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
The Bhagavad Gita referred to as the Gita, is a 700-verse Sanskrit scripture, part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The Gita is set in a narrative framework of a dialogue between Pandava prince Arjuna and his guide and charioteer Krishna. At the start of the Dharma Yudhha between Pandavas and Kauravas, Arjuna is filled with moral dilemma and despair about the violence and death the war will cause, he wonders if he should renounce and seeks Krishna's counsel, whose answers and discourse constitute the Bhagadvad Gita. Krishna counsels Arjuna to "fulfill his Kshatriya duty to uphold the Dharma" through "selfless action"; the Krishna–Arjuna dialogue cover a broad range of spiritual topics, touching upon ethical dilemmas and philosophical issues that go far beyond the war Arjuna faces. The Bhagavad Gita presents a synthesis of Hindu ideas about dharma, theistic bhakti, the yogic paths to moksha; the synthesis presents four paths to spirituality – jnana, bhakti and raja yogas. These incorporate ideas from the Vedanta philosophies.
Numerous commentaries have been written on the Bhagavad Gita with differing views on the essentials. Vedanta commentators read varying relations between Self and Brahman in the text: Advaita Vedanta sees the non-dualism of Atman and Brahman as its essence, whereas Bhedabheda and Vishishtadvaita see Atman and Brahman as both different and non-different, Dvaita sees them as different; the setting of the Gita in a battlefield has been interpreted as an allegory for the ethical and moral struggles of the human life. The Bhagavad Gita is the best known and most famous of Hindu texts, with a unique pan-Hindu influence; the Gita's call for selfless action inspired many leaders of the Indian independence movement including Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi. The Gita in the title of the text "Bhagavad Gita" means "song". Religious leaders and scholars interpret the word "Bhagavad" in a number of ways. Accordingly, the title has been interpreted as "the Song of God" by the theistic schools, "the Song of the Lord", "the Divine Song", "the Celestial Song" by others.
The Bhagavad Gita is known as the Isvara Gita, the Ananta Gita, the Hari Gita, the Vyasa Gita, or as the Gita. In the Indian tradition, the Bhagavad Gita, as well as the epic Mahabharata of which it is a part, is attributed to sage Vyasa, whose full name was Krishna Dvaipayana called Veda-Vyasa. Another Hindu legend states that Vyasa narrated it while the elephant-headed deity Ganesha broke one of his tusks and wrote down the Mahabharata along with the Bhagavad Gita. Scholars consider Vyasa to be a mythical or symbolic author, in part because Vyasa is the traditional compiler of the Vedas and the Puranas, texts dated to be from different millennia; the word Vyasa means "arranger, compiler", is a surname in India. According to Kashi Nath Upadhyaya, a Gita scholar, it is possible that a number of different individuals with the same name compiled different texts. Swami Vivekananda, the 19th-century Hindu monk and Vedantist, stated that the Bhagavad Gita may be old but it was unknown in the Indian history till early 8th-century when Adi Shankara made it famous by writing his much-followed commentary on it.
Some infer, states Vivekananda, that "Shankaracharya was the author of Gita, that it was he who foisted it into the body of the Mahabharata." This attribution to Adi Shankara is unlikely in part because Shankara himself refers to the earlier commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, because other Hindu texts and traditions that compete with the ideas of Shankara refer to much older literature referencing the Bhagavad Gita, though much of this ancient secondary literature has not survived into the modern era. According to J. A. B. van Buitenen, an Indologist known for his translations and scholarship on Mahabharata, the Gita is so contextually and philosophically well knit with the Mahabharata that it was not an independent text that "somehow wandered into the epic". The Gita, states van Buitenen, was conceived and developed by the Mahabharata authors to "bring to a climax and solution the dharmic dilemma of a war". According to Alexus McLeod, a scholar of Philosophy and Asian Studies, it is "impossible to link the Bhagavad Gita to a single author", it may be the work of many authors.
This view is shared by the Indologist Arthur Basham, who states that there were three or more authors or compilers of Bhagavad Gita. This is evidenced by the discontinuous intermixing of philosophical verses with theistic or passionately theistic verses, according to Basham. Theories on the date of the composition of the Gita vary considerably. Scholars accept dates from the fifth century to the second century BCE as the probable range, the latter likely; the Hinduism scholar Jeaneane Fowler, in her commentary on the Gita, considers second century BCE to be the probable date of composition. J. A. B. van Buitenen too states that the Gita was composed about 200 BCE. According to the Indologist Arvind Sharma, the Gita is accepted to be a 2nd-century BCE text. Kashi Nath Upadhyaya, in contrast, dates it a bit earlier, he states that the Gita was always a part of the Mahabharata, dating the latter suffices in dating the Gita. On the basis of the estimated dates of Mahabharata as evidenced by exact quotes of it in the Buddhist literature by Asvaghosa, Upadhyaya states that the Mahabharata, therefore Gita, must have been well known by for a Buddhist to be quoting it.
