Knowledge Systems in India

  • A. V. Balasubramanian
Reference work entry

Traditionally all knowledge in India has been traced to the Vedas. The Vedas are considered to be divine revelation. They were organized into four major branches: Ṛgveda, Yajurveda, Sāmaveda, and the Atharvaveda. Various other branches of knowledge grew up as auxiliaries that were to be developed in order to interpret and put to practical use the material of the Vedas.

There were a total of 14 Śāstras or branches of knowledge: the four Vedas, the four Upavedas (auxiliary Vedas), and the six Vedāṅgas (parts of the Vedas). The four Upavedas were (1) Āyurveda, literally “The Science of Life,” which constituted the medical system; (2) Arthaśāstra, which constituted state craft and political theory; (3) Dhanurveda, literally, archery, but practically constituting the art of warfare in its varied aspects, and (4) Gāndharvaveda, constituting music, drama, and the fine arts.

Similarly, the knowledge systems required for understanding, interpreting, and applying the Vedas were organized into...

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  • A. V. Balasubramanian

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