of the Vedas consists of four parts, the Mantra-
Samhitas, Brãhmanas, Ãranyakas and Upanishads.
The Mantra-Samhithas, or Hymns, are in praise of Vedic Gods for
attaining material prosperity here and happiness hereafter. They
contain metrical poems of prayer hymns and are useful for Brahmacharis
or young students. The Mantra -Samhitha portion of all the Vedas
contains 20,500 mantras.
term Veda often refers to Samhitha which is the most important portion.
The Brahmana portions are to guide people to perform sacrificial
rites and rituals. They are prose explanations for using the Mantras
in Yagnas or sacrificial rituals and are useful for Grahasthas or
Aranyakas are said to be "Forest books" which give philosophical
explanations of the rituals and are intended for Vanaprasthas. The
Upanishads contain the essence of the philosophy of the Vedas. They
speak of the identity of the individual Soul and the Supreme Soul.
They are the most subtle and eternal Spiritual Truths and an embodiment
of Divine knowledge.
whole subject in the four Vedas can be divided into three portions.
The Karma-Kãnda, the
ritual section deals with sacrificial rites and rituals. The Upasana-Kãnda
the worship section is for prayers and meditation. The Jnãna-Kãnda
[Gnãna-Kãnda], the knowledge section describes the
highest Philosophy and Knowledge of Nirguna Brahmam or the Formless
Supreme. These various disciplines are laid down for persons with
different background and states of knowledge.
Karma or performance of action comes first. Though rituals and prayers
are the basic, Jnana [Gnaana] is the ultimate level of the faith.
All the Vedas, Smrithis, Agamas, Puranas and Bhagvat Gita say: "Vedic
Karmas and Worship alone is of no use unless they lead to Jnaana
or enlightenment". Jnãna is obtained by the study and understanding
of the philosophy and knowledge as in the Upanishads. This will
lead ultimately to liberation.