The Sanskrit word veda is derived from the root vid, which means to know. From vid comes vidyaa, which means a work that imparts knowledge. Therefore, veda means knowledge. Vedas are a storehouse of knowledge – both worldly and spiritual knowledge.

Mere chanting of the mantras without knowing their meaning is like a horse carrying a load of sandalwood pieces on its back without experiencing their fragrance. Today, like that horse, we are carrying the load of the mantras without experiencing the fragrance of their meaning. If we are able to know the meaning, we will be able to visualize the form behind the particular mantra. One has to chant the Veda mantras at least by knowing a little of their meaning. … Chanting with focus on the meaning, thus, calms and clears the mind and actually rejuvenates it. You might notice that sometimes your mind is much clearer and your attention more focused, after chanting. Every word that we utter and every thought that we think leaves its subtle impression on the mind, and so do all the words and sounds that we listen to and absorb. Everything that we listen to also leaves its residue in the mind.
Once we learn the chants, it is important to go deeper and understand the meaning. Otherwise, after a while, chanting can become automatic and this gives scope for the mind to wander. By focusing on the meaning, our concentration is retained and it also helps us to develop the inner feelings of love and unity that are enshrined in all of the Vedas. By having access to the meanings, even those who find learning Sanskrit words difficult can enjoy the sweet essence of the Vedas. As we chant the mantras repeatedly, we begin to understand the different nuances of their meaning. This then becomes akin to meditation.

Ganapathi Atharvaseersham VEDA