What Is the Atharva Veda? Spells for Health, Success, and Beyond

What Is the Atharva Veda? Spells for Health, Success, and Beyond

atharva veda

What exactly is the Atharva Veda? What incantations does it behold? In this article, we explore the source of the most prominent spells of the Vedic Religion, the Atharva Veda.

The Vedas are among the oldest and most mysterious texts known to man — with no human author and no timeline of origin. They have been absolutely fundamental in shaping the religious, societal, political, and even economic philosophies of ancient Hinduism. 

The Vedas are a “language of the Gods” in comprehensible, human form. For this, there is no human author — rather, the information was channeled by the risis (the seers, the sages) from Paramātman: the “Absolute Atman.” For this, the risis claim that they saw the Vedas — they did not compose them.

The Vedas were passed down during the Vedic Period (1,500 – 500 B.C.E.) in ancient India. From generation to generation, Aryan nomads (considered “the noble ones”) shared the Vedas through song and oral storytelling.

Centuries later, the Vedas were written into physical form, creating what we know today as the Vedic Texts.

What Are the 4 Types of Vedas?

The Vedas are often compiled into a single book, the Chathurveda Samhitha, which contains 4 separate sacred texts:

  • The Rig Veda: The Book of Mantra
  • The Sama Veda: The Book of Song
  • The Yajur Veda: The Book of Ritual
  • The Atharva Veda: The Book of Spell

Which is the oldest Veda?

The oldest Indic extant text is Rigveda: a collection of 10 books organized into 1,028 hymns and 10,600 verses. The books are all dedicated to Rigvedic deities.

The Rigveda is one of the oldest religious texts in existence. It was composed between 1700 and 1100 BCE.

What does the Rig Veda talk about?

The Rig Veda contains 10 books, also known as mandalas. 

These texts were composed to praise the gods. But there are some parts of the Rig Veda that address historical events, namely: the struggle between the Aryans, the early Vedic people, and the Dasa.

As explained by spiritual teacher, Deborah King (Author of Mindvalley’s Be A Modern Master: Unlocking the Spiritual Science of Ancient India):

Like the Bible, the authorship of these sacred texts is believed to be divinely inspired. The sages who recorded the Vedas had lived the teachings and used the sacred wisdom to awaken their own connections to the Divine, the created world, and their fellow beings.

hindu temple

Exploring the Atharva Veda

The Atharvaveda is the youngest of the Veda quartet. In fact, for many years, it wasn’t considered a Veda. This was due to the fact that it seems to be embodied by a different kind of spirit.

It’s written in a more understandable form and paints a much clearer picture of Vedic history; because of this, it is the second most important Veda in regard to history and sociology.

Mostly, however, the Atharvaveda is a guide on how to act auspiciously within the Hindu tradition. It contains a series of magical spells, charms, and incantations. This also differentiates it from the other Vedas, which focus more on sacrifice and ritual.

These spells promise to “fulfill all worldly desires of the human mind” and assist in everything from attracting lovers to protecting against disease, to calling upon the elements for strength.

Who composed the Atharva Veda?

Legend has it that two groups of rishis, the Atharvanas and the Angirasa, composed the Atharva Veda. In fact, that is where its oldest name, Ātharvāṅgirasa, comes from.

It is believed the rishis achieved the eternal knowledge and supreme truth after a deep and committed meditation. After becoming enlightened, they composed their newfound sacred knowledge into hymns.

Here are two examples of the different types of hymns contained within the 1st book of Atharvaveda:

HYMN V — To the waters, for strength and power

  1. Ye, Waters, truly bring us bliss: so help ye us to strength and power

 That we may look on great delight.

  1. Here grant to us a share of dew, that most auspicious dew of yours,

 Like mothers in their longing love.

  1. For you we fain would go to him to whose abode ye send us forth,

 And, Waters, give us procreant strength.

  1. I pray the Floods to send us balm, those who bear rule o’er precious things,

 And have supreme control of men.

Atharva veda

HYMN III — A charm against constipation and suppression of urine

  1. We know the father of the shaft, Parjanya strong with hundred powers:

By this may I bring health unto thy body: let the channels pour their burthen freely as of old.

  1. We know the father of the shaft, Mitra, the Lord of hundred powers:

By this, etc.

  1. We know the father of the shaft, Varuna, strong with hundred powers:

By this, etc.

  1. We know the father of the shaft, the Moon endowed with hundred powers:

By this, etc.

  1. We know the father of the shaft, the Sun endowed with hundred powers:

By this may I bring health unto thy body: let the channels pour their burthen freely as of old.

  1. Whate’er hath gathered, as it flowed, in bowels, bladder, or in groins,

Thus let the conduit, free from check, pour all its burthen as of old.

  1. I lay the passage open as one cleaves the dam that bars the lake:

Thus let, etc.

  1. Now hath the portal been unclosed as, of the sea that holds the flood:

Thus let, etc.

  1. Even as the arrow flies away when loosened from the archer’s bow,

Thus let the burthen be discharged from channels that are checked

no more.

atharva veda

Organization of the Atharvaveda

There are 731 hymns in the Atharva Veda, subdivided into 6,000 verses, and organized into 3 major divisions.

The First Grand Division (books 1-7)

This division is regarded as the most important part of the entire Atharva Veda and consists mainly of short charms and curses.

The Second Grand Division (books 8-12)

These hymns are longer than the first division and act as a guide on how to auspiciously perform priestly duties.

The Third Grand Division (books 13-18)

This division is distinguished by “unity of subject.”

At a later date, two more books were added, but they are not a part of these 3 Grand Divisions.

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