Any of a group of sacred hymns and verses composed in archaic Sanskrit, probably in the period 1500–1200 BC. Together they form a body of liturgical literature that grew up around the cult of the soma ritual. They extol the hereditary deities that personified various natural and cosmic phenomena. The entire corpus of Vedic literature, including the Upanishads, was considered the product of divine revelation. The Vedas were handed down orally for many generations before being committed to writing. Even today, several are recited with intonation and rhythm associated with the early days of Vedic religion. See alsoRig Veda, Vedanta.