IAS General Studies Prelims Question No. 113

According to ancient Indian tradition, a Veda can be divided into two parts viz. Mantra Samhita and Brahmanas. What is / are difference(s) between the two?
1. While Mantras are mostly in verse, Brahamanas are mostly in prose
2. Brahmanas contain formulas for rituals, rules and regulations for rites and sacrifices
Choose the correct option from the codes given below:
[A] Only 1
[B] Only 2
[C] Both 1 & 2
[D] Neither 1 nor 2


[C] Both 1 & 2
Many scholars, modern and ancient, have tried to define the Brahmanas by stating their characteristics. The reality however is that there is no sharp difference in the characteristics of the Mantra and the Brahmana portions of the Vedas. The only thing that we may state safely is this – Mantras are those portions of the Vedas that are designated as such traditionally. And the rest is Brahmana. Unlike the mantras, which are mostly in verse, the Brahmanas are predominantly prose. The Brahmanas contain formulas for rituals, rules and regulations for rites and sacrifices and also outline other religious duties. The formulas and rules for conducting extremely complex rituals are explained to the minutest detail. And every ritual is performed for a specific purpose for which a specific effect/benefit is expected. It was felt that there was nothing that could not be achieved by sacrifices – the sun could be stopped from rising and Indra, the chief of gods, could be deposed from his throne. The duties of men professing different occupations, the eternity of the Veda, popular customs, cosmogony, historical details, praise of ancient heroes are some other subjects dealt with in the Brahmanas.


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