The Upanishads, a part of the Vedas, are ancient Sanskrit texts that contain some of the central philosophical concepts and ideas of Hinduism, some of which are shared with religious traditions like Buddhism and Jainism. Among the most important literature in the history of Indian religions and culture, the Upanishads played an important role in the development of spiritual ideas in ancient India, marking a transition from Vedic ritualism to new ideas and institutions. Of all Vedic literature, the Upanishads alone are known, their central ideas are at the spiritual core of Hindus; the Upanishads are referred to as Vedānta. Vedanta has been interpreted as the "last chapters, parts of the Veda" and alternatively as "object, the highest purpose of the Veda"; the concepts of Brahman and Ātman are central ideas in all of the Upanishads, "know that you are the Ātman" is their thematic focus. Along with the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahmasutra, the mukhya Upanishads provide a foundation for the several schools of Vedanta, among them, two influential monistic schools of Hinduism.
More than 200 Upanishads are known, of which the first dozen or so are the oldest and most important and are referred to as the principal or main Upanishads. The mukhya Upanishads are found in the concluding part of the Brahmanas and Aranyakas and were, for centuries, memorized by each generation and passed down orally; the early Upanishads all predate the Common Era, five of them in all likelihood pre-Buddhist, down to the Maurya period. Of the remainder, 95 Upanishads are part of the Muktika canon, composed from about the last centuries of 1st-millennium BCE through about 15th-century CE. New Upanishads, beyond the 108 in the Muktika canon, continued to be composed through the early modern and modern era, though dealing with subjects which are unconnected to the Vedas. With the translation of the Upanishads in the early 19th century they started to attract attention from a western audience. Arthur Schopenhauer was impressed by the Upanishads and called it "the production of the highest human wisdom".
Modern era Indologists have discussed the similarities between the fundamental concepts in the Upanishads and major western philosophers. The Sanskrit term Upaniṣad translates to "sitting down near", referring to the student sitting down near the teacher while receiving spiritual knowledge. Other dictionary meanings include "esoteric doctrine" and "secret doctrine". Monier-Williams' Sanskrit Dictionary notes – "According to native authorities, Upanishad means setting to rest ignorance by revealing the knowledge of the supreme spirit."Adi Shankaracharya explains in his commentary on the Kaṭha and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad that the word means Ātmavidyā, that is, "knowledge of the self", or Brahmavidyā "knowledge of Brahma". The word appears in the verses of many Upanishads, such as the fourth verse of the 13th volume in first chapter of the Chandogya Upanishad. Max Müller as well as Paul Deussen translate the word Upanishad in these verses as "secret doctrine", Robert Hume translates it as "mystic meaning", while Patrick Olivelle translates it as "hidden connections".
The authorship of most Upanishads is unknown. Radhakrishnan states, "almost all the early literature of India was anonymous, we do not know the names of the authors of the Upanishads"; the ancient Upanishads are embedded in the Vedas, the oldest of Hinduism's religious scriptures, which some traditionally consider to be apauruṣeya, which means "not of a man, superhuman" and "impersonal, authorless". The Vedic texts assert that they were skillfully created by Rishis, after inspired creativity, just as a carpenter builds a chariot; the various philosophical theories in the early Upanishads have been attributed to famous sages such as Yajnavalkya, Uddalaka Aruni, Shandilya, Balaki and Sanatkumara. Women, such as Maitreyi and Gargi participate in the dialogues and are credited in the early Upanishads. There are some exceptions to the anonymous tradition of the Upanishads; the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, for example, includes closing credits to sage Shvetashvatara, he is considered the author of the Upanishad.
