!!! Note: In order to view the devanagari characters, you'll have to set you browser encoding to "Unicode (UTF-8)" !!!
Ancient Indian literature is divided into two main categories:
- Sruti ( श्रुति )
- Smriti ( स्मृति )
Sruti ( श्रुति )
Sruti literally means Listened/Heard. Some explanation attributed the word Sruti to the Guru-Shishya (Guru-disciple) system, where the disciple listen directly from the Guru. Whereas some other explanation attributed it to the revelation of truth through listening, which goes more closer to the sound of AUM (OM) being the supreme truth.
- Sruti are considered the main text.
- Sruti has higher authority over any other document.
- Sruti constitute Veda; sometime Bhagwat Gita is also known as Sruti.
Veda ( वेद )
Veda are considered main literature of Indian philosophy and religion. The word Veda means knowledge/knowing, derives from the word Vid ( विद ), means know/knower.
There are four Vedas:
- Rigveda ( ॠग्वेद )
- Yajurveda ( यजुर्ववेद ) - Divided into two sections, Sukla Paksha ( शुक्लपक्ष ) and Krishna Paksha ( कृष्णपक्ष ); means 'Bright/White Section' and 'Dark/Black Section' respectively.
- Samaveda ( सामवेद )
- Atharvaveda ( अथर्ववेद )
There are six disciplines to understand Vedas, called Vedanga ( वेदांग ). The word Vedanga is derived from two words Veda+Anga. Where Anga ( अंग ) means limb or part.
- Shiksha ( शिक्षा ) - Dealing with pronunciation.
- Chhanda ( छन्द ) - Study of Vedic meter.
- Vyakarana ( व्याकरण ) - Related to grammar.
- Nirukta ( निरुक्ता ) - Study of etymology.
- Jyotisha ( ज्योतिषा ) - Area of astrology/astronomy.
- Kalpa ( कल्प ) - Dealing with ritual.
The Vedas can be divided into two parts, Samhita ( संहिता ) and Brahmana ( ब्राह्मण ). Brahmana can again be divided into two parts, Aranyaka ( अरण्यक ) and Upanishad ( उपनिषद ).
- Samhita ( संहिता ) or Mantra ( मंत्र ) - Collection of hymns.
- Brahmana ( ब्राह्मण ) - Explaining the meaning of Mantras and rituals.
- Aranyaka ( अरण्यक ) - Explanation of Mantras.
- Upanishad ( उपनिषद ) - Conclusive part of Veda.
Upanishad ( उपनिषद ):
Upanishad are highly philosophical and metaphysical part of Vedas. Being the conclusive part of Vedas, Upanishad can be called the whole substance of Vedic wisdom. The word Upanishad is composed by three words, Up + Ni + Sad ( उप – नि – षद ); where Upa ( उप ) means Sub/Near, where Ni ( नि ) means Down/Bellow and sad ( षद ) means Sit. Which can be translated as "sitting near".
Upanishad are also know as Vedanta ( वेदांत ). The word Vedanta is composed by to words Veda ( वेद ) + Anta ( अन्त ), where Anta ( अन्त ) means End. Thus the meaning of the word Vedanta means "End of Veda" or "End part of Veda". Here one thing should be noted, Veda itself means "Knowing or Knowledge", hence the meaning of Vedanta can be interpreted as "End of Knowledge". Many people do try to draw this meaning; but this meaning rather sounds incorrect, given the huge number of texts written long after Vedas and Vedas themselves has been rectified and modified down the ages.
Another word used is Uttar Mimansa ( उत्तर मीमांसा ), where Uttar ( उत्तर ) means Latter and Mimansa ( मीमांसा ) means Inquiry.
There are known to be more than two hundred Upanishads, but Muktikopanishad ( मुक्तिकोपनिषद ) counts 108 Upanishads. All Upanishads are associated to different Vedas. 10 associated to Rigveda ( ॠग्वेद ), 19 to Yajurveda Sukla Paksha ( यजुर्ववेद शुक्लपक्ष), 32 to Yajurveda Krishna Paksha ( यजुर्ववेद कृष्णपक्ष ), 16 to Samaveda ( सामदेव ) and 31 to Atharvaveda ( अथर्ववेद ).
All 108 Upanishads are clubbed in different groups. First 10 Upanishads are grouped as Mukhya ( मुख्य ) - Main/Principal, 21 as Samanya Vedanta ( सामान्य वेदांत ) - Common/Normal, 23 as Sannyasa ( सन्यास ) - Attributed to Sannyasa, 9 as Shakta ( शाक्त ) - Attributed to Shakti ( शक्ति ) - Goddess of Power, 13 as Vaishnava ( वैष्णव ) - Attributed to Vishnu ( विष्णु ) - God of Preservation, 14 as Shaiva ( शैव ) - Attributed to Shiv ( शिव ) - God of Destruction and Salvation and 17 as Yoga ( योग ) - Union.
