veda, वेद

Derives from the Sanskrit root vid (to know), means "knowledge", "revelation", "scriptures".

The most ancient of all Sanskrit works. The once unified Veda is currently divided into four collections (samhitas):

  • Rigveda – hymns to the gods

  • Samaveda – the chants of the clergy

  • Yajurveda – Sacrificial Spells

  • Atharvaveda – magical chants.

Rigveda contains hymns sung by a priest (hotar) who led the ceremonies of sacrifice and worship of deities. The rest of the collections were originally textbooks on the performance of rites for helpers of the hotar, endowed with various functions: udgatar is a connoisseur of hymns, the content of which is recorded in Samaveda; adhvaryu – the master of ceremonies, specializing in the knowledge of ritual texts collected in Yajurveda; and, finally, a brahmin who observes the actions of the three indicated priests and mentally repeats verses from Atharva Veda.

Four Vedic priests, accompanied by assistants, are required to meticulously and accurately perform the ceremony, which begins with the ceremony of lighting three fires on the altar, symbolizing the cosmos, and ends with a sacrifice (yajna). During the agnihotra, the sacrifice to fire, the adhvaryu, along with the one who orders the ritual, bring milk as a gift to the fire god Agni. This is the simplest sacrificial procedure of a whole series of offerings, among which the sacrificial libation of the intoxicating juice of the soma plant is one of the most important rituals. Along with the rituals, the performance of which requires special priests, the head of the family independently performs various sacrifices on the home altar: seasonal, monthly, in fulfillment of a vow, expiatory and propitiatory.

A special category is made up of rites called sanskaras, "sacralizations", accompanying birth, apprenticeship (upanayana, when a young man is brought to his Guru – Brahman), marriage and death.

In the hymns of Rigveda, the deities, which are very different, are often assigned the same qualities, so it is not always possible to establish the original character of the deity. Surya, Savitar and Vishnu are solar deities, Vayu personifies the wind, Ushas is the morning light, Agni is fire, Soma is the drink of the same name. Varuna and Mitra maintain the cosmic order, an integral part of which is the social and spiritual world order. Rudra Shiva is a formidable god, inspiring horror even when he heals diseases. Finally, Indra is a warrior god who often commits illegal actions or, in any case, does not obey the general rules of behavior, while, as a rule, achieving, albeit unconsciously, some positive effect at the end of his actions.