Many scholars believe that early Upanishads were expanded over time. There are differences within manuscripts of the same Upanishad discovered in different parts of South Asia, differences in non-Sanskrit version of the texts that have survived, differences within each text in terms of meter, style and structure; the existing texts are believed to be the work of many authors. Scholars are uncertain about; the chronology of the early Upanishads is difficult to resolve, states philosopher and Sanskritist Stephen Phillips, because all opinions rest on scanty evidence and analysis of archaism and repetitions across texts, are driven by assumptions about evolution of ideas, presumptions about which philosophy might have influenced which other Indian philosophies. Indologist Patrick Olivelle says that "in spite of claims made by some, in reality, any dating of these documents that attempts a precision closer than a few centuries is as stable as a house of cards"; some scholars have tried to analyse similarities between Hindu Upanishads and Buddhist literature to establish chronology for the Upanishads.
Patrick Olivelle gives the following chronology for the early Upanishads called the Principal Upanishads: The Brhadaranyaka and the Chandogya are the two earliest Upanishads. They are edited texts; the two texts are pre-B
The Vedas are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya, which means "not of a man, superhuman" and "impersonal, authorless". Vedas are called śruti literature, distinguishing them from other religious texts, which are called smṛti; the Veda, for orthodox Indian theologians, are considered revelations seen by ancient sages after intense meditation, texts that have been more preserved since ancient times. In the Hindu Epic the Mahabharata, the creation of Vedas is credited to Brahma; the Vedic hymns themselves assert that they were skillfully created by Rishis, after inspired creativity, just as a carpenter builds a chariot. According to tradition, Vyasa is the compiler of the Vedas, who arranged the four kinds of mantras into four Samhitas. There are four Vedas: the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda.
Each Veda has been subclassified into four major text types – the Samhitas, the Aranyakas, the Brahmanas, the Upanishads. Some scholars add a fifth category – the Upasanas; the various Indian philosophies and denominations have taken differing positions on the Vedas. Schools of Indian philosophy which cite the Vedas as their scriptural authority are classified as "orthodox". Other śramaṇa traditions, such as Lokayata, Ajivika and Jainism, which did not regard the Vedas as authorities, are referred to as "heterodox" or "non-orthodox" schools. Despite their differences, just like the texts of the śramaṇa traditions, the layers of texts in the Vedas discuss similar ideas and concepts; the Sanskrit word véda "knowledge, wisdom" is derived from the root vid- "to know". This is reconstructed as being derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *u̯eid-, meaning "see" or "know", cognate to Greek εἶδος "aspect", "form"; this is not to be confused is the homonymous 1st and 3rd person singular perfect tense véda, cognate to Greek οἶδα oida "I know".
Root cognates are English wit, etc.. Latin videō "I see", etc; the Sanskrit term veda as a common noun means "knowledge". The term in some contexts, such as hymn 10.93.11 of the Rigveda, means "obtaining or finding wealth, property", while in some others it means "a bunch of grass together" as in a broom or for ritual fire. A related word Vedena appears in hymn 8.19.5 of the Rigveda. It was translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith as "ritual lore", as "studying the Veda" by the 14th-century Indian scholar Sayana, as "bundle of grass" by Max Müller, as "with the Veda" by H. H. Wilson. Vedas are called Vaymoli in parts of South India. Marai means "hidden, a secret, mystery", but Tamil Naanmarai mentioned in Tholkappiam isn't Sanskrit Vedas. In some south Indian communities such as Iyengars, the word Veda includes the Tamil writings of the Alvar saints, such as Divya Prabandham, for example Tiruvaymoli; the Vedas are among the oldest sacred texts. The Samhitas date to 1700–1100 BCE, the "circum-Vedic" texts, as well as the redaction of the Samhitas, date to c.
