Sacred Texts

Religious texts, or Sacred texts also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred, or of central importance to their religious tradition. Many religions and spiritual movements believe that their sacred texts are divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired.

 

Sacred texts may be used to provide meaning and purpose, evoke a deeper connection with the divine, convey religious truths, promote religious experience, foster communal identity, and guide individual and communal religious practice. Religious texts often communicate the practices or values of a religious traditions and can be looked to as a set of guiding principles which dictate physical, mental, spiritual, or historical elements considered important to a specific religion. The terms ‘sacred’ text and ‘religious‘ text are not necessarily interchangeable in that some religious texts are believed to be sacred because of their nature as divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired, whereas some religious texts are simply narratives pertaining to the general themes, practices, or important figures of the specific religion, and not necessarily considered sacred by itself. A core function of a religious text making it sacred is its ceremonial and liturgical role, particularly in relation to sacred time, the liturgical year, the divine efficacy and subsequent holy service; in a more general sense, its performance.

 

It is not possible to create an exhaustive list of religious texts, because there is no single definition of which texts are recognized as religious.

Allah

Some Attributes of God in Quran

Some Attributes of God in Quran God is extensively described in the Quran. The Quran is one of the main source of knowledge about Allah’s Essences and Attributes. For example: “Say: He is God, the One; God, the Eternal, the Absolute; He begot no one, nor is He begotten; Nor...

Book of Common Prayer

Book of Common Prayer

Book of Common Prayer Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by other Christian churches historically related to Anglicanism. The original book, published in 1549 in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English Reformation following the break...

Bible Holy Scripture Religion Scripture Book

Liturgical Book

Liturgical Book A liturgical book, or service book, is a book published by the authority of a church body that contains the text and directions for the liturgy of its official religious services. Roman Rite Main article: Liturgical books of the Roman Rite In the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, the primary liturgical books are the Roman Missal, which contains...

Bible Testament Old Testament Christian Faith Page

Books of the Vulgate

Books of the Vulgate These are the books of the Vulgate along with the names and numbers given them in the Douay–Rheims Bible and King James Bible. There are 76 books in the Clementine edition of the Latin Vulgate, 46 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament, and 3...

Bible Holy Scripture Religion Scripture Book

Catholic Theology of Scripture

Catholic Theology of Scripture The theology of Scripture in the Roman Catholic church has evolved much since the Second Vatican Council of Catholic Bishops (“Vatican II”, 1962-1965). This article explains the theology (or understanding) of Scripture that has come to dominate in the Catholic Church today. It focuses on the...

The Book of Revelation

Book of Revelation

Book of Revelation The Book of Revelation (often called the Revelation to John, Apocalypse of John, the Revelation from Jesus Christ from its opening words, the Apocalypse, The Revelation, or simply Revelation) is the final book of the New Testament, and consequently is also the final book of the Christian Bible. Its title is derived from the first word of the Koine...

Islamic Book Arabic Hadith Book Reading Islam

Islamic Holy Books

Islamic Holy Books Islamic Holy Books are the texts which Muslims believe were authored by God through various prophets throughout humanity’s history. All these books, in Muslim belief, promulgated the code and laws that God ordained for those people. Muslims believe the Quran to be the final revelation of God to mankind, and a...

Parts of the Nihsvasatattvasamhita manuscript from Nepal, reproduced in 1912 from a palm-leaf original, linking Shaiva Agama to esoteric Tantra.

Agama in Hinduism

Agama in Hinduism The Agamas (आगम, āgama) are a collection of scriptures of several Hindu devotional schools. The term literally means tradition or “that which has come down”, and the Agama texts describe cosmology, epistemology, philosophical doctrines, precepts on meditation and practices, four kinds of yoga, mantras, temple construction, deity worship...

The Chandogya Upanishad verses 1.1.1-1.1.9 (Sanskrit, Devanagari script)

Smriti

Smriti Smriti (स्मृति, Smṛti), literally “that which is remembered” are a body of Hindu texts usually attributed to an author, traditionally written down, in contrast to Śrutis (the Vedic literature) considered authorless, that were transmitted verbally across the generations and fixed. Smriti is a derivative secondary work and is considered less authoritative than Sruti in Hinduism, except...

A Panchatantra manuscript page

Panchatantra

Panchatantra The Panchatantra (Pañcatantra, पञ्चतन्त्र, “Five Treatises”) is an ancient Indian collection of interrelated animal fables in Sanskrit verse and prose, arranged within a frame story. The surviving work is dated to roughly 200 BCE, based on older oral tradition. The text’s author is unknown, but has been attributed to Vishnusharma in some recensions and Vasubhaga in others, both...

