Vedic Era (1500BC - 500BC)
The Indus Valley civilization declined around the the first half of the 2nd millennium BC, giving way to Vedic civilization. An important aspect of Vedic religious life was the bard-priest who composed hymns, in praise of the gods, to be sung or chanted at sacrifices. This tradition continued until a sizable body of oral religious poetry had been composed.
This body of chanted poetry grew to massive proportions, and the best of the poems were compiled as an anthology called Rigveda, which was then canonized. The hymns of the Rigveda, the oldest Veda, are addressed to the elements of nature personified as deities, and are prayers for protection from calamities and for attainment of prosperity - material as well as spiritual.
The Rigveda came into being between 1500 BC and 500 BC. It was not committed to writing, but the text and the chanting formula were carefully handed down by word of mouth from one generation to the next, up to the present period. The poems in the Rigveda are arranged according to the priestly families who chanted and, presumably, had composed the hymns.
The Yajurveda and the Samaveda were composed after the Rigveda The Yajurveda, with portions in prose, is a manual, describing the procedures to be followed in the sacrifice. The Samaveda contains hymns to be sung by those who did the chanting. It is this Veda which is specifically connected with music in India. A fourth Veda, the Atharvaveda, replete with magical chants and incantations, was accepted as a Veda considerably later and is quite unrelated to the other three. The Vedas are considered to be revealed literature. Sages and seers (rishis) with extraordinary powers directly 'saw and received them' - hence their unique authority and influence. In order to ensure the purity of the Vedas, the slightest change was forbidden, and there has been virtually no change in these texts for about 3,000 years. Each Veda has two parts:...
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