1000–500 BCE, resulting in a Vedic period, spanning the mid 2nd to mid 1st millennium BCE, or the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age. The Vedic period reaches its peak only after the composition of the mantra texts, with the establishment of the various shakhas all over Northern India which annotated the mantra samhitas with Brahmana discussions of their meaning, reaches its end in the age of Buddha and Panini and the rise of the Mahajanapadas. Michael Witzel gives a time span of c. 1500 to c. 500–400 BCE. Witzel makes special reference to the Near Eastern Mitanni material of the 14th century BCE, the only epigraphic record of Indo-Aryan contemporary to the Rigvedic period, he gives 150 BCE as a terminus ante quem for all Vedic Sanskrit literature, 1200 BCE as terminus post quem for the Atharvaveda. Transmission of texts in the Vedic period was by oral tradition, preserved with precision with the help of elaborate mnemonic techniques. A literary tradition is traceable in post-Vedic times, after the rise of Buddhism in the Maurya period earliest in the Kanva recension of the Yajurveda about the 1st century BCE.
Witzel suggests the possibility of written Vedic texts towards the end of 1st millennium BCE. Some scholars such as Jack Goody state that "the Vedas are not the product of an oral society", basing this view by comparing inconsistencies in the transmitted versions of literature from various oral societies such as the Greek and other cultures noting that the Vedic literature is too consistent and vast to have been composed and transmitted orally across generations, without being written down. However, adds Goody, the Vedic texts involved both a written and oral tradition, calling it a "parallel products of a literate society". Due to the ephemeral nature of the manuscript material, surviving manuscripts surpass an age of a few hundred years; the Sampurnanand Sanskrit University has a Rigveda manuscript from the 14th century. The Vedas, Vedic rituals and its ancillary sciences called the Vedangas, were part of the curriculum at ancient universities such as at Ta
The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is one of the Principal Upanishads and one of the oldest Upanishadic scriptures of Hinduism. A key scripture to various schools of Hinduism, the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad is tenth in the Muktikā or "canon of 108 Upanishads"; the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is estimated to have been composed about 700 BCE, excluding some parts estimated to have been composed after the Chandogya Upanishad. The Sanskrit language text is contained within the Shatapatha Brahmana, itself a part of the Shukla Yajur Veda; the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is a treatise on Ātman, includes passages on metaphysics, ethics and a yearning for knowledge that influenced various Indian religions and medieval scholars, attracted secondary works such as those by Madhvacharya and Adi Shankara. The chronology of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, like other Upanishads, is uncertain and contested; the chronology is difficult to resolve because all opinions rest on scanty evidence, an analysis of archaism and repetitions across texts, driven by assumptions about evolution of ideas, on presumptions about which philosophy might have influenced which other Indian philosophies.
Patrick Olivelle states, "in spite of claims made by some, in reality, any dating of these documents that attempts a precision closer than a few centuries is as stable as a house of cards". The chronology and authorship of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, along with Chandogya and Kaushitaki Upanishads, is further complicated because they are compiled anthologies of literature that must have existed as independent texts before they became part of these Upanishads; the exact year, the century of the Upanishad composition is unknown. Scholars have offered different estimates ranging from 900 BCE to 600 BCE. Brihadaranyaka is one of the oldest Upanishads, along with that of Jaiminiya Upanishad and Chandogya Upanishads; the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad was in all likelihood composed in the earlier part of 1st millennium BCE, around 700 BCE, give or take a century or so, according to Patrick Olivelle. It is that the text was a living document and some verses were edited over a period of time before the 6th century BCE.
The title Brihadaranyaka Upanishad means "great wilderness or forest Upaniṣhad". It is credited to ancient sage Yajnavalkya, but refined by a number of ancient Vedic scholars; the Upanishad forms the last part, the fourteenth kānda of Śatapatha Brāhmana of "Śhukla Yajurveda". The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad has six adhyayas in total. There are two major recensions for the text - the Kanva recensions, it includes three sections: Muni kānda and Khila kānda. The first and second chapters of the Upanishad's Madhu kānda consists of six brahmanams each, with varying number of hymns per brahmanam; the first chapter of the Upanishad's Yajnavalkya kānda consists of nine brahmanams, while the second has six brahmanams. The Khila kānda of the Upanishad has fifteen brahmanams in its first chapter, five brahmanams in the second chapter; the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad starts by stating one of many Vedic theories of creation of the universe. It asserts that there was nothing before the universe started Prajapati created from this nothing the universe as a sacrifice to himself, imbued it with Prana to preserve it in the form of cosmic inert matter and individual psychic energy.
