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The Vedas are an ancient body of Sanskrit-language texts, the earliest decipherable texts of the religion we now call Hinduism. There are traditionally four Vedas:
- The Rigveda is the oldest of the Vedas, composed in the late second millennium BCE. It contains hymns (Skt. mantras) to gods like Indra, Vishnu, and the fire-god Agni.
- The Samaveda contains hymns similar to those in the Rigveda, although of a later date.
- The Yajurveda contains mantras to be spoken during fire sacrifices (Skt. yagnya).
- The Atharva Veda contains incantations for a variety of medical and exorcistic purposes.
Each Veda also contains subsidiary books, often written centuries later, which contain ritual instructions and philosophical discussions.