Guru and disciples

The world says ‘seeing is believing’, but the guru says ‘seeing is belying’. The world urges us ‘to become’ someone, the guru tells us ‘to be’ what we are. The Truth is very subtle, difficult to grasp and seemingly contradicts worldly experiences. The discipline, therefore, many times doubts it’s existence. The affirmation of the guru instills confidence in the disciplines that the Truth exists, It can be realized and that they too can directly experience it.

Swami Tejomayananda, Ganapati Atharvashirsha Upanishad

Notes on Tat Tvam Asi

On Tat Tvam Asi (That Thou Art):


Tat Tvam Asi is repeated in the sixth chapter of the Chandogya Upanishad, in which the teacher Uddalaka Aruni instructs his son in the nature of Brahman. The text served as a foundation for the Advaita Vedanta branch of Hindu philosophy, providing detail on the concepts of Atman and Brahman.

Representing a central theme of Advaita philosophy, Tat Tvam Asi unites the macrocosmic ideas of God and universal consciousness with the microcosmic individual expression of the Self. This mantra highlights the notion that all beings are intimately connected to universal energy and cannot be separated from it.

Tat Tvam Asi is one of the four principle Mahavakyas, short statements from The Upanishads. The essence of each of these Mahavakyas is the same, since all are intended to guide practitioners toward the realization that all beings are one with Brahman. Understanding this is believed to be the ultimate form of compassion, in which individuals recognize one another as part of the same whole.

The great insight of Advaita Vedanta is, the reality you reach through the God-centred approach or the ‘that’ based approach, and the reality you reach through the Self-inquiry approach or the ‘thou’ based approach, is exactly the same reality. By bringing them together – Atman is Brahman, ‘That thou art’, the stunning insight is – that indubitable personal existence is also the infinitude of God. The unproblematic, infinite nature of God and the indubitable certain existence of the self are brought together. You have an infinite existence which is also beyond doubt.

– Swami Sarvapriyananda, What is Vedanta

From the Bhagavad Gita:

The 18 chapters of the Gita can be viewed as three shadgams of six chapters each. In each of these sections, three broad topics are dealt with.

In the first set of six chapters, the three topics discussed are:

  • Jiva vichara
  • Sadana of karma yoga to attain moksha
  • Human effort, purusha prayatna, to gain self knowledge.

The second shadgam discusses:

  • Ishwara swaroopa
  • Sadana of upasana yoga or meditation on Saguna Brahman
  • Ishwara Kripa.

The focus in the third shadgam is on:

  • The oneness of Paramatma and jivatma
  • The sadana of jnana yoga through practices – sravana, manana, nidhidyasa, etc.
  • The importance of character building by cultivating worthy qualities and virtues.

It is shown that the first topic in each of the three shadgams, namely jiva vichara, Ishwara vichara and Jiva-Brahma Aikya Jnana, respectively unfolds the explanation of the three terms Tvam, Tat and Asi in the Mahavakya. The ‘Tvam’ pada refers to the essential nature of the individual soul, the ‘Tat’ pada is about the nature of the Supreme Brahman and the ‘Asi’ pada affirms the oneness of Paramatma and the jivatma. The second and the third topics in each of three sections comprehensively deal with the yoga sadanas, karma, bhakti and jnana and of the importance of human effort, God’s grace and the cultivation of Daivi sampath or virtues.

Speaking Tree Article by Nitin Sridhar

The Sruti makes statements like “Tat Tvam Asi”(Thou Art That) and “Aham Brahmasmi”(I am Brahman) which often may lead to confusion.

Every verse can have three kinds of meanings- sAmAnadhikaranam, visheshana-visheShya bhava and lakshya-lakshana sambhanda (Naishkarmya-Siddi 3.3).
If we interpret the Mahavakya according to sAmAnadhikarana, the Thou and That, the Jiva and Brahman which are different are being equated. The Mahavakya will mean that the Jiva that is limited and temporary is equal to/same as Brahman, that is infinite and birth-less. This is called as “sAmAnAdhikaranam” or “Co-ordination”.

On the other hand, if we are to take that the Mahavakya is implying that “Thou” is being qualified by the term “That” and vice versa; then it would mean that to the Jiva (in its limiting aspect) is attributed the Brahman-hood (i.e. the qualities like Birth-less, Infinite) and to the Brahman (which is ever-free) is attributed the Jiva-hood (i.e. the qualities like temporary and bounded. This kind of interpretation is called as “visheshaNa-visheshya bhAva” or “Subject-Predicate Relation”.

