The ancient Indian Vedic scriptures are the greatest heritage of India. These sacred texts were not preached by any single Messiah but evolved over a period of time – a sort of a culmination of the wisdom of several saints. Hence the depth and range of these ancient texts is so vast that one can pick and choose ones path to salvation as per ones attitudinal and spiritual inclinations.
The four Vedas, Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Athar Veda form the core of the Hindu religion. They contain the Hindu rituals, worships, mantras and all the religious and social principles, which are the foundation of Hinduism. They also contain several coded instructions and secrets related to use of medicines and secret Tantrik rituals to attain various objectives.
“Veda” means wisdom, knowledge or vision, and it manifests the language of the God in human speech. The Vedas are the most sacred books of India. They are the original scriptures of Hindu teachings, and contain spiritual knowledge encompassing all aspects of our life. Sage Veda Vyasa grouped the mantras into four Vedas as Rig, Yaju, Sama and Atharva and propagated through his disciples Paila Vaisampayana, Jaimini and Sumantu, respectively. The four Vedas were said to have 1131 branches earlier. But now only 13 branches are traceable ( about 1%). Out of these 13 branches only 7 are now chanted in different parts of India.
Rig Veda is regarded as the oldest of all Vedas. Westernised scholars date the Rig Veda as 1200 BC – 4000 B.C. but traditional Hindus believe that Vedas are eternal knowledge and beyond time and space. The Rig-Vedic ‘samhita’ or collection of mantras consists of 1,028 hymns or ‘suktas’, The 10,589 verses of the Rigveda are divided into ten mandalas or books.
First mandala consists of 191 suktas and 2006 mantras
Second mandala consists of 43 suktas and 429 mantras
Third mandala consists of 62 suktas and 617 mantras
Fourth mandala consists of 58 suktas and 589 mantras
Fifth mandala consists of 87 suktas and 727 mantras
Sixth mandala consists of 75 suktas and 765 mantras
Seventh mandala consists of 104 suktas and 841 mantras
Eighth mandala consists of 103 suktas and 1716 mantras
Ninth mandala consists of 114 suktas and 1108 mantras
Tenth mandala consists of 191 suktas and 1754 mantras
According to the Shatapatha Brahmana, the number of syllables in the Rigveda is 432,000, equaling the number of muhurtas (1 day = 30 muhurtas) in forty years.The Rig-Vedic hymns were compiled by Paila under the guidance of Vyasa, and went to form the Rig mantra Samhita. Rgveda intones that let there be goodness in the hearts and thoughts. Since all are embodiments of the Divinity, all human beings are one. Rig Veda is important not only from religious and philosophical point of view but as some recent research has shown it also contains immense information on cosmology, astrology and mathematics.
The Yajur Veda contains hymns for ceremonial purposes which also deal with the art of living a successful and wholesome life. It was used by the adhvaryu, priests who recited the appropriate formulas from the Yajur-Veda while actually performing the sacrificial actions. There are six complete recessions of Yajur Veda – Madyandina, Kanva, Taittiriya, Kathaka, Maitrayani and Kapishthala.
There are two versions of the Yajur Veda. Veda Vyasa composed the Krishna Yajur Veda and the Pandits of South India follow this.
As for the Shukla Yajur Veda – according to legend Rishi Yangyavalkya was a student of Rishi Jaimini. During a teaching session attended by the disciples , a messenger came from the King’s court. It was customary of the King to get the blessing of the Brahmanas before commencing the day’s work. So this time Guru asked the young Yagnavalkya to go to the court to bless the king.
Yangyavalkya went to the court , but the king was still taking the bath and he have to wait. Being a young turk he told the messenger the king should have called him when he is ready and he is missing the lessons, the messenger informed this to the king. The king told the messenger to ask for the “Akshatai” and asked the brahmana to leave. So the rishi left the “Akshatai” in the nearby pipal tree trunk , where the tree is cut at stump level and left to the Gurukulam.
The king came out after taking the bath and was very surprised to see a fully grown pipal tree, in the place where it used to be a half cut stump. The astonished King inquired the messenger on what happened , the messenger narrated. The King understood the power of the Rishi and rushed to Gurukulam.
There he narrated the whole thing to Guru Jaimini. But the Guru wants to admonish the student for his impatience. So he called the Rishi Yagyavalkya and asked why can’t he wait till the king finished his bath and so on. As punishment he asked the Rishi Yagyavalkya to spit (kakku) whatever he learned from him. The student obeyed the guru, he took the form of Ostrich (nerruppu kozhi) called “Thithri” in Sanskrit and emitted 3 chunks of black Those were called Krishna Yajur Veda, – The famous “Taithirya Samhita” in the Krishna yajur veda was so called because of this. (ie from “thithri”) .
