Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
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Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
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Principles and Practice of Hindu Dharma
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-HR 201.04
The Sacred Books Given to us by the Divine through our Sages
The Divine words explaining the Principles and Philosophy of Dharma
-~ Level - 2 ~
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Lesson - 49 :
The Books we have as Our Religious Scriptures
The Four Vedas and Other Religious Texts of Hindu Dharma
Please see below
for Lesson - 50
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Holy Texts Available that gives the Divine Message for Everyone

The Sacred faith and practice of Hinduism, like in any other religion, are guided by the teachings of its Scriptures. Most of the major world religions are guided by a single Holy text believed to be the revealed words of God as given to them by their prophets or Messiahs who passed it on to their disciples. Hindus have many different books, teachings, and religious theories to follow according to one's own belief, understanding and intellectual level as well as regional and family tradition and culture.

These types of variations in Teachings sometimes causes much confusion in the understanding of the faith for many outsiders and even among some sections of Hindus. This occasionally causes fighting among some of these groups. These fights often revealed their ignorance, since the learned ones always reminded the Unity in the basic Truth and considered the different teachings as the different paths to the same Ultimate Goal.

The Srutis are the Vedas, which were received by the great Hindu Rishis, the Seers or Saints as an intuition by direct revelations from God and are held to be entirely Superhuman. Hindus believe that the Universe goes through endless cycles of creation and total dissolution into Primary Matter, Prakriti. At this time, the Supreme God, as Nirguna Brahmam, or Paramaathma creates Brahma as His own manifestation, Saguna Brahmam, to create a new Universe. He teaches the sound of Pranava Mantra "OM" and the knowledge of the Vedas to Brahma as his very own breath.

All worlds and all lives are created by Brahma out of this knowledge of Vedas and Pranava. Thus the Vedas and Pranava precede all civilizations and the creation itself, as the very breath of God. They are without beginning or end and is the storehouse of Hindu wisdom. Lord Brahma, the creator, imparted the divine knowledge to the Rishis. Sruti means what is heard, and so are not claimed to be composed or written by these Rishis who get the spiritual knowledge by the Divine revelations. The Vedas that are eternal, are obtained by the meditative powers of the Rishis. They were written and organized as four texts by Sage Vyasa much later.

 
 
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Lesson - 50 :
A Short List of Our Sacred Books, Revealed and Written
The Divine Message and Sacred Texts that explain the Faith
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There are Six Orthodox sections that form the authoritative Scriptures. They are: ( i ) Srutis or Vedas, ( ii ) Agamas, ( iii ) Smritis or Sasthras, ( iv ) Dharsanas, ( v ) Ithihasas and ( vi ) Puranas. The Vedas are the oldest books in the library of mankind. Every Hindu considers the Vedas as the ultimate authority of Hindu religious teachings, of the practice and the philosophy. Besides the four Vedas, we also have six [6] Vedangas, a set of books as explanatory limbs on the Vedic language, rituals and astrology. There are also four [4] Upa-Vedas on science and arts of health, archery, music and politics [Ayurveda, Dhanur Veda, Gandharva Veda and Arthasasthra].

Agamas, independent of Vedas, are texts given by God as a devotional form of the faith and rules for Temple worship and ritualistic practice of the Religion, with God in a manifest form, as Saguna Brahmam. Dharsanas are explanatory texts of Vedas for the learned authors. Dharsanas explain the Vedic teachings and Philosophy for daily practice and understanding.

The Smrithis or the Sasthras, Ithihasas and Puranas, essentially based on the Vedas, are the vehicles to carry these teachings to the common man to practice the faith. Smrithis are the sacred law codes written by the Rishis based on the Vedic teachings. They deal with the duties of all men, Sanatana - Varna - Ashrama Dharma. Ithihasas and Puranas give the religious teachings and philosophy as simple stories for the common man. They form the Secondary authority and are based on the Vedic teachings.

All these teachings, mythology and rituals are helpful to instruct the people about the great philosophy of Vedas and Agamas in simple words to make them understand and follow the faith. The teachings of Vedas and Agamas remain the foundation of their faith, principle and philosophy. The rituals, puranas and sasthras remain the simple guide to practice that faith. The major scriptures of Hinduism are written in Sanskrit language. These scriptures form the basic knowledge and teachings of this ancient civilization and its literary treasure.

 
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"Idham Mithram Agnim Aahu Atho; Dhivya Sah Suparnah Garuthman |
E'kam Sath Viprah Bahudha Vadanthi, Agnim ! Yama Matharisvanam Aahuh ||"
--- (Rig Veda - - I -164 - 46).
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" They call It (Him) Indra, Varuna, Agni; and He is the heavenly Nobly-winged Garuthman !
Truth is One, Sages give It many a title; Agni, Yama, Matharisvan, they call It (Him) !! "
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Chapter - 4 - The Scriptures and The Sacred Works - Lessons 49 & 50
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Go to Lessons: - :~: 49 & 50 :~: 51 & 52 :~: 53 & 54 :~: 55 & 56 :~: 57 & 58 :~: 59 & 60 :~: 61 & 62 :~: 63 & 64 :
 
 
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