But, it is visible that in the case of the Mahavakya- “Tat Tvam Asi”, both sAmAnAdhikaranam and visheshaNa-visheshya bhAva does not apply because, neither the limited and temporary Jiva that is subjected to Karma and bondage can be equated to Brahman/God who is eternal, birth-less and ever free, nor can the qualities of one be attributed to another. Gaudapada in his Mandukya Karika (3.21) says that-“the immortal cannot become mortal. Similarly, the mortal cannot become immortal. The mutation of one’s nature will take in no way whatsoever”. Hence, in the case of this Mahavakya, the “Co-ordination” and “Subject-Predicate Relationship” does not apply.

Hence, one must take into consideration only the “lakshya-lakshana sambandha” i.e. Indirect Indication. And accordingly, the “Thou” refers not to the Jiva who is limited by body and mind, but to the Atman, the Inner-most Self who is ever-free and the lone Witness of the body, senses and the mind. Hence, it is the Innermost Atman who is eternal and ever-free is being identified with Brahman, the substratum of the Universe who is also eternal and birth-less. In other words, the Mahavakya implies that, it is the Brahman who is infinite and eternal inhabits all the objects of the Universe as their Atman/Innermost Self.

And when, an individual through vichara/discrimination understands the Real-Self, the Atman as devoid of the Non-Self entities like body and mind and then through Niddhi-dhyasa/contemplation realizes the identity of Atman who is Immidiate (Aparoksha) and Self-established with Brahman who is birthless and ever-free, then he becomes “Jivan-Mukta” due to the destruction of all Ignorance.

Scriptures of Sanatana Dharma

This post lists 200+ ancient Sanskrit scriptures of Sanatana Dharma. This list is the tip of an iceberg and is short summary of the primary scriptures.

Sanatana Dharma or Hindu Dharma is based on several sources of knowledge in contrast to some other religions which are based on a single or few books.

Some sources attribute Sanatana Dharma to 80,000 years ago to a time before writing was invented. Sages from ancient times understood the nature and secrets of the universe in their meditative states and transmitted them verbally. This process of a realized sage speaking the truth by oral transmission was Shruti – meaning “of sound”. The spoken word, thus transmitted, had to be committed to memory and subsequently written down with numerous commentaries clarifying the original. This retaining of the transmitted knowledge was Smriti – meaning “of memory”

Sanatana Dharma, the eternal faith, was the way of life of people of Bharat. In the past 3000 or so years, the European and Arab invaders coined the terms India and Hinduism. In the name of religion and conquests, a substantial amount of the knowledge accumulated in the Indian subcontinent over a period of several millenia was destroyed by invaders.

Sanatana Dharma is based on the practice of eternal universal harmony which is encoded into life itself and and has no known single human founder. It arises from the collective wisdom several ancient sages who experienced different elevated states of consciousness and joyously expounded the greater truths about the nature of universe and life that were revealed to them.

Though reading of the scriptures of Sanatana Dharma would not directly lead a person to self-realization, the teachings of the seers provide a basis and a path for spirituality. Despite being the oldest religion, the truth realized by the seers proves that the truth and path provided by Hinduism is beyond time. Hinduism is more a way of life than a religion. Key principles of all religions of the world have similiarities to Hinduism. Many religions like Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism emerged from it and preserve the Hindu knowledge in a different manner.

The values of peace, non violence and compassion emphasized by the Hindu way of life also make it defenseless and vulnerable to destruction. As Hinduism does not have a mechanism of propagation like Christianity and Islam, both of which are well-organized, funded and even violence-oriented, it has been helpless in stopping the destruction of the scriptures and the Sanskrit language.

Given the continuous deterioration of Sanskrit and the knowledge of the ancient eternal scriptures, every Hindu must at least develop an awareness of the scriptures.

Primary texts of Sanatana Dharma include 4 Vedas, 16 Brahmanas, 4 Aranyakas, 108 Upanishads, 6 Vedangas, 5 Upavedas, 18 Mahapuranas, 18 Upapuranas, 6 Darsanas, 18 Smritis and 2 Ithihasas.


