HINDU (VEDIC AND RELATED) LITERATURE

Christianity is based on one holy book , the Bible and the Islam is also based on one book Koran. But the Hindu dharma is based on many books such as Vedas, Vedaangaas, Puraanaas, upa puraanaas, smruthies, upa vedaas and itihaasaas. Since human knowledge is so vast, it is impossible to comment on that heap of knowledge in one book. Hence the Hindu Rishies wrote thousands of books and commentaries under specific titles. A Hindu can select the subject(s) of his choice. We, in our earlier publications have scientifically explained the Hindu aacharaas, Hindu spirituality, scientific and technological heritage of Hindus and now, it necessary that every Hindu should understand what are the Hindu literature, atleast in a nutshell.

Hindu dharma is based on Vedas (the word Veda means knowledge). Vedas are foundations of Hindu dharma. All other Hindu literature are directly or indirectly linked with Vedas. There are four Vedas. They are Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharva Veda. Vedas are known as anaadi because their period of composing is not correctly known. The authors of these manthraas are known as manthra drushtaara, means those who could see the manthra when they composed them. Vedas are also known as apourusheya means composed by Rishies having the talent beyond the level of ordinary human beings. All these manthras are classified by Maharshi Krishna dwaipaayana, who was later known for his meritorious work as Veda Vyaasa who was born to a fisherwoman, into Rig Veda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda.

ANALYSIS OF VEDAS

Analysis of Rigveda:
Rigveda is the oldest book of the human race. It might have been composed many thousand years ago. It is composed by hundreds of Rishies and their names are given in the beginning of each sooktha. It is written in poetical style/language, known as Riks, The Riks (stanzas) put together becomes sookthas.. Rig Veda has 25 recensions of which only five are available now. They do not differ significantly. The available recensions are known as saakala saakha, baashkala saakha, aaswalaayana saakha, saankhaayana saakha and maandukeya saakha

The most popular Sakala saakha of Rigveda has 64 chapters. Manthras are classified into 2024 Vargas which are made out of 10552 Riks. These manthraas are composed with a total number of 193816 Sanskrit words. There are 397265 letters in Rigveda. Some of the names of the Rishies who composed the Veda manthras are Kasyapa, Viswamitra, Kanwa, Paraasara, Gouthama, Bharatha, Vamadeva, Gopayana, Athreya, Aangeerasa, Bharadvaaja, Sounaka, Gargya, Praagaatha, Vasishta, Yama, Samvana, and so on.

Analysis of Yajurveda:
More than one half of the manthras in Yajurveda are taken from Rigveda and remaining composed by Rishies of Yajurveda. It is said that there are 100 recensions for the Yajurveda. Names of some of these recensions are: Aalambhi, kalinga, kamala, ruchaabha, aarunee, thaandya, syaamaayana, kata and kaalaapi. The Kata saakha has been further separed into charaka kata, aahwaraka kata, bhraajishtala kata, kapishta kata, chaaraayaneeya kata, praachya kata, swetha kata, swethaswethara kata, oupamanyava kata, paathaandineya kata, maithraayaneeya kata,… and so on. The series go upto one hundred recensions. Few of the Yajurveda recensions have only poetical manthras and the remaining have both poems and prose. All the recensions which have only poems are known as Sukla Yajurveda and other set is known Krishna Yajurveda. All these recensions together is known as the tree of Yajurveda ( Yajurveda vruksha). There are 40 chapters in the Sukla Yajurveda recensions and in other recensions the number of chapters vary. The 40th chapter of Sukla Yajurveda is Eesaavaasya Upanishad, the only Upanishad coming as a part of any Veda

Analysis of Sama Veda :
This Veda is chanted by specialists known as udgaatha, means musicians of vedic traditions, and the manthras are highly complicated music in nature. There are 1000 recensions for Sama Veda and only 13 are now available. Some of their names are:
Raanaayaneeya, saatyamugra, Vyaasa, bhaguree, oulundee, goulguvi, bhanuman, kaaraatee, masaka, kouthuma, saaleehotra, jaimineeya, and soon. There are total 1861 manthras including 267 repetitions ( punarukti) . By tradition some of these manthras can be chanted only in village environments ( graama geya ganaas), some are only in forest ( aaranyageya gaanaas), some are to be chanted at very low voice (ooha gaanaas), some are permitted only in the mind (sound should not be heard outside) known as oohya gaana. In Jaimineeya recensions of Sama Veda, it is said that there are 1232 graamageya ggaanaas, 291 aaranyageya gaanaas, 1802 ooha gaanaas and 356 oohya gaanaas. Generally the Sama Veda mantras are chanted during yaagaas.

