word `veda` in interpreted as `knowledge`. The Veda are regarded as teachings
or revelations by God to the rishis (seers or enlightened ones), and which can be dated back at least three thousand years,
and possibly up to six thousand years ago. They are also known as `shruti`, the original revealed literature. The Veda are an important element in the teachings of north Indian Hindus and yogis. The Saivites of the Tamil south of India have their own teachings called the `Tiru-Murai`, although these are of a later
date - around the 11thC CE.
There are four Vedas: The Rig Veda, Atharva Veda, Yajur Veda and Sama Veda.
The Rig Veda – `Knowledge of Praise`, is the oldest of the four and contains ten chapters, the mandalas, containing
1028 hymns or mantra (Note these are not the short simple mantra such as Soham). The
hymns are often almost impossible for modern readers to understand because of their obscure and symbolic references. TheRig Veda includes teachings on the creation of the world, and the major gods. It is from the Rig Veda that the Brahmanas (ritual texts) developed, and from there
The Atharva Veda - `Atharvan`s Knowledge`, of 730 hymns features around 6000 magical incantations.
The Yajur Veda - `Knowledge of Sacrifice` is of particular importance in the teaching of the sacrificial rites.
The Sama Veda - `Knowledge of Chants`, again contains hymns associated
with the rituals of modern Hindu ceremonies.
Although detailed knowledge of the Vedas is not common among yoga students, it is important to realise their importance
in the development of yoga and Hinduism.
The `Purana` is another term dating from earliest times containg some theological teachings, but being mainly concerned
with the histories of kings and queens.
Also dating from the same times is the Ayur Veda, the system of health and treatment for illnesses still used today
and gaining increasing recognition in the west.