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Name:____________ The Vedas The most sacred scriptures of Hinduism are the Vedas ("Books of Knowledge"), a collection of texts written in Sanskrit from about 1200 BCE to 100 CE. As sruti, the Vedas are regarded as the absolute authority for religious knowledge and a test of Hindu orthodoxy (both Jains and Buddhists reject the Vedas). "For Hindus, the Veda is a symbol of unchallenged authority and tradition." Selections from the Vedas are still memorized and recited for religious merit today. Yet much of the religion presented in the Vedas is unknown today and plays little to no role in modern Hinduism. As historical and religious literature often is, the text is written from the perspective of the most powerful groups, priests and warrior-kings. Scholars say it is therefore unlikely that it represents the totality of religious belief and practice in India in the first millennium BCE. This perspective is especially evident in the earlier parts of the Vedas, in which the primary concerns are war, rain, and dealing with the "slaves," or native inhabitants of India. Initially, the Vedas consisted of four collections of mantras (Samhitas), each associated with a particular priest or aspect of ritual: Rig Veda (Wisdom of the Verses); Sama Veda (Wisdom of the Chants); Yajur Veda (Wisdom of the Sacrificial Formulas); and Atharva Veda (Wisdom of the Atharvan Priests). Over the centuries, three kinds of additional literature were attached to each of the Samhitas: Brahmanas (discussions of the ritual); Aranyakas ("books studied in the forest"); and Upanishads (philosophical writings). In these later texts, especially the Upanishads, the polytheism of the earlier Vedas has evolved into a pantheism focused on Brahman, the supreme reality of the universe. This concept remains a key feature of Hindu philosophy today. While the Vedas mainly discuss religion and rituals, they also give historians vital information about Early India. During the Vedic Age (when the Vedas were written), India was divided into many small kingdoms, often warring with one another. It would be many years until a ruler could unite them all. Selected verses: Quote 1: “Truth cannot be suppressed and always is the ultimate victor." -the Yajur Veda Quote 2: "When the family is ruined, the timeless laws of family duty perish; and when duty is lost, Chaos overwhelms the family." -Bhagavad-gita 1:40 Quote 3: "You must learn to endure fleeting things they come and go!" -Bhagavad-gita 2:14 Quote 4: "Life and death, joy and sorrow, gain and loss; These dualities cannot be avoided. Learn to accept what you cannot change." -the Ramayana Quote 5: "Do not be led by others, awaken your own mind, amass your own experience, and decide for yourself your own path." -The Atharva Veda Quote 6: On this Earth do I stand, Unvanquished, unslain, unhurt. Set me, O Earth, amidst the nourishing strength That emanates from thy body. The Earth is my mother, her child am I! -the Atharva Veda Quote 7: "Strive to move away from untruth towards truth.” -the Atharva Veda Quote 8: "An ignorant man is lost, faithless, and filled with self-doubt; A soul that harbors doubt has no joy, not in this world or the next." -Bhagavad-gita 4:40 Quote 9: “O Indra, destroy all those lustful people behaving like birds.... angry ones behaving like wolves.... greedy ones behaving like vultures.... enticed ones behaving like owls..... arrogant ones behaivng like eagles and the jealous ones behaving like dogs.” - The Atharva Veda Quote 10: "We do not know which weight is worse to bear our conquering them or their conquering us." -Bhagavad-gita 2:6 Quote 11: "Now, I am become Death, Destroyer of worlds. I am vengeful time! All around you in battle are your enemies But their deaths are not yours but mine! So arise my champion, without remorse.. Bravely, even joyously defeat your foes, for you are the most amazing archer, but truly 'tis I who guide your arrows!" -Bhagavad-gita 11:32 and 33 Quote 12: “The person who is always involved in good deeds experiences incessant divine happiness. ” -The Rig Veda Questions 1. What are the Vedas? When were they written? 2. To which religion are the Vedas considered “holy scriptures”? 3. Who wrote the Vedas? 4. What do the Vedas reveal about Ancient Indian history? 5. Which quote is your favorite? Why? Write a paragraph discussing your selected quote’s significance.