post-Vedic times,
possibly already at the time of Panini: The root-compound goghan
"slaying cattle", in RV 7.56.17 used parallel to nrhan "slaying men"
in reference to the referring to the weapon vadha of the Maruts,

17c aaré gohaá nRhaá vadháH vaH astu "far be your cow-
slaying, men-slaying weapon!"

in Panini is taught to refer to a "receiver of a cow" exclusively;

this change occurred parallel to the rise of, and possibly under
the influence of, Buddhism, which began as a reform-movement of
the Vedic religion. In later texts, the cow is often described as
aditi and aghnya (that which should not be killed).

Specific rituals and sacrifices of the Vedic religion include:

 The Soma cult described in the Rigveda, descended from a

common Indo-Iranian practice.
 Fire rituals, also a common Indo-Iranian practice, cf.
o The Agnihotra or oblation to Agni
o The Agnicayana, the sophisticated ritual of piling the
fire altar.
o The Agnistoma or fire sacrifice
 The Ashvamedha or horse sacrifice described in the
 The Purushamedha or human sacrifice, probably very early
reduced to a symbolic sacrifice.
 The rituals described in the Atharvaveda concerned with
demonology and magic.

Post-Vedic religions

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Vedic religion evolved into the Hindu paths of Yoga and Vedanta,
a religious path considering itself the 'essence' of the Vedas.
The Vedic pantheon was interpreted as a unitary view of the
universe with God seen as immanent and transcendent in the
forms of Ishvara and Brahman, projected into various deities in
the human mind.

Religions considered to be related to the Vedic religion include:

 Buddhism
 Hinduism
 Jainism
 Sikhism

See also
 Vedic priesthood
 Vedic civilization

Rig Veda
The Rig Veda ऋग्ववेद (Sanskrit ṛgveda from ṛc "praise" + veda
"knowledge") is a collection of hymns counted among the four
Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas, and contains the
oldest texts preserved in any Indo-Iranian language. It was first
orally passed down in India & then later on finally was
documented. It consists of 1,017 hymns (1,028 including the
apocryphal valakhilya hymns 8.49-8.59) composed in Vedic
Sanskrit, many of which are intended for various sacrifical
rituals. These are contained in 10 books, known as Mandalas. This
long collection of short hymns is mostly devoted to the praise of
the gods. However, it also contains fragmentary references to

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historical events, notably the struggle between the early Vedic
people (known as Vedic Aryans, a subgroup of the Indo-Aryans)
and their enemies, the Dasa.

The chief gods of the Rig-Veda are Agni, the sacrificial fire,
Indra, a heroic god that is praised for having slain his enemy
Vrtra, and Soma, the sacred potion, or the plant it is made from.
Other prominent gods are Mitra, Varuna and Ushas (the dawn).
Also invoked are Savitar, Vishnu, Rudra, Pushan, Brihaspati,
Brahmanaspati, Dyaus Pita (the sky), Prithivi (the earth), Surya
(the sun), Vac (the word), Vayu (the wind), the Maruts, the
Asvins, the Adityas, the Rbhus, the Vishvadevas (the all-gods) as
well as various further minor gods, persons, concepts, phenomena
and items.

Some of the names of gods and goddesses found in the Rig-Veda

are found amongst other Indo-European peoples as well: Dyaus is
cognate with Greek Zeus, Latin Jupiter, and Germanic Tyr, while
Mitra is cognate with Persian Mithra and Ushas with Greek Eos,
Latin Aurora and, less certainly, Varuna with Greek Uranos.
Finally, Agni is cognate with Latin ignis and Russian ogon', both
meaning "fire".

The Text
Hermann Grassmann has numbered the hymns 1 through to 1028,
putting the valakhilya at the end. The more common numbering
scheme is by book, hymn and verse (and pada (foot) a, b, c ..., if
required). E. g. the first pada is

 1.1.1a agním īḷe puróhitaṃ "Agni I laud, the high priest"

and the final pada is

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 10.191.4d yáthāḥ vaḥ súsahā́sati "for your being in good

From the time of its compilation, the text has been handed down
in two versions: The Samhitapatha has all Sanskrit rules of
Sandhi applied and is the text used for recitation. The Padapatha
has each word isolated in its pausa form and is used for
memorization. The Padapatha is, as it were, a commentary to the
Samhitapatha, but the two seem to be about co-eval. The
'original' text as reconstructed on metrical grounds lies
somewhere between the two, but closer to the Samhitapatha
('original' in the sense that it aims to recover the hymns in the
form of their composition by the poets, known as Rishis).

The Rig-Veda was translated into English by Ralph T.H. Griffith in

1896. Other (partial) translations by Maurice Bloomfield and
William Dwight Whitney.

Linguistic (as well as content-related) evidence suggests that

books 2-7 are older than the remaining books. Books 1 and 10 are
considered the most recent.

Rigveda manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century

 Book 1

191 hymns. Hymn 1.1 is addressed to Agni, arranged so that

the name of this god is the first word of the Rig-Veda. The
remaining hymns are mainly addressed to Agni and Indra.
Hymns 1.154 to 1.156 are addressed to (the later Hindu god)
 Book 2

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43 hymns, mainly to Agni and Indra chiefly attributed to
the Rishi gṛtsamda shaunohotra.
 Book 3

62 hymns, mainly to Agni and Indra. The verse 3.62.10

gained great importance in Hinduism as the Gayatri Mantra.

Most hymns in this book are attributed to vishvāmitra gāthinaḥ

 Book 4

58 hymns, mainly to Agni and Indra.

Most hymns in this book are attributed to vāmadeva gautama

 Book 5

87 hymns, mainly to Agni and Indra, the Visvadevas, the

Maruts, the twin-deity Mitra-Varuna and the Asvins. Two
hymns each are dedicated to Ushas (the dawn) and to

Most hymns in this book are attributed to the atri family

 Book 6

75 hymns, mainly to Agni and Indra.

Most hymns in this book are attributed to the bārhaspatya family

of Añgirasas.

 Book 7

104 hymns, to Agni, Indra, the Visvadevas, the Maruts,

Mitra-Varuna, the Asvins, Ushas, Indra-Varuna, Varuna,

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Vayu (the wind), two each to Sarasvati and Vishnu, and to

Most hymns in this book are attributed to vasiṣṭha maitravaurṇi

 Book 8

103 hymns, mixed gods. Hymns 8.49 to 8.59 are the

apocryphal valakhilya, the majority of them are devoted to

Most hymns in this book are attributed to the kāṇva family

 Book 9

114 hymns, entirely devoted to Soma Pavamana, the plant of

the sacred potion of the Vedic religion.
 Book 10

191 hymns, to Agni and other gods. In the west, probably

the most celebrated hymns are 10.129 and 10.130 dealing
with creation, especially 10.129.7:
He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it
all or did not form it, / Whose eye controls this world in
highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not.
These hymns exhibit a level of philosophical speculation very
atypical of the Rig-Veda, which for the most part is
occupied with ritualistic invocation.