The world is more than matter and energy, asserts Brihadaranyaka, it is constituted of Atman or Brahman as well as Knowledge. The Brahmana 4 in the first chapter, announces the Upanishad's non-dual, monistic metaphysical premise that Atman and Brahman are identical Oneness, with the assertion that because the universe came out of nothingness when the only principle existent was "I am he", the universe after it came into existence continues as Aham brahma asmi. In the last brahmana of the first chapter, the Upanishad explains that the Atman inspires by being self-evident, through empowering forms, through action; the Soul, states Brihadaranyaka, is the imperishable one, invisible and concealed pervading all reality. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad starts the second chapter as a conversation between Ajatashatru and Balaki Gargya on theory of dreams, positing that human beings see dreams unto themselves because mind draws, in itself, the powers of sensory organs, which it releases in the waking state.
It asserts that this empirical fact about dreams suggests that human mind has the power to perceive the world as it is, as well as fabricate the world as it wants to perceive it. Mind is a means, prone to flaws; the struggle man faces, asserts Brihadaranyaka in brahmana 3, is in his attempt to realize the "true reality behind perceived reality". That is Atman-Brahman and blissfully existent, yet unknowable because it has no qualities, no characteristics, it is "neti, neti". In fourth brahmana, the Upanishad presents a dialogue between a husband and wife, as Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi, on nature of love and spirituality and how is Atman related to deep connection and bonds between human beings. Yajnavalkya states that one doesn't connect with and love forms, nor does one connect or love mind, rather one connects with the Self, the Soul of one's own and one's beloved. All love is for the sake of one's Self, the Oneness one rea
The Mahābhārata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Rāmāyaṇa. It narrates the struggle between two groups of cousins in the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pāṇḍava princes and their succession. Along with the Rāmāyaṇa, it forms the Hindu Itihasa; the Mahābhārata is an epic legendary narrative of the Kurukṣetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pāṇḍava princes. It contains philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life" or puruṣārtha. Among the principal works and stories in the Mahābhārata are the Bhagavad Gita, the story of Damayanti, an abbreviated version of the Rāmāyaṇa, the story of Ṛṣyasringa considered as works in their own right. Traditionally, the authorship of the Mahābhārata is attributed to Vyāsa. There have been many attempts to unravel compositional layers; the oldest preserved parts of the text are thought to be not much older than around 400 BCE, though the origins of the epic fall between the 8th and 9th centuries BCE.
The text reached its final form by the early Gupta period. According to the Mahābhārata itself, the tale is extended from a shorter version of 24,000 verses called Bhārata; the Mahābhārata is the longest epic poem known and has been described as "the longest poem written". Its longest version consists of over 100,000 śloka or over 200,000 individual verse lines, long prose passages. At about 1.8 million words in total, the Mahābhārata is ten times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined, or about four times the length of the Rāmāyaṇa. W. J. Johnson has compared the importance of the Mahābhārata in the context of world civilization to that of the Bible, the works of William Shakespeare, the works of Homer, Greek drama, or the Quran. Within the Indian tradition it is sometimes called the Fifth Veda; the epic is traditionally ascribed to the sage Vyāsa, a major character in the epic. Vyāsa described it as being itihāsa, he describes the Guru-shishya parampara, which traces all great teachers and their students of the Vedic times.