This suggests a terminus ante quem of the Gita to be sometime prior to the 1st-century CE. He c
Bhagavata Purana known as Śrīmad Bhāgavata Mahā Purāṇa, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam or Bhāgavata, is one of Hinduism's eighteen great Puranas. Composed in Sanskrit and available in all major Indian languages, it promotes bhakti to Krishna integrating themes from the Advaita philosophy and from the Dvaita philosophy; the origin of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam can be traced back to God Brahma who initiated Narada Rishi summarised in four verse called Chatur Sloki Bhagavatam. Narada Rishi submitted the same to Lord Veda Vyasa who elaborated to the presently available twelve skandhas and initiated to Sri Shukacharya. Lord Veda Vyasa has recorded the following narrations of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam in seven days or in Saphaha format in the Puranas being worthy: Sri Shukacharya narrated Śrīmad Bhāgavatam for seven days to Parakshit Raja on the banks of Ganga and present Haridwar. Gokarna narrated Śrīmad Bhāgavatam for seven days on the banks of river Tungabhadra. Narada Rishi organized Śrīmad Bhāgavatam for seven days at Ananda on the banks of Ganga wherein Sanatkumara narrated.
Sri Sutacharya, present during the first narration of Sri Shukacharya to Parakshit Raja narrated Śrīmad Bhāgavatam to Sri Saunaka Rishi in Naimisaranya in an elaborate way and for a long period of time. The Bhagavata Purana discusses a wide range of topics including Cosmology, Geography, Legend, Dance and Culture; as it begins, the forces of evil have won a war between the benevolent devas and evil asuras and now rule the universe. Truth re-emerges as Krishna, – first makes peace with the demons, understands them and creatively defeats them, bringing back hope, justice and happiness – a cyclic theme that appears in many legends; the Bhagavata Purana is a revered text in a Hindu tradition that reveres Vishnu. The text presents a form of religion that competes with that of the Vedas, wherein bhakti leads to self-knowledge and bliss; however the Bhagavata Purana asserts that the inner nature and outer form of Krishna is identical to the Vedas and that this is what rescues the world from the forces of evil.
An oft-quoted verse is used by some Krishna sects to assert that the text itself is Krishna in literary form. The date of composition is between the eighth and the tenth century AD, but may be as early as the 6th century AD. Manuscripts survive in numerous inconsistent versions revised through the 18th century creating various recensions both in the same languages and across different Indian languages; the text consists of twelve books totalling 332 chapters and between 16,000 and 18,000 verses depending on the recension. The tenth book, with about 4,000 verses, has been the most popular and studied, it was the first Purana, translated into a European language, when a French translation of a Tamil version appeared in 1788 and introduced many Europeans to Hinduism and 18th-century Hindu culture during the colonial era. "Purana" means "ancient, old". Bhagavata means "devoted to, follower of Bhagavat – the "sacred, divine". An alternative interpretation of Bhagavata is "devotees of the Adorable One".
Bhagavata Purana therefore means "Ancient Tales of Followers of the Lord". The composer of this work, Lord Veda Vyasa, in his second verse has described the Subject and the Fruit of studying and named it as Srimad Bhagavatam. Sri is used for abundance or richness; such Sri hence called Srimad. Bhagavata means Sacred or Divine or Holy; the holy or divine verses brings an abundance of happiness, Knowledge, in Vedas and Vedanta, Vairagya to the reader or listener and hence is called Srimad Bhagavatam. The Bhagavata is recognized as the best-known and most influential of the Puranas and, along with the Itihasa and other puranas, is sometimes referred to as the "Fifth Veda", it is important in Indian religious literature for its emphasis on the practice of devotion as compared to the more theoretical approach of the Bhagavad Gita. It is the source of many popular stories of Krishna's childhood told for centuries on the Indian subcontinent and of legends explaining Hindu festivals such as Holi and Diwali.
The Bhagavata declares itself the essence of derivative Smritis. Here Vedas are like seeds, Brahma Sutra, Bhagavad Gita, Vishnu Sahasaranama is like trunk, leaves, flowers; the fruit and its Juice being Srimad Bhagavata. As Srimad Bhagavata has the substance of Vedas and Mahabarata, it has high significance; the Srimad Bhagavatam is the essence of all the Vedanta literature. One who has enjoyed the nectar of its rasa never has any desire for anything else; the text has played a significant role in Chaitanya's Krishna-bhakti in Bengal, in the 15th–16th century Ekasarana Dharma in Assam, a panentheistic tradition whose proponents and Madhavdeva, acknowledge that their theological positions are rooted in the Bhagavata Purana, purged of doctrines that find no place in Assamese Vaishnavism and adding a monist commentary instead. In northern and western India the Bhagavata Purana has influenced the Hari Bhakti Vilasa and Haveli-style Krishna temples found in Braj region near Mathura-Vrindavan; the text complements the Pancharatra Agama texts of Vaishnavism.
