Hindu Sacred Texts

What is Hinduism's Scripture?

The sacred texts of Hinduism fall into one of two categories: sruti ("heard") or smruti ("remembered"). Sruti scriptures are considered divinely inspired and fully authoritative for belief and practice, while smruti are recognized as the products of the minds of the great sages.

However, smruti texts often carry almost as much authority as sruti, and the religion of the older sruti texts bears little resemblence to modern Hinduism and is largely unknown to the average Hindu.

Nevertheless, the sruti are still held in very high regard and portions are still memorized for religious merit. The only texts regarded as sruti are the Vedas, which include both ancient sacrificial formulas and the more philosophical Upanishads.

Smrti texts help explain sruti scriptures and make them meaningful to the general population. Despite their lesser authority, they are generally the most recent, the most beloved by the Hindu population, and the most representative of actual Hindu beliefs and practices.

Smrti texts include the Itihasas (History or Epics), Puranas (Mythology), Dharma Shastras (Law Codes), Agamas and Tantras (Sectarian Scriptures), and Darshanas (Manuals of Philosophy).


Samhitas | Brahmanas | Aranyakas | Aranyakas | Upanishads


Mahabharata | Ramayana | Puranas



  • Hinduism Darshanashttp://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/texts/darshanas

    What are the Darshanas? In Hinduism, the Darshanas are varying attempts to develop and systematize the Vedas, and they are thus considered manuals of philosophy...

  • Itihasas: Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, Puranashttp://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/texts/itihasas

    What is the Itihasas? In Hinduism, the Itihasas (itihasa is Sanskrit for "history" or "thus verily happened") are narrative traditions composed during the period 500 BC to 1000 AD...

  • Ramayana in Hinduism - Hindu Textshttp://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/texts/ramayana

    TitleThe Ramayana ("Journey of Rama")Type of textItihasa (history)Who wrote it and whenThe poet Valmiki first composed it around 300 BCE and much has been added over the years...

  • Tantras in Hinduismhttp://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/texts/tantras

    What are the Tantras? In Hinduism, the Tantras ("looms" or "weavings") are sectarian scriptures dealing with certain aspects of a god and rules for discipline for the worshipper...

  • Vedas in Hinduismhttp://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/texts/vedas

    What are the Vedas? The most sacred scriptures of Hinduism are the Vedas ("Books of Knowledge"), a collection of texts written in Sanskrit from about 1200 BCE to 100 CE...