The Vedas (, IAST: veda, Sanskrit: वेदः, lit

 ‘knowledge’) are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India

Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism

There are four Vedas: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda

Each Veda has four subdivisions – 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 texts of the Upanishads discuss ideas akin to the heterodox sramana-traditions

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

Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya, which means “not of a man, superhuman” and “impersonal, authorless,” revelations of sacred sounds and texts heard by ancient sages after intense meditation

The Vedas have been orally transmitted since the 2nd millennium BCE with the help of elaborate mnemonic techniques

The mantras, the oldest part of the Vedas, are recited in the modern age for their phonology rather than the semantics, and are considered to be “primordial rhythms of creation”, preceding the forms to which they refer

By reciting them the cosmos is regenerated, “by enlivening and nourishing the forms of creation at their base

“The various Indian philosophies and Hindu denominations have taken differing positions on the Vedas; schools of Indian philosophy which acknowledge the primal authority of the Vedas are classified as “orthodox” (āstika)

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