Marriages, are they made in heaven? What scriptures say about husband wife relationship.

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person”. Mignon McLaughlin

Arranged marriages were normal in Indian society for a very long time and it is still practiced by many Indian families irrespective of their religion or cast. Parents take an important role for the marriage and they choose prospective bride or groom for their son or daughter to marry. Marriage is not an affair between two individuals but that of two families including their relatives and friends. Religious practices, life style and economic compatibility also play a major part in successful marriages that lasts a life time. But love marriages are slowly changing that thought process in India. Once the couple enters into the bond of marriage, the relationship is considered sacrosanct and perpetual—till death does them apart.

The fast-changing social and family environment has thrown up new challenges, particularly to the young people.  Assertion of freedom and the need for individual space, characterized by ambition and the fast pace of life; have created new pressures on marriage. Job opportunities for women have multiplied over the recent past, giving them economic independence. For many career-oriented girls, their career, success and money are more important and hence get more priority over family. This motivates them to choose out of a bad marriage, particularly when they have no kids. As many of the female spouses today are well educated and employed on good jobs, they have become quite conscious of their rights. They also expect cooperation and adjustment from their husbands. While women have tended to become assertive, many of the males, on their part, have not learnt to adapt to the new situation. Because of the greater societal acceptance of divorcees the sanctity of marriage is taking a beating in today’s society. If the wife is working, gender roles change. Conflicts arising from sharing the work load at home add to the stress faced at work. Tensions often arise if the husband imagines that the woman’s career is temporary or the woman imagines that her husband will lend a hand at home. All these have resulted in the lack of harmony among married couples. The decline in harmony can be associated with values that emphasize individualistic, materialistic and self-oriented goals over family well-being.

Our society is in transition, in a state of flux. While old values are getting uprooted, the new value system has not got sufficiently entrenched. The frequent ego clashes may be the consequence of this fluid situation.

In Mahabharata there are many references about marriages and husband wife relationship. If we can follow those instructions, even partially, one can enjoy a long and blissful married life. Some of the excerpts are given below.

The wife is a man’s better half and first of all friends. The wife is the root of religion, desire and wealth. Only those who have wife can perform religious rites and can attain salvation. Only those with wife can be cheerful and lead a happy domestic life. They act as mothers in sickness and woe. Men scorched by mental grief, or suffering under bodily pain, feel as much refreshed in the companionship of their wives as a perspiring person in a cool bath. He who has a wife is trusted by all. No man, even in anger, should ever do anything that is disagreeable to his wife, seeing that happiness, joy, and virtue, everything depends on the wife.

A house without the wife is as desolate as the wilderness. Even in the deep woods to a traveler a wife is his refreshment and solace. Even the foot of a tree is one’s home if one lives there with one’s spouse as a companion. Without one’s spouse, a very palace is truly a desolate wilderness. When one sets out for a strange land one’s wife is one’s trusted companion. It is said that the wife is the richest possession of her husband. A wife, therefore, is one’s most valuable possession. There is no friend like the wife or refuge better than her. One’s house is where his wife is.

Once Satyabhama, wife of Sri Krishna asked Panchali as to how she is able to make such powerful husbands as Pandavas obedient to her. Is she using any black magic or tricks? To which Panchali answered thus.

Keeping aside vanity, and controlling desire and anger, I always serve them with devotion. Restraining jealousy, with deep devotion of heart, without a sense of degradation at the services I perform, I wait upon my husbands. Ever fearing to utter what is evil or false, or to look or sit or walk with impropriety, or cast glances indicative of the feelings of the heart, do I serve my husbands. I never bath or eat or sleep till he that is my husband has bathed or eaten or slept,–till, in fact, our attendants have bathed, eaten, or slept. Whether returning from the field, the forest, or the town, hastily rising up I always salute my husband with water and a seat. I always keep the house and all household articles and the food that is to be taken well-ordered and clean. Carefully do I keep the rice, and serve the food at the proper time. I never indulge in angry and fretful speech, and never imitate women that are wicked. Keeping idleness at distance I always do what is agreeable. I never laugh except at a jest, and never stay for any length of time at the house-gate. I always refrain from laughing loudly and indulging in high passion, and from everything that may give offence. I always am engaged in waiting upon my lords. A separation from my lords is never agreeable to me. Whatever my husband does not drink, eats or enjoys I also renounce. Those duties that my mother-in-law had told me of in respect of relatives, as also the duties of alms-giving, of offering worship to the gods, of oblations to the diseased, of boiling food in pots on auspicious days for offer to ancestors and guests of reverence and service to those that deserve our regards, and all else that is known to me, I always discharge day and night, without idleness of any kind. The husband is the wife’s god, and he is her refuge. Indeed, there is no other refuge for her. How can, then, the wife do the least injury to her lord? I never, in sleeping or eating or adorning any person, act against the wishes of my husband, and always guided by my husbands, I never speak ill of my mother-in-law. My husbands have become obedient to me in consequence of my diligence, my alacrity, and the humility with which I serve superiors.