Analysis of Atharvaveda:
 It is said that there are 50 recensions for Atharvaveda. The recensions which are now available are only 9. pippalaada, thouda, mouda, sounakeeya, jaajala, jalada, brahmavada, devadarsa, and chaarana vaidya. There are nearly 6000 manthras in Atharvaveda of these 1200 manthras are taken from Rigveda. Atharvaveda is more social in spirit than the other three Vedas. This Veda is also known in different names like kshetra Veda, Brahma Veda, Aangeerasa Veda, and soon.

ANALYSIS OF BRAAHMANAS

Brahmanaas some times come as the part of Vedas ( as in Krishna Yajurveda) and generally they are separate books. They describe the method of yaagaas and customs and rituals for conducting the yaagaas. Generally it is difficult to understand the explanation of the subject without the commentaries. For Rigveda there are two Brahmanaas known as aithareya brahmana having 40 chapters, the second one saakhaayana brahmana having 30 chapters. Both explain the ritual connected with the yaagaas.

Yajurveda has Sathapatha Brahmana composed of 100 chapters in one saakha and in the other saakha it has 104 chapters, which give many historical information on ancient India Bruhadaaranyaka Upanishad is a part of this brahmana. The second brahmana of Yajurveda is thaithireeya brahmana (this becomes almost as a part of Yajur Veda itself , unlike other brahmanaas) in which thaithireeya Upanishad, mahanaaraayaneeya Upanishad, yaajnikee Upanishad are included.

Samaveda has the following separate braahmanaas: thaandya . Upanishad . jaimineeya- devathaadyaaya . samhithopanishad- vamsa- arsheya- shadvimsa- cchandokhya brahmanaas are the most important among the samavedeeya brahmanas. Cchandokhya upanihad is a part of cchandokhya brahmana.

Atharvaveda has only one brahmana known as gopatha brahmana.

ANALYSIS OF AARANYAKAAS

Aaranyakaas generally comes at the end of the brahmanaas as a part of separate book. They are more philosophical or spiritual in subject. In Hindu dharma, there are four stages in life such as brahmacharya, gruhastha, vaanaprastha and sanyaasa. When one reaches the stage of leaving the house and go to forest , the rituals are to be performed with utmost simplicity and these rituals are explained in aaranyaka. Rigveda has aithareya aaranyaka as a continuation of the aithareya brahmana . In this aaranyaka comes the aithareya Upanishad, mahaithareya Upanishad, bahvrucha Upanishad and samhithopanishad. In Kousheetake aaranyaka of Rigveda comes the kousheetake Upanishad. Yajurveda has maithraayaneeya aaranyaka in which maitraayaneeya Upanishad comes. And in thaithireeya aaranyaka comes thaithireeya Upanishads. Sama Veda and atharveda do not have separate aaranyakaas, but the philosophical and spiritual subjects explained in the aranyakaas are coming in some part
of the brahmanaas .

ANALYSIS OF UPANISHADS.

Upanishads are the philosophical and spiritual treasury of Hindus. The great messages of Bharath come from the Upanishads. They describe about the pancha praana, pancha bhootha, pancha karmendriya , pancha jnaanendriya and mind. They also describe in detail on specific spiritual aspects and rituals. The Upanishads are classified into five groups. Those belonging to Rigveda are 10 numbers. Upanishad belong to sukla Yajurveda are 18 in number. Those belong to Krishna Yajurveda is 32 and 16 Upanishads for Sama Veda and 32 for Atharvaveda. Each class of Upanishads have separate santhi manthraas. Only one Upanishad comes as a part of Veda, that is the eesaavaasya Upanishad. Few Upanishads as mentioned above come as part of braahmana texts few other come as part of aaranyakaas. Remaining are separate Upanishad texts.