The first section of the Mahābhārata states that it was Gaṇeśa who wrote down the text to Vyasa's dictation. The epic employs the story within a story structure, otherwise known as frametales, popular in many Indian religious and non-religious works, it is first recited at Takshashila by the sage Vaiśampāyana, a disciple of Vyāsa, to the King Janamejaya, the great-grandson of the Pāṇḍava prince Arjuna. The story is recited again by a professional storyteller named Ugraśrava Sauti, many years to an assemblage of sages performing the 12-year sacrifice for the king Saunaka Kulapati in the Naimiśa Forest; the text was described by some early 20th-century western Indologists as chaotic. Hermann Oldenberg supposed that the original poem must once have carried an immense "tragic force" but dismissed the full text as a "horrible chaos." Moritz Winternitz considered that "only unpoetical theologists and clumsy scribes" could have lumped the parts of disparate origin into an unordered whole. Research on the Mahābhārata has put an enormous effort into recognizing and dating layers within the text.
Some elements of the present Mahābhārata can be traced back to Vedic times. The background to the Mahābhārata suggests the origin of the epic occurs "after the early Vedic period" and before "the first Indian'empire' was to rise in the third century B. C." That this is "a date not too far removed from the 8th or 9th century B. C." is likely. Mahābhārata started as an orally-transmitted tale of the charioteer bards, it is agreed that "Unlike the Vedas, which have to be preserved letter-perfect, the epic was a popular work whose reciters would conform to changes in language and style," so the earliest'surviving' components of this dynamic text are believed to be no older than the earliest'external' references we have to the epic, which may include an allusion in Panini's 4th century BCE grammar Aṣṭādhyāyī 4:2:56. It is estimated that the Sanskrit text reached something of a "final form" by the early Gupta period. Vishnu Sukthankar, editor of the first great critical edition of the Mahābhārata, commented: "It is useless to think of reconstructing a fluid text in a original shape, on the basis of an archetype and a stemma codicum.
What is possible? Our objective can only be to reconstruct the oldest form of the text which it is possible to reach on the basis of the manuscript material available." That manuscript evidence is somewhat late, given its material composition and the climate of India, but it is extensive. The Mahābhārata itself distinguishes a core portion of 24,000 verses: the Bhārata proper, as opposed to additional secondary material, while the Aśvalāyana Gṛhyasūtra makes a similar distinction. At least three redactions of the text are recognized: Jaya with 8,800 verses attributed to Vyāsa, Bhārata with 24,000 verses as recited by Vaiśampāyana, the Mahābhārata as recited by Ugraśrava Sauti with over 100,000 verses. However, some scholars, such as John Brockington, argue that Jaya and Bharata refer to the same text, ascribe the theory of Jaya with 8,800 verses to a misreading of a verse in Ādiparvan; the redaction of this large body of text was carried out after formal principles, emphasizing the numbers 18 and 12.
The addition of the latest parts may be dated by the absence of the Anuśāsana-parva and the Virāta parva from the "Spitzer manuscript". The oldest surviving
Hinduism is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history. Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder; this "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the Vedic period, flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India. Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, it is linked by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, shared textual resources, pilgrimage to sacred sites. Hindu texts are classified into Smṛti; these texts discuss theology, mythology, Vedic yajna, agamic rituals, temple building, among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas and Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, the Āgamas.
Sources of authority and eternal truths in its texts play an important role, but there is a strong Hindu tradition of questioning authority in order to deepen the understanding of these truths and to further develop the tradition. Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include the four Puruṣārthas, the proper goals or aims of human life, namely Dharma, Artha and Moksha. Hindu practices include rituals such as puja and recitations, meditation, family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals, occasional pilgrimages; some Hindus leave their social world and material possessions engage in lifelong Sannyasa to achieve Moksha. Hinduism prescribes the eternal duties, such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings, forbearance, self-restraint, compassion, among others; the four largest denominations of Hinduism are the Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Smartism. Hinduism is the world's third largest religion. Hinduism is the most professed faith in India and Mauritius, it is the predominant religion in Bali, Indonesia.
