Hindu Texts in a Nutshell

I was wondering if somebody could give me Hindu texts in a nutshell. What are the different Hindu texts considered important to the Hindu? I hear a lot of words: Upanishads, Vedas, Bhagavad Vita, Mahabharata, etc. but I don’t really understand their relationship to one another. Could somebody here please give me a simple rundown of these books and their relative importance to the Hindu? Thanks!

I think I can get these straight:
The Vedas are the oldest and most sacred of the texts. They are said to have been first written down about 1500bce. There are four Vedas - Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Arthava veda. the vedas are mainly books of hymns and ritual speech, for the teaching of priests.They contain a great deal of philosophy embedded in the hymns, as well.

Early Hinduism had the Brahmanas, which were ritual instructions that fleshed out the Vedas (think the OT books of ritual and hymnody). The brahmanas have mainly passed out of fashion.

The Upanishads were comments on the vedas written early - after 500bce. They express a less ritualised, more philosophical approach to religion.

The Mahabharata is the ‘national epic’ of the Indian Hindus (think the tales of troy and odyseus, romulus and remus, etc, in the west). It is a sprawling tale of heroes and gods, which is sometimes performed as a days-long theatrical in India. It contains a good deal of what is called ‘hindu mythology’.

The Bhagavad Gita (Holy Song) is a section of the Mahabharata. Just as the Bible contains sections of peotry and song, and special tales, the Gita is a special tale inside the Mahabharata. The Gita tells of a moment when the Hero Arjuna is going into battle and Krishna, the incarnation of the god Vishnu, is his charioteer. the Song focuses on a moment in which Arjuna questions his heroic destiny, the trials of war, etc, and krishna speaks wisdom to him. Some Hindu sects make a special big deal of Krishna, and that has helped push the Gita into a special place in some folks’ minds. It is not the ‘Bible’ of hinduism.

The Puranas are collections of tales and lore from arund the Hindu world - another major source of ‘mythology’, in the sense of stories of the deeds of the gods.

Hindus never try to collect all these into one ‘Bible’, and different Hindu religions emphasize them in different ways. There is a ‘canon’ of sorts. Material which is considered to have been spoken by the Gods and written down by wise seers and sages (prophets, if you like) are referred to as ‘sruti’, meaning 'heard. The vedas are all considered sruti, as are the upanishads. Some consider the mahabharata sruti, even calling it a ‘fifth veda’.

Hinduism is not a single religion - it is a family of religions that share a common heritage. Scripture in hinduism can always expand - new wise writings are produced all the time - but the designation of being ‘heard’ from the divine is likely to remain limited to the ancient books.

Hope that helps.


Thank you very much! You provided me with exactly that which I was looking for. :cool:

Something really interesting I was just thinking about. The Hindu texts begin chronologically with the Vedas (ritual, codes, etc.) and over time the texts seem to become more philosophical in tone.

According to the JEDP hypothesis of the development of Judeo-Christian writings, the opposite is true: more mystical, personal experiences of God in the earlier sources, and increasingly more detached, more priestly, ritualistic accounts in the latter D and P sources.

Is there anything in their texts that promote the slicing of skin that I have seen?

Like a tatto, but not- a knife carving of sorts.

Is this in their writings?

What is Hinduism?

Never heard of that, sounds painful, do you know what the name of the ritual is? I’ll ask my Hindu friends.

I have no idea what it’s name is. I worked with someone who had it on their arm. I asked, and she said it was part of a ritual.

She was interestingly enough never punished for having her various “gods” on her person in necklaces, and photos on her desk.

In contrast, a few non catholics and yours truly had to remove our “religious” images from our desks and keep them out of “plain view”

In general, no. This sort of ritual is generally folkloric - it descends from some small, local practices, that have become attached to specific Hindu deities or holy days.

One of the core teachings of Hinduism is that the spirit can rule the body. Such practices as piercing, scarification, etc, are generally meant to show that the devotee is so enwrapped in the divine that they do not care about pain to their flesh. Rather like the Phillipino Christian enthusiasts who have themselves nailed to crosses every Easter.

Hinduism cannot fit into a nutshell,:shrug: but here is an overview of Hinduism with links to mainline Hindu sites.


and a Catholic evaluation of Hindu texts.Here are the most important Sacred Texts and most universal in Hinduism.

Instead of thinking of Hinduism as analogous to Christianity, or Judaism, or Islam; it’s probably better to think of Hinduism as analogous to the Abrahamic religions as a whole. It’s just that diverse, but with strong threads of connections as well.

If someone really becomes a Hindu, they become part of a lineage, or sampradaya, since you have to commit to a particular practice, if you are serious about practicing.:smiley: From a Hindu perspective, Christians can be seen as Abrahamics of the Christic sampradaya; Jews, of the Mosaic sampradaya; and Muslims of the Rasulic sampradaya.

Your boss is probably too ignorant to recognize your friend’s necklaces and photos as religious images. :smiley:

hindunet.com/forumHindu scriptures

if you scroll down youll eventually find forums that discuss the different religious scriptures;

The EPic
Puranas etc.

Links to these Sacred Hindu Texts:
**- **Vedas: Rig, Atharva, Sama, Yajur, Upanishads

I hope they all work PAX

And here is free downloadable Bible translations for those interested e-sword.net/

Dear Ian, thank you for replying to me. You are the only person who has been able to give me an answer about this.

Also, are these people who are nailing themselves to Crosses…


I have heard about this every year usually right before Lent, But I may have dismissed it due to prayer and fasting, not wanting to put things in my mind that would take off the focus.

Then, I forget after Lent and here we are again.:o

How I need to be more mindful of things and others in general.

Thank you for your reply.


Well, you got me there!

Most likely senario yes.

Peace and Love,



Some information here – there are photos, but nothing too graphic.

Thank you Mirdath,

(I saw your name on the reply and decided to come back in from my break)

What if anything is being done to stop this I wonder. Right now, naive as I am,:o I am honestly feeling there is a duty and obligation the Church has to them to stop this. They, are not to blame for a total misunderstanding in their ways, but the Church does have an obligation to do something IMHO. Ah, but this has grown into a custom of sorts now… gag so we respect the local customs…:rolleyes:

PS your link does not work for me, it goes to a travel something or other…

Nonetheless, I have seen the photos, I take your word on the fact they are Catholic, you never gave me reason to doubt anything you said before. I take it on trust.

The local bishops aren’t too happy with it.

Crucifixions are an annual event in the Philippines, despite opposition from Church leaders who want less violent ceremonies

Amparo Santos (r) was the only woman taking part - for her 15th crucifixion - while **cult leader **Winnie de Vera hoped for peace

Sorry, does not sound like they are as unhappy about it as I would have liked to see based on your reply Ahimsa…

The “cult leader”?

Is this an approved lay apostolate?

My gut says NO, but I have been wrong on going with logic before…

Interesting the “cult leader” gets to pray instead of get crucifyed…

Also, it may be an assumption to say the Bishops have any comment-

The article says:

Church leaders

Its rather vauge.

Thank you for the link though, the photos here are more tame than the ones I have seen.