The Rig-Veda is preserved by two major shakhas ('branches', i. e.

schools or recensions), Shakala and Bashakala. Considering its
great age, the text is spectacularly well preserved and
uncorrupted, so that scholarly editions can mostly do without a
critical apparatus.

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Associated to Shakala is the Aitareya-Brahmana. The Bashakala
includes the Khilani and has the Kausitaki-Brahmana associated to

Internal Evidence
The Rigveda is far more archaic than any other Indo-Aryan text
preserved. For this reason, it has been the in the center of
attention of western scholarship from the times of Max Müller.
The Rigveda records an early stage of Vedic religion, still closely
tied to the pre-Zoroastrian Persian religion. It is thought that
Zoroastrianism and Vedic Hinduism evolved from an earlier
common religious Indo-Iranian culture.

Scholars usually date the Rig-Veda to the 2nd millennium BC both

linguistically and on grounds of its references to late bronze age
culture. The Rigveda describes a mobile, nomadic culture, with
horse-drawn chariots and metal (bronze) weapons. The geography
described is consistent with that of the Punjab (Gandhara):
Rivers flow north to south, the mountains are relatively remote
but still reachable (Soma is a plant found in the mountains, and it
has to be purchased, imported by merchants).

The text is commonly held to have been completed between 1500

BC and 1200 BC, or the early period of the Gandhara Grave
culture. After their composition, the texts were preserved and
codified by a vast body of Vedic priesthood as the central
philosophy of the Iron Age Vedic civilization.

Nevertheless the hymns were certainly composed over a long

period, with the oldest elements possibly reaching back into Indo-
Iranian times, or the early 2nd millennium BC. Thus there is some
debate over whether the boasts of the destruction of stone
forts by the Vedic Aryans and particularly by Indra refer to

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cities of the Indus Valley civilization or whether they hark back
to clashes between the early Indo-Aryans with the BMAC
(Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex) culture centuries
earlier, in what is now northern Afghanistan and southern
Turkmenistan (separated from the upper Indus by the Hindu Kush
mountain range, and some 400 km distant). In any case, while it is
highly likely that the bulk of the Rigveda was composed in the
Punjab, even if based on earlier poetic traditions, there is no
mention of either tigers or rice in the Rigveda (as opposed to the
later Vedas), suggesting that Vedic culture only penetrated into
the plains of India after its completion. Similarly, there is no
mention of iron. The Iron Age in northern India begins in the
12th century BC with the Black and Red Ware (BRW) culture.
This is a widely accepted timeframe for the beginning
codification of the Rigveda (i.e. the arrangement of the individual
hymns in books, and the fixing of the samhitapatha (by applying
Sandhi) and the padapatha (by dissolving Sandhi) out of the
earlier metrical text), and the composition of the younger Vedas.
This time probably coincides with the early Kuru kingdom,
shifting the center of Vedic culture east from the Punjab into
what is now Uttar Pradesh.

Some, mostly Indian, writers have used alleged astronomical

references in the Rig-Veda to date it to as early as the 4th
millennium BC. Mainstream scholarship widely rejects these
interpretations as pseudoscientific (e.g. Witzel, 1999).

Hindu Tradition
According to Indian tradition, the Rig-Vedic hymns were
collected by Paila under the guidance of Vyāsa, who formed the
Rig-Veda Samhita as we know it. According to the Shatapatha
Brahmana, the number of syllables in the Rigveda is 432,000,

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equalling the number of muhurtas (1 day = 30 muhurtas) in forty
years. This statement stresses the underlying philosophy of the
Vedic books that there is a connection (bandhu) between the
astronomical, the physiological, and the spiritual.

The authors of the Brāhmana literature described and

interpreted the Rigvedic ritual. Yaska was an early commentator
of the Rig-Veda. In the 14th century, Sāyana wrote an exhaustive
commentary on it. Other Bhāshyas (Hindu commmentaries) that
have been preserved up to present times are those by Madhava,
Skandasvamin and Venkatamadhava.

More Recent Indian Views

Generally speaking, the Indian perception of the Rig-Veda has
moved away from the original ritualistic content to a more
symbolic or mystical interpretation. For example, instances of
animal sacrifice are not seen as literal slaughtering but as
transcendental processes. The Rigvedic view is seen to consider
the universe to be infinite in size, dividing knowledge into two
categories: lower (related to objects, beset with paradoxes) and
higher (related to the perceiving subject, free of paradoxes).
Swami Dayananda, who started the Arya Samaj and Sri Aurobindo
have emphasized a spiritual (adhyatimic) interpretation of the

The Sarasvati river, lauded in the hymns as the greatest river

flowing from the mountain to the sea is sometimes equated with
the Ghaggar-Hakra river, which went dry perhaps before 2600
BC or certainly before 1900 BC. Others argue that the Sarasvati
was originally the Helmand in Afghanistan. These questions are
tied to the debate about the Indo-Aryan migration (termed
"Aryan Invasion Theory") vs. the claim that Vedic culture

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together with Vedic Sanskrit originated in the Indus Valley
Civilisation, a topic of great significance in Hindu nationalism,
addressed for example by Amal Kiran and Shrikant G. Talageri.
Subhash Kak has claimed that there is an astronomical code in
the organization of the hymns. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, based on
alleged astronomical alignments in the Rig-Veda, even went as far
as to claim that the Aryans originated on the North Pole (Arctic
Home in the Vedas, 1903). D. B. Kasar compares the Indus script
to Germanic runes and claims that IVC inscriptions contain
Rigvedic hymns.

 Michael Witzel, The Pleiades and the Bears viewed from
inside the Vedic texts, EVJS Vol. 5 (1999), issue 2
(December) [1].

 Nilotpal Sinha, December, 7, 2005.

I found the line as: "Bal Gangadhar Tilak, based on alleged

astronomical alignments in the Rig-Veda, even went as far as to
claim that the Aryans originated on the North Pole." But, you got
a linguistic misunderstanding about the North Pole. Tilak had used
the term Sumeru. Unfortunately, in very common dialectics,
Sumeru means the North Pole. Though, in the same dialectics,
Sumeru also means Sumer [Ref.: Rigveda Samhita, Vol 1,
Introduction by Dr. H. Banerjee (Haraf Prakashani, Calcutta,
2000), p. 40], i.e., he had claimed that the Aryans originated on
the Sumerian civilization. This is a wellknown misunderstanding in
Indian language.

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 Sri Aurobindo: Hymns of the Mystic Fire (Commentary on

the Rig Veda), Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-
914955-22-5 [2]
 Sayana: Sayana Bhasya, Commentary on the Rig Veda

Western philology

 Griffith, Ralph T.H.: The Rig Veda Samhita (Translation),

 Oldenberg, Hermann: Die Hymnen des Rig Veda, 1888.


 Frawley David: The Rig Veda and the History of India, 2001.
(Aditya Prakashan), ISBN 81-7742-039-9
 Talageri, Shrikant: The Rigveda: A Historical Analysis,
ISBN 81-7742-010-0

Archaeoastronomy etc.