Rigvedeeya Upanishads : aithareya . kousheetakee- naadabindu- aathmabhoda- niravaana- mulgala-akshamaalika-thripura- soubhagyalakshmi- bahvrucha Upanishads belong to the class of Rigveda with saanthi mantra commencing from vang me manasi prthishtithaa…

Sukla yajurvedeeya Upanishad: eesaavaasya- bruhadaaranyaka- hamsa- paramahamsa- subaala- manthrika- thrisikhibraahmana- niraalamba- mandala braahmana- advaya- thaaraka- bhikshuka- adyaathma- muktika- thaarasara- yajnavalkya- saatyaayana- thureeyaatheetha avadhootha Upanishads belong to the suklayajurvedeeya class with the saanthi manthra commencing with poornamatha poornamidam..

Krishna yajurvedeeya: Kata- thaithireeya- brahma- kaivalya- swethaaswethara- garbha- mahaanaraayana- amruthabindu- amruthanaada- kaalagnirudra- kshurika- sarvasaara- sukarahasya- thejabindu- dhyaana bindu- brahmavidya- yogathathva- dakshinaamoorthy- skanda- sareerika- yogasikha- ekaakshara- akshi- avadhootha- katarudra- rudrahrudaya-panchabrahma- praanaagnihotra- vaaraaha- yogakundalini- kalisantharana- saraswathee rahasya Upanishad are Krishna yajurvedeeya Upanishads, with the santhi manthra commencing with sahanaa vavathu..

Samavedeeya Upanishads: kena . cchandokhya- aarunee- maithraayanee- maithreyee- vajrasoochika- yogachoodaamany- vasudeva- maho(panishad)- sanyaasa-avyakta- kundikaa- saavithree- jaabaala- darsana- rudraakshajaabaala Upanishads with the saanthi manthra ..om aapyaayanthu mamaangaani.. belong to Sama Veda.

Atharvavedeeya Upanishads: prasna- mundaka- maandookya- atharvasira- atharvasikha- bruhadjaabaala- seeta- sarabha- mahaanaraayana- raamarahasya- raamathaapinee- saandilya- paramahamsa- annapoorna- soorya- aathma- paasupatha- thrupurathaapinee-devee- parabrahma- bhaavana- bhasma jaabaala- ganapati- mahaavaakya- gopaalathaapinee- sreekrishna- hayagreeva- datthathreya- garuda- narasimhapoorvathaapinee- narasimha uttarathaapinee . naarada parivraajaka Upanishads belong to the Atharvavedaclass and they have the saanthi manthra begining with: Bhadram karnebhi srunuyaama devaa:

ANALYSIS OF VEDAANGAAS:

Vedaangas are books connected with Sanskrit language used for writing the Vedas. There are six vedangaas. They are Siksha, niruktha, vyaakarana, chandas saastra, kalpasaastra and jyothisha. The words vedaangaas mean the organs of Vedas (parts of Vedas All the rules defined here for writing the Vedic Sanskrit are also applicable for modern and ancient Sanskrit literature . Thus one can see that rules and science of language are also given through Vedic literature . In each branch of Vedaangaas, it is said that there are 18 books written two three thousands years ago. Additions, deletions, modifications and corrections are done when new books were written as original ones or as commentaries.

Analyses of Siksha (Vedanga) :
These books give the rules for chanting the vedas. The word siksha means .learning/ teaching. . it is the learning of the Vedas. These are known in the names of great sages: Yajnavalkya, Vasishta, Kaatyaayana, Naarada, Gouthama, Panini, Sounaka, Sisira, Aapisali – and so on .

Analysis of Nirukta (Veddanga):
This is second among the Vedangas and this branch of study aims at teaching the formation of Sanskrit words used in Vedas. The roots of the vedic words and the modifications taking place when the words combine. The most authentic book is the Nirukta written by Yaaskaacharya. There are 18 Nirukta books of which important among them are known in the names of Oupamanyava, Gargya, Galava, Vaarshyaayanee, Aagraayana, Saakapoorna, Aarnanaabha, Thaitik, Sthouleshti, Kroushtuka, Kaathyayana and so on.

