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Sacred Texts of the Hindus

Sacred Texts of the Hindus



According to Swami Vivekananda, “the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons in different times” constitutes the sacred Hindu texts. Collectively referred to as the Shastras, there are two types of sacred writings in the Hindu scriptures: Shruti (heard) and Smriti (memorized).

Sruti literature refers to the habit of ancient Hindu saints who led a solitary life in the woods, where they developed a consciousness that enabled them to ‘hear’ or cognize the truths of the universe. Sruti literatures are of two parts: the Vedas and the Upanishads.

There are four Vedas:

  • The Rig Veda -“Royal Knowledge”
  • The Sama Veda – “Knowledge of Chants”
  • The Yajur Veda – “Knowledge of Sacrificial Rituals”
  • The Atharva Veda – “Knowledge of Incarnations”

There are 108 extant Upanishads, of which 10 are most important: Isa, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taitiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, Brihadaranyaka.

Smriti Literature refers to ‘memorized’ or ‘remembered’ poetry and epics. They are more popular with Hindus, because they are easy to understand, explains universal truths through symbolism and contain some of the most beautiful and exciting stories in the history of religion world literature. The three most important of Smriti literature are:

  • The Bhagavad Gita – The most well known of the Hindu scriptures, called the “Song of the Adorable One” forms the sixth part of Mahabharata. It contains some of the most brilliant theological lessons about the nature of God and of life ever written.
  • The Mahabharata – The world’s longest epic poem deals with the power struggle between the Pandava and the Kaurava families, with an intertwining of numerous episodes that make up life.
  • The Ramayana – The most popular of Hindu epics, composed by Valmiki depicts the story of the royal couple of Ayodha – Ram and Sita and a host of other characters and their exploits.

~ Subhamoy Das

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4 Responses to "Sacred Texts of the Hindus"

  1. Vijaykumar Chalasani  February 18, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    Namaste!

    Thank you very much for all the efforts of making dharmic information available on your website.

    There is very little known about Itihaas in society. Though we talk about Itihaas and aitihaasik kahaani (which led the westerner to classify the maha-kaavyas as mythological folklore!), very few know the actual meaning of Itihaas, other than wrongly relating it with Charitra – history, timeline.

    Would love to learn more about Itihaas, its nature, purport, variations and its role in social discourse and dispensation of the essence of the maha-kaavyas, in contrast with Puranas.

    Reply
  2. MP Udayanarayana  February 19, 2015 at 3:16 am

    Very Nice- Keep this on forever
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    Ask people not to get panicked- That is not so serious problem at all
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    Reply
  3. Ram  April 18, 2015 at 2:13 am

    Nice information.
    Can you give the timeline of each Shastra when were they written or came in existence.Reference to time will be very useful to understand.
    Isn’t Bhagavad Gita part of the Mahabharata?Based on various chapters, some believe that its chapters were written several times by various sages.What is the factual information?
    Was Ramayan written earlier than Mahabharata?

    Reply
  4. Hemant kumar  April 19, 2015 at 8:49 am

    hello. your website is the source of my inspiration.the knowledge of our vedas and upanishads make me proud that i am hindu and not any religious person. i am a follower of science not a religion. can you please help me,i want to know about our vedas. i know even if i sacrifice all my life in gaining the knowledge of our ancestors i will only be able to take a bucket out of the vast ocean of knowledge given to us. please guide me as a guru so that i can quench my thirst for knowledge of our secret text, and help bring the glory of hinduism back and help others with the knowledge. thankyou

    Reply

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