She is a true wife whose heart is devoted to her husband and is skillful in household affairs. Sweet-speeched wives are friends on occasions of joy. A wife should speak only what is agreeable to her husband. An ideal wife never eats before her husband eat, and never bath before her husband, never sits before her husband sit down, and never lies before he lies down. She rejoices if he rejoices, and becomes sad when he is sad. When the husband is away she becomes cheerless, and when he is angry she ceases not to speak sweetly.

Having read what is said in scriptures, many may think that these are not practical in today’s society. At the same time I am sure the essence of what is said can certainly be implemented. My suggestions are as follows.

Let the relationship between husband and wife be based on mutual respect and love.  Loyalty to each other builds trust which is essential in any relationship. Being the smallest possible team, they should have common goals and objectives. Let the relationship be not based on one-upmanship or servitude as both should share the duties, responsibilities and rights equally. None should surrender their individual personality and creativity at the altar of marriage but support each other to grow and excel in their profession or chosen field. There are certain functions only the women can do such as child bearing and breast feeding and it puts high degree of emotional and physical stress on her. Nothing in this world can replace the joy one gets from their new born baby. Therefore the husband should be more than willing to compensate by taking on additional responsibilities to make the family successful and happy. It calls for great understanding and at times some adjustments and sacrifice to make a married life long, happy and enjoyable.

Let me end this with a quote from the great philosopher, Kahlil Gibran –

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.  Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

 

Scriptures state the following, “These six persons should be avoided like a leaky boat on the sea, viz., a preceptor that does not speak, a priest that has not studied the scriptures, a king that does not grant protection, a wife that utters what is disagreeable, a cow-herd that likes to rove within the village, and a barber that is desirous of going to the woods”.

How can we apply that in our daily life, both personal and professional? Let us analyze each of the six categories individually.

1. A preceptor that does not speak – Preceptor means teacher. In simple terms, a teacher who does not speak is of no use to any average student, unless of course the teacher is such eminent Yogi like Ramana Maharshi and students are also highly evolved souls. You do not want a teacher in your school who cannot speak or stammers while speaking. So is the case in your organization if you have a trainer who cannot speak either due to speech deficiencies or other reasons.

In our family, the father is considered to be the first “guru” of the child and is supposed to guide and lead the child, failing which the child’s life turns astray. In Mahabharata Dhritharastra is a failure as a father of Kauravas. Even though he was a highly learned person, kept a blind eye towards the atrocities of Duryodhana that led to their extinction.

In organizations, the ‘Boss’ is the guide and guru to all those who are working in the team and supposed to lead them to success. Those who fail to do that fail the team and the organization itself in the long run. Those who refrain from pointing out deficiencies in their subordinates to avoid conflict is a bad teacher and boss.

2. A priest that has not studied the scriptures – a priest has multiple responsibilities. Continuing the spiritual tradition of the religion and society is the primary responsibility of the priest besides conducting pooja and prayers in temples and other places of worship and knowledge in scriptures is a must for fulfilling such a responsibility.

Would you like to consult a doctor who is not professionally qualified? How about appointing a lawyer to fight your legal case in a superior court? Would you hire a person in position of high responsibility who is not qualified and experienced in that line of work?

