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Hindu Sacred Texts

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. Moreover, 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).

  • Darshanas

    The Darshanas are Hindu sacred texts that consist of varying attempts to develop and systematize the Vedas. They are thus considered manuals of philosophy. full article →
  • Itihasas

    The Itihasas (itihasa is Sanskrit for "history" or "thus verily happened") are narrative traditions composed during the period 500 BCE to 1000 CE... full article →
  • Ramayana

    Title
    The Ramayana ("Journey of Rama")
    Type of text
    Itihasa (history)
    Who wrote it and when
    The poet Valmiki first composed it around 300 BCE and much has been added over the years... full article →
  • Rig Veda

    Composed as early as 1500 BCE, the Rig Veda or Rg Veda ("Wisdom of the Verses") is the oldest of the four Vedic collections and one of the oldest surviving sacred texts in the world... full article →
  • Sutras

    Mahayana Buddhism reveres the Tripitaka as a sacred text, but adds to it the Sutras, which reflect distinctively Mahayana concepts and are used more often by Mahayana Buddhists... full article →
  • 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... full article →
  • 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... full article →

Article Info

Title Hindu Sacred Texts
URL www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/texts
Short URLrlft.co/41
Published
UpdatedNovember 18, 2016
MLA Citation“Hindu Sacred Texts.” ReligionFacts.com. 18 Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 5 Dec. 2016. <www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/texts>

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