Next in the "More than 100 things every religious liberal should know"
The “Four Vedas” are sort of like the holy books of Hinduism…only more like an “order of worship” or “common book of prayer.” Like Christianity, Hinduism has sects (denominations, as a parallel) and like Christianity, the Vedas are considered by different sects has having different levels of authority.
The Sanskrit word “veda” means “knowledge” or “to know” – like our Bible, the Vedas contain the knowledge needed to follow that religion. Each “Veda” contains a different type of knowledge.
“Rigveda” – “praise or verse” + “knowledge.” Some of the verses have been recited in worship since they were written, and are still being used today, making it one of the longest running religious texts in history (although not the oldest.) Unlike Christianity, these Hindu texts are dedicated to various deities, each reflecting the beliefs of what that god has done and how Hindus honor that particular god.
“Yajurveda” – “sacrificial formula” + “knowledge.” These writings are the “liturgy” or mantras used during sacrificial rituals.
“Samaveda”– “melody” + “knowledge” are the hymns that are sung. Half (75) are from the Rigveda, the other half are specifically to be sung by priests in rituals were the juice of the soma plant (along with other ingredients) is offered to various deities.
The last Veda, Atharvaveda, is a combination of writings. Spells and magic, hymns and poetry, rules and regulations. This work includes healing (physical and spiritual, including diseases via demon possession,) writings on the nature of the universe and humanity, "household codes" (rules for running a smooth home,) marriage and funeral rituals, and more. This seems to be the "how then shall we live" book of Hinduism.
I'm learning that all religions have a few things in common, yet all are different, and they cannot all be "true."
C.S.Lewis said (paraphrased) - all truth is God's truth. We should be able to see what is right with other religions, and reject what is wrong with them, in order to embrace our own.