3. A king that does not grant protection – a powerful king protects the subjects from every possible enemy including natural and man-made disasters. There are many stories about king protecting their subjects, at times, even at the cost of their own life. However the story of King Prithu stands out. In Vishnu Purana one can read the story of Prithu:- King Vena, from the lineage of the pious Dhruva, was an evil king, who neglected Vedic rituals. Thus the rishis (sages) killed him, leaving the kingdom without an heir and in famine due to the anarchy of Vena. So, the sages churned Vena’s body, out of which first appeared a dark dwarf hunter, a symbol of Vena’s evil. Since the sins of Vena had gone away as the dwarf, the body was now pure. On further churning, Prithu emerged from right arm of the corpse. To end the famine by slaying the earth and getting her fruits, Prithu chased the earth (Prithvi) who fled as a cow. Finally, cornered by Prithu, the earth states that killing her would mean the end of his subjects too. So Prithu lowered his weapons and reasoned with the earth and promised her to be her guardian. Finally, Prithu milked her using Manu as a calf, and received all vegetation and grain as her milk, in his hands for welfare of humanity. Before Prithu’s reign, there was “no cultivation, no pasture, no agriculture, and no highway for merchants”; all civilization emerged in Prithu’s rule. By granting life to the earth and being her protector, Prithu became the Earth’s father and she accepted the patronymic name “Prithvi”.

The Prime Minister and Chief Ministers of states assumes the role of kings these days and their primary job is to protect the country and men from internal and external aggression, and provide all means for a peaceful and comfortable life for all its citizens. In a family, the father is supposed to protect the wife and children. The CEO assumes that role in an organization, who is supposed to protect the company and ensures its success and continuous growth thereby assuring job security for all its employees.

4. A wife that utters what is disagreeable – In Hinduism, a wife is known as a Patni or Ardhangini (similar to “the better half”) meaning a part of the husband or his family. Patni, means a woman who shares everything in this world with her husband and in return he does the same, including their identity. A wife usually takes care of anything inside her household, including the family’s health, the children’s education, parent’s needs, etc. In Mahabharata, Bhisma points out the sanctified importance of Bharya (wife) as follows: In his forlorn life on earth the wife is of great help to man. To him, who is suffering from diseases and is otherwise in distress there is no remedy (medicine) like a good wife. There is no relative like a wife. If one has no good wife to take care of domestic affairs one will be driven to the forest; the home will be like a forest. Without her even the palace will prove itself to be just a forest. While on tour in foreign places she will remain faithful to him and instill confidence in him. Bharya is great wealth to man. In the matter of practicing dharma there is none else to match the wife. She will be a great support (to the husband) in the matter of dharma (duty) artha (wealth) and Kama (enjoyment of material comforts). These three precede the ultimate state of Moksa (salvation) and the wife will be a great support in fulfilling the conditions during the first three stages to attain the ultimate, Moksha.

This clearly reflects the position a women and wife enjoys in our society and that also comes with great responsibility. A person who is unwilling or unable to fulfill her complete responsibility as a wife is of very limited use to any man.

5. A cow-herd that likes to rove within the village – cows should be taken where the grass is and that is generally outside the village. A cowherd who roams within the village is lazy and shows utter disregard to his primary responsibility of feeding the cows. A salesman must be in the field meeting customers and not sitting in his own office. A lawyer should be in court or a doctor in office to fulfill their individual duties and responsibilities.

6. A barber that is desirous of going to the woods – the barber’s duties require his presence within the village. If without being present there he likes to wander in the woods, he should never be employed, for it may then be presumed that he is wanting in that skill which experience and habit bring.

In summary it can be said that any person who is not conscious about his “Dharma” or duties and responsibilities and do not fulfill what is essentially mandated by his position should never be employed and if employed should be removed.

The Agamas are a collection of scriptures chiefly constituting the methods of temple construction and creation of idols, worship of deities, philosophical doctrines, meditative practices etc. Agamas deal with the philosophy and spiritual knowledge behind the worship of the deity, the yoga and mental discipline required for this worship, and the specifics of worship offered to the deity. The ritualistic pattern of worship in the Agamic religions differ from the Vedic form. While the Vedic form of yajna require no idols and shrines, the Agamic religions are based on idols with puja as means of worship. The Agamic religions are also called Tantrism, although the term ‘tantra’ is sometimes used specifically to refer to Shakta Agamas. The tantras are considered innumerable with various sects. Some popular agama-based religions are those of Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shakta, Ganapatya, Kaumara, Soura, Bhairava, and Yaksha-bhutadi-sadhana. The Shaiva Agamas revere the Ultimate Reality as Lord Shiva (Shaivism). The Vaishnava-Agamas adore the Ultimate Reality as Vishnu (Vaishnavism). The Shakta-Agamas (Tantras) venerate the Ultimate Reality as Shakti (Shaktism). Each set of texts expands on the central theological and philosophical teachings of that sect. There exist 28 Saiva Agamas, 77 Shakta Agamas and 215 Vaishnava Agamas, and their upa-agamas.

