Hindu scripture overview | World History | Khan Academy

Posted By on September 25, 2019


– [Instructor] As we’ve
mentioned in previous videos, Hinduism is a very diverse religion, with many different practices,
and even different beliefs, but there is a core
centered around scripture. And the most important of
these texts are the Vedas. Now the word Veda literally
means knowledge in Sanskrit, and they were written
during the Vedic Period. It was called the Vedic Period
because this was the time that we believe the Vedas were written, and we have a whole video
on the actual Vedic Period. Now there are four Vedas: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda. The first of these is the Rigveda. When I say first, it’s
because it’s believed that it was written
before the other Vedas, as early as 3,500 years ago. The other three are also pretty old, probably older than 3,000 years old. Now these four texts are
a combination of rituals, of hymns, of mantras, of
songs, and of philosophy. For example Rigveda, Rig you can translate as meaning praise, so it’s
knowledge of ways to praise, praise the eternal, or praise God. Yajurveda you could view
as these prose mantras, knowledge of these prose
mantras, is Yajurveda. Samaveda, this is knowledge
of songs or hymns. Atharvaveda, you can view
these as knowledge of things that you should do in your life. Now these four texts can be sub-classified into the type of text
that they actually are. So what you see here is
the sub-classification of the Vedas that’s often referenced, that amongst these texts some of the verses are mantras, hymns, prayers, those are referred to as Samhitas. You have the things that are more rituals, ceremonies, these are Aranyakas. And Aranyakas are also
things being referred to, things that you have learned, or rituals to do in the forest, maybe at the time when the Vedas were
written these were things that people would go meditate
and do in the forest. You have the Upanishads, which means to sit close to, or sit near. And if you look at the Upanishads, it really is referring to
sitting close, or near a teacher, there’s a lot of dialog
between student and teacher. And the Upanishads, in particular, really form the spiritual
core of Hinduism, it really focuses around
spiritual philosophy. And amongst these four Vedas,
there are 108 Upanishads, and 108 is considered a very
auspicious number in Hinduism. Now you also have Brahmanas,
which are commentary. Now to be clear, there
are verses in the Vedas that can be many of these, that can be Aranyakas and Upanishads, so these things are
not mutually exclusive. Now in the Hindu tradition,
one of the unifying factors are the Vedas and the sub-classifications, or sub-categorizations of the Vedas, these are often viewed
as divine revelations. Even though the Vedas themselves, some of the authors refer
to themselves as authors, as people who are
introspecting on these ideas and writing about them, it is believed by many Hindus that this
is divine revelation. And the term for that is Shruti. And Shruti can also be
translated as what is heard, you could argue what is heard
directly from the divine. Now, in comparison to Shruti, you also have this notion of Smriti. Smriti can be translated
as what is remembered. And there’s a significant
number of Smriti texts, some of them that are
also held very closely, and meet the threshold of divine
scripture for many Hindus. Now the most famous of the Smriti texts are the famous Hindu epics. So this is an image from the Ramayana. The Ramayana tells a story of Rama, who is one of Vishnu’s incarnations, going to save the
Princess Sita from Ravana. The Mahabharata is a story
of really a family feud between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. You see here the Pandava
princes, the five Pandava princes who are all married to Draupadi, it’s an interesting
story in the Mahabharata how they did end up being
married to one princess. And the most significant
part of the Mahabharata, for modern day Hindus,
is the Bhagavad Gita. It is a subset of the Mahabharata, and the Mahabharata is quite long, it will take you a while to read it, but the Bhagavad Gita is quite short. And the Bhagavad Gita takes place really in the climax of the Mahabharata, when you have the Battle of Kurukshetra, where the Pandavas are fighting
their cousins the Kauravas. And one of the Pandava brothers, Arjuna, who’s really considered
the greatest warrior of the brothers, as he takes his chariot into battle, his charioteer ends up being Krishna, also an avatar of Vishnu. And the Bhagavad Gita is
really about the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna,
and it’s all about Krishna reassuring Arjuna not only
his role in the universe, but it also becomes a
little bit of a layer of the spiritual philosophy
discussed in the Upanishads. In modern day India, the
Bhagavad Gita is probably the scripture that is most
cited by modern Hindus. So if you really want to
understand the spiritual core of Hinduism, the best place
to look are the Upanishads, and you also have the Bhagavad Gita, which even though it’s
part of the Mahabharata, which is considered Smriti, it is revered, and is often considered to be
divinely revealed, by Hindus. Now this isn’t a comprehensive listing of all of the scripture
that is important to Hindus. Obviously you have the Vedas,
which are very ancient. Even these epics, their
events might have taken place 3,000 years ago, or maybe more; their composition was
over 2,000 years ago, they were canonized
during the Gupta Empire, but there’s many other texts. You have things that are believed written during the Vedic Period, the Vedanta, which relate to things like
medicine and astronomy. You have commentaries on
things like the Upanishads, things like the Brahama Sutra. You have the Puranas, which
literally means the old things, and these are a whole collection
of old stories, epics, etc. So Hinduism, as I mentioned, it is a very broad religion, it
is a very diverse religion and you even see that in the texts. I’ll now leave you with
a final excerpt from the Bhagavad Gita, and what’s
interesting about this, as I mentioned, is the
parallels that it gives to what we see in the
Upanishads, and some of what we looked at on the first
video on Brahman and Atman. The man who sees me in everything and everything within me will not be lost to me, nor will
I ever be lost to him. So this is Krishna talking to Arjana, and Krishna’s saying me, you could say God, or the Ultimate Reality. He who is rooted in
oneness realizes that I am in every being; wherever
he goes, he remains in me. When he sees all being as
equal in suffering or in joy because they are like himself, that man has grown perfect in yoga. And the term yoga, in
modern day, often refers to the type of stretching, and
exercising, and body postures that you might even
have at your local gym, but it’s really a more general term of how do you connect to
that Ultimate Reality? And some of what you might
learn in a yoga class is one mechanism, leveraging the body, but there’s other techniques,
through meditation and other things, other forms of yoga that are trying to get the individual to better recognize the illusion, the Maya around them, and get connected to the oneness of the Ultimate Reality.

