The Vedas (Sanskrit वेद, Knowledge, Praising, Truth) are part of the Hindu Shruti -- these religious scriptures form part of the core of the Brahminical and Vedic traditions. The Vedas contain hymns, rituals, and mantras. There are 4 Vedas: the Atharva-Veda, Rig-Veda, Sama-Veda, and the Yajur-Veda; the last three are referred to as the "Threefold Veda". The Arthava-Veda is deemed to be, somewhat, less authoritative. Each Veda is, in turn, divided into four sections. It is sometimes argued that there is a fifth Veda, the Vedanta.
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Origins of the Vedas
Many Hindus believe that the Vedas were transmitted, via an oral tradition, for perhaps 8000 years (Fisher) . Some Western commentators see this as an exaggeration.
Hymns which were particularly chanted during religious and social functions of the community were compiled by Vaishampayana under the title Yajus mantra Samhita. (Yajurveda). Jaimini is said to have collected hymns that were set to music and melody — 'Saman'. (Samaveda). The fourth collection of hymns and chants known as Atharva Samhita (Atharvaveda) is ascribed to Sumantu.