Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
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Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
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Principles and Practice of Hindu Dharma
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-HR 201.01
A Comprehensive Study of the Ancient Tradition and the Perennial Philosophy
The Principles of Hindu Faith - an Overview of Chapters II to VII
-~ Level - 2 ~
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Lesson - 05 :
The Scriptures, Sruthis, Smrithis, Agamas and Puranas
The Sruthis or Vedas that gave the Divine Message
Please see below
for Lesson - 06
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Hindu Religion is based on the Eternal Truth. It is not based on any single book or the words of any single teacher or prophet. It does not follow any blind doctrine. There are literally thousands of books, spiritual literature and scriptures to guide both the beginners and the scholars. There are several pathways given to the followers. Everyone is allowed to study, question, doubt, analyze, reason and then accept the teachings after their own spiritual experience.

The first sets of books are known as "Sruthis" or "Vedas." They are "of Superhuman or Divine origin" [Apaurus.e'ya]. They are unchangeable, highest spiritual knowledge of the Eternal Truth ever known. They are older than creation itself. In the beginning of every era [Kalpa], the Supreme God, Brahmam, creates Himself as Brahma, and gives Him the knowledge of Vedas as His own breath. The Universe and all its beings are created by Brahma out of the sound of Pranava Manthra "OM" and the knowledge of Vedas.

Vedas are the primary authority and the very soul of Hinduism. They were revealed to the Rishis, the sages or seers, who received them as an intuition by direct revelations from God. Sage Veda Vyasa codified and organized the four Vedas, Rig, Yajur, Saama and Atharva. His disciples Paila, Vaisampaya, Jaimini and Sumanta taught them to their disciples and the latter in turn to their pupils. This way, the knowledge of Vedas was passed on through generations by memorizing and reciting the verses for thousands of years.

The Rig Veda consists of 1028 Sookthas collected as 21 sections or Sakhas with hymns in praise of the Divine. Yajur Veda, with 109 sakhas, mainly consists of Hymns used in religious rituals and rites. Saama Veda has 1000 sections, and it is made of Verses from Rig Veda set to music. Atharva Veda has 50 sakhas with 598 hymns, gives many rites and rituals to guide man in his daily activities and materialistic life, to ward off evil and destroy enemies.

 
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Lesson - 06 :
The Eternal Truth that is Older than the Creations
The Upanishads, Upavedas and Vedangas that explain
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Vedas have several Parts. They have the Manthras or Hymns for prayers, the Brahmanas, the explanatory treatises for using the manthras in rituals, the Aranyakas, the forest books and the Upanishads, the portion of knowledge. The Aranyakas are the mystical interpretations of the manthras and rituals.

The Upanishads reveal some of the greatest truths ever known to mankind. They contain the essence of spiritual truth and philosophy of the Vedas, guiding man through the ages in his search for spiritual enlightenment. There are about 108 Upanishads known, of which 12 are important. Agamas are authoritative texts of Divine origin, independent of Vedas, given to our Rishis explaining the worship of God in various manifest forms and rules for construction of Temples and other places of worship.

Besides these texts that are timeless and of Divine origin, we have other texts and explanatory treatises to guide us in proper path. Vedangas are explanatory limbs of the Vedic texts, rituals and astrology. They are Siksha, Vyakarna, Chandas and Niruktha which deal with the usage, pronunciation and grammar of the Vedic language; Jyothisha which deals with astronomy and astrology and Kalpa Suthras by various Rishis which explain various rituals, laying out the area for Yagna, ethics, customs and laws for the domestic life.

There are four Upa-Vedas on science and art of health, archery, music and politics [Ayurveda, Dhanur-veda, Gandharva-veda and Arthasasthra]. Dharsanas are called the Upangaa, texts by various authors explaining various pathways of understanding and the practice of the Vedic philosophy and teachings. The Smrithis or the Sasthras are the sacred law codes written based on the Vedic teachings. Ithihasas and Puranas carry these teachings through stories to practice the faith.

 
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shravaNaayaapi bahubhiryo na labhyaH shravanto.api bahavoyaam.h na vidyuH .
aashcharyo vaktaa kushalosya labdhaaH aashcharyo GYaataa kushalaanushishhThaH ..
- kaTha Upanishhad
" He (The Truth) who cannot even be heard of by many, whom many, even hearing, do not know,
wondrous is he (the person) who can teach (The Truth) and skilful is he (the person) who finds (The Truth)
and wondrous is he (the person) who knows, even when instructed otherwise. "
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Chapter - 1 : An Introduction and Overview of Hinduism - Lessons 5 & 6
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Go to Lessons: - :~: 01 & 02 :~: 03 & 04 :~: 05 & 06 :~: 07 & 08 :~: 09 & 10 :~: 11 & 12 :~: 13 & 14 :~: 15 & 16 .
 
 
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