The oldest and the most important scriptures of Sanathana Dharma are the Vedas. Veda means knowledge. Vedas are apauruseya, which means they are not attributable to human knowledge. The Vedas are known as the revealed Truths. Vedas are the recordings of the revelations received through transcendental experiences of the Rishis of ancient India. Vedic knowledge is considered to be flawless.

Maharshi Vyasa divided the Vedas into four, Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva in order to expand them among men.

  1. Rig-Veda

The Rig-Veda Samhita is the grandest and oldest book of the Hindus. Its immortal mantras embody the greatest truths of existence and its priest is called the Hotri. The Rigveda contains 10,552 verses divided into 64 chapters. Besides that it has got twenty-five branches written by several Rishis. The Rig-veda contains the most sacred Gayatri mantra.

  1. Yajur-Veda

Its name is derived from the root word ‘yaj’ meaning worship. The term for sacrifice i.e. yajna is also derived from here. It primarily deals with the procedural details for performing different yajnas

There are two distinct Yajur Veda Samhitas, the Shukla Yajur Veda or Vajasaneyi Samhita and the Krishna Yajur Veda or Taittireya Samhita. The Krishna or the Taittireya is the older book and the Sukla or the Vajasaneyi is a later revelation to sage Yajnavalkya from the resplendent Sun God. About half of the Yajur-Veda are composed of verses taken from the Rig-Veda. They are arranged according to their importance in various rituals. The remaining part (mainly prose) deals with the formulae for performing the yajna, external as well as internal. The famous Rudra hymns belong to the Krishna Yajur Veda. The Yajur-Veda contains 1875 verses. Besides that it has got one hundred and eight branches.

  1. Sama-Veda

The Sama-Veda Samhita is mostly borrowed from the Rig-vedic Samhita, and is meant to be sung by the Udgatri, the Sama-vedic priest, in sacrifices. ‘Sama’ means peace. Accordingly this Veda contains chants to bring peace to the mind. Many of the hymns of the Rig-Veda are set to musical notes in Sama Veda. Sama Veda is the basis of the seven notes (Sapta Swaras), fundamental to Indian classical music. The listening of the musical chants gives one a sense of universality and a mingling with the divine. The ‘udgaata’ or beginning ceremony before a yajna is actually a chanting of hymns from Sama Veda to ensure the grace of all the Devas. The Sama-Veda contains approximately 2000 verses. Besides that it has got one thousand branches.

  1. Atharva-Veda

This Veda is named after a sage called Atharvan who discovered the mantras contained in it. It is largely a collection spells to ward off evil and suffering and to destroy one’s enemies. It deals more with the things here and now, than the hereafter, and with the sacrifices which are a means to them. The mantras are in prose as well as verse. There also hymns addressed to devas other than the ones mentioned in the other three Vedas. There are hymns, which deal with creation also. Brahma is the representative of Atharva Veda. The Atharva Veda gives a useful insight into the rich landscape of India at the time of its composition. The Atharva Veda contains of 5987 verses. Besides that it has got fifty branches.

Yajur-veda and Sama-veda use the hymns of Rig-Veda and Atharva-Veda and rearrange them in a manner suitable for rituals. In all, the four Vedas have got One thousand one hundred and eighty three (1183) branches.

Each Veda consists of four parts to suit the four stages in a man’s life Brahmacharya, Grihasta, Vanaprastha and Sanyasa. The four divisions are Mantra Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads.

The Mantra-Samhitas which are hymns in praise of the Vedic God for acquiring material prosperity and happiness. They are poems comprising prayers, hymns and incantations addressed to various deities. This portion also contains information about the creative process, the universal laws, about the creation and the universe in detail. It is useful to Brahmacharins.


The Brahmanas are explanations of Mantras or rituals, which give guidance to people as to how; the sacrificial rites are to be performed. They are explanations of the method of using the Mantras in Yajnas or other rites. Details for various ceremonies like birth, naming, study, marriage, death are in this portion. The Brahmana portion is suitable for householders (Grihastashram).

Brahmanas of Rig-veda
There are three Rig-vedic Brahmanas.

  1. Ithareya Brahmana
  2. Sankhayana Brahmana
  3. Kausheethaki Brahmana

Brahmanas of Yajur-veda
There are three Yajur-vedic Brahmanas.

  1. Shatapadha Brahmana
  2. Thaiththareeya Brahmana
  3. Maithrayaneeya Brahmana

Brahmanas of Sama-veda
There are nine Sama-vedic Brahmanas.

