Balaji Temple, Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh
The Scriptures of Hinduism:
They are mainly Shruthies and Smrithies.
Shruthies (those which are heard) are the Vedas and are of divine origin.
They are classified into four in the order of chronology and importance: Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana Vedhas.
Each Vedha has four parts: Manthras, Brahmans, Aranyakas and Upanishads. The Mantras are hymns or prayers recited at offerings and sacrifices to the Gods. The Brahmanas give the meanings of the hymns and the rites and instruct how and when to use them. The Aranyakas or ‘forest books', give philosophical interpretation of these rites. The Upanishads or Vedantas are the concluding portions of each of the Vedas. They deal with pure philosophy, interpretation of the nature of God, soul, world, life after death, ethics etc.
They are the epics like Ramayana and Mahabharatha and the eighteen Puranas. Most of these contain legends, myths and tales to teach the vast masses through parables. These are considered to be written by human beings.
These philosophical works, which seek to God, soul, self and nature, proclaim only one supreme God that is “Brahmam”(Brahman). All others like Shiva, Vishnu are manifestations of this Supreme principle. The three main interpretation of the nature of Brahmam and its relationship to its creations and manifestations are found in the three main schools of thought, i.e., Advaitham (non duality) of Shankara, Vishishtathvaitham (Qualified non duality) of Ramanuja and Dvaitham (pure duality) of Madhva.