 Kak, Subhash: The Astronomical Code of the Rgveda, Delhi,

Munshiram Manoharlal, 2000, ISBN 81-215-0986-6.
 Tilak, Bal Gangadhar: The Artic Home of the Vedas

External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:

The Rig Veda

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 Full text in Sanskrit with Devanagari (Wikisource)

 Rig-veda at
 Rig-Veda in ITRANS encoding. Quasi-searchable

This entry is from Wikipedia, the leading user-contributed

encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional
editors (see full disclaimer)

Sama Veda

The Sama Veda (Sanskrit ससामववेद sāmaveda, from sāman "ritual

chant" + veda "knowledge" ), is third in the usual order of
enumeration of the four Vedas, the ancient core Hindu

The Samaveda ranks next in sanctity and liturgical importance to

the Rigveda or Veda of Recited praise. Its Sanhita, or metrical
portion, consists chiefly of hymns to be chanted by the Udgatar
priests at the performance of those important sacrifices in which
the juice of the Soma plant, clarified and mixed with milk and
other ingredients, was offered in libation to various deities.

The Collection is made up of hymns, portions of hymns, and

detached verses, taken mainly from the Rigveda, transposed and
re-arranged, without reference to their original order, to suit the
religious ceremonies in which they were to be employed. The
verses are not intended to be chanted, but to be sung in
specifically indicated melodies using the seven svaras or notes.
Such songs are called Samagana and in this sense the Sama Veda
is really a book of hymns.

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In these compiled hymns there are frequent variations, of more
or less importance, from the text of the Rigveda as we now
possess it which variations, although in some cases they are
apparently explanatory, seem in others to be older and more
original than the readings of the Rigveda. In singing, the verses
are still further altered by prolongation, repetition and insertion
of syllables, and various modulations, rests, and other
modifications prescribed, for the guidance of the officiating
priests, in the Ganas or Song-books. Two of these manuals, the
Gramageyagdna, or Congregational, and the Aranyagana or Forest
Song-Book, follow the order of the verses of part I, of the
Sanhita, and two others, the Uhagana, the Uhyagana, of Part II.
This part is less disjointed than part I, and is generally arranged
in triplets whose first verse is often the repetition of a verse
that has occurred in part I.

See also
 Hinduism
 Vedas
 Vedic religion

Since the Sama Veda is written in verse it can be sung. This

decade has seen a poetic translation of Samveda in Hindi. This
translation was done by Dr. Mridul Kirti and is called "Samveda Ka
Hindi Padyanuvad"

External links
Hymns of the Sama-veda

Yajur Veda

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The Yajur Veda (Sanskrit yajurveda (Devanagari यजजररदद) from
yajus "sacrifice" + veda "knowledge") is one of the four Hindu
Vedas; it contains religious texts focussing on liturgy and ritual.
The Yajur Veda was written sometime during the Vedic period
between 1500 BC and 500 BC, along with the other Vedas. (see

There are two primary versions of the Yajurveda: Shukla (white)
and Krishna (black). The Shukla Yajurveda consists of vedic
hymns, while the Krishna Yajurveda includes all the text also in
the Shukla Yajurveda, and has additional prose commentary.

Shukla Yajurveda

There are two, almost identical, recensions of the Shukla


 vājasaneyi madhyandina (VS)

 kānva

The text consists of 40 books of hymns. Most famous is the

Ashvamedha or horse sacrifice described in books 22–25, and the
Purushamedha or human sacrifice (probably already symbolic in
Vedic times).

Krishna Yajurveda

There are four recensions of the Black Yajurveda:

 taittirīya saṃhita (TS)

 maitrayani saṃhita (MS)

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 caraka-katha saṃhita (KS)
 kapiṣṭhala-katha saṃhita (KapS)

The best known of these is TS. It consists of 8 books or kandas,

subdivided in chapters or prapathakas, further subdivided into
individual hymns.

Some individual hymns have gained importance in Hinduism, e. g.

TS 4.5 and 4.7 correspond to the Shri Rudram Chamakam, and
1.8.6.i to the Shaivaite Tryambakam mantra. The formula bhūr
bhuvaḥ suvaḥ prefixed to the (rigvedic) Gayatri mantra is also
from the Yajurveda, appearing four times.

Each of the recensions has a Brahmana associated with it, and

some of them also have associated Shrautasutras, Grhyasutras,
Aranyakas, Upanishads and Pratishakhyas.

Large numbers
The Yajur Veda documents the earliest known use of numbers up
to a trillion (parardha). It even discusses the concept of numeric
infinity (purna "fullness"), stating that if you subtract purna from
purna, you are still left with purna. [1]

See also: History of large numbers.

 Ralph Thomas Hotchkin Griffith, The Texts of the White
Yajurveda. Translated with a Popular Commentary (1899).
 Devi Chand, The Yajurveda. Sanskrit text with English
translation. Third thoroughly revised and enlarged edition

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 The Sanhitâ of the Black Yajur Veda with the Commentary
of Mâdhava ‘Achârya, Calcutta (Bibl. Indica, 10 volumes,
 Kumar, Pushpendra, Taittiriya Brahmanam (Krsnam
Yajurveda), 3 vols., Delhi (1998).

External links
 Freely downloadable
carefully edited Sanskrit texts of Taittiriya-Samhita,
Taittiriya-Brahmana, Taittiriya-Aranyaka, Ekagni-Kanda etc.
as well as English translations of the Taittiriya-Samhita etc.
 The Yajur Veda

Atharva Veda (Sanskrit atharvaveda from atharvan, a type of

priest + veda "knowledge" is a sacred text of Hinduism, part of
the four books of the Vedas. It derives from the Indo-Aryan
name Atharvan, a term which is usually taken to mean a fire
priest in Vedic Sanskrit. More specifically, the Atharva Veda was
mainly composed by two clans of fire priests known as the Bhrigus
(also called Atharvans) and Angirasas. Additionally, it also
includes composition of certain other Indo-Aryan clans such as
the Kaushikas, Vasishthas and Kashyapas. Atharvaveda-
Shaunakiya (AVS) and Atharvaveda Paippalada (AVP) are the
names of the two surviving recensions.

The Atharvaveda, while undoubtedly belonging to the core Vedic
corpus, in some ways represents an independent parallel tradition
to that of the Rigveda and Yajurveda.

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The Jaina and Bauddha texts are considerably more hostile to
the AV (they call it Aggvana or Ahavana Veda) than they are to
the other Hindu texts. They even call it a non-Aryan Veda
concocted by Paippalada for human sacrifices. The Hindu texts
too have taken a less than charitable view and have on occasions
omitted the reference to the "Atharvan" text in the context of
Vedic literature, though some attribute this to the fact that the
Atharva Veda was a later addition chronologically. The Atharvan
ParishishhThas themselves state that specific priests of the
mauda and jalada schools should be avoided. It is even stated
that women associated with atharvAns may suffer from

Traditionally 9 schools of the Atharvan literature are supposed
to have existed. One can reconstruct their names using the
charaNavyUhas as below:

1. paippalAda
2. stauda
3. mauda
4. shaunakIya
5. jAjala
6. jalada
7. brahmavada
8. devadarsha
9. chAraNavidyA

Of these, only the Shaunakiya and the Paippalada recensions have

survived. The core Paippalada text is considered earlier than the
Shaunakiya, but both also contain late editions. In places where
the Shaunakiya and the Paippalada agree, it is likely the original

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version. Often, the two recensions in corresponding hymns have a
different verse order, or either has additional verses missing
from the other.