Significant numbers of Hindu communities are found in the Caribbean, North America, other countries. The word Hindū is derived from Indo-Aryan/Sanskrit root Sindhu; the Proto-Iranian sound change *s > h occurred between 850–600 BCE, according to Asko Parpola. It is believed that Hindu was used as the name for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. According to Gavin Flood, "The actual term Hindu first occurs as a Persian geographical term for the people who lived beyond the river Indus", more in the 6th-century BCE inscription of Darius I; the term Hindu in these ancient records did not refer to a religion. Among the earliest known records of'Hindu' with connotations of religion may be in the 7th-century CE Chinese text Record of the Western Regions by Xuanzang, 14th-century Persian text Futuhu's-salatin by'Abd al-Malik Isami. Thapar states that the word Hindu is found as heptahindu in Avesta – equivalent to Rigvedic sapta sindhu, while hndstn is found in a Sasanian inscription from the 3rd century CE, both of which refer to parts of northwestern South Asia.
The Arabic term al-Hind referred to the people. This Arabic term was itself taken from the pre-Islamic Persian term Hindū, which refers to all Indians. By the 13th century, Hindustan emerged as a popular alternative name of India, meaning the "land of Hindus"; the term Hindu was used in some Sanskrit texts such as the Rajataranginis of Kashmir and some 16th- to 18th-century Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava texts including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata. These texts used it to distinguish Hindus from Muslims who are called Yavanas or Mlecchas, with the 16th-century Chaitanya Charitamrita text and the 17th-century Bhakta Mala text using the phrase "Hindu dharma", it was only towards the end of the 18th century that European merchants and colonists began to refer to the followers of Indian religions collectively as Hindus. The term Hinduism spelled Hindooism, was introduced into the English language in the 18th century to denote the religious and cultural traditions native to India. Hinduism includes a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, but has no ecclesiastical order, no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet nor any binding holy book.
Because of the wide range of traditions and ideas covered by the term Hinduism, arriving at a comprehensive definition is difficult. The religion "defies our desire to define and categorize it". Hinduism has been variously defined as a religion, a religious tradition, a set of religious beliefs, "a way of life". From a Western lexical standpoint, Hinduism like other faiths is appropriately referred to as a religion. In India the term dharma is preferred, broader than the Western term religion; the study of India and its cultures and religions, the definition of "Hinduism", has been shaped by th
The Brahmanas are a collection of ancient Indian texts with commentaries on the hymns of the four Vedas. They are a layer or category of Vedic Sanskrit texts embedded within each Veda, form a part of the Hindu śruti literature, they are a digest incorporating myths, the explanation of Vedic rituals and in some cases speculations about natural phenomenon or philosophy. The Brahmanas are noted for their instructions on the proper performance of rituals, as well as explain the original symbolic meanings- translated to words and ritual actions in the main text. Brahmanas lack a homogeneous structure across the different Vedas, with some containing chapters that constitute Aranyakas or Upanishads in their own right; each Vedic shakha has its own Brahmana. Numerous Brahmana texts existed in ancient India. A total of 19 Brahmanas are extant at least in their entirety; the dating of the final codification of the Brahmanas and associated Vedic texts is controversial, which occurred after centuries of verbal transmission.
The oldest is dated to about 900 BCE, while the youngest Brahmanas, were complete by about 700 BCE. According to Jan Gonda, the final codification of the four Vedas, Brahmanas and early Upanishads took place in pre-Buddhist times; the Brahmana are a layer of texts in Vedic Sanskrit embedded within each Veda, form a part of the śruti literature of Hinduism. They are a digest incorporating mythology and Vedic rituals and in some cases speculations about natural phenomenon or philosophy; the Brahmanas layer of Vedic literature contain the exposition of the Vedic rituals. For example, the first chapter of the Chandogya Brahmana, one of the oldest Brahmanas, includes eight suktas for the ceremony of marriage and rituals at the birth of a child; the first hymn is a recitation that accompanies offering a Yajna oblation to deity Agni on the occasion of a marriage, the hymn prays for prosperity of the couple getting married. The second hymn wishes for their long life, kind relatives, a numerous progeny.
