The Atharvaveda compound of Atharvan, an ancient Rishi, and veda, meaning "knowledge") is a sacred text of Vedic India and one of the four Vedas, often called the "fourth Veda".
According to the tradition, the Atharvaveda was mainly composed by two groups of rishis known as the Atharvanas and the Angirasa, hence its oldest name is Ātharvāṅgirasa. In the Late Vedic Gopatha Brahmana, it is attributed to the Bhrigu and Angirasa. Additionally, tradition ascribes parts to other rishis, such as Kauśika, Vasiṣṭha and Kaśyapa. There are two surviving recensions (śākhās), known as Śaunakīya and Paippalāda.
The Atharvaveda is less predominant than other Vedas, as it is little used in solemn (Shrauta) ritual. The largely silent Brahmin priest observes the procedures of the ritual and "heals" it with two mantras and pouring of ghee when a mistake occurs. An early text, its status has been ambiguous due to its ritualistic character.