  1. Jaimineeya Brahmana
  2. Thandya Brahmana
  3. Aarsheya Brahmana
  4. Shadvimsadhi Brahmana
  5. Chandhokya Brahmana
  6. Samavidhana Brahmana
  7. Abhootha Brahmana
  8. Vamsa Brahmana
  9. Samhithopanishathi Brahmana

Brahmanas of Atharva-veda

  1. Gopadha Brahmana


The Aranyakas are the forest books, the texts that give philosophical interpretations of the rituals. After a man has finished all his worldly duties (taking care of parents, marrying off children etc.) he proceeds to the forest to spend the rest of his days in solitude and meditation. The Aranyakas are intended for such people, hence the name. It explains the different kinds of rituals to be performed in forest by people, who go for Vanaprastha.

The Aranyakas are expositions on the inner meaning of the Vedic hymns and sacrifices. The hymns are interpreted symbolically to gain an insight into the reasons for performing yajnas and thus deal with higher metaphysical concepts.

Aranyakas of Rig-veda
There are two Rig-vedic Aranyakas.
1 Ithareya Aranyaka
2 Kausheethaki Aranyaka

Aranyakas of Yajur-veda
There are two Yajur-vedic Aranyakas.
1 Maithrayaneeya Aranyaka
2 Thaiththareeya Aranyaka

There are no Aranyakas for Sama and Atharva vedas.


The Upanishads are the essence of Vedic teaching. They are called Vedantas meaning the concluding portion of the Vedas as well as the ultimate conclusions of Vedic wisdom. Upanishads happen to be the most foremost authorities of the Vedanta system of philosophy that developed in later times in different forms.

They reveal the most subtle and deep spiritual truths and are meant for sanyasis. The collection of teachings generated by the ascetics who meditated on the mysteries of human existence came to be known as the Upanishads, which literally means “sitting close to” the teacher thereby indicating that the knowledge that it imparts is esoteric. Many, many Upanishads existed ages ago; a lot of them have been lost in time. Only one hundred and eight have been preserved so far some in prose, some in verse.

They are:

Upanishads of Rig-Veda
There are ten Rig-vedic Upanishads. They are:
1 Ithareya Upanishad
2 Kausheethaki Upanishad
3 Nadhabindhu Upanishad
4 Aathmabhodha Upanishad
5 Nirvana Upanishad
6 Mulgala Upanishad
7 Akshamalika Upanishad
8 Tripura Upanishad
9 Sowbhagyalakshmi Upanishad
10 Bhahvrucha Upanishad

Upanishads of Sukla Yajur-veda
There are eighteen Sukla Yajur-vedic Upanishads. They are:
1 Isovaasya Upanishad
2 Bruhadharanyaka Upanishad
3 Hamsa Upanishad
4 Paramahamsa Upanishad
5 Subhala Upanishad
6 Mantrika Upanishad
7 Thrisikibrahmana Upanishad
8 Niralamba Upanishad
9 Mandalabrahmana Upanishad
10 Adhwya Upanishad
11 Taraka Upanishad
12 Bhikshuka Upanishad
13 Adhyaatma Upanishad
14 Muktika Upanishad
15 Tarashara Upanishad
16 Yanjavalkya Upanishad
17 Shatyayana Upanishad
18 Turiyatheeya Avadhootha Upanishad

Upanishads of Krishna Yajur-veda
There are thirty two Krishna Yajur-vedic Upanishads. They are:
1 Kada Upanishad
2 Thaiththireeya Upanishad
3 Brahma Upanishad
4 Kaivalya Upanishad
5 Swetaswetara Upanishad
6 Garbha Upanishad
7 Mahanarayana Upanishad
8 Amrithabindhu Upanishad
9 Amrithanadha Upanishad
10 Kalagnirudra Upanishad
11 Kshurika Upanishad
12 Sarvasara Upanishad
13 Shukarahasya Upanishad
14 Tejabindhu Upanishad
15 Dhyanabindhu Upanishad
16 Brahmavidhya Upanishad
17 Yogatatva Upanishad
18 Dhakshinamoorthy Upanishad
19 Skanda Upanishad
20 Saareerika Upanishad
21 Yogashika Upanishad
22 Ekakshara Upanishad
23 Akshi Upanishad
24 Avadhootha Upanishad
25 Kadarudra Upanishad
26 Rudrahrudhaya Upanishad
27 Panchabrahma Upanishad
28 Pranagnihotra Upanishad
29 Varaha Upanishad
30 Yogakundalini Upanishad
31 Kalisantarana Upanishad
32 Saraswatheerahasya Upanishad