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 31 comments

  1. Hey Sal!
    I was wondering if you could do a video focusing on the Tamil Sangam and that period of Hindu literature and such (especially since that encompasses the shaivite and vaishnavite split). Thank you!!!

    Reply
  2. Considering the Indo-European relationship between Sanskrit and the Germanic tongues, I wonder if the word "Edda" has the same root as "Veda"? Thank you for making these videos about Hinduism available, I've found them very interesting.

    Reply
  3. Off topic question. I thought Sal was Muslim. For a guy who mispronounces names a fair number of times he doesn't SEEM to struggle with these. Was I misinformed in this fact?

    Reply
  4. Hi, can you do a video on the ISS, Why is there no footage of the ISS being built? Humans greatest accomplishment, but not one video?!!!!

    Reply
  5. From what I was told the Gita was present before the Mahabharata, but when Krishna spoke it to Arjun it became a more revered scripture.

    Reply
  6. It used to be just the Rigveda, but then Ved Vyas split them into 4 different Veds making it easy for the average person to understand.

    Reply
  7. It is believed by many that the knowledge in the Veda was imported by God to the sapt rishis who later imparted it to other Rishi and etc who eventually​ wrote the knowledge in a book form

    Reply
  8. LOL, YOGA IS NOT JUST THOSE BODY POSTURES. YOU ARE ONLT TALKING ABOUT HATHA YOGA. THERE ARE 4 YOGAS. 1) KARMA(ACTIONS) YOGA, 2) BHAKTI(DEVOTION) YOGA, JNANA(KNOWLEDGE) YOGA AND THIS WHAT YOU SAY 4) HATHA YOGA 🙂

    Reply
  9. The Jedi in the Lotus: Star Wars and the Hindu Tradition by Steven J. Rosen:
    The Jedi in the Lotus is the first-ever examination of the Star Wars universe from a Hindu perspective, illuminating many hitherto undiscovered aspects of the background and meaning of the widely acclaimed film series. We are shown how its creators were influenced by the famed mythologist, Joseph Campbell, whose reading of the ancient Indian Epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, can be seen throughout the Star Wars films. This book also demonstrates how the metaphysical understanding of the Jedi Knights and the divinity conceived of as 'the Force' have resonances with teachings passed down by Hindu gurus and mystics for centuries, and how fantastic worlds and technology similar to that of the Star Wars universe were described in myths that are millennia old – and may even have had some basis in reality. Finally, The Jedi in the Lotus shows us how the Hindu traditions at the basis of Star Wars offer an alternative vision to the purely materialistic, soulless world of modernity. Steven J. Rosen (Satyaraja Dasa) is an initiated disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He is also founding editor of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies and associate editor of Back to Godhead. He has published twenty-one books in numerous languages, including the recent Essential Hinduism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008); The Yoga of Kirtan: Conversations on the Sacred Art of Chanting (FOLK Books, 2008); and Krishna's Other Song: A New Look at the Uddhava Gita (Praeger-Greenwood, 2010). 'In conclusion, I can only say that The Jedi in the Lotus is a breakthrough book when it comes to understanding the mythic depth of the Star Wars epics. Steven J. Rosen uses his masterful grasp of the Eastern traditions to explain the secrets of the most successful film series ever. This book also shows us why Joseph Campbell loved the wisdom tales from India, and, for those who found the Star Wars adventures memorable, this is a truly illuminating book.' – Dr. Jonathan Young, from the Foreword