Each Agama consists of four parts

Kriya pada – consists of rules for construction of temples; for sculpting, carving, and consecration of idols of deities for worship in temples; for different forms of initiations or diksha.

Charya pada – lays down rules for daily worship (puja), observances of religious rites, rituals, festivals and prayaschittas.

Yoga pada – concentrates on yoga and the mental discipline.

Jnana pada – consists of philosophical and spiritual knowledge, knowledge of reality and liberation.

Elaborate rules are laid out in the Agamas for Silpa (the art of sculpture) describing the quality requirements of the places where temples are to be built, the kind of images to be installed, the materials from which they are to be made, their dimensions, proportions, air circulation, lighting in the temple complex etc. The Manasara and Silpasara are some of the works dealing with these rules. The ritual followed in worship services each day at the temple also follow rules laid out in the Agamas.

 

Saiva Agama (28) Vaishnava Agama (215) Sakta Agama(27)
Kamikam Agastya-Samhita Mahanirvana Tantra
Yogajam Aniruddha-Samhita Kulamava Tantra
Chintyam Ahirbudhnya Samhita Kulasara Tantra
Karanam Brahma Samhita Prapanchasara Tantra
Ajitham Brihat-Brahma-Samhita Tantraraja
Deeptham Isvara-Samhita Rudra-Yamala Tantra
Sukskmam Kapinjala-Samhita Brahma-Yamala Tantra
Sahasram Gautama-Samhita Vishnu-Yamala Tantra
Ashuman Citrasikhandi-Samhita Todala Tantra
Suprabedham Jayakhya-Samhita  
Vijayam Jayottara-Samhita  
Nishwasam Nalakubara-Samhita  
Swayambhuvam Naradiya-Samhita  
Analam Pancaprasna-Samhita  
Veeram Parama-Samhita  
Rouravam Paramapurusa-Samhita  
Makutam Parasara-Samhita  
Vimalam Padma-Samhita  
Chandragnanam Paramesvara-Samhita  
Bimbam Purusottama-Samhita  
Prodgeetham Pauskara-Samhita  
Lalitham Bharadvaja-Samhita  
Sidham Bhargava-Tantra  
Santhanam Mayavaibhava-Samhita  
Sarvoktham Markandeya-Samhita  
Parameshwaram Laksmi Tantra  
Kiranam Varaha-Samhita  
Vathulam Vasistha-Samhita  
  Visva-Samhita  
  Visvamitra-Samhita  
  Visnutattva-Samhita  
  Visnu Tantra  
  Visnu-Samhita  
  Visvaksena-Samhita  
  Vihagendra-Samhita  
  Vrddha-Padma-Samhita  
  Sriprasna-Samhita  
  Sanatkumara-Samhita  
  Sattvata-Samhita  
  Hayasirsa-Samhita  

These are 64 different art forms that are listed which are taught to all as a part of learning. A person knowing all of these along with the 14 Vidyas was known to be near perfection.