Rigveda manuscript page, Mandala 1, Hymn 1 (Sukta 1), lines 1.1.1 to 1.1.9 (Sanskrit, Devanagari script)

Shruti

Shruti Shruti or Shruthi (श्रुति, Śruti) in Sanskrit means “that which is heard” and refers to the body of most authoritative, ancient religious texts comprising the central canon of Hinduism. It includes the four Vedas including its four types of embedded texts—the Samhitas, the early Upanishads, the Brahmanas and the Aranyakas. Śrutis have been variously described as a revelation through anubhava (direct...

Devi sukta, which highlights the goddess tradition of Hinduism is found in Rigveda hymns 10.125. It is cited in Devi Mahatmya and is recited every year during the Durga Puja festival.

Rigveda

Rigveda The Rigveda (ऋग्वेद ṛgveda, from ṛc “praise” and veda “knowledge”) is an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns. It is one of the four sacred canonical texts (śruti) of Hinduism known as the Vedas. The text is layered consisting of the Samhita, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads. The Rigveda Samhita is the core text, and is a collection of 10 books (maṇḍalas) with 1,028 hymns (sūktas) in about 10,600...

A tantric form of the Hindu Goddess Kali.

Tantras in Hinduism

Tantras in Hinduism Tantras (“Looms” or “Weavings“) refers to numerous and varied scriptures pertaining to any of several esoteric traditions rooted in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. The religious culture of the Tantras is essentially Hindu, and Buddhist Tantric material can be shown to have been derived from Hindu sources. And although Hindu and Buddhist...

Rama and the Vanara chiefs

Indian Literature

Indian Literature Indian literature refers to the literature produced on the Indian subcontinent until 1947 and in the Republic of India thereafter. The Republic of India has 22 officially recognized languages. The earliest works of Indian literature were orally transmitted. Sanskrit literature begins with the oral literature of the Rig Veda a collection of literature dating to the...

A page from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and Bhasya commentary (c. 2nd to 4th century CE), which placed the practice of asanas as one of the eight limbs of classical yoga

Salistamba Sutra

Salistamba Sutra The Salistamba Sutra or Śālistamba Sūtra (rice stalk or rice sapling sūtra) is an early Buddhist text that shows a few unique features which indicate a turn to the early Mahayana. It thus has been considered as one of the first Mahayana sutras. According to N. Ross Reat,...

Burmese-Pali Palm-leaf manuscript.

Early Buddhist Texts

Early Buddhist Texts Early Buddhist texts (EBTs), Early Buddhist literature or Early Buddhist discourses refers to the parallel texts shared by the Early Buddhist schools. The most widely studied EBT material are the first four Pali Nikayas, as well as the corresponding Chinese Āgamas. However, some scholars have also pointed out that some Vinaya material, like the Patimokkhas of the different Buddhist schools,...

Antique Palm Leaf MANUSCRIPT Sutra Pali Canon Ramayana Story

Āgama in Buddhism

Āgama in Buddhism In Buddhism, an āgama (आगम Sanskrit and Pāli for “sacred work” or “scripture”) is a collection of Early Buddhist Texts. The five āgamas together comprise the Suttapiṭaka of the early Buddhist schools, which had different recensions of each āgama. In the Pali Canon of the Theravada, the term nikāya is used. The word āgama does not occur in this collection. Meaning In Buddhism, the term āgama is used...

Zen Scriptures

Zen Scriptures

Zen Scriptures Though Zen is said to be based on a “special transmission outside scriptures” which “did not stand upon words”, the Zen-tradition has a rich doctrinal and textual background. It has been influenced by sutras such as the Lankavatara Sutra, the Vimalakirti Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra, and the Lotus Sutra. Subsequently, the Zen tradition produced...

Depiction of the First Council at Rajgir, a painting at the Nava Jetavana, Shravasti.

Abhidharma

Abhidharma Abhidharma (Sanskrit) or Abhidhamma (Pali) are ancient (3rd century BCE and later) Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic presentations of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist sutras. It also refers to the scholastic method itself as well as the field of knowledge that this method is said to study. Bhikkhu Bodhi calls it “an abstract...

Chinese text of the Heart Sūtra by Yuan dynasty artist and calligrapher Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322 CE)

Lankavatara Sutra

Lankavatara Sutra The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra (लंकावतारसूत्र, ལང་ཀར་བཤེགས་པའི་མདོ་) is a prominent Mahayana Buddhist sūtra. This sūtra recounts a teaching primarily between Gautama Buddha and a bodhisattva named Mahāmati, “Great Wisdom”. The sūtra is set in Laṅkā, the island fortress capital of Rāvaṇa, the king of the rākṣasa demons. The title of this text roughly translates as “Scripture of the...

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