    Reply
  10. Hey Sal!
    I couldn't help but notice that 'Shruti' appears to be the term for two things: 'What is heard from the divine' and 'note' in indian classical music. Why is this the case?

    Reply
  11. Karna nd arjun no match not even comparison karna is lot!! Lot Stronger than Arjun if lord Krishna is not on Arjun's side there is no way he can survive against karna not even for 5 min

    Reply
  12. Sorry but the meaning of upanishads is not as simplistic as seating near the teacher. Since other vedic knowledges are transmited from a master to a disciple this give no relevance to the word upanishads. As described by René Guenon, the meaning here is actualy to emphasise that the upanishads contains the teachings that bring you the closest to the absolute, but given the very metaphysical «nature» of that absolute no teacher can give you its knowledge, this has to be an individual quest from there on to the knowledge.

    Reply
  13. Before deciding anything about India & Indian culture be aware of these points (in short i mentioned few only) :
    4 Yugas (different stages of age) :
    1). SATHYAYUGA = 400000 Year
    2). TETHRAYUGA = 4 x Sathyayuga Years
    3). DWAPARAYUGA = 4 x Tethrayuga
    4). KALIYUGA = 4 x Dwaparayuga
    ————————————————–
    "Ramayana" epic was happened first (Tethrayuga)
    "Mahabharata" epic was happened after this in Dwaparayuga.
    BHAGAVAD GEETHA = Holy book
    —————————————————
    4 Vedas (Veda = Knowledge), Sacred & Holy books
    1). RUKVEDA
    2). SAMAVEDA
    3). ATHARVANAVEDA
    4). YAZURVEDA
    ————————————————-
    4 Types Castes / Peoples :
    1). KSHATRIYA (warrior).
    2). BRAHMANA (Priest, holy man)
    3). VAISHYAS (Traders)
    4). SHUDRAS (Agriculturalist)
    ————————————————
    Different clans :
    Hindus (who believe in hinduism)
    Mlechas (Westerners)
    Yavana (Muslims and religion peoples).
    —————————————————–
    It is true that we are very bad in documentation but we transferring knowledge by mouth to mouth from many millennium.
    etc……

    Reply
  14. There is no image of him. He is unborned and He should be worshipped" (Yajurveda, Chapter 32, Verse 3) 

    "god is bodyless and pure" (Yajurveda, Chapter 40, Verse 8) 

    "They are entering darkness, those who worship the natural things(like air, water, fire etc.), they are sinking more in darkness who worship created things." (Yajurveda, Chapter 40, Verse 9) 

    🙏These words are not from quran nor bible this are from vedas🙏

    Reply
  15. Great Lecture, Khan on Hinduism, or Sanatana Dharma! Mahabharata has over 100,000 verses and the longest written poem. Bhagavad Gita, or the Song of God has approx. 700 verses, probably the Topmost Trustworthy Dialogue, or Q & A between Mankind (Arjuna), and God (Krishna, or Avatar / Incarnation of God)… Yoga simple means, Union with the Individual Consciousness and the Supreme Consciousness thru studying vedic holy books, listening, meditation, mantras (prayers), chanting, bhajans (singing or glorifying God names, incarnations, relationships, activities, sharing, energies, forms, etc.) All glories, victories and successes to Bhagavan Shree Krishna… Sita-Rama Ki-jai, jai, jai

    Reply
  16. why did he say " probably older than 3000 yrs??
    more like there ATLEAST 8000 yr.old. and probably older than 10,000 yr. that's more precise.

    Reply

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