Additionally, from the Vishnu and Vayu Puranas (older Hindu

texts on the gods, goddesses and their histories) it may be
possible to glean a few more ancient schools that were not listed
in the charaNavyUhas.

These are:

 sumantu
 kabandha
 kumuda
 shaulkAyana
 babhravya
 munjakesha
 saindhavAyana
 nakshatrakalpa
 shAntikalpa
 saMhitavidhi

At least some of these may have evolved into the other schools
mentioned in the list of the charaNavyUhas. saMhitavidhi,
shAntikalpa and nakshatrakalpa are the 5 kalpa texts adduced to
the shaunakiya tradition and not separate schools of their own.

From the paurANic text we may propose the following

evolutionary history of the atharvAn texts:

vyAsa pArAsharya
kabandha AtharvaN-a~Ngirasa

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| |
pathya____ devadarsha
/ | | / | | \
kumuda jAjala shaunakiya mauda | | |
| / | paippalAda | brahmavada
| babhravya saindhavAyana | | \
|(?) | |(?) shaulkAyana |(?)
jalada munjakesha stauda chAraNavidyA

Of these only the texts of the shaunaka and paippalada schools

are extant. On this page henceforth we shall be referring to the
shaunaka text.

There are two main circum-vedic texts associated with the AV 1)

the vaitAna sUtra and 2) the kaushika sUtra. These serve the
same purpose as the vidhAna of the R^igveda and are of greater
value in studying the paurANo-vedic link than the atharvAN lore

There are several upanishhats that are appended to the AV but

appear to be relatively late additions to the tradition. The most
important amongst these are the munDaka and the prashna. The
former contains a important reference to shaunaka a shakha-
kR^it of the AV while the latter one to paippalAda.

The contents of the saMhita itself have some important bearing

on the development Hindu thought.

Issues of note
 The AV is the first Indian text dealing with medicine. It
identifies the causes of disease as living causative agents

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such as the yatudhAnya, the kimIdi, the kR^imi and the
durNama. The atharvANs seek to kill them with a variety of
drugs in order to counter the disease( see XIX.34.9). This
approach to disease is surprisingly advanced compared to
the trihumoral theory developed in the pauraNic era.
Remnants of the original atharvanic thought did persist in
the paurANic era as can be seen in sushruta's medical
treatise (garuDa purANa, karma kANDa chapter 164). Here
following the atharvAN theory the pauRANic text suggests
germs as a cause for leprosy. In the same chapter sushruta
also expands on the role of helminths in disease. These two
can be directly traced back to the AV saMhita. The hymn
AV I.2 describes the disease leprosy and recommends the
rajanI oshadhi for it treatment. From the description of
the oshadhi as black branching entity with dusky patches it
is very likely that is a lichen with antibiotic properties. Thus
the AV can stake the claim for being one of the earliest
texts to record uses of the antibiotic agents.

 The AV also informs us about Indo-Aryan warfare. A variety

of devices such as the an arrow with a duct for poison
(apAskambha) and castor bean poison, poisoned net and hook
traps, use of disease spreading bugs and smoke screens find
a place in the AV saMhita (eg. hymns IX .9, IX.10, the
trishaMdi and nyArbudi hymns). These references to
military practices and associated kshatriya rites were what
gave the AV its formidable reputation. In the Mahabharata
era that shortly followed after the end of the AtharvAN
period there is a frequent comparison to between weapons
and the mantras of the heroes. Probably, this comparison
was initially supposed to mean the application of deadly
weapons as mentioned in the AtharvAN tradition.

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 Several regular and special rituals of the Aryans are a
major concern of the AV just as the 3 other vedas. The
major regular rituals covered by the atharva veda are
marriage in kANDa XIV and the funeral in kANDa XVIII.
There are also a range of hymns that are specific to rituals
of the bhR^igu-a~ngirasas, vR^Atyas and kshatriyas. One of
the most important of these rites is the VishhAsahi Vrata
that it is performed to invoke the indra and vishNu with the
mantras of the XVIIth kANDa. The vR^Atya rituals were
performed by individuals who took on a nomadic ascetic way
of living and were generally sent into neighboring states by
the ruler of a particular state. They appear to have served a
role in reconnaissance and negotiations with neighboring
states (compare with Arjuna's Vratya like journey into the
yadu principality to woo Subhadra). Finally, there are some
rituals aimed at the destruction of the enemies
(Abhicharika hymns and rites) particularly using the closing
mantras of the XVIth Kanda. While these are a factor for
traditional negative views on the AV it should be noted that
in content they are mirrored by several other hymns from
the Rig as well as the Yajushes. Moreover, Abhicharika rites
were an integral part of the vedic as amply attested in the
brAhmaNa literature (see the tale of YavakrdDa in the
Jaiminiya brAhmaNa). Thus the AV as such began fully
within the classic vedic fold though it was more specific to
certain clans of fire priests. The development of the
abhichArika rites to their more 'modern' form was seen
only in the vidhAna literature and in fact began within the
Rigvedic tradition in the form of the RigvidhAna. The author
of the RigvidhAna provides passing reference to the
development of similar rites in the AV tradition (the
references to the Angirasa KrityAs). These rites reached
their culmination in the Kaushika and Vaitana Sutra and in

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some of the Parishishhthas (appendices) of the Atharvan
literature. However, these are far removed from the actual
hymns themselves suggesting that they represent an
encrustation on the atharvanic practice rather than its
original form. While in its most extreme form Atharvanic
Abhicharika faded away it did seed the mainstream Hindu
culture resulting in the origin of the Pauranic form of the
fire ritual (yaga-s). It also provided the launching pad for
the worship of late evolving popular deities like Kumara and
Ganapati to capture the mainstream Hindu ritual.

 Philosophical excursions: The AV made the most important

contributions to Aryan philosophical thought of all the
Samhitas. One of the most spectacular expressions of this
is seen in the hymn XII.I, the hymn to the earth or the
Prithivi Suktam used in the Aghrayana rite. The foundations
of Vaishheshika, the highest of the Hindu Darshanas is
expressed in the mantra XII.1.26 in which the atoms
(Paamsu) are described forming the stone, the stones
agglutinating to form the rocks and the rocks held together
to form the Earth. An early pantheistic thought (somewhat
convergent to the latter day Vishhishthadvaitins) is seen in
the hymn X.7 that describes the common thread running
through all manifest and un-manifest existence as the
skaMbha. This Skambha is described as what poured out of
the Hiranyagarbha, that was the precursor of the complex
world in a very simple form (X.7.28). This Skambha is indra
and Indra is the Skambha which describes all existence.
The hymn also describes a pantheistic nature of the Vedic
gods (X.7.38): Skambha is the heat (tapaH) that spreads
through the universe (Bhuvana) as waves of water; the units
of this spreading entity are the gods even as branches of
one tree. This one theme that repeatedly presents itself in

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various interpretations that abounded in later Hindu
philosophies and can be considered one of the most
fundamental expression of Vedic thought.