Upanishads of Sama-veda
There are sixteen Sama-vedic Upanishads. They are:
1 Kena Upanishad
2 Chandokya Upanishad
3 Aaruni Upanishad
4 Maitrayanee Upanishad
5 Maitreyee Upanishad
6 Vajrasuchika Upanishad
7 Yogachoodamani Upanishad
8 Vasudeva Upanishad
9 Maha Upanishad
10 Sanyasa Upanishad
11 Avyakta Upanishad
12 Kundika Upanishad
13 Savitri Upanishad
14 Jabhala Upanishad
15 Darsana Upanishad
16 Rudraksha Jabhala Upanishad

Upanishads of Atharva-veda
There are thirty two Atharva-vedic Upanishads.They are:
1 Prasna Upanishad

  1. Mundaka Upanishad
  2. Maandukya Upanishad
  3. Atharvasira Upanishad
  4. Atharvasikha Upanishad
  5. Bruhat Jaabhala Upanishad
  6. Sita Upanishad
  7. Sarabha Upanishad
  8. Mahanarayana Upanishad
  9. Ramarahasya Upanishad
  10. Ramatapini Upanishad
  11. Sandilya Upanishad
  12. Paramahamsa Upanishad
  13. Annapoorna Upanishad
  14. Surya Upanishad
  15. Aathma Upanishad
  16. Pasuptha Upanishad
  17. Parabrahma Upanishad
  18. Tripuratapini Upanishad
  19. Devi Upanishad
  20. Bhavana Upanishad
  21. Bhasma Jaabhala Upanishad
  22. Ganapati Upanishad
  23. Mahakavya Upanishad
  24. Gopalatapini Upanishad
  25. Sreekrishna Upanishad
  26. Hayagriva Upanishad
  27. Dhaththathreya Upanishad
  28. Garuda Upanishad
  29. Narasimhapurvatapini Upanishad
  30. Naradapariprajaka Upanishad
  31. Narasimha Uththaratapini Upanishad

Besides this 108 Upanishads, many Upa-Upanishads also exist.


The Vedangas and Upavedas are collections of texts that augment and apply the Vedas as a comprehensive system of sacred living. There are six Vedangas.

  1. Siksha (The nose of the Vedas)
    Siksha means Vedic phonetics and lays down the rules of phonetics – sounds of syllables, of pronunciation- euphony. It lays down the parameters of Vedic words. Phonetics are very important in Vedic language because a slight change in sound may lead to change in the meaning of a mantra and consequently have undesirable effects on the sacrifice. Siksha explains how the sound of each syllable should be produced, how high or low should be its pitch and for how much duration (maatra) the sound must last.
  2. Nirukta (The ears of the Vedas)
    Nirukta is the Vedic dictionary. Nirukta may be regarded as the Vedic equivalent of etymology i.e. the study of words. Nirukta explains the origin of each Sanskrit word in the Vedas. In Sanskrit, names or words are not assigned ad-hoc but there is a systematic way of forming words. Every word has a deep meaning and may sometimes be formed by the combination of two or more nouns. All words are derived from the basic roots or Dhatus. As Nirukta breaks each word into its component roots and analyses its meaning, so it is likened to the ear, which distinguishes speech by breaking words into its component phonemes. It is also regarded as the World’s first Encyclopedia.
  3. Vyakarana (The mouth of the Vedas)
    Vyakarana deals with grammar and so is very important. There are many books on Sanskrit grammar, but the most famous and most extensively used is the Vyakarna of Sage Paanini. Paanini’s grammar is in the form of aphorisms (Sutras).
  4. Chanda Saastra (The feet of the Vedas)
    Chanda Saastra deals with metric composition. Any verse has to have a specified ‘metre’ and number of letters in it, for a good fit. Chanda Saastra lays down the rules for this. It defines the boundaries of metrical composition into metre, rhyme, etc.
  5. Kalpa Saastra (The arms of the Vedas)
    Kalpa Saastra is a collection of books of Shauwta Sutra, Dharma Sutra, Pithrumedha Sutra, Sulba Sutra, Gruhya Sutra and Prayaschitham. All our customs and rituals are explained in Kalpa saastra. Kalpa Saastra answers the questions like:
    How should a ritual be performed?
    What are the duties of the child, student, householder, King, mendicant etc?
    Which ritual involves which mantra, which material and which Deva?
    How many priests should be employed for a sacrifice? What objects should be used in various rituals?, and so on.

