Q&A: 4. Holy book of Hindus

தமிழில் படிக்க இங்கு செல்லவும்

Question: What is the sacred book of Hindus?

Answer: Let me attempt to answer this in a simplified way as dictated by my limited intellect.

This question arises because we have a tendency to compare Hinduism with other monotheistic religions. Monotheistic religions in general postulate a single all-powerful being who is mentioned in their scriptures encompassed in a sacred book. Thus each monotheistic religion is associated with a sacred book and vice versa.

Hinduism on the other hand cannot be defined as such. In fact, the original name of Hinduism is Sanathana Dharma which literally means ‘a way of life from a long time ago’. Within the realm of this definition, there are believers in monotheism (‘Shaivam’, ‘Vaishanavam’, Shaktham, Kaumaram etc), polytheism (believers in multiple Gods), nature worshippers (Five elements, mountains, trees etc), animal worshippers (Cows, Snakes), worshippers of flame/light (Ramalinga Adigalar) and interestingly even non-believers (Chaarvaakas) as well. So in essence, believers can choose any sacred text within Sanathana Dharma that advocates their views.

In general, Vedas are considered the ultimate proof (‘Pramaana’) within Hinduism. So anything from the Vedas, to Upanishads, Smritis (Manusmriti etc), Itihasasas (Ramayana, Mahabharata), Puranas (18 important ones), Vedangas (Shiksha, Nirukta, Kalpa etc), Bhagavad Gita, Sutras (Brahmasutra etc) and other texts like Dhivyaprabandham (Dravidaveda), Shaiva agamas/Thirumurais, Gitagovindam by Jayadeva, Ramcharitmanas by Tulasidas – all such could be sacred books of believers.

So, in essence there isn’t one book that is meant for all Hindu practitioners but several that can be considered by different followers and equally revered by everyone.

Earlier questions in this series:

3. Why should we light a lamp in our houses?

2. Should I wear only traditional dresses while visiting temples? 

1. What if I don’t know the meaning of Mantras that I chant?

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Rangarajan has been blogging for over 12 years now on various topics. With Thedal, he becomes one with the universe and he is hoping that his search will help him discover the eternal truth.  Please join him as he traverses through the universe across temples, philosophies and science!

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