From alleged internal astronomical references (AVS XI.7) it has
been surmised that the Atharvanic period included the time when
the Pleiades occupied the spring equinox (roughly 2200 BC).
Further, tradition suggests that Pippalada, one of the early
collators, and Vaidharbi, one of the late contributors associated
with the Atharvanic text, lived during the reign of prince
Hiranyanabha of the Ikshvaku dynasty, interpreted to mean that
the core AV composition was at least complete by 1500 BC.

While these approaches are not widely accepted as valid, it is

clear that the core text of the AV is not particularly recent in
the Vedic Samhita tradition, and falls within the classical Mantra
period of Vedic Sanskrit in the late 2nd millennium BC, roughly
contemporary with the Yajurveda mantras, the Rigvedic Khilani,
and the redaction of the Samaveda. The Atharvaveda is also the
first Indian text to mention Iron (as śyāma ayas, "black metal"),
so that scholarly consensus dates the bulk of the Atharvaveda
hymns to the early Indian Iron Age, corresponding to the 12th to
10th centuries BC or the early Kuru kingdom.

During its oral tradition, however, the text has been corrupted by
later additions considerably more than the other Vedas, and it is
only from comparative philology of the two surviving recensions
that the original reading may hoped to be approximated.


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The Shaunakiya text was edited 1960–62 by Vishva Bandhu,

The bulk of the Paippalada text was edited by Leray Carr Barret
from 1905 to 1940 (book 6 by Edgerton, 1915) from a single
Kashmirian Sharada manuscript (now in Tübingen). This edition is
outdated, since various other manuscripts were discovered in
Bihar, Bengal and Orissa since. Some manuscripts are in the
Orissa State Museum, bu many manuscripts are in private
possession, and are kept hidden by their owners. Many
manuscripts were collected by Durgamohan Bhattacharya by
deceiving their owners, as told by his son Dipak (1968), who
describes the theft as valiant daredevilry (see Zehnder (1999), p.

The knowledge of the villagers, in whose possession many

important manuscripts remain, about their possession is
often very hazy [...] Prof. Bhattacharya secured a
manuscript from an illiterate Brahmin on promise of return

Books 1–15 were edited by Durgamohan Bhattacharya (1997).

There is a provisional edition of book 20 by Dipak Bhattacharya.
Book 2 and 5 were edited and translated by Thomas Zehnder
(1999) and Alexander Lubotsky (2002), respectively.

 Maurice Bloomfield, Hymns of the Atharva-veda, Sacred
Books of the East, v. 42 (1897)
 Alexander Lubotsky, Atharvaveda-Paippalada, Kanda Five
Harvard College, (2002)
 Thomas Zehnder, Atharvaveda-Paippalada, Buch 2 Idstein

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Brahmanas (Sanskrit बब्राह्मण, Brahmin Books) are part of the
Hindu Shruti; They are composed in Vedic Sanskrit, and the
period of their composition is sometimes referred to as the
Brahmanic period or age (approximately between 900 BC and 500
BC). They are essentially commentaries of the Vedas, explaining
Vedic ritual. The earliest Brahmanas may have been written
several centuries earlier, contemporary to the Black Yajurveda
commentary prose, but they have only survived in fragments.

Each of the four Vedas have their associated Brahmanas.

 Rigveda
o Shakala shaka: Aitareya Brahmana (AB)
o Bashakala shaka: Kaushitaki Brahmana (KS)
 Samaveda
o Kauthuma: PB, SadvB
o Jayminiya: Jayminiya Brahmana (JB)
 Yajurveda
o Krishna: the Brahmanas are integrated into the
 Maitrayani (MS)
 Carakakatha (CS)
 Kapisthalakatha (KS)
 Taittiriya (TS). The Taittiriya school has an
additional Taittiriya Brahmana (TB)
o Shukla
 Vajasaneyi Madhyandina: Shatapatha Brahmana,
Madhyadina recension (ShB)
 Kanva: Shatapatha Brahmana, Kanva recension
 Atharvaveda
o Paippalada: GopB
o Shaunakiya: (or 'Vulgate'): unknown

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See also
 Brahmin

Aranyakas (Sanskrit आरण्यक, Forest Books, Forest Treatises) are

part of the Hindu Shruti; these religious scriptures are
sometimes argued to be part of either the Brahmanas or
Upanishads. The Aranyakas discuss philosophy, sacrifice
(particularly the sacrificial fire), and the New Year holiday. The
Aranyakas are believed to have originated with the various
mystical ascetic groups that developed in India. These ascetic
groups often resided outside of society and were collectively
known as 'forest dwellers'- hence the name of the texts. The
Aranyakas constitute a more philosophical and mystical
interpretation of the themes presented in the Vedas, as opposed
to the Brahmanas, which were primarily concerned with the
proper performance of ritual. Like the Upanishads, the Aranyakas
may have initially constituted a secret or hidden teaching- not in
the sense of being forbidden or restricted, but rather being both
a non-obvious expansion on the themes of the Vedas and a
teaching that was primarily conveyed individually from teacher to
student, rather than as part of the public performance of ritual.

Smriti (Sanskrit स्ममतत, "what is fit/deserves to be remembered")

refers to a specific canon of Hindu religious scripture. Smriti also
denotes non-Shruti texts generally, seen as secondary in
authority to Shruti.

Categorizing the Smriti has been a contentious issue, even the

names of proposed categories are debated. Such categorization is
arguably unnecessary. Nevertheless, one such taxonomy follows:

 Dharma Shastra (the laws)

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 Mahakavyas (the Epics; they include Mahabharata and the
 Puranas (the fables or writings)
 Sutras (proverbs or aphorisms)
 Agamas (the philosophies; including Mantras, Tantras, and
 Dyasanas (the philosophies; including the Vedanta)

Main Smritis
There are eighteen main Smritis, being:

 Manu Smriti
 Yajnavalkya Smriti
 Parasara Smriti
 Vishnu Smriti
 Daksha Smriti
 Samvarta Smriti
 Vyasa Smriti
 Harita Smriti
 Satatapa Smriti
 Vasishtha Smriti
 Yama Smriti
 Apastamba Smriti
 Gautama Smriti
 Devala Smriti
 Sankha-Likhita Smriti
 Usana Smriti
 Atri Smriti
 Saunaka Smriti

See also

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 Shruti

External links
 Arsha Vidya Gurukulam
 Sanskrit site with comprehensive library of texts

Shruti (Sanskrit शतज त, "what is heard") is a canon of Hindu

scriptures. They do not date to a particular period, but span the
entire history of Hinduism, beginning with the earliest texts
known, with some late Upanishads reaching down into modern

Shruti is said to have no author; rather, it is believed to be a

divine recording of the "cosmic sounds of truth", heard by rishis.