The third hymn is a mutual marriage pledge, between the bride and groom, by which the two bind themselves to each other, as follows, The next two hymns of the first chapter of the Chandogya Brahmana invoke deities Agni, Vayu and Surya to bless the couple and ensure healthful progeny. The sixth through last hymn of the first chapter in Chandogya Brahmana are not marriage-related, but related to hymns that go with ritual celebrations on the birth of a child, wishes for health and prosperity with a profusion of milch-cows and artha; the Brahmanas are noted for their instructions on the proper performance of rituals, as well as explain the symbolic importance of sacred words and ritual actions in the main text. These instructions insist on exact pronunciation, precise pitch, with coordinated movement of hand and fingers – that is, perfect delivery. Satapatha Brahamana, for example, states that verbal perfection made a mantra infallible, while one mistake made it powerless. Scholars suggest that this orthological perfection preserved Vedas in an age when writing technology was not in vogue, the voluminous collection of Vedic knowledge were taught to and memorized by dedicated students through Svādhyāya remembered and verbally transmitted from one generation to the next.
The Brahmanas are a complex layer of texts within the Vedas. Some embed speculations about natural phenomenon such as sunset. For example, section 3.44 of the Aitareya Brahmana speculates whether sun rises or sets. The sun set; when people think the sun is setting it is not so. For after having arrived at the end of the day, it makes itself produce two opposite effects, making night to what is below and day to what is on the other side; when they believe it rises in the morning this supposed. Having reached the end of the night, it makes itself produce two opposite effects, making day to what is below and night to what is on the other side; the Panchavimsha Brahmana speculates on rivers starting in mountains, fed by snow and rain, flowing over the ground and underground, both emptying into the sea. These speculations, are in the context of rituals; each Vedic shakha has its own Brahmana. A total of 19 Brahmanas are extant at least in their entirety: two associated with the Rigveda, six with the Yajurveda, ten with the Samaveda and one with the Atharvaveda.
Additionally, there are a handful of fragmentarily preserved texts. They vary in length; the Brahmanas were seminal in the development of Indian thought and scholarship, including Hindu philosophy, predecessors of Vedanta, astronomy, linguistics, the concept of Karma, or the stages in life such as brahmacarya, grihastha and sannyasa. Brahmanas lack a homogeneous structure across the different Vedas, with some containing sections that are Aranyakas or Upanishads in their own right; the Shathapatha Brahmana discusses soteriological questions. The language of the Brahmanas is a separate stage of Vedic Sanskrit, younger than the text of the samhitas, ca. 1000 BCE, but for the most part are older than the text of the Sutras. As with the whole of Vedic literature, no dating more precise than within a few centuries is possible; the Brahmanas as a whole are placed in the first half of the 1st millennium BCE, with the oldest parts dat
Brahma Vaivarta Purana
The Brahmavaivarta Purana is a voluminous Sanskrit text and a major Purana of Hinduism. It centers around Krishna and Radha, is a Vaishnavism text, is considered one of the modern era Purana. Although a version may have existed in late 1st millennium CE, its extant version was composed in the 15th or 16th-century in the Bengal region of Indian subcontinent. Another text, with a similar-sounding title, called Brahmakaivarta Purana exists, is related, but was revised somewhere in South India. Numerous versions of this Purana exist, in up to 274 or 276 chapters, all claiming to be either part of, or manuscripts of the Brahmavaivarta Purana or the Brahmakaivarta Purana; the text is notable for identifying Krishna as the supreme Reality and asserting that all gods such as Vishnu, Brahma, Ganesha are same, all are incarnations of Krishna. All goddesses such as Radha, Lakshmi, Savitri are asserted by the Brahmavaivarta Purana to be equivalent and all incarnations of Prakruti, with legends similar to those found in the Mahabharata and the Devi Mahatmya.
