Hindu texts

Hindu texts are manuscripts and historical literature related to any of the diverse traditions within Hinduism. A few texts are shared resources across these traditions and broadly considered as Hindu scriptures.[1][2] These include the Vedas and the Upanishads. Scholars hesitate in defining the term "Hindu scripture" given the diverse nature of Hinduism,[2][3] many include Bhagavad Gita and Agamas as Hindu scriptures,[2][3][4] while Dominic Goodall includes Bhagavata Purana and Yajnavalkya Smriti to the list of Hindu scriptures.[2]There are hundreds of thousands of scripture, literature, plays, dramas, musical and various other scientific and artistic book before 1000 C.E. That's why it is considered that before the invention of Printing press in Germany, Hindu texts were more abundant than any other civilization for millennia.[citation needed]There are two historic classifications of Hindu texts: Shruti – that which is heard,[5] and Smriti – that which is remembered.[6] The Shruti refers to the body of most authoritative, ancient religious texts, believed to be eternal knowledge authored neither by human nor divine agent but transmitted by sages (rishis). These comprise the central canon of Hinduism.[5][7] It includes the four Vedas including its four types of embedded texts - the Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas and the early Upanishads.[8] Of the Shrutis (Vedic corpus), the Upanishads alone are widely influential among Hindus, considered scriptures par excellence of Hinduism, and their central ideas have continued to influence its thoughts and traditions.[9][10]

The Smriti texts are a specific body of Hindu texts attributed to an author,[8] as a derivative work they are considered less authoritative than Shruti in Hinduism.[6] The Smriti literature is a vast corpus of diverse texts, and includes but is not limited to Vedāngas, the Hindu epics, the Sutras and Shastras, the texts of Hindu philosophies, the Puranas, the Kāvya or poetical literature, the Bhasyas, and numerous Nibandhas (digests) covering politics, ethics, culture, arts and society.[11][12]

Many ancient and medieval Hindu texts were composed in Sanskrit, many others in regional Indian languages. In modern times, most ancient texts have been translated into other Indian languages and some in Western languages.[2] Prior to the start of the common era, the Hindu texts were composed orally, then memorized and transmitted orally, from one generation to next, for more than a millennia before they were written down into manuscripts.[13][14] This verbal tradition of preserving and transmitting Hindu texts, from one generation to next, continued into the modern era.[13][14]

Sanskrit manuscripts colophon

जलाद्रक्षेत्तैलाद्रक्षेद्रक्षेच्छिथिलबन्धनात् |
मूर्खहस्ते न मां दद्यादिति वदति पुस्तकम् ||

'Save me from water,
protect me from oil,
and from loose binding,
And do not give me into the hands of fools!'
says the manuscript.

Anonymous verse frequently found
at the end of Sanskrit manuscripts


Manuscripts of 18th-century Hindu texts in Sanskrit and in a regional language Odiya (below)

The Vedas are a large body of Hindu texts originating in ancient India, with its Samhita and Brahmanas complete before about 800 BCE.[16] Composed in Vedic Sanskrit hymns, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism.[17][18][19] Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya, which means "not of a man, superhuman"[20] and "impersonal, authorless".[21][22][23] The knowledge in the Vedas is believed in Hinduism to be eternal, uncreated, neither authored by human nor by divine source, but seen, heard and transmitted by sages.[7]

Vedas are also called śruti ("what is heard") literature,[24] distinguishing them from other religious texts, which are called smṛti ("what is remembered"). The Veda, for orthodox Indian theologians, are considered revelations, some way or other the work of the Deity.[25] In the Hindu Epic the Mahabharata, the creation of Vedas is credited to Brahma.[26]

There are four Vedas: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda.[27][28] Each Veda has been subclassified into four major text types – the Samhitas (mantras and benedictions), the Aranyakas (text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices), the Brahmanas (commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices), and the Upanishads (text discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge).[27][29][30]