Perhaps the earliest written records of Indian civilization are contained in the holy Vedas. The Vedas are considered to be the literary records of the entire Aryan race. The Hindu Vedas are divided into four major groups: These four Vedas contain a priceless treasure of knowledge. This Vedic literature is aimed at not just sacred rituals, but also at attaining higher levels of understanding about survival, life and death. The word Veda is derived from the word "Vid" which literally means, "Root". Thus, Vedas basically contain root knowledge about the essentials of life. The oldest of the four Vedas is the Rig Veda that contains sacred hymns that represent the ancient Hindu thoughts and philosophies, dating back to a period around 1500-1000 B.C. The Rig Veda is a storehouse of knowledge about self, attaining Moksha, the theory of self-sacrifice, etc. The Yajur Veda has information regarding the various methods of performing sacred rituals and rites. It is a manual of performing these sacred ceremonies to attain the maximum benefit of the ceremony. The Sama Veda consists of most hymns from the Rig Veda that are supposed to be sung instead of just being recited. The last and the fourth of all the Vedas, the Atharva Veda is a collection of hymns that speak of a different aspect of human society. The diverse hymns contained in the Atharva Veda speak about the dark side of science and other religious practices. The Upanishads also are a part of the Holy Scriptures, though not a part of Vedas. The Upanishads contain teachings of ancient sages and mystics. You shall find information on these topics in our related sections.