most important scriptures common to all Hindus are the Vedas,
the Upanishhads, the Brahma Suutras, the Epics or Itihãsãs:
(Rãmãyana and Mahãbhãrata). The Vedas
are called Shruti, literally that which is heard. Those that believe
the Vedas to be the supreme authority for Hinduism are called
ãstikas, and those that do not are nãstikas. (Popular
misnotion is that ãstikas are believers (in God) and nãstikas
are atheists). Allowing for poetic license, it can be interpreted
as that which is discovered. Smruti, on the other hand, is what
is remembered, effectively that which was told. Shruti is unalterable
because it is a record of observations and experiences.
scriptures explaining the various forms of manifestations of the
Divine and details of worship for The Deities is called the Agamãs.
Directly or otherwise, the Upanishhads constitute the philosophical
framework for Hinduism. Every religious movement that arose within
Hinduism has had to show itself to be in accordance with the Vedas
and Upanishhads. The philosophical treatises that explain the
messages are called Dharsanas.
on the other hand, are meant to be elaborations of Vedic revelations.
Smrutis are entirely artificial created as an interpretation of
the texts, and hence warrants modification with changing times
and increasing finesse of knowledge. Smruti is of secondary authority.
All matters relating to the Hindu Legal Code fall under the category
of Smrutis and are thus designed for change. They include the
Epics, the codes of law and the sacred romances (Purãnas).
The Bhagavadgita is said to be the essence of the Upanishhads
for the layman, and is revered by all sects. The epics called
Ithihãsãs[meaning "It happened thus"]
RaamãyaNa and Mahãbhãrata and the Bhãgavata
Purãna and other Purãnãs [meaning old history]
are,texts or historical treatises explaning the Hindu tenets and
ethics. Countless generations have been molded by the ideals set
for them in these epics.
it is that with the Vedas, the Upanishhads, the RãmãyaNa,
the Mahãbhãrata, the Bhagavadgita and other sacred
writings deriving their authority from the Vedas, the scriptures
of Hinduism are a strong force making for unity within all diversity
of beliefs and practices. Based on these holy texts, later religious
leaders gave the various texts of theories to explain the practical
aspect of the faith for the followers. Vedas Vyasa or Bhãdarãyana
gave the Vedhãnta philosophy and Dharma Sãstra,
which along with the teachings of other ancient saints, was interpreted
later by several Ãcharyãs as Advaita by Sri Sankara,
Visishta-advaita by Sri Ramanuja, Dwaitha by Sri Madhva and several
others similar interpretations by other leaders.
later day texts formed the essence of the Hindu faith, along with
the teachings of the purãnãs, Ãgamãs
and worship of various forms and manifestations of God, as it
is practiced in modern times. These texts based on the Vedas,
Upanishads and Dharma Sãstrãs gave us the basis
for Hindu ethics and practice as a way of life. The heterodox
faiths that do not accept the Vedas as the Holy Scriptures, such
as Buddhism and Jainism splintered away from mainstream Hindu