Analysis of Vyakarana:
This is the Vedic grammar book, giving the grammar rules applicable for all the Sanskrit based literature written two to three thousand years ago. The most important among the vyaakarana books is the one written by Panini known as mahabhashya/ ashtaadhyaayee having 2105 soothraas/ rules. The other important grammar books are known in the names of great grammarians Aapisali, Gaargya, Gaalava, Saakalya, Saakataayana, Bharadwaaja, Sphotaayana, and so on.

Analysis of Kalpasaastra:
There are four major subdivisions for Kalpasaastra . The Kalpa saastra books discuss fully, the customs and rituals to be performed by each and every Hindu on individual- family- society and as a citizen bases. All the customs to be performed by a married couple in the family comes under the gruhyasootra. All the customs for performing the yaagaas and yajnaas come under the sroutha sootra. The rules and customs to be practiced by the citizens/ officers/kings/ministers etc come under dharma saastra. The after death customs/rituals come under pitrumedha sootra. In fact all the Hindu rules/ rituals/ customs are discussed in detail with due corrections/additions/modifications/ and refinement (required in the course of time) , in these books.

Analysis of Jyothisha:
This is the sixth vedaangaa, in which mathematics, astronomy and prediction part (astrology) are combined. There are hundreds of books written in ancient India on mathematics and astronomy which are the part of veddangaas. A few books are written on the prediction part of the Jyothisha. The first two parts are discussed in details in the scientific heritage of India published by the Institute.

ANALYSIS OF UPAVEDAAS:

Upavedas are the science books which come as subsidiary- upa- to Vedas . For each Veda there is a subsidiary. They are Arthasaastra, Dhanurveda, Gaandharva Veda and Ayurveda respectively for all the four Vedas. The Sthaapthya Veda/ vaastu has also been given the status of the upaveda.

Analysis of Artha saastra.
Artha saastra is economics and the most authentic books in this class of ancient Hindu literature is the Koutileeyam- Chanakya.s Arthasaastra. This is an authentic arthasastra book with 6000 messages/ rules written in 150 chapters. Each and every line in this book has deep message to convey. There are 18 artha saastra books written in olden days.

Analysis of Dhanurveda:
The books describe on science of archery. All the informations connected with the war and use of weapons are described in the dharnurveda. The most authentic book in this branch of upaveda is said to be written by Dronaacharya namely Dhanurveda. Detailed descriptionof the subject matter is given in the great Indian epic Mahabharatha.

Analysis of Gaandharvaveda:
Detailed decriptionof music, musical instruments, dance and related arts are given in the Gaandharva Veda text. This Veda is the upaveda of Samaveda. Sarngadhara.s sangeetha ratnaakaram is one of the important books coming under this class. Yaamalashtakam, uddheesamahodayam, maansollasam, sangeetha drpanam are some of the important books.

Analyes of Ayurveda:
This is the upaveda of atharveda desribing the halth, food and diseases in detail. The Charaka samhita, Susrutha samhitha , Ashtaanga hrudaya, Ashtaanga samgraha etc are the reference books followed today for the ayurveda.

Analysis of Sthaapathya Veda:
This has been given thestatus of upaveda of Atharvaveda. here one can read the rules and applications of Vaastu used houe/temple/ palace/ forts constructions

ANALYSIS OF MAHAPURAANAAS:

There are 18 Mahapuranaas and 18 Upapuraanaas. Through these puraanaas ancient Hindu Rishies convey the dharmic messages as the stories and histories of the kings/ kingdoms/ simple experiences of Rishies and so on. Sometimes the messages through simple stories connected with gods / human beings/ animals also come under the puranic explanations. All the information given in puraanaas are aimed at . creating a scientific temper and realization of the facts and truths connected with our day today life.

Names and analysis of 18 Mahapuranaas:
These mahapuraanaas are huge volumes of books, many a times written in 5 to 10 volumes with stories, histories , sub stories, upadesaas/ etc. The names of the puranaas : Vishnu . bhavishya- garuda- agni- mahaabhagavatha- siva- markandeya- linga- brahmavaivartha- malsya- koorma- varaaha- vaamana- skanda- brahmaanda- padma- vaayu- naradeeya puranaas.

