People have asked me what are Vedas and what are source of Hinduism. Different people have different views. I present my views that are based purely on analysis, reason, and research.
One, Source of Hinduism are Veda Samhitas that have no historic evidence of being composed.
Veda Samhitas are called Apaurusheya or Sanatan. This means no one created it and they are eternal wisdom that are present always.
Since in modern lingo Vedas are classified as different Shakhas and there are associated texts like Brahmans, Aaranyaks, Purans, Itihas etc , different people define Vedas differently.
To define Vedas, some basic characteristics of Vedas must be noted. One, Vedas have no history. People named things and people from Vedic words, and not vice versa.
Two, Vedas are not in Sanskrit. Modern Sanskrit is a language derived from Vedas by generalising some patterns
Three, Vedas are preserved since ages in a way that any tampering can be verified and removed. There is Swara and Paatha Vidhi for this authentication. Have detailed in my book Divine Vedas.
How Vedas emerged in first place for this cycle of creation is a mystery. Different schools have different theories. However all agree that Vedas are within all souls. As one gets to utmost purity of mind, Vedas emerge. Probably that is how it emerged from sages of past.
Historically, there is no evidence that Vedas were ever written. But oldest texts do mention Vedas as eternal wisdom.
If you have to search for Veda Samhitas today, here are the books you must seek.
Shaakal Samhita of Rigveda
Kauthum Samhita of Samaveda
Shukla Madhyandini of Yajurveda
Shaunak Samhita of Atharvaveda

These are the primary roots.
All other texts are secondary to them.
This does not mean secondary texts are not useful. In fact you can't make much out of roots until you evolve to state of enlightenment. And hence secondary texts are crucial to work for that enlightenment.
However, anything that contradicts Vedas must be outrightly rejected.
Enlightenment is a process of elimination. Keep eliminating the unnecessary and evolve to higher truths.
Vedas are not like Quran or Bible. Blind faith is anti Vedas. Vedas are inside us waiting for ignorance to be removed and shine. Hence process of following Vedas is to follow path of self discovery and not believe anything that your conscience rebels against.
Follow honestly your conscience, be self seeker, don't allow your ideology to change due to convenience, use benchmark of reason and universality, don't just think, also act and stretch, and move ahead. That is the path of Vedas.
As an extreme example, its better to reject Vedas if not convinced than to believe blindly like Muslims and Christians believe in Quran or Bible.
But if you live in a society where u r uncertain of your beliefs, but others are aggressive with theirs, show them their place first.
The original Samhitas are available for free download from Agniveer site.
Consider original Samhitas as bare acts. And every other text as a commentary or modification or new text derived from bare acts to ease understanding of law.

For exams, often the other texts are more useful. HC Verma will be more useful than Principia. But bare acts are root.
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