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How were the four Vedas written?

Questions from Bal Vihar Students

Question:   How were the four Vedas written? Who wrote them?
(from Neil Merchant, 6th grade)

Answer:   The four Vedas – Rig, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva – are not the work of any single author. In ancient India, there were many rishis (sages) living simple, contemplative lives in hermitages high in the Himalayas and along the banks of sacred rivers. The rishis had names like Angiras, Bhrigu, Yajnavalkya, and Gargi (Gargi was a woman). They sought to understand the fundamental truths of life – Why are we born? How did the world come into existence? How can we live a good life? Because of their intense inquiry and deep meditation, they received God’s blessings and were able to discover the answers to their profound questions.

God revealed these sacred truths to the ancient sages, and the sages composed hymns and texts in the Sanskrit language to express these truths. Their hymns and texts were then passed on from generation to generation, from teacher to student, by chanting them aloud; they were not yet written down. Eventually, the great rishi, Vyasa, compiled all of their hymns and texts into four collections which are now known as the Vedas.

Question:   What is the difference between the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita? (from Parth Ashar, age 7)

Answer:   Hinduism began with the Vedas. The Vedas came first, so they are called the source scripture for Hinduism. Many other scriptures were written in ancient India, including the Ramayana, Mahabharat, and the Puranas. All of these scriptures were based on the teachings of the Vedas. In the Mahabharat, there is a small section in which Sri Krishna teaches the mighty warrior Arjuna the same spiritual truths first taught in the Vedas. This section is so special that we study it independently and we call it the Bhagavad Gita, which means the Song of God. Even though the Vedas are the main scriptures for all Hindus, the Bhagavad Gita is studied more widely, mostly because it is easier to understand.

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