The Kalpa Saastra details the Vedic rituals to be performed from the time the embryo forms in the womb to birth leading upto the final sacrifice of death. Cremation or Antiyeshti, meaning the last rite is seen as a sacrifice of the whole body to Agni, the fire god. The Namakarana (naming ceremony), the Upanayana (sacred thread investiture ceremony), Vivaaha (marriage) are also described within the Kalpa. The Vedic system of architecture i.e. Vaastu Shastra is also described in Kalpa. The entire Kalpa Saastra weighs more than 250 Kilograms. (i.e., 2.5 quintals)

  1. Jyothisha (Astronomy + Astrology)
    The eyes of the Vedas Jyothisha includes Ganitham, Kalakriya, Golam, Jatakam, Muhurtham, Prasnam and Nimiththam. Perhaps the most famous of all Vedangas, it is the science of astrology. Jyotisha gives rules to calculate the positions of the planets and stars at any instant in the future or past. Based on these positions and certain well defined rules, the fate of a person can be reasonably determined provided his/her birthdate, time and place of birth are accurately known. Vedic astrology is based on lunar signs in direct contrast to the solar sign system prevalent in the west. The premise is that the moon being closer to the Earth extends a greater influence on mankind than the distant Sun.

There are five Upavedas

  1. Arththasaastra
    Unfolds statecraft. It can be called as the Hindu science of governing by Kings.
  2. Dhanur Veda
    Discusses military science. Discusses different kinds of weapons and war rules.
  3. Gandharva Veda
    The science which enlighten music and arts. Discusses different kinds of music, musical instruments and arts.
  4. Ayurveda
    Deals with medicine, health and longevity.
  5. Saapadhyaveda(Tachchu Saastra)
    Deals with the architecture. Vasthu Saastra also comes under this.

Puranas are compiled from related historical facts, which explain the teachings of the four Vedas. The Puranas explain the Vedic truths and are intended for different types of men. All men are not equal. There are men who are good, others who are driven by passion and others who are under the veil of ignorance. The Puranas are so divided that any class of men can take advantage of them and gradually regain their original nature and get out of the hard struggle for existence Mahapuranas.

There are eighteen Mahapuranas. They are:

  1. Vishnu Purana
  2. Bhavishya Purana
  3. Garuda Purana
  4. Agni Purana
  5. Mahabhagavata Purana
  6. Siva Purana
  7. Markandeya Purana
  8. Linga Purana
  9. Brahmavaivarththa Purana
  10. Matsya Purana
  11. Kurma Purana
  12. Varaha Purana
  13. Vamana Purana
  14. Skanda Purana
  15. Brahmaanda Purana
  16. Padma Purana
  17. Vayu Purana
  18. Naradheeya Purana

There are eighteen Upa-puranas. They are:

  1. Samba Purana
  2. Devibhagavata Purana
  3. Kalika Purana
  4. Lakhunaradheeya Purana
  5. Harivamsa Purana
  6. Vishnudharmmoththara Purana
  7. Kalki Purana
  8. Mulgala Purana
  9. Aadhi Purana
  10. Aathma Purana
  11. Brahma Purana
  12. Vishnudharma Purana
  13. Narasimha Purana
  14. Kriyaayoga Purana
  15. Surya Purana
  16. Bruhat Naradheeya Purana
  17. Prushoththama Purana
  18. Bruhat Vishnu Purana


Darsana means, sight or vision. In the Vedanta philosophy, the first question is what is the source of everything? There are philosophers who saw different stages of the original source, and explained philosophy according to their vision. These are known as Darsanas. They are also known as Sad-darsanas (six systems of philosophy).

  1. Nyaya Darsana
    Nyaya means the science of logic and expediency. It is also known as Tarka Shastra. This was composed by Sage Gautama and contains passages, which establish by means of disputation that God is the creator of this universe. It establishes the existence of God by means of inference.
  2. Vaiseshika Darsana
    Vaisesika, philosophy of specialised logic, maintains that the combination of atoms is the cause of the cosmic manifestation. It was composed by Maharshi Kanada. He was the first philosopher who formulated ideas about the atom in a systematic manner.

