Question 3. What is the basic scripture of Hinduism? Would you epitomize its contents?
The Vedas are the basic scriptures of Hinduism. Literally Veda means knowledge or wisdom. Shruti (that which is revealed), Agama (that which has been handed down as a tradition) and Nigama (that which gives us definite and decisive answers to the ultimate problems of life) are other appellations by which it is known. Since they were revealed, by the grace of God the Supreme, to the Rishis or sages in the depths of their intuitive experience, they have been described as apaurusheya, i.e., not created by any human agency.
These Vedas are four: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. Out of these the Rigveda has been conceded to be the most ancient work. According to B.G. Tilak and some other scholars who base their findings on the astronomical data available in the Rigveda itself, it was composed at least about 8000 years ago.
The Rigveda is primarily a collection of prayer hymns. The Yajurveda deals mainly with sacrificial rites and rituals. The Samaveda has set to music a selected number of hymns from the Rigveda, prescribing their chanting at appropriate stages in certain sacrifices. Incidentally, the origins of our classical music can be discovered in the Samaveda. The Atharvaveda is mostly a compendium of ethical principle as also some branches of science like Ayurveda (the science of health and longevity).
Traditionally, each of the four Vedas has been divided into four parts: Mantra or Samhita,Brahmana, Aranyaka and Upanishad. The Samhitas are collections of prayers addressed to various Vedic deities like Indra, Varuna, and Vishnu. The Brahmanas this word should not be confused with the Brahmana caste.
describe the modes and methods of performing Yajnas and Yagas (Vedic sacrifices and other connected rites). The Aranyakas describe various meditations based on the sacrificial rites and to be practised in the forest (aranya= forest). The Upanishads are philosophical works dealing with such topics as the Truth behind the universe, the true nature of human beings, the goal of life and the means of achieving it.