The word ‘Veda’ means true knowledge. The Vedas are also known as the Ancient Wisdom or Sacred Doctrine and life teachings of the ancient Aryans. They were perceived to be of Divine origin, given to mankind at the very beginnings of the human race in order to establish rules for human society.
There is no real evidence of their date of origin and common references vary considerably between 5000 – 1200 B.C. Scholars are still debating the issue. However, tradition places The Vedas further back in antiquity than we care to consider, and certainly are known to be very much older than the Bible.
Their vast knowledge encompasses a wide range of subjects including astronomy, astrology, phonetics, poetry, grammar, ceremonial, history, medicine, scriptures, archery, art, music, architecture and philosophy. Their language was pre-classical Sanskrit and the teachings were divided into 4 collections called the Veda Samhitas– these being the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama-Veda and last, the Atharva-Veda.
Ayurveda is referred to as the Science of life – the aspect of the Vedic teachings relating to health and healing. It is a system of medicine which is becoming well known in the western world and is being revived in India. Many of its methods correspond with the naturopathic disciplines and principles with the use of herbs, medicines and minerals and even gemstones in non-invasive healing techniques to arrive at cure. Surgery is resorted to only at the last.
Vedanta means ‘the end of the Vedas’ and holds that all Truth is One and that all religions follow the same goal. It is a highly popular part of the teachings, incorporating the Upanishads or philosophical insights so frequently quoted. The word‘ Upanishads’ comes from ‘to sit’ and exchange wisdom at the feet of the Master Guru and to receive teachings of exoteric and also esoteric nature.
The principles of Yoga were incorporated in the Vedic culture and later formalized as one of the six classical schools of Indian philosophy, one that indicates the disciplines and principles whereby an individual can become conscious of his immortal being and the great Universal Intelligence of the Creator.
The followers of the Vedas over time became known as Hindus and it was the duty of the Brahmin priests and teachers to maintain and execute the principles on behalf of the race.
Their sacred language of Sanskrit is retained by scholars although adapted to Hindi as the national language now of India with Devanagari being its written form.
Throughout our recorded history, many have dipped into various aspects of this profound and ancient wisdom preserved in India. It can be seen to permeate throughout many cultures of the world and has inspired many philosophers of the western classical world, including Plato.