There are several contesting ways to define Shruti. It is most

commonly defined to be composed of the four Vedas:

 Rig-Veda Knowledge of Hymns of Praise

 Atharva-Veda Knowledge of Magic Formulas
 Sama-Veda Knowledge of Melodies
 Yajur-Veda Knowledge of Sacrificial Formulas

Some sub-divisions within the scriptures, such as the Aranyakas,

Brahmanas, and Upanishads, belong to the set of works distinctly
labeled as Shruti. In addition, the Mahabharata (an Itihasa, or
History, also part of the "friendly scripture" class) is considered
by some to be Shruti and is sometimes called the 'fifth' Veda.
Sometimes the Bhagavad Gita, a chapter within the Mahabharata,
is separately considered as worthy of the Shruti status.

See also

Page 29 of 45 390685382.doc
 Smriti

Tantras ("Looms" or "Weavings"), refer to numerous and varied

scriptures pertaining to any of several esoteric traditions rooted
in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. Most tantras were written
between the 10th and 14th centuries CE. Tantras include a
variety of mystical, occult, medical and scientific works.

While Hinduism is typically viewed as being Vedic, the Tantras

are not considered part of the orthodox Hindu/Vedic
scriptures.Legend ascribes the origin of Tantra to Dattatreya, a
semi-mythological yogi and the assumed author of the Jivanmukta
Gita ("Song of the liberated soul"). Others traditionally confer
authorship on the Indian god Shiva. Matsyendranath is credited
with authorship of the Kaulajnana-nirnaya, a voluminous ninth-
century tantra dealing with a host of mystical and magical
subjects, and occupies an important position in the Hindu tantric
lineage, as well as in Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism.

Buddhist and Hindu Tantra, though having many similarities from

the outside, do have some clear distinctions. Scholars are unable
to determine whether the Hindu or the Buddhist version of
Tantra appeared first in history. Buddhist Tantra is always part
of the Mahayana school of Buddhism. Buddhist Tantra spread out
from (North) India, chiefly to Tibet, where it became known as
the Vajrayana school of Buddhism. It also had some influence on
Chinese and Japanese Buddhism (notably Shingon).

Puranas (Sanskrit परज ब्राण, purāṇá "ancient", since they focus on

ancient history of the universe) are part of Hindu Smriti; these
religious scriptures discuss varied topics like devotion to God in
his various aspects, traditional sciences like Ayurveda, Jyotish,
cosmology, concepts like dharma, karma, reincarnation and many
others. According to tradition they were written by Vyasa at the

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end of Dvapara Yuga, while modern scholarship dates them to the
latter half of the first millennium AD. The eighteen Puranas are
divided into three groups of six according to gunas of people they
are primarily meant for. Thus rajasika Puranas eulogize Brahma of
Hindu Trinity, sattvika Puranas Vishnu and tamasika Puranas Shiva
and Shakti, God's Power personified. Perhaps the best known
Purana is the Bhagavata Purana.

In all these Puranas the goddess Lakshmi is given a laudable place

without any sectarian dispute. In the Vaishnavite Puranas, Shiva
starts telling the efficacy of Vishnu to the Goddess Parvati.
While Shaiva mythology places goddess Parvati, the consort of
Shiva, as one half of His body (ardha naareeshvara tattva),
Vaishnavites place the Goddess Lakshmi in the heart of Vishnu
itself, as if it were a lotus (hridaya kamala). This is to depict the
inseparable union of Universal purusha and prakriti, seed and
field, or male and female.

List of Puranas
 Brahma Purānās
1. Brahma purana
2. Brahmānda purana
3. Brahma Vaivarta purana
4. Mārkandeya purana (includes Devi Mahatmyam, an
important text for Shaktas.)
5. Bhavishya purana
6. Vāmana purana
 Vishnu Purānās
1. Vishnu purana
2. Bhagavata purana
3. Nāradeya purana
4. Garuda purana

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5. Padma purana
6. Varāha
 Shiva Purānās
1. Vāyu purana
2. Linga purana
3. Skanda purana
4. Agni purana
5. Matsya purana
6. Kūrma purana

Heaven, Hell and other worlds in the

Puranic cosmology describes numerous worlds, planets and planes
of existence (loka). Of the multitude of worlds, heaven (Svarga)
and hell (Naraka) stand out as nearest and most relevant to our
own planet, the Earth. Svarga, or heaven, is the planet of the
demigods, or devas, ruled by King Indra. On Svarga, the ability to
enjoy physical senses is enhanced while life in Naraka, the
netherworld ruled by the King of Justice, Dharmaraj (Yama) is
subjected to pain and misery. It should be noted that both
heaven and hell are temporary abodes for life and once the Karma
that is responsible for birth in heaven and hell is exhausted, the
soul transmigrates to other forms and worlds of existence.

There are many variations and different levels of the temporal

planets as seen by different Puranas and often have conflicting
views on the nature of the phenomenal universe.

Two of the other most important worlds in Puranic Cosmology are

the Satyaloka, the realm of Brahma, the highest plane of
existence where souls of extraordinary karma reside before

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attaining moksha, and the Vaikuntha, the realm of Vishnu, from
where there is no return to material worlds.

External links
 S'rîmad Bhâgavatam (bhâgavata purâna), The Story of the
Fortunate One (complete).
 Bhâgavata the Lord, Bhâgavata the book,
Bhâgavata the devotee
 Lexicon of Names, Essential Terms and Sanskrit Words to
the S'rîmad Bhâgavatam en de Bhagavad Gîtâ
 vaishnava literatures with word for word
translations from Sanskrit to English.
 Contents of 18 Puranas and a list of Upapuranas (lesser
Puranas) (a Java applet)
 Bhagavata Purana (Srimad-Bhagavatam) online in Sanskrit
and English (with other books) at (cantos 1-10).
 Synopsis of Puranas at
 Samsara - tour of this universe and beyond

Sutra (ससत) in Sanskrit is derived from the verb siv-, meaning to

sew (these words, including English to sew and Latinate suture, all
derive from PIE *syū-). It literally means a rope or thread, and
more metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula),
or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. In
Hinduism the 'sutras' form a school of Vedic study, related to
and somewhat later than the Upanishads. They served and
continue to act as grand treatises on various schools of Hindu
Philosophy. They elaborate in succinct verse, sometimes esoteric,
Hindu views of metaphysics, cosmogony, the human condition,
moksha (liberation), and how to maintain a blissful, dharmic life, in
a cosmic spin of karma, reincarnation and desire.

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In Buddhism, the term "sutra" refers generally to canonical
scriptures that are regarded as records of the oral teachings of
Gautama Buddha. These teachings are assembled in the second
part of the Tripitaka which is called Sutra Pitaka. There are also
some Buddhist texts, such as the Platform Sutra, that are called
sutras despite being attributed to much later authors.

The Pali form of the word sutra is sutta, and is used exclusively
to refer to Buddhist scriptures, particularly those of the Pali

See also
 List of sutras
 Smriti
 Gamasutra – Video game industry website

Monier-Williams, Monier. (1899) A Sanskrit-English Dictionary.
Delhi:Motilal Banarsidass. p. 1241

External links
 Ida B. Wells Memorial Sutra Library
 Chinese repository of Buddhist Sutras translated into
English. Also has other texts.
 Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (log in with userID "guest")
 A Modern Sutra

Ashtavakra Gita

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The Ashtavakra Gita (Song of Ashtavakra) also known by the
name Ashtavakra Samhita is an influential nondualist Hindu text
traditionally said to have been written by the Sage Ashtavakra,
though its authorship is not known with certainty.