64 Arts – Kala
Geet vidya—art of singing.
 Vadya vidya—art of playing on musical instruments.
 Nritya vidya—art of dancing.
 Natya vidya—art of theatricals.
 alekhya vidya—art of painting.
 viseshakacchedya vidya—art of painting the face and body with color
 tandula-kusuma-bali-vikara—art of preparing offerings from rice and flowers.
 pushpastarana—art of making a covering of flowers for a bed.
 dasana-vasananga-raga—art of applying preparations for cleansing the teeth, cloths and painting the body.
 mani-bhumika-karma—art of making the groundwork of jewels.
 sayya-racana—art of covering the bed.
 udaka-vadya—art of playing on music in water.
 udaka-ghata—art of splashing with water.
 citra-yoga—art of practically applying an admixture of colors.
 malya-grathana-vikalpa—art of designing a preparation of wreaths.
 sekharapida-yojana—art of practically setting the coronet on the head.
 nepathya-yoga—art of practically dressing in the tiring room.
 karnapatra-bhanga—art of decorating the tragus of the ear.
 sugandha-yukti—art of practical application of aromatics.
 bhushana-yojana—art of applying or setting ornaments.
 aindra-jala—art of juggling.
 kaucumara—a kind of art.
 hasta-laghava—art of sleight of hand.
 citra-sakapupa-bhakshya-vikara-kriya—art of preparing varieties of delicious food.
 panaka-rasa-ragasava-yojana—art of practically preparing palatable drinks and tinging draughts with red color.
 suci-vaya-karma—art of needleworks and weaving.
 sutra-krida—art of playing with thread.
 vina-damuraka-vadya—art of playing on lute and small drum.
 prahelika—art of making and solving riddles.
 durvacaka-yoga—art of practicing language difficult to be answered by others.
 pustaka-vacana—art of reciting books.
 natikakhyayika-darsana—art of enacting short plays and anecdotes.
 kavya-samasya-purana—art of solving enigmatic verses.
 pattika-vetra-bana-vikalpa—art of designing preparation of shield, cane and arrows.
 tarku-karma—art of spinning by spindle.
 takshana—art of carpentry.
 vastu-vidya—art of engineering.
 raupya-ratna-pariksha—art of testing silver and jewels.
 dhatu-vada—art of metallurgy.
 mani-raga jnana—art of tinging jewels.
 akara jnana—art of mineralogy.
 vrikshayur-veda-yoga—art of practicing medicine or medical treatment, by herbs.
 mesha-kukkuta-lavaka-yuddha-vidhi—art of knowing the mode of fighting of lambs, cocks and birds.
 suka-sarika-prapalana pralapana? — art of maintaining or knowing conversation between male and female cockatoos.
 utsadana—art of healing or cleaning a person with perfumes.
 kesa-marjana-kausala—art of combing hair.
 akshara-mushtika-kathana—art of talking with letters and fingers.
 mlecchita-kutarka-vikalpa—art of fabricating barbarous or foreign sophistry.
 desa-bhasha-jnana—art of knowing provincial dialects.
nirmiti-jnana—art of knowing prediction by heavenly voice
 yantra-matrika—art of mechanics.
 dharana-matrika—art of the use of amulets.
 samvacya—art of conversation.
 manasi kavya-kriya—art of composing verse mentally.
 kriya-vikalpa—art of designing a literary work or a medical remedy.
 chalitaka-yoga—art of practicing as a builder of shrines called after him.
 abhidhana-kosha-cchando-jnana—art of the use of lexicography and meters.
 vastra-gopana—art of concealment of cloths.
 dyuta-visesha—art of knowing specific gambling.
 akarsha-krida—art of playing with dice or magnet.
 balaka-kridanaka—art of using children’s toys.
 vainayiki vidya—art of enforcing discipline.
 vaijayiki vidya—art of gaining victory.
 vaitaliki vidya—art of awakening master with music at dawn.

A public woman, endowed with a good disposition, beauty and other winning qualities, and also versed in the above arts, obtains the name of a Ganika, or public woman of high quality, and receives a seat of honour in an assemblage of men.She is, moreover, always respected by the king, and praised by learned men, and her favour being sought for by all, she becomes an object of universal regard. The daughter of a king too as well as the daughter of a minister, being learned in the above arts, can make their husbands favorable to them, even though these may have thousands of other wives besides themselves. If a wife becomes separated from her husband, and falls into distress, she can support herself easily, even in a foreign country, by means of her knowledge of these arts. Even the bare knowledge of them gives attractiveness to a woman, though the practice of them may be only possible or otherwise according to the circumstances of each case. A man who is versed in these arts, who is loquacious and acquainted with the arts of gallantry, gains very soon the hearts of women, even though he is only acquainted with them for a short time

Each of the four Vedas consists of a Samhita, a Brahmana; an Aranyaka  and an Upanishad. Because the Upanishads constitute the concluding portions of the Vedas, they are called vedanta (“the conclusion of the Vedas”), and they serve as the foundational texts in the theological discourses of many Hindu traditions that are also known as Vedanta. The Sanskrit term Upaniṣad translates to “sitting down near”, referring to the student sitting down near the teacher while receiving esoteric knowledge. Although there are more than 200 Upanishads, only thirteen have been identified out as presenting the core teachings. They are the Chandogya, Kena, Aitareya, Kaushitaki, Katha, Mundaka, Taittriyaka, Brihadaranyaka, Svetasvatara, Isa, Prasna, Mandukya and the Maitri Upanishads.

The Upanishads were collectively considered amongst the 100 Most Influential Books ever written by the British poet Martin Seymour-Smith. Their significance has been recognized by writers and scholars and they also noted similarity between the doctrine of Upanishads and those of Plato and Kant.