Names and analysis of upapuraanaas:
It is said that these upapuranaas are less important when compared to the puraanaas. Their names are samba- devibhagavatha- kaalika- laghunaardeeya- harivamsa- vishnudharmotthara-kalki- mulgala- aadi- aathma- brahma- vishnudharma- narasimha- kriyaayoga- soorya- bruhadnaaradeeya- purushothama- bruhad Vishnu puraanaas.

ANALYSIS OF SMRUTHIES:

Smruthies are dharma sastra books which gives the customs and rules to be followed. The book may explain some specific subject as specialization in some cases and in some other cases , the smruthi books explain rules connected with many subject in an integrated way. Hence there are smurties written in many volumes and some smruthies are very small books. The smruties can be updated with due corrections and amendments. The rules described in the smruthies vary depending upon the place and time, hence they are not universal truths and need not be practiced blindly.

The names of smruties: Smruthies are known in the name of following Rishies; Usana, Yajnavalkya, Vishnu, Manu, Aangeerasa, Yama, Athri, Samvartha, bruhad paraasara, Bruhathpati, Daksha, Saathaathapa, Likhitha, Vyaasa, Parasara, Sankha, Gouthama and Vasishta. Smruthies are also known as dharma sastra books.

ANALYSIS OF DHARSANAAS (VISIONS):

There are six darsanaas in Hindu dharma propounded by six great sages . Highly philosophical matters are discussed in these books. In fact every subject under the Sun has been touched upon in these small books. One can understand the darsanaas, generally, only with the help of commentaries:

Jaminee’s Poorva meemaamsa is the first darsana which explains the dharma and adharma and their merits/rewards and demerits/punishments.

Vedavyaasa’s Uttarameemamsa: This darsana describes the power/energy/ universal soul known as Brahman which controls everything in the universally externally and internally. This is the basis of advaitha darsana.

Kapila’s saankhya darsana: Description on the composition of the universe is given as eight type of prakruthi including panchabhootha (five), intellect, mind and awareness/consciousness on the one side and the universal soul guiding and controlling all these within the system

Patanjali’s yogasaastra: Detailed description of mind and body and the combination of panchabhootha (five) panchapraana, panchakarmendriya and pancha jnaanendriyas (five pranas, five sensory organs and five functional organs) is described in yoga.

Kanaada’s vaiseshika: Here the specific description on the atoms by which the universe is composed of has been described. This darsana is specifically different from others in many ways , hence it is vaiseshika (special) darsana.

ANALYSIS OF TWO EPICS:

Ramayana and Mahabharata are the to epics. Generally Hindus know about these epics. Hence a detailed description is not required for this branch of literature.

Analysis of Ramayana:
The first Hindu epic known as aadi kaavya, written in 7 kaandaas (parts) having more than 550 chapters. Through the history Sri. Rama Avathaara of Mahavishnu, the human qualities are explained here. The Ramyana written in Sanskrit has been translated to almost every Indian languages and important world languages. The messages of life are conveyed to the common people through Ramayana, story telling, dance, kathakali, dance, and so on through out India and Indian continent.

Analysis of Mahabharatha:
It is the history of Pandavas and Kouravaas who were meritorious noble brothers and Kourvaas who were opposite in qualities to pandavaas. The sufferings and pains of Pandavas and finally how Lord Krishna advised to fight for reestablishing the dharma has been explained in the Mahabharatha . It is said Sage Vyaasa has told everything in Mahabharatha, nothing else remain to be told. “ Vyaasocchishtam jagath sarvam”

Thus in Hindu dharma the above books and their commentaries give the dharmic messages. None of these books is to be blindly followed or their messages to be blindly practiced. They are only the guiding books. One can walk from one level to a higher level, from there to a still higher level and then to the highest level, till one realizes that he is also the embodiment of the divine power. That is Hindu dharma

Please send this document to everyone you know. Remember, it is your, mine and our duty, privilege and responsibility to learn, teach and spread our Heritage.

Compiled by
Indian Institute of Scientific Heritage
Ushus, Estate Road, Pappanamcode, Thiruvananthapuram, 695 018, Kerala, India.
Ph. 0471-490149, www. iishglobal.org, http://www.iish.org

Published in: on 8 December 2006 at 4:47 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. it is very good article

  2. sir i am very interested in hinduism i am searching for all puranas i want to all puranas can u guide me i meet u later personally.


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