The Four Veda
The following four Vedas are the most important and the ancient Vedic Granth:-
Rig Veda (Rig; Rik; Rg; Rug; Rk; Richah Veda)
Yajur Veda (Yajur; Yaju; Yajuh; Veda)
Sam Veda (Sam; Saam; Saamaani Veda)
Atharva Veda (Atharva; Atharv; Athrv; Chanddashi; Aangirash Veda)
The word Veda means knowledge, derived from the root "vid" from which four meanings can be described 'knowledge', 'existing', 'beneficial' and 'thought'. They were revealed to four Rishis (Rsis) named 'Agni', 'Vaayu', 'Aaditya' and 'Angiraa' by the God at the onset of the God's best creation - the Mankind. Patanjali, the author of Yoga-Darshana declares that God is the original teacher for the mankind - "sa purvesamapi guruh kalenanavacchedat". Badarayana says "tattu samanvayat"; that is to say, Vedas must be God's revelations because all they contain tally well with the creation. Vedas are also called Shruti or Samhita. The Vedas are composed of Mantras. The mantra, composed in a metre, bears a concept and teaching worth contemplation and adoption. It contains true knowledge, and inspires noble thought and action.
There is nothing in the Vedas that is contrary to what is seen in nature. Over and beyond what we know today, the Vedas may contain many more revelations that we might not be even aware of today. Vedas contain knowledge about both matter and spirit. The knowledge about matter is in seed form leaving ample room for man to discover further and create his own body of literature. On the other hand, the knowledge pertaining to spirit is at its pinnacle that man will never be able to add anything to that body of knowledge.
Vedas contain knowledge of all disciplines that man may ever get interested in, such as humanities and economics, political and social sciences, earth sciences and astronomy, chemistry and biology, physics and mathematics, technology and engineering sciences, etc and the spiritual sciences about the individual soul and the infinite soul called God. A list of such sciences with examples is given in RigVedaDiBhasyaBhumika authored in 18xx by Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati.
Downfall of the Vedas and then again Back to the Vedas:-
Till about more than 5000 years ago, Sanskrit was the most prominent language. Learned people like Lord Krishna and Ved Vyaas contributed to literature that contained the essense of the Vedas. However, the downfall of the Brahmin (faculty) community had already started then. With the war of Mahabharat and other events, Lord Krishna was able to unite India and uplift the Khstriya (administration) community which lasted well for next 3000 years; till whence India saw its first invasion with Alexander. But for 3000 years the downfall of the Brahmin community continued to impact all other communities, viz; Khstriya (administration), Vaishya (commerce) and Sudra (service). Sanskrit started to become the propriety of the Brahmins. The communities started to become by birth and not by action which they follow. The brahmins had started to undermean the Vedas for there personal benefits and supremacy and in the process the true essence of the Vedas was lost. Sanskrit started being replaced with local languages like Tamil, Pali, Prakrit, etc.
To compete with the advent / invasion of various faiths there after like Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Sufism, etc; the Brahmins in the last 2000 years further worked out various literature like Puranas, Bhaagvat (not Bhagvat Gita), etc on containing stories on things that looked great and out of the world but were opposed to the natural and spiritual sciences. The meaning of Vedas were further lost to these scriptures. Then, everything in Sanskrit became as sacred as the Vedas and anything said by the brahmin became as sacred as Vedas even if the Brahmin knew absolutely nothing of the Vedas. In the last 1000 years, Muslims killed the learned people, burnt the sacred books and plundered the places of learnings and temples. The Missionary propaganists in their zeal for conversion, in their anxiety to show the superiority of the Christian Bible, condemned the Vedas in the most positive language at their command. For this purpose they even transgressed the rules of fair honest controversy by quoting the conclusions of Euorpean Scholars on Vedic Religion and Vedic Culture without accompanying qualifications, and without giving th reader any idea of the unsatisfactory character of the translations on which these conclusions were based, though well known to and acknowledged by themselves.
During this period (last 2000 years), we lost many scriptures that were based on the Vedas. With the grace of God, Vedas in its sanskrit form were not lost. Many noble people including the brahmins over thousand of years had laid their lives to keep the original texts intact. Also, during this period came great people like Shankaracharya, Madhavacharya and Maharshi Dayanand (though with some differences of opinion) whose learned efforts helped restoring the true meaning of the Vedas.
Today, meaning and translations of the Vedas are available in almost all Indian and many foreign languages. The times of the Vedas are ahead, once again.
Vedas are beyond History and Geography:-
The Vedas were revealed to the earliest noble rishis and traditionally handed down to posterity. Since they were revealed in the beginning of creation, that is, prior to human history, no historical or geaographical references can be sought for in the Vedic texts. As such the question of historical or geographical references to any particular country or the people inhabiting it does not arise. The Vedas were given to us when there were neither any territorial or political divisions and nor any proper names were given to particular lands, mountains, rivers or seas. All men belonged to a common world, and they stood for universal fraternity for whom the whole world was one family - "Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam". It was centuries, or may be, millenia afterwards that the lands, rivers and mountains etc were given names, borrowed from the Vedic texts.
1) The Vedas speak of the universal and eternal conflict that goes on in man even today - an etrnal conflict between good and evil, between noble and baser instincts, a conflict between knowledge and ignorance. If we come across in the Vedas a conflict between Arya and Dasyu, it is not between two particular races or tribes, but between the law abider (Arya) and the law breaker (Dasyu).
2) Atharva Ved 1.23.1 says "Naktam Jaatasyovadhe Rame Krishne Aasakti ch". Now, Ram of Ramayan and Krishna of the Mahabharat belonged to quite different ages; and both long after the Vedas. These have to be interpreted etymologically in the context in which they occur in the Atharva Veda, which is as a treatise on medicine here. The verse under consideration deals the treatment of leucoderma (kilaas) and suggests a particular her which is duskly (rama), dark (krishna) and black (asikni) in hue. This medicine is said to recolour the ashy spots.
Translation of the Vedas:-
According to Nirukta (Grammer book for the Vedas), each mantra of the Vedas has three meanings: 'AdyiYagyik', 'AdyiDaivik' and 'Adhyatmik'. To interpret the correct and true meaning of the Vedas, not only one would need expert command of the (Vedic) Sanskrit Language but would also acquire the 'Yogic' state.
According to Pandit Bhagvaddatt1, starting from the times of Skand Swami (in 630 AD) to Maharshi Dayanand (in 1886 AD), the following people have authored transalations on Rig Veda:-
Anand Tirth (Madhavacharya)
Maharshi Dayanand Sarasvati
Contemporary to Maharshi Dayanand and post that many other Foreign and Indian writers have done translations on the Vedas. The translations to foriegn languages, particularly english, done by the foreign authors are found to be tainted with malicious intent and are worth being considered trash. Indian authors in the last century have also done translations to many languages like English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Gujarati, etc. based on the translation and translation methodology provided by the above authors, particularly by Maharshi Dayanand.
Audio of Ved Path can be dowlloaded from the following website links:-
1. Translator of the Vedas: Pandit Bhagvaddatt - Ist Edition of the research of the DAV College, Lahore - 1931AD.