Shruti- The Vedas (Part 2)
MANTRAS Constituting the oldest division of Vedic literature, the Mantras are sacred hymns and formulae praising various Gods and forming sacrificial prayers and chants and often expressing the loftiest sentiments that man can feel for his deity. With a total of more than 20,000 verses, the Mantras are divided into Samhitas; one for each Veda.
The Rig Samhita is a collection of nearly 10,500 hymns in praise of different Gods. The prayers and chants contained in this Samhita were the basis of the earliest practical form of religion in ancient India. The Samhita of the Sama Veda contains hardly any independent material, all its verses except 75 being taken directly from the Rig. It is important because it specifies the melodies and metres for the chanting of the hymns.
The Samhita of the Yajur Veda consists not only stanzas taken from the Rig, but also of original prose formulae to be uttered by special priests involved in the manual work of a sacrifice. The Atharva Samhita is mainly a collection of songs, spells and chants for such diverse purposes such as obtaining success, healing of diseases, restoration of harmony and exorcism of evil spirits. But there are certain hymns of rare beauty that celebrate the power and omniscience of God and the beneficence of Mother Earth.