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The Vedas

The foundational shastra for all astika Hindus are the Vedas. A practising Hindu is generally defined to be one who believes in the authority and sanctity of the Vedas.

The name Veda comes from the Sanskrit root word 'vid', which means 'to know'. Thus, the Vedas mean knowledge. They contain both spiritual and worldly knowledge. The Vedas are considered by Hindus to be the oldest sacred texts in the world which continue to be recited and studied to this day. Hindus consider the Vedas to be apaurusheya, i.e., not man-made, and revealed by God.

Traditionally, the single large Veda was later classified by Veda Vyasa into four texts, namely, the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda (Krishna Yajur Veda and Shukla Yajur Veda), Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. He taught one of them to each of his four disciples - Rig Veda to Paila, the Yajur Veda to Vaishampayana, the Sama Veda to Jaimini and the Atharva Veda to Sumantu.