From Rig Veda (10) From Sama Veda (16) From Yajur Veda (50) From Adharva Veda (32)
Aitareya  Kena  Katha  Prasna 
Atmabodha  Chandogya  Taittiriya  Mandukya 
Kaushitaki  Maha  Ishavasya  Mundaka 
Mudgala  Maithrayani  Brihadaranyaka  Athma 
Nirvana  Vajrasuci  Akshi  Surya 
Nadabindu  Savithri  Ekakshara  Narada-Parivrajakas 
Akshamalika  Aruneya  Garbha  Parabrahma 
Thripura  Kundika  Pranagnihothra  Paramahamsa-Parivrajakas 
Bahvricha  Maithreyi  Shvethashwathrara  Pasupatha-Brahma 
Saubhagya-Lakshmi  Sanyasa  Shariraka  Mahavakya 
  Jabaladarshana  Shukarahasya  Sandilya 
  Yogachudamani  Skanda  Krishna 
  Avyaktha  Sarvasara  Garuda 
  Vasudeva  Adhyatma  Gopalatapani 
  Jabali  Niralamba  Tripadavibhuti-mahnarayana 
  Rudrakshajabala  Paingala  Dattatreya 
    Manthrika  Kaivalya 
    Mukthika  Narsinhatapini 
    Subala  Ramatapani 
    Avadhutha  Ramarahasya 
    Kadharudra  Hayagriva 
    Brahma  Atharvasikha 
    Jabala  Atharvasira 
    Turiyatita  Ganapati
    Paramahamsa  Brihajjabala 
    Bhikshuka  Sarabha 
    Yajnavalkya  Annapurna 
    Satyayani  Tripuratapani 
    Amritanada  Devi 
    Amrithabindu  Bhava 
    Kshurika  BhasmaJabala 
    Thejobindu  Sita
    Dhyanabindu   
    Brahmavidya   
    Yogakundali   
    Yogatattva   
    Yogasikha   
    Varaha   
    Advayataraka   
    Trisikhibrahmana   
    Mandalabrahmana   
    Hansa   
    Kalisantaraa   
    Dakshinamurti   
    Panchabrahma   
    Rudrahrdaya   
    KalagniRudra   
    Yajniki (Narayana)   
    Tharasara   
    Sarasvatirahasya   

Puranas

The Puranas were written to popularise the religion of the Vedas. They contain the essence of the Vedas. The aim of the Puranas is to impress on the minds of the masses the teachings of the Vedas and to generate in them devotion to God, through concrete examples, myths, stories, legends, lives of saints, kings and great men, allegories and chronicles of great historical events. The sages made use of these things to illustrate the eternal principles of religion. The Puranas were meant, not for the scholars, but for the ordinary people who could not understand high philosophy and who could not study the Vedas.

Maha-Puranas (18)    
Brahma Puranas: Vaishnava Puranas: Shaiva Puranas:
1. Brahma Purana 1. Vishnu Purana 1. Shiva
2. Bhavishya 2. Narada (Naradiya) 2. Linga
3. Agni Purana 3. Vamana 3. Kurma Purana
4. Brahma Vaivarta 4. Matsya 4. Markandeya Purana
5. Brahmanda 5. Garuda (Suparna) 5. Skanda Purana
6. Padma Purana 6. Srimad Bhagavata 6. Varaha
     
     
18 Main Upa-Puranas:    
1. Adi (Aditya) Purana 7. Kapila Purana 13. Shvamba Purana
2. Bhargava Purana 8. Maheshvara Purana 14. Surya Purana
3. Brihannaradiya  Purana 9. Nandikeshvara Purana 15. Usanas Purana
4. Devi (Devi Bhagavata) Purana 10. Narasimha Purana 16. Varuna Purana
5. Durvasa  Purana 11. Parashara Purana 17. Vashishta Purana
6. Kalika Purana 12. Siva-Dharma Purana 18. Vayu Purana
     
     
Additional Upa-Puranas:    
1. Asamavya Purana 11. Mahabhagavata Purana 21. Saura Purana
2. Aunasa  Purana 12. Manava (Manu) Purana 22. Siva Purana
3. Basava Purana 13. Marica Purana 23. Siva Rahasya Purana
4. Bhanda Purana 14. Medasani-vari Purana  24. Sthala Puranas
5. Brihaddharma Purana 15. Mudgala Purana 25. Swayambhuv Purana
6. Ganesh Purana 16. Nandi Purana 26. Tula Purana
7. Hamsa Purana 17. Nilamata Purana 27. Vaisakha Purana
8. Harivamsha Purana 18. Periya Purana 28. Vashishtha 
9. Kalki Purana 19. Samba Purana 29. Vinayaka Purana
10. Magha Purana 20. Sanatkumara Purana 30. Vishnu-Dharma Purana