There is little doubt though that it is very old, probably dating

back to the days of the classic Vedanta period. The Sanskrit
style and the doctrine expressed would seem to warrant this

The work was known, appreciated and quoted by Ramakrishna and

his disciple Vivekananda, as well as by Ramana Maharshi, while
Radhakrishnan always refers to it with great respect. Apart from
that the work speaks for itself. It presents the traditional
teachings of Advaita Vedanta with a clarity and power very rarely

External links
Ashtavakra Gita Online Translation by John Richards

The most fundamental text of Hatha Yoga is the Hatha Yoga

Pradipika, a Sanskrit classic written by Swami Swatamarama, a
disciple of Swami Goraknath. It is said to be the oldest surviving
text on the Hatha Yoga.

The book was written in 15th century C.E.. The work is derived
from older Sanskrit texts and Swami Swatamarama's own yogic
experiences. It includes information about asanas, pranayama,
chakras, kundalini, bandhas, kriyas, shakti, nadis and mudras
among other topics.

Many modern English translations of the book are available.

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The book lists in great detail all the main asanas, pranayama,
mudras and bandhas that are familiar to today's yoga student. It
runs in the line of Hindu yoga (to distinguish from Buddhist and
Jain yoga) and is dedicated to Lord Adinath, a name for Lord
Shiva (the Hindu god of destruction and renewal), who is alleged
to have imparted the secret of Hatha Yoga to his divine consort

It is common for yogins and tantriks of several disciplines to

dedicate their practices to a deity under the Hindu ishta-devata
concept (see Patanjali's Yoga Sutras) while always striving to
achieve beyond that: Brahman. Hindu philosophy in the Vedanta
and Yoga streams, as the reader will remember, views only one
thing as being ultimately real: Satchitananda Atman, the
Existence-Consciousness-Blissful Self. Very Upanishadic in its
notions, worship of Gods is a secondary means of focus on the
higher being, a conduit to realization of the Divine Ground. Hatha
Yoga follows in that vein and thus successfully transcends being
particularly grounded in any one religion.

By balancing two streams, often known as ida (mental) and pingala

(bodily) currents, the shushumna nadi (current of the Self) is said
to rise, opening various chakras (cosmic powerpoints within the
body, starting from the base of the spine and ending right above
the head) until samadhi is attained.

It is through the forging a powerful depth of concentration and

mastery of the body and mind, Hatha Yoga practices seek to still
the mental waters and allow for apprehension of oneself as that
which one always was, Brahman. Hatha Yoga is essentially a manual
for scientifically taking one's body through stages of control to a
point at which one-pointed focus on the unmanifested brahman is
possible: it is said to take its practicer to the peaks of Raja Yoga.

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In the West, Hatha Yoga has become wildly popular as a purely
physical exercise regimen divorced of its original purpose.
Currently, it is estimated that about 30 million Americans
practice hatha yoga. But it is still followed in a manner consistent
with tradition throughout the Indian subcontinent. The
traditional guru-disciple relationship that exists without sanction
from organized institutions, and which gave rise to all the great
yogins who made way into international consciousness in the 20th
century, has been maintained in Indian, Nepalese and some
Tibetan circles.

See also
 Wikisource - Hatha Yoga Pradipika

External links
 Hatha Yoga Pradipika in PDF format (A free sample
containing the introduction and 10% of the text.)

Ve·dan·ta (vĭ-dän'tə, -dăn'-)
n. Hinduism.

The system of philosophy that further develops the implications

in the Upanishads that all reality is a single principle, Brahman,
and teaches that the believer's goal is to transcend the
limitations of self-identity and realize one's unity with Brahman.

[Sanskrit vedāntaḥ, complete knowledge of the Veda : Vedaḥ,

Veda; see Veda + antaḥ, end.]

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Ve·dan'tic adj.
Ve·dan'tism n.


Vedanta (Vedānta, रवेदब्रान्त, pronounced as "Vé:dα:ntə") means the

anta or culmination of Vedas. It is a principal branch of Hindu
philosophy. As per some, it is a form of Jnana Yoga (one of the
four basic yoga practices in Hinduism; the others are: Raja Yoga,
Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga), a form of yoga which involves an
individual seeking "the path of intellectual analysis or the
discrimination of truth and reality." As per others, Vedanta
encompasses all the four yogas. The sage Badarayana is supposed
to be the proponent of this philosophy and author of the Brahma
Sutras based on the Upanishads. In late ninteenth and early
twentieth centuries, Vedanta was propounded voraciously in the
West by Vivekananda. He was followed by many other Indian
sages in due course, including Yogananda, and others who came to
North America to preach Vedanta and make it popular in the

The concept of Brahman - the Supreme Spirit or the eternal, self

existant, immanent and transcedent Supreme and Ultimate
Reality which is the divine ground of all Being - is central to
Vedanta. The concept of God or Ishvara is also there, and the
Vedantic sub-schools differ mainly in how they identify God with

Mimamsa is one of the three major divisions of Hindu theistic

philosophy. It is further divided into Purva Mimamsa, also simply
called Mimamsa, which deals with explainations of the fire-
sacrifices of the Vedic mantras and Brahmanas, and Uttara

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Mimamsa, also called as Vedanta, which explicates the esoteric
teachings of the Aranyakas and the Upanishads. The school of
Vedanta is further divided into six main sub-schools.

Sub-schools of Vedanta
 Advaita Vedanta — this is the most influential of all and
many philosopers, both Indian and Western, have been
influenced by it. It was propounded by Adi Sankara, a great
Hindu reformer. According to this, Brahman is the only
ultimate reality and the world is an illusion. An illusionary
power of Brahman called Māyā causes this complication.
When a person tries to know Brahman through his mind, due
to the influence of Maya, Brahman becomes God. Ignorance
is the cause of all suffering in the world and only upon true
knowlegde of Brahman can liberation be attained. Upon
liberation, there is no difference between the individual
soul jīvātman (see Atman) and Brahman. See Advaita
 Vishishtadvaita — it was propounded by Ramanuja and says
that the jivatman is a part of Brahman, and hence is similar,
but not identical. It also propounds Bhakti or devotional
form of worship of God visualized as Vishnu. Maya is seen as
the creative power of God. See Vishishtadvaita.
 Dvaita — it was propounded by Madhva and in some ways is
similar to Christianity. It identifies God with Brahman
completely, and in turn with Vishnu or his incarnation
Krishna. It regards individual soul as separate from
Brahman and also advocated Bhakti. There is no concept of
Maya. See Dvaita.
 Dvaitādvaita — by Nimbarka. According to this, Brahman -
jiva relation maybe regarded as dvaita from one point of
view and advaita from another.

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 Shuddhadvaita — by Vallabha.
 Achintya Bhedābheda — by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Except Sankara, who also propounded the Smārta denomination,

all other acharyas are strongly Vaishnavite. The epistemology of
Advaita, Vishishtadvaita and Mimamsa (ie, purva-) is common.