List of Mukhya ( मुख्य ) Upanishad:
- Isha ( इशा ) - Sukla Yajurveda
- Kena ( केण ) - Samaveda
- Katha ( कथा ) - Krishna Yajurveda
- Prashna ( प्रश्न ) - Atharvaveda
- Mundaka ( मुण्डक ) - Atharvaveda
- Mandukya ( मान्डुक्य ) - Atharvaveda
- Taittiriya ( तैत्रेय ) - Krishna Yajurveda
- Aitreya ( एत्रेय ) - Rigveda
- Chhandogya ( छान्दोग्य ) - Samaveda
- Brahadaranyaka ( ब्रहदारण्यक ) - Sukla Yajurveda
Smriti ( स्मृति )
Smriti literally means Remembered/Memorized. Smriti are compiled over a great span of time, related to variety of subjects.
- Smriti has lower authority.
- If there is any contradiction between Sruti and Smriti, then Smriti should be discarded while taking Sruti as the authority.
- Smriti are divided into many categories, as, Dharmasasta, Itihas, Puran etc.
Smriti are divided into 6 main categories:
- Dharmashastra ( धर्मशास्त्र )
- Itihasa ( इतिहास )
- Purana ( पुराण )
- Sutra ( सूत्र )
- Agama ( अगमा )
- Darsana ( दर्शन )
Dharmashastra ( धर्मशास्त्र ):
Dharmashastras mainly deals with duties of a person. Most of the Dharmashastras are derived from Vedas.
Dharmashastras can be divided into three major categories:
- Achaar ( आचार ) - Duty/Rite
- Byavahar ( व्यवहार ) - Behavior
- Prayashchit ( प्रायष्चित ) - Atonement
There are hundreds of Dharmashastras written down the ages. Few major Dharmashastras are:
- Dharmashastra of Apastamba ( अपश्थम्भ )
- Dharmashastra of Gautama ( गौतम )
- Dharmashastra of Baudhyan ( बौधयान )
- Manu Smriti ( मनु स्मृति )
- Yagnavalkya Smriti ( याग्नवल्क्य स्मृति )
- Narada Smriti ( नारद स्मृति )
Itihasa ( इतिहास ):
Itihasa are the collection of epics. Sometimes Itihasa falls under Purana.
Major Itihasa includes:
- Ramayan ( रामायण )
- Mahabharat ( महाभारत )
- Yogavashista ( योगवाशिष्ठ )
- Harivansa ( हरिवंश )
Purana ( पुराण ):
Purana literally means Ancient/Old. Main characteristics of Puranas are traditions and rituals. Puranas mainly deals with Triguna ( त्रिगुण ) - 'Three qualities': Satva ( सत्व ) - Truthfulness, Rajas ( रजस ) - Passion, and Tamas ( तमस ) - Darkness/Ignorance.
Puranas are divided into four categories:
- Maha Purana ( महापुराण ) - Main Puranas.
- Upa Purana ( उपपुराण ) - Secondary Puranas.
- Sthala Purana ( स्थलपुराण ) - Purana related to specific places.
- Kula Purana ( कुलपुराण ) - Purana related to a dynasty.
Few major Puranas are:
- Shrimad Bhagawat Purana ( श्रिमद भागवद पुराण )
- Vishnu Purana ( विष्णु पुराण )
- Devi Bhagawat Purana ( देवि भागवद पुराण )
- Bhavishya Purana ( भविष्य पुराण )
- Matshya Purana ( मत्ष्य पुराण )
- Karma Purana ( कर्म पुराण )
- Brahma Purana ( ब्रह्म पुराण )
Sutra ( सूत्र ):
Sutra literally means Thread. Sutras are basically rules/law of the related topic (equivalent to Greek word 'Nomos').
Few major Sutras are:
- Yoga Sutra ( योग सूत्र ) - Sutras of Yoga.
- Nyaya Sutra ( न्याय सूत्र ) - Sutras of Justice.
- Brahma Sutra ( ब्रह्म सूत्र ) - Sutras of Brahm.
- Kama Sutra ( काम सूत्र ) - Sutras of Sensual Desire.
- Vyakarana Sutra ( व्याकरण सूत्र ) - Sutras of Grammar.
- Jyotish Sutra ( ज्योतिष सूत्र ) - Sutras of Astrology and Astronomy.
- Sulva Sutra ( सल्व सूत्र ) - Sutras of Geometry.
Agama ( अगमा ):
Agama means Arrival. Agama are mainly rules of rituals.
Darshana ( दर्शन ):
Darshana means Viewing/Seeing. Darshanas are mainly philosophical documents. Many Sutras falls under Darshana.