The authoritative sources of
Hinduism are divided
into two classes: -
The Sruti is the primary authority and
the Smrti is the secondary authority. Sruti literally means what is heard. Great
Rsis are said to have heard the eternal truths of religion and to have left a record of
them for the benefit of others. These records are called the Vedas. We have four Vedas
Rig - Veda
The Yajur Veda
The Sama Veda
The Atharvana Veda.
Each Veda consists mainly of three parts: -
- The Mantras or hymns
- The Brahmanas or explanations of mantras and rituals and
- The Upanishads or
mystical utterances revealing profound spiritual truths.
Of these the Upanishads
are the most important. They form the foundations of Hinduism. The most important
upanisads are Isa, Kena, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka,
Mandukya, Aitareya, Taittiriya,
Chandogya and Brhadaranyaka. These are supremely authoritative. And, as they come at the
end of the Veda, the teaching that is based on them is called Vedanta.