Then he did much penance on the Sun God and received the “Shukla Yajur Veda “ from Sun god. The Shukla Yajurveda is is more popular in Northern India.
Shukla yajurveda (vaajasaaniiya) consists of 40 chapters in metrical form. Sukla Yajurveda follows the Aditya sampradaya or the schoolof Aditya – Sun God, and is more popular in the North India. Out of the 17 sakas in this school, only 2 are available now.
Krishna yajurveda (Taittiriiya) has some portions which are in metrical form and some protion in prose forms and some portions contains a mixure of both. Krishna Yajurveda follows the Brahma sampradaya (the school of Brahma) and is more popular in the South India. It was supposed to be having 82 branches or sakas out of which only 4 are available now.
Sama Veda: “Amongst the Vedas I am the Samaveda” said Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.
The word Sama means sweet songs or hymns. It is said that Sama Veda had originally 1000 sakhas but only 13 are available now.
9. Mashaka Gargya
At present only three ( Ranayana, Kuthuma and Jaimini) are available. Samaveda consists of 1875 mantras. These mantras are divided into two broad groups- puravachika (650 mantras) and Uttarachika (1225 manrtas).Purvachika is further divided into four sections or kandas: agneya, aindra, pavamana and aranya kandas. The Uttarnchika consists of 21chapters.
The recital is as per the Kuthuma sakha.Atharva Veda
Atharva Veda is named after Rishi Atharvan who played a major role in the composition of the Atharva Veda. It deals with medicine and contains detailed description of medicines, anatomy and physiology. It also deals with many tantrik practices, charms, poisons etc that can be used against enemies in warfare. Apart from these it also contains many philosophical doctrines. As it contains several secret Tantrik practices, not many dare to study it and fewer still recite it openly for the general public.
The Veda Reciting styles
Without resort to writing, our forefathers had devised many ways to prevent even a very small error to creep into the Vedas. The fullest benefit from the Vedic mantras can result only if no word is changed; no unauthorized upward or downward drift in the note occurs in the recitation. Hence the numerous safeguards. How much time it should take to utter each word is indicated by resort to the notation by “maatras”-the time it takes to pronounce a short vowel. How to regulate breathing so that the vibrations can occur at what part of the body to give birth to the pure word sound is also laid down in the Vedanga Seeksha. The Taitreeya Upanishad, for e.g., begins with Seeksha thus:
Seeksham Vyakyaa syaamah – Varna Swarah – Maatrabalam – Saama Santaanah
Seeksha deals with Varna, Swara, Maatra, Strength, Saama and Santaanah
A fool-proof method is to chant each mantra in various patterns and combinations known as Vaakya, Pada, Krama, Jata, Maala, Sikha, Rekha, Dhwaja, Danda, Ratha, Ghana, etc.
Some learned pundits are called “Ghanapaatis”. This means that they are learned in the Vedas to the extent of chanting of the Vedas in the pattern called “Ghanam”. When we listen to a Ghanapaati reciting Vedas in Ghana form, we note that he repeats the in various ways back and forth and in different patterns. This would be pleasant to the ears and creates a sense of happiness within. It would seem that the natural grandeur of the Veda mantras is heightened, as it were. So would be the effect of recitation in the other prescribed patterns of Kramam, Jata, Sikha, Maala, etc. But the main object of reciting them is to make no mistake in the original meaning and sound pattern of the words.
Vaakya Paatha or Samhita Paatha is to recite the mantras in a sentence straight. When mantras come in sentences, some of the words therein have to be conjoined in chanting. To recite the Veda mantras, pada by pada or word by word, instead of joining the words and stringing them together is Pada Paatha. Pada Paatha occurs after Samhita paatha. In Pada Paatha the sentence is broken down to “words” or pada. This gives the student of the Vedas the knowledge of each word in a sentence.
In Krama Paatha, the first word of the mantra is added to the second, the second to the third, the third to the fourth and so on, until the whole sentence of the mantras is completed. This paatha or method of recitation helps the student understand not only the individual words but also how two words can be combined in recitation and what modification occurs in swara in such a combination.
In certain ancient edicts, notably gift deeds, at the end of the name of some illustrious persons, there would be a suffix “Krama Vit”. Like “Veda Vit”, “Krama Vit” means that the person is well versed in reciting the Vedas by the Krama Paatha methods.There are many such edicts in South India.
