The Atharvaveda is the oldest literary monument of Indian medicine. It is believed to be the origin of Ayurveda, the Indian science of medicine. There are a series of Mantras related to curing various physical and mental diseases. Another class of hymns includes prayers for protection from the bite of snakes or injurious insects. We find mention and application of medicines and medicinal herbs. This feature distinguishes the Atharvaveda from the rest of the Vedas. Philosophical portions of this Samhita present a fairly high development of metaphysical thought. The chief ideas of the Upanishads, the conception of a highest god as creator and preserver of the world (Prajapati), and even the ideas of an impersonal creative principle, besides a number of philosophical terms such as Brahman, Tapas, Asat, Prana, Manas must have been the common property of large circles – at the time when these hymns originated. Therefore, the study of the philosophical ideas, revealed in the Atharvaveda, is important to understand the development of Indian Philosophical thought. Atharvaveda is the only Veda which is related to both worldly happiness and spiritual knowledge. Vedic commentator Sayana has praised this for fulfilling both ends – this world and the other world. Thus, it appears to be an interesting text for a general reader of the Vedic literature.
The Atharva Veda, also known as the Atharvana Veda, is a sacred text in Hinduism that is considered the repository of knowledge related to everyday life and rituals. It is the fourth Veda and was added to the Vedic scriptures at a later stage. Unlike the other Vedas, the Atharva Veda is written in a different form of Sanskrit, preserving ancient Indo-European elements. It consists of 730 hymns and approximately 6,000 mantras, divided into 20 books. While a portion of the text incorporates verses from the Rigveda, most of it is in verse form, using various Vedic meters. Two recensions of the text, the Paippalāda and the Śaunakīya, have survived to this day. Although sometimes referred to as the "Veda of magical formulas," the Atharva Veda encompasses more than just magic. It encompasses daily rituals for various life events, such as initiation ceremonies, marriage rituals, and funerals. It also includes royal rituals and the responsibilities of court priests. The Atharva Veda was likely compiled around the same time as the Samaveda and Yajurveda, between 1200 BCE and 1000 BCE. In addition to the main text, it contains a Brahmana portion and philosophical speculations. Three primary Upanishads, namely the Mundaka Upanishad, Mandukya Upanishad, and Prashna Upanishad, are also included in the Atharva Veda. The name "Atharvaveda" is derived from Atharvan, a mythical priest associated with fire rituals and healing practices. It is also occasionally referred to as Bhrgvangirasah and Brahmaveda, after the Vedic scholars Bhrigu and Brahma, respectively. While the exact dating of the Atharva Veda is uncertain, it is believed to have originated around 900 BCE or slightly earlier, according to some scholars. It was the last of the four Vedas to be recognized and accepted as such in the ancient Indian tradition. Initially, only three Vedas were acknowledged, and references to the Atharva Veda appeared later in Buddhist texts. The Atharva Veda is a unique compilation of hymns and knowledge from different regions of ancient India, combining elements from the Kuru and Pancalas regions. The composition styles and content of these regions vary, with the Paippalāda school following a Rigvedic style and the Pancalas contributing medical and sorcery-related verses. Overall, the Atharva Veda holds a significant place in Hindu philosophy and offers insights into various aspects of life, rituals, and philosophical speculations. Its verses provide a deeper understanding of ancient Indian society and its religious practices.