Hinduism’s Sacred Texts
Hinduism’s Sacred Texts are manuscripts and historical literature related to any of the diverse traditions within Hinduism. A few texts are shared resources across these traditions and are broadly considered Hindu scriptures. These include the Vedas and the Upanishads. Scholars hesitate in defining the term “Hindu scripture” given the diverse nature of Hinduism, many include Bhagavad Gita and Agamas as Hindu scriptures, while Dominic Goodall includes Bhagavata Purana and Yajnavalkya Smriti to the list of Hindu scriptures.
There are two historic classifications of Hindu texts: Shruti – that which is heard, and Smriti – that which is remembered. The Śruti refers to the body of most authoritative, ancient religious texts, believed to be eternal knowledge authored neither by human nor divine agents but transmitted by sages (rishis). These comprise the central canon of Hinduism. It includes the four Vedas including its four types of embedded texts – the Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, and the early Upanishads. Of the Shrutis (Vedic corpus), the Upanishads alone are widely influential among Hindus, considered scriptures par excellence of Hinduism, and their central ideas have continued to influence its thoughts and traditions.