World Conference on Vedas: Highlights

IAS Prelims 2023

The Vice-President of India has inaugurated the World Conference on Vedas, “Vishwa Ved Sammelan” in New Delhi. He said that the Vedas preach world peace, universal brotherhood and welfare of all.

The Vedas have great relevance to humanity. The Yajurveda mentions that the knowledge of Vedas is meant for the well-being of the entire humanity. The Vedas do not refer to any caste or community.

Vedas are the source of knowledge and guide us to advance in economic, social, educational and political fields and also in maintaining high moral and ethical standards.

Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, the builder of modern India and Founder of Arya Samaj, had given the message “Back to the Vedas” to the world. This has been endorsed by the renowned Orientalist, Max Mueller.

Renowned philosopher and Nobel Laureate Maurice Maeterlinck had said the Vedas are the only and incomparable source of all knowledge.

The Vedas are a large body of knowledge texts originating in the ancient Indian subcontinent. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya, which means “not of a man, superhuman” and “impersonal, authorless”.

Vedas are also called śruti (“what is heard”) literature, distinguishing them from other religious texts, which are called smṛti (“what is remembered”).

In the Hindu Epic the Mahabharata, the creation of Vedas is credited to Brahma. The Vedic hymns themselves assert that they were skillfully created by Rishis (sages), after inspired creativity, just as a carpenter builds a chariot.

There are four Vedas: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda. Each Veda has been subclassified into four major text types – the Samhitas (mantras and benedictions), the Aranyakas (text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices), the Brahmanas (commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices), and the Upanishads (texts discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge). Some scholars add a fifth category – the Upasanas (worship).

The various Indian philosophies and denominations have taken differing positions on the Vedas. Schools of Indian philosophy which cite the Vedas as their scriptural authority are classified as “orthodox” (āstika).

Other śramaṇa traditions, such as Lokayata, Carvaka, Ajivika, Buddhism and Jainism, which did not regard the Vedas as authorities, are referred to as “heterodox” or “non-orthodox” (nāstika) schools.

Despite their differences, just like the texts of the śramaṇa traditions, the layers of texts in the Vedas discuss similar ideas and concepts.