Branches of Knowledge of Hindu Dharma
Hindu Dharma, or the Hindu way of life is more technically called as Vedic dharma or Vedic way of life.
Hindu dharma has fourteen abodes or branches of knowledge.
There are four steps or dasas in learning. Reading, understanding what is read, living according to the teachings contained in what is read, and making others also live in accordance with them.
The Vedas – Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda are the first four authoritative texts of vedic religion.
Six Angas or basic parts of Vedas are Siksha, Vyakarana, Chandas, Nirukta, Jyotisa and Kalpa.
The four upangas or sub parts are Mimamsa, Nyaya, Purana and Dhrmasastra.
The four more branches of intellectual learning which are not part of learning dharma but are part of learning for living are Ayurveda, Arthasastra, Dhanuveda and Gandharva Veda.
Origin of VedasVedas are breath of the Paramatman. Brahma is the primordial sage who saw or received all the mantras of Vedas. They were imparted to him through his heart by the Paramatman. Kanchi Swamiji, Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamiji said, Vedas are always present in the heart of Paramatman. They are not created by him.
Content of Vedas
Vedas have Samhita, Brahmanas, Aranyaka and Upanishad as the principal parts.
Rigveda: The Rigveda Samhita is all in the form of poetry. The Rigveda Samhita has 10,170 RKs or Shlokas and 1,028 suktas. It is divided into ten mandalas or eight astkas.
Yajurveda: Yajurveda has the description of worship associated with RKs and suktas.
Yajurveda is available in two different versions – Sukla and Krishna.
Samas of Sama Veda are sung with musical tones.
Athravana Veda: It has mantras with which one wards of misfortunes and disasters and indicates ways of fighting with enemies.
All Vedas have one common goal. The goal is the well-being of the entire world and all creatures living in it.
Brahmanas lay down the various rites to be performed. Aranyakas provide more meaning to the mantras of samhitas. They are more oriented towards enquiry and understanding. Upanishads provide more detailed discussion on some specific issues.
Speeches of Kanchi Swamiji, Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamiji, Hindu Dharma, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai, 2000