Roots of Vedanta
All forms of Vedanta are drawn primarily from the Upanishads, a
set of philosophical and instructive Vedic scriptures which deal
mainly with forms of meditation. "The Upanishads are
commentaries on the Vedas, their putative end and essence, and
thus known as Vedānta = 'End of the Veda'. They are considered
the fundamental essence of all the Vedas and although they form
the backbone of Vedanta, portions of Vedantic thought are also
derived from some of the earlier Aranyakas.

Indian pre-Shankara Buddhist writer Bhavya in the

Madhyamakahrdaya Karika describes the Vedanta philosophy as
"Bhedabheda". The three branches of Vedanta best known in the
West are Advaita Vedanta, Vishishtadvaita, and Dvaita. Each of
these Vedantic divisions was founded by Shri Adishankara, Shri
Ramanuja and Shri Madhvacharya, respectively. Also of note,
historically, in order for a guru to be considered an acharya or
great teacher of a philosophical school of Vedanta, he was
required to write commentaries on three important texts in
Vedanta, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahma Sutras.
Accordingly, Adi Sankara, Ramanuja and Shri Madhvacharya have
written commentaries on all three canonical texts. The three
schools they conceived are the most prevalent, however,
proponents of other Vedantic schools continue to write and

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develop their ideas as well, although their works are not widely
known outside of India.

Swami Chinmayananda, of the Chinmaya Mission has been a great

modern day exponent of the Advaita non-dualistic tradition of
the Vedanta. More information on related text and literature are
available at

Transition from Vedic to Vedantic religion

While the traditional Vedic 'karma kanda', or ritualistic
components of religion, continued to be practiced through the
Brahmins as meditative and propitiatory rites to guide society to
self-knowledge, more jnana- or knowledge-centered
understandings began to emerge. These were mystical streams of
Vedic religion that focused on meditation, self-discipline and
spiritual connectivity rather than on rituals.

Etymologically, veda means "knowledge" and anta means "end", so

the literal meaning of the term "Vedānta" is "the end of
knowledge" or "the ultimate knowledge" or "matter appended to
the Veda". In earlier writings, Sanskrit 'Vedānta' simply referred
to the Upanishads, the most speculative and philosophical of the
Vedic texts. However, in the medieval period of Hinduism, the
word Vedanta came to mean the school of philosophy that
interpreted the Upanishads. Traditional Vedanta considered
scriptural evidence, or sabdapramana, as the most authentic
means of knowledge, while perception, or pratyaksa, and logical
inference, or anumana, were considered to be subordinate.


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The systematization of Vedantic ideas into one coherent treatise
was undertaken by Badarayana in the Vedanta Sutra, or Brahma
Sutra. The cryptic aphorisms of the Vedanta Sutras are open to a
variety of interpretations, resulting in the formation of numerous
Vedanta schools, each interpreting the texts in its own way and
producing its own sub-commentaries claiming to be faithful to the
original. Consistent throughout Vedanta, however, is the
exhortation that ritual be eschewed in favor of the individual's
quest for truth through meditation governed by a loving morality,
secure in the knowledge that infinite bliss awaits the seeker.
Near all existing sects of Hinduism are directly or indirectly
influenced by the thought systems developed by Vedantic
thinkers. Hinduism to a great extent owes its survival to the
formation of the coherent and logically advanced systems of

Vedanta and science

Advaita Vedanta has influenced modern scientists. Erwin
Schrödinger claimed to have been inspired by Vedanta in his
discovery of quantum theory. According to his biographer Walter
Moore: "The unity and continuity of Vedanta are reflected in the
unity and continuity of wave mechanics. In 1925, the world view
of physics was a model of a great machine composed of separable
interacting material particles. During the next few years,
Schrödinger and Werner Heisenberg and their followers created
a universe based on superimposed, inseparable waves of
probability amplitudes. This new view would be entirely consistent
with the Vedantic concept of All in One.". Additionally, Fritjof
Capra's book The Tao of Physics is one among several that
pursues this viewpoint as it investigates the relationship between
modern, particularly quantum, physics and the core philosophies
of various Eastern religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and

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Taoism. Unfortunately, such writings by western authors often
run the risk of oversimplifying and ignoring important differences
between Eastern religions. For instance, pre-modern Vedantins
argued for the existence of an eternal self, or atman, while
Buddhists have denied this possibility. However, in recent times,
the availability of an increasing number of accurate translations
of Vedantic works, commentaries by Western scientists like
Schrödinger and Capra, and easier access to original texts have
made it possible for modern students of Vedanta and Physics to
overcome the semantic gap arising due to cultural differences and
approach their study in a more informed manner.

Major Vedantic Gurus

Pre-modern Vedantins:

 Adi Shankara
 Bhaskara
 Vallabha
 Caitanya
 Nimbarka
 Baladeva Vidyabhushana
 Vacaspati Misra
 Suresvara
 Vijnanabhiksu
 Badarayana

Modern Vedantins:

 Ramakrishna Paramahansa
 Swami Vivekananda
 Ramana Maharshi
 Nisargadatta Maharaj
 Sri Aurobindo

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 Swami Sivananda
 Swami Chinmayananda
 Paramahansa Yogananda
 Swami Parthasarathy

See also
 Brahman
 Monism
 Panentheism
 Pantheism

External links
 Brahma sutras (Vedanta sutras) online
 Advaita Vedanta homepage
 Vedanta Society of Southern California
 Vedanta Society of Northern California
 Vedanta's influence
 From the Unreal to the Real
 NeoVedanta
 "Vedanta in America"
 Nikola Tesla and Swami Vivekananda
 A lecture about Vedanta by Swami Vivekananda
 Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Additional References
For non-western sources a good starting point is Modern Physics
and Vedanta by Swami Jitatmananda, a monk of the Ramakrishna
Order. In the preceding title Amaury de Reincourt's The Eye of
Shiva (New York, William Morrow & Co. 1981), is often cited along
with The Dancing Wu Li Masters, by Gary Zukav; The

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Philosophical Impact of Contemporary Physics by Milic Capek;
Mysticism and the New Physics, Michael Talbot; The Cosmic Code,
Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature, by Heinz R Pagels;
Philosophical Aspects of Modern Science, by C.E.M. Joad; The
Holographic Paradigm; David Bohm's Causality and Chance in
Modern Physics; Huston Smith's Forgotten Truth: The Primordial
Tradition. More scholarly treatments include Theology After
Vedanta, by Francis X. Clooney, Sankara and Indian Philosophy, by
Natalia Isayeva, A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy, by
Hajime Nakamura, and volume III of Karl Potter and Sibajiban
Bhattacharya's Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies.

Topics in Yoga

Artha is a Sanskrit term referring to the idea of material

prosperity. In Hinduism, artha is one of the four goals of life,
known as purusharthas. It is considered to be a noble goal as long
as it follows the dictates of Vedic morality. The concept includes
achieving widespread fame, garnering wealth and having an
elevated social standing. It is the second lowest rung on the
ladder of reincarnation, above kama (physical or emotional
pleasure) but below dharma (righteousness) and moksha

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