In Jata Paatha, the first word and the second are first recited together and then the words are recited in a reverse order and then again in the original order. the order will be 1-2-2-1-1-2, 2-3-3-2-2-3, 3-4-4-3-3-4, 4-5-5-4-4-5 and so on.
In the Krama Paatha type of recitation the order of words is 1-2 ; 2-3 ; 3-4 ; 4-5 and so on.
Just as two words are repeated forwards and backwards in the Jata Paatha, in the Sikha Paatha three words to be so linked.
In Ghana Paatha, which is the most enchanting to listen, the chanting will be:
1-2-2-1-1-2-3-3-2-1-1-2-3 2-3-3-2-2-3-4-4-3-2-2-3-4 3-4-4-3-3-4-5-5-4-3-3-4-5
Chanted in Ghana Paatham style as above, Rig Veda may take over 450 hours to chant!!
Listen to the following brief Ghana Paatha verses to understand the greatness of this style of reciting:
The basic verse is given here.
To know Ghana Patham style with the basic verses and the detailed repeated verses > Click here
The Veda mantras, which are for universal benefit, have been preserved by the ancients, without resorting to writing, by such methods of recitation. It must be remembered that, while chanting words backwards and forwards, the swaras of each have to be properly preserved and the student learns how the combination of words affect the swaras. The Samhita Paatha and Pada Paatha are called Prakrithi ( or natural ) Paathas, as the words of the mantras occur in normal sequence. The rest are called Vikrithi ( or artificial and not natural ) Paathas. In Krama, although the words do not occur in the natural order of one, two and three, since they do not revert like one after two and two after three, it cannot be called fully Vikrithi or artificial. The Vikrithis are eight in number:
Jataa maalaa sikha rekha dhwajo dando ratho Ghanah
Ityashta vikritayah proktah kramapoorva maharshibhih
The above system of complicated recitation was devised in very earl times in order to preserve the purity of the word, sound, intonation, pronunciation, accent and sound
combination of the Vedas. By repeating the words in manifold ways, the correct tally of the words was also kept which naturally ensured the purity of the texts. To enable
the scholars to take up the difficult methods of recitation, it was even laid down that the more difficult methods of chanting earned the chanter more punya or merit.
According to the pundits, merely reading the Vedas is of no use – excepting some academic knowledge. For gaining real the spiritual benefits one must recite the Vedas or at least must listen to the Vedic recital.
It is a matter of great privilege that I am able to give you the complete recital of the four Vedas on net. Others have put several verses of the Vedas but this is the 1st time the complete four Vedas are available on net. Editing the total 205 MP3 files, of 922 Mbs, making these 205 pages and links and uploading was a back breaking work but it has given me a lot of satisfaction. I hope and I am sure that you will enjoy listening to these recital, handed down from generation to generation since thousands of years.
I am deeply indebted to my Pooja section pundits who made this possible.
I am deeply indebted to Pandit Sitaraman, the famous Vedic scholar who runs the Veda Vidya Gurukul near Delhi, who did the stupendous job of getting the best South Indian Pundits to recite the Vedas and got them recorded. The original high resolution MP3 CDs are of much better quality. We are collaborating with him and very soon those interested can make a donation to his Gurukul and obtain CDs of these Vedas.
Please note that we are providing this freely to you so that you can play them for personal purpose and learn the correct way of reciting and pronouncing these revered Vedic slokas. Any unauthorized copying or any commercial use by any unauthorized persons or organizations or copying, publishing or distributing in any form, whether commercial, personal or free distribution or any other purpose, is a violation of the Intellectual property rights and may bring legal action from the copyright holders.
Rig Veda MP3
It is divided into total 54 separate MP3 files as it is total 258 MBs. To visit the Rig Veda pages > Click here
Krishna Yajur Veda MP3 – (Taittiriiya Sakha)
It is divided it into total 58 separate MP3 files as it is 270 MBs. To visit the Yajur Veda pages > Click here
Shukla Yajur Veda MP3 – (Kanva Sakha)
It is divided into 28 separate MP3 files. To visit the YajurVeda pages > Click here
Sama Veda MP3
The recital is as per the Kuthuma sakha
It is divided it into total 64 separate MP3 files as it is a whopping 292 MBs. To visit the Sama Veda pages > Click here
Atharva Veda MP3 – It is divided in to 19 MP3 files. To visit the Atharvaa Veda pages > Click here