Article Info

published: 3/17/04
updated: 12/10/13

Hindu Sacred Texts




What is Hinduism's Scripture?

Hindu sacred texts 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).

Vedas

Samhitas | Brahmanas | Aranyakas | Aranyakas | Upanishads

Itihasas

Mahabharata | Ramayana | Puranas

Tantras

Darshanas