 

Vedas

 

 

 

To get a better understanding of the Hindu scriptures, I have organized them in a chart form. Your comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Hinduscriptures

The celebrated sage Markhandeya had prophesied about the happenings in Kaliyuga thus: In Kaliyuga all will be dishonest. Charity and Sacrifices will be only for a name. Brahmans would do the duties of Sudras. Sudras will become prosperous. There will be sinners as kings. People will be short-lived and the stature of the people also will diminish. Beastly type of men will be on the increase. Taste and smell will vanish. Men will sell rice and Brahmans, the Vedas. Women will sell their vaginas and be ‘Mukhebhagas’.The yield of milk from cows will decrease. Flowers and fruits will become less. Crows will be on the increase. Brahmans would become beggars. Sages will be merchants. Brahmans would without any reason grow hairs and nails. None will observe the four ashrams correctly. Students will defile the bed of their preceptors. Rains will be in and out of season. Trees and plants will refuse to grow in many places. There will be murder of people everywhere. Merchants will be cheats and they will use false measures. Righteous persons will decrease and sinners will increase. Girls of seven or eight years will become pregnant and boys will become fathers. Young men at the age of sixteen would be grey-haired. Old men will continue practicing the habits of young men. Wives will lie with their servants. Wives will be prostitutes even while their husbands are alive. People will die in lots of hunger.”

Unlike other major religions in the world, the Hindu’s have many texts that guide and help them to understand life and how to live. Unfortunately majority of the Hindu’s are not aware of the rich storehouse of knowledge that they possess and search in internet and library’s for wisdom and guidance. Here is a short description.

The Sruti and the Smriti are the two authoritative sources of Hinduism. Sruti literally means what is heard, and Smriti means what is remembered. Sruti is revelation and Smriti is tradition. The Srutis are called the Vedas. The Vedas are the eternal truths revealed by God to the great Rishis of India and the foundation of the Hindu religion. The word Veda means knowledge. When it is applied to scripture, it signifies a book of knowledge. The Vedas are the foundational scriptures of the Hindus and the storehouse of Indian wisdom. The Vedas are the oldest books in the library of man and are the ultimate source to which all religious knowledge can be traced. Any other Hindu scripture must agree with the Vedas in order to be considered an authority.

The great compiler of the Veda and Puranas was Vyasa Krishna Dwaipayana who is understood have lived during the period of Sri Krishna around 3000 years ago.  The chanting itself has the power to provide material benefit and spiritual apotheosis. Great emphasis, therefore, was laid on correct pronunciation and on memorization. The texts that are used for aiding the memorization and recitation of the Vedas with utmost fidelity, are called ‘Lakshana Granthas’. These texts include Padapathas, Ghanapathas, Kramapatha and other Vikrtis or modifications of the root text, phonetic treatises like Sikshas and Pratisakhyas and so on.

The Veda is divided into four great books: The Rig-Veda, The Yajur-Veda, The Sama-Veda, The Atharva-Veda. Each Veda consists of four parts: The Mantra-Samhitas or hymns, The Brahmanas or explanations of Mantras or rituals, The Aranyakas (philosophical interpretations of the rituals), The Upanishads (The essence or the knowledge portion of the Vedas).

The Mantra-Samhitas are hymns in praise of the Vedic God for attaining material prosperity here and happiness hereafter. The Brahmana portions guide people to perform sacrificial rites. They are prose explanations of the method of using the Mantras in the Yajna or the sacrifice. The Aranyakas give philosophical interpretations of the Rituals. The Upanishads contain the essence or the knowledge portion of the Vedas. They speak of the identity of the individual soul and the Supreme Soul. The subject matter of the whole Veda is divided into Karma-Kanda, Upasana-Kanda and Jnana-Kanda.

The basic teachings of the Upanishads are summed up in six great sayings (Mahavakyas). These are: “I am Brahman” (Aham Brahmasmi). This states the identity of the inmost consciousness of the individual with that of the supreme Divine. “The Self is Brahman” (Ayam Atma Brahma). This also states the identity of the soul with the Absolute but in a more objective and less direct manner. “That thou art” (Tat tvam asi). Whatever we see or think about we are that. “Intelligence is Brahman” (Prajnanam Brahma). Our discernment of truth is the truth itself. “The Universe is Brahman” (Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma). The entire universe is the Divine, which includes our self. “He am I” (So’ham). This shows the identity of the self with the Divine Lord inherent within the natural movement of our breath. 

