Hindu religious literature, the most ancient writings in the world, is of two types: primary scriptures (Sruti) and secondary scriptures (Smriti). The Sruti scriptures are of divine origin, whose truths were directly revealed to ancient rishis (sages) in their deep meditations. The Smriti scriptures are of human origin and were written to explain the Sruti writings and make them understandable and meaningful to the general population. Sruti scriptures include the four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva) and the Bhagavad Gîta, and constitute the highest religious authority in Hindu religion. Smriti scriptures include five distinct groups of writings as shown in Table 2.
The Vedas are groups of hymns and chants containing religious and spiritual insights of the ancient sages and seers. Each Veda consists of four parts: Mantras (or Samhitas), Brahmanas, Arany-akas, and Upanishads. Mantras are poetic compositions and hymns of supplication and incantation addressed to the deities, the symbolic representations of the Supreme Lord. The Brahmanas deal with rules and regulations for proper performance of religious rites, rituals and ceremonies. The Aranyakas (as forest books) provide the symbolic and spiritual basis for the Brahmanas. The Upanishads reveal the knowledge about Brahman and are known as Vedanta, meaning "end of the Vedas." They are the concluding portions of the Vedas.
Whereas the Upanishads represent the essence of the Vedas, the Bhagavad Gîta, the most popular scripture of Hindus, contains the essence of the Upanishads. The Vedas reflect the dawn of spiritual insight, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gîta contain the full splendor of a spiritual vision.
Author : Shri Bansi Pandit