The text is notable for glorifying the feminine through Radha and its egalitarian views that all women are manifestations of the divine female, co-creators of the universe, that any insult to a woman is an insult to goddess Radha. The mythology and stories of Brahmavaivarta Purana, along with Bhagavata Purana, have been influential to the Krishna-related Hindu traditions, as well as to dance and performance arts such as the Rasa Lila; the extant versions of Brahmavaivarta Purana text are unusual because goddess Radha is not mentioned in most other major Puranas. Further, this text is legends, worship and drama during the life of Radha and Krishna, with discussion of ethics, four stages of life and festivals embedded as part of the plot; the specific details in this Purana show the influence or knowledge of events traced to mid 2nd-millennium CE developments associated with Tantra, Bhakti saints such as Caitanya and others. This text is unlike the encyclopedic style found in all other major Puranas, for these reasons, predominant portions of this Purana are to be a 15th or 16th century composition.
The text likely existed much earlier, the older version was complete in the 8th to 10th century period. A version existed by 700 CE, adds Hazra. However, in its history, this Hindu text underwent major revisions, over the centuries; this text was revised in the Bengal region of South Asia. Another related text, called Brahmakaivarta Purana relatively modern but traced to South India, exists in many versions. There are a few manuscripts titled Adi brahmavaivarta purana, of unclear date of composition, proposed as the older original Purana, but these are different than the Brahmavaivarta Purana text considered as one of the 18 Mahapuranas; the older version of the Brahmavaivarta Purana was once influential in its own way, because Nibandha authors of 15th and 16th century quoted nearly 1,500 lines in texts such as the Smriti Candrika, which they claimed is in this Purana. However, only 30 of these lines are found in the extant manuscripts of Brahmavaivarta Purana suggesting massive rewrite of the original Purana over its history, in or after the 15th or 16th century.
The text includes Smriti chapters that, states Hazra, were inserted into the text after the 16th century. This modern content includes chapters on "mixed castes, duties of women, duties of varna, duties of individuals during their Ashrama and glorification of Brahmins, theory of hell in after-life, religious gift giving for merit"; the only Smriti chapters in surviving manuscripts, that can be found in older versions of this text are two, namely 4.8 and 4.26. These relate to Vrata; the text has four Khandas. The third khanda is called Ganapati-khanda; the tradition and other Puranas assert. The actual manuscripts have more than 18,000 verses, unlike other Puranas where they fall short; the Padma Purana categorizes Brahma Vaivarta Purana as a Rajas Purana. Scholars consider the Sattva-Rajas-Tamas classification as "entirely fanciful" and there is nothing in this text that justifies this classification; the text's title Brahmavaivarta means "metamorphosis of Brahman", identified with Krishna. This Purana takes a view on the creation where the Brahman as Krishna creates the universe and is the universe.
The evolution and the nature of the universe is presented through the legend of Radha and Krishna in this Purana. The seduction stories and legends of this text have attracted many scholarly studies; the first khanda presents the theme that Krishna is the primordial creator, universal soul and supreme reality concept called Brahman. The second part presents Prakriti or matter, which through mythology is equated to five goddesses – Radha, Lakshmi and Savitri. However, many other goddesses are introduced, but every goddess and feminine is asserted to be the same essence of Radha Prakriti; the third part presents Ganesha, the popular elephant headed god, his life story along with that of his family and brother, he is asserted to be an incarnation of Krishna as well. The last part of this Purana is all about Radha and Krishna, painted with erotic themes, hymns and mythology. Radha is presented as the power of Krishna, inseparable part; the Purana presents an egalitarian view towards women, wherein it asserts ideas such as, "all female beings have come forth out of the divine female" in chapter 4.13, that "every insult to a woman is an offence against divine Rädhä" in Prak