There are four Upa-Vedas or subsidiary Vedas: The Ayurveda (science of life and health), The Dhanurveda (science of war), The Gandharva Veda (science of music), The Arthasastra (science of politics and Economics).

There are six Vedangas to the Vedas: Siksha, Vyakarana, Chhandas, Nirukta, Jyotisha and Kalpas. Siksha deals with pronunciation and accent. Vyakarana is Sanskrit Grammar. Without knowledge of Vyakarana, you cannot understand the Vedas. Chhandas is metre dealing with prosody. (the use of pitch, loudness, tempo in phonetics and rhythm in speech to convey information about the structure and meaning of an utterance). Nirukta is philosophy or etymology. Jyotisha is astronomy and astrology. It deals with the movements of the heavenly bodies, planets, etc., and their influence on human affairs. Kalpa is the method or ritual.

The Smritis

Next in importance to the Sruti are the Smritis or secondary scriptures. The Smriti scriptures are of human origin and were written to explain the Sruti writings and make them understandable and meaningful to the general population. The Smritis have laid down definite rules and laws to guide the individuals and communities in their daily conduct and to regulate their manners and customs. The Smritis have given detailed instructions, according to the conditions of the time, to all classes of men regarding their duties in life. The Smritis are based on the teachings of the Vedas. There are eighteen main Smritis or Dharma Sastras. The most important are those of Manu, Yajnavalkya and Parasara. The other fifteen are those of Vishnu, Daksha, Samvarta, Vyasa, Harita, Satatapa, Vasishtha, Yama, Apastamba, Gautama, Devala, Sankha-Likhita, Usana, Atri and Saunaka. Manu is the greatest law-giver of the race.

The Itihasas (history) – There are four books under this heading: The Valmiki-Ramayana, The Yogavasishtha, The Mahabharata and The Harivamsa. These embody all that is in the Vedas, but only in a simpler manner. These works explain the great universal truths in the form of historical narratives, stories and dialogues. The common man cannot comprehend the high abstract philosophy of the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras. Hence, the compassionate sages Valmiki and Vyasa wrote the Itihasas for the benefit of common people. These are very interesting volumes and are liked by all, from the inquisitive child to the intellectual scholar. The Bhagavad Gita, more commonly known as the Gita, is part of the Itihasa scripture Mahabharata. 

Puranas – The Puranas were written to popularise the religion of the Vedas. They contain the essence of the Vedas. The aim of the Puranas is to impress on the minds of the masses the teachings of the Vedas and to generate in them devotion to God, through concrete examples, myths, stories, legends, lives of saints, kings and great men, allegories and chronicles of great historical events. The sages made use of these things to illustrate the eternal principles of religion. The Puranas were meant, not for the scholars, but for the ordinary people who could not understand high philosophy and who could not study the Vedas. There are eighteen main Puranas and an equal number of subsidiary Puranas or Upa-Puranas.

The Agamas – Another class of popular scriptures are the Agamas. The Agamas are theological treatises and practical manuals of divine worship. The Agamas include the Tantras, Mantras and Yantras. These are treatises explaining the external worship of God, in idols, temples etc. They also give elaborate details about entology and cosmology, liberation, devotion, meditation, philosophy of Mantras, mystic diagrams, charms and spells, temple-building, image-making, domestic observances, social rules, public festivals etc.

Darsanas -These are the intellectual section of the Hindu writings. Darsanas are schools of philosophy based on the Vedas. The Agamas are theological. The Darsana literature is philosophical. The Darsanas are meant for the erudite scholars who are endowed with acute acumen, good understanding, power of reasoning and subtle intellect. The Itihasa, Puranas and Agamas are meant for the masses.  There are six Darsanas and the six schools of philosophy are the six instruments of true teaching or the six demonstrations of Truth. Each school has developed, systematized and correlated the various parts of the Veda in its own way. The Shat-Sastras are: The Nyaya founded by Gautama Rishi, The Vaiseshika by Kanada Rishi, The Sankhya by Kapila Muni, The Yoga by Patanjali Maharshi, The Purva Mimamsa by Jaimini, The Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta by Badarayana or Vyasa.