Nyaya and Vaiseshika deal mainly with physics, chemistry and other material sciences and include reasoning or logic. Metaphysical studies or search for knowledge of God, however, formed the ultimate aim of the study of these saastras also.

  1. Sankhya Darsana
    Sankhya, philosophy of analytical study, maintains that the material nature is the cause of the cosmic manifestation. Sage Kapila composed it.
  2. Yoga Darsana
    Yoga, philosophy of mystic perfections, maintains that universal consciousness is the cause of the cosmic manifestation. It was composed by Patanjali Maharshi. He is the first systematiser of the Yoga school.
  3. Purva Meemamsa Darsana
    Sage Jaimini composed the sutras for the Purvameemamsa, philosophy of actions and reactions, maintains that fruitive activities are the cause of the cosmic manifestation. This book consists of 12 chapters – 1000 Adhikaranas in all. In these Adhikaranas, selected Vedic verses are examined in details. In the 1000 Adhikaranas a thousand types of problems are taken up and various arguments against an apparent explanation are raised before coming to a conclusion.
  4. Uththara Meemamsa Darsana
    The Uththarameemamsa deals with Vedanta and is thus close to the philosophy of the Upanishads. Maharshi Veda Vyasa composed Uththara Meemamsa.


Smriti means memory and are writings devised to fix in memory, the practical use of the messages stated or implied in the Vedas. Smritis embodies the teachings of Divine Incarnations or prophets, saints and sages. It is an explanation of the Srutis. Srutis are the revealed scriptures, as mentioned in the Vedas and Smritis are the commentaries and derived literatures, based on the messages of the Vedas; Some of the Smritis are in the form of Laws formulated by saints and sages for mankind.

There are eighteen important Smritis.They are:

  1. Usana Smriti
  2. Yanjavalkya Smriti
  3. Vishnu Smriti
  4. Manu Smriti
  5. Angeerasa Smriti
  6. Yama Smriti
  7. Atri Smriti
  8. Samvarththa Smriti
  9. Bruhatparasara Smriti
  10. Bruhaspati Smriti
  11. Daksha Smriti
  12. Saataatapa Smriti
  13. Likhita Smriti
  14. Vyasa Smriti
  15. Parasara Smriti
  16. Sanka Smriti
  17. Gautama Smriti
  18. Vasishta Smriti


Itihasas are literatures describing historical events pertaining to either a single hero or a few heroic personalities in a lineage: for example, Ramayana describing the pastimes of Sri Ramachandra and Mahabharata describing the pastimes of the Pandavas in the lineage of the Kurus. In these books there are topics on transcendental subjects along with material topics. The whole idea of the Mahabharata culminates in the ultimate instructions of the Bhagavad-gita that one should give up all other engagements and should engage oneself solely and fully in surrendering unto the lotus feet of Krishna. The conclusive teaching of the Ramayana also is to fully surrender and take shelter of Lord Sri Ramachandra.

  1. Ramayana The traditional author of this Epic is the sage Valmiki. This Epic is regarded as the first poetical work in the world, of purely human origin. The verses have great diffusivity, simplicity and charm. There are totally seven books of this great epic.
  2. Mahabharata This epic is traditionally authored by the sage Vyasa It is a rich collection of many histories and legends. The scene of the poem is the ancient kingdom of the Kurus; and the central story – ‘ the germ of which is to be found in the Vedas ‘ – concerns a great dynastic war. A very important portion of the Mahabharata is the Song of the God (called the Gita). Bhagavad Gita, as it is called, is the essence of all the messages to mankind contained in the Veda.

Hindus believe in one God expressed in different forms. For them, God is timeless and formless entity. Hindus believe in eternal truths and these truths are opened to anyone who seeks them, even if he or she is ignorant of Hindu scriptures or ideas. This religion also professes Non-violence – “Ahimsa Paramo Dharma” – Non violence is the highest duty. True Ahimsa implies curtsey, kindness, hospitality, humanity and love. The most important aspect of Hinduism is being truthful to one’s own consciousness. Hinduism does not claim to have a monopoly on ideas and is open to all.

This post is based on document prepared in 2003 by A.V. Ajil Kumar with inputs from Dr.N.Gopala Krishnan, Scientist, CSIR & Hon Director, Indian Institute of Scientific Heritage, Trivandrum.