The individual verses contained in these compilations are known as mantras.
“Veda” means wisdom, knowledge or vision, and manifests the language of the gods in human speech. The laws of the Vedas regulate the social, legal, domestic and religious customs to the present day.
The 4 Vedas:1. Rig Veda - hymns recited by the hotar, or presiding priest;
2. Yajur Veda - formulas recited by adhvaryu or officiating priest;
3. Sama Veda - formulas sung by udgatar or priest who chant;
4. Atharva Veda – spells, incantations, apotropaic charms and speculative hymns.
All Vedas are based upon the Rig Veda and consist to a large degree of various hymns from it.
Rig VedaRig Veda manuscripts have been selected for inscription in UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 2007.
The Rig Veda Samhita is the oldest extant text. It is a collection of 1,028 Vedaic Sanskrit hymns,102 Suktas and 10,600 verses in all, organized into ten books (Sanskrit: mandalas) which are filled with good thoughts to purify the human mind through knowledge. The hymns (mantra) are dedicated to Rig Vedaic deities.
The Rig Veda contains several mythological and poetical accounts of the origin of the world, hymns praising the gods, and ancient prayers for life, prosperity, etc. Some of its verses are still recited as Hindu prayers, at religious functions and other occasions, making it probably the world's oldest religious texts in use.
The Rig Veda is built around a science of sound which comprehends the meaning and power of each letter. Every natural element has been contemplated upon and spoken about. Darkness is symbol of illusionary living, devoid of wisdom, justness and sagacity. Most aspects of Vedaic science like the practice of yoga, meditation, mantra and AyurVeda can be found in the Rig Veda and still use many terms that come from it.
Mandal/BookThe 10 books, known as Mandals, are of varying age and length.
Mandals 2–7: The "family books" are the oldest and shortest of the Rig Veda and arranged by length (increasing number of hymns per book), account for 38% of the text. Within each book, the hymns are in collections dealing with a particular deity: Agni comes first, Indra second and so on. Within each, hymns are arranged in descending order of stanzas per hymn. If two hymns have equal stanzas the number of syllables in metre are in descending order.
8 and 9 Mandals: of mixed age, account for 9 to 15% respectively.
1 and 10 Mandals: youngest and longest, account for 37% of text.