While the text focu
The word Puranas means "ancient, old", it is a vast genre of Indian literature about a wide range of topics myths and other traditional lore. Composed in Sanskrit, but in regional languages, several of these texts are named after major Hindu deities such as Vishnu and Devi; the Puranas genre of literature is found in both Jainism. The Puranic literature is encyclopedic, it includes diverse topics such as cosmogony, genealogies of gods, kings, heroes and demigods, folk tales, temples, astronomy, mineralogy, love stories, as well as theology and philosophy; the content is inconsistent across the Puranas, each Purana has survived in numerous manuscripts which are themselves inconsistent. The Hindu Puranas are anonymous texts and the work of many authors over the centuries. There are 18 Maha Puranas and 18 Upa Puranas, with over 400,000 verses; the first versions of the various Puranas were composed between the 3rd- and 10th-century CE. The Puranas are considered a Smriti, they have been influential in the Hindu culture, inspiring major national and regional annual festivals of Hinduism.
Their role and value as sectarian religious texts and historical texts has been controversial because all Puranas praise many gods and goddesses and "their sectarianism is far less clear cut" than assumed, states Ludo Rocher. The religious practices included in them are considered Vaidika, because they do not preach initiation into Tantra; the Bhagavata Purana has been among the most celebrated and popular text in the Puranic genre, is of non-dualistic tenor. The Puranic literature wove with the Bhakti movement in India, both Dvaita and Advaita scholars have commented on the underlying Vedantic themes in the Maha Puranas. Douglas Harper states that the etymological origins of Puranas are from Sanskrit Puranah "ancient, former," from pura "formerly, before," cognate with Greek paros "before," pro "before," Avestan paro "before," Old English fore, from Proto-Indo-European *pre-, from *per-." Vyasa, the narrator of the Mahabharata, is hagiographically credited as the compiler of the Puranas. The ancient tradition suggests that there was but one Purana.
Vishnu Purana mentions that Vyasa entrusted his Puranasamhita to his disciple Lomaharshana, who in turn imparted it to his disciples, three of whom compiled their own samhitas. These three, together with Lomaharshana's, comprise the Mulasamhita, from which the eighteen Puranas were derived; the term Purana appears in the Vedic texts. For example, Atharva Veda mentions Purana in XI.7.24 and XV.6.10-11:"The rk and saman verses, the chandas, the Purana along with the Yajus formulae, all sprang from the remainder of the sacrificial food, the gods that resort to heaven. He changed his place and went over to great direction, Itihasa and Purana, verses in praise of heroes followed in going over." The Shatapatha Brahmana mentions Itihasapuranam and recommends that on the 9th day of Pariplava, the hotr priest should narrate some Purana because "the Purana is the Veda, this it is". However, states P. V. Kane, it is not certain whether these texts suggested several works or single work with the term Purana.
The late Vedic text Taittiriya Aranyaka uses the term in the plural. Therefore, states Kane, that in the Vedic period at least, the Puranas referred to three or more texts, that they were studied and recited In numerous passages the Mahabharata mentions'Purana' in both singular and plural forms. Moreover, it is not unlikely that, where the singular'Puranam' was employed in the texts, a class of works was meant. Further, despite the mention of the term Purana or Puranas in the Vedic texts, there is uncertainty about the contents of them until the composition of the oldest Dharmashastra Apastamba Dharmasutra and Gautama Dharmasutra, that mention Puranas resembling with the extant Puranas. Another early mention of the term'Itihas-purana' is found in the Chandogya Upanishad, translated by Patrick Olivelle as "the corpus of histories and ancient tales as the fifth Veda"; the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad refers to purana as the "fifth Veda",According to Thomas Coburn and early extra-puranic texts attest to two traditions regarding their origin, one proclaiming a divine origin as the breath of the Great Being, the other as a human named Vyasa as the arranger of existing material into eighteen Puranas.
In the early references, states Coburn, the term Purana occurs in singular unlike the era which refers to a plural form because they had assumed their "multifarious form". While both these traditions disagree on the origins of the Puranas, they affirm that extant Puranas are not identical with the original Purana. According to the Indologists J. A. B. van Buitenen and Cornelia Dimmitt, the Puranas that have survived into the modern era are ancient but represent "an amalgam of two somewhat different but never different separate oral literatures: the Brahmin tradition stemming from the reciters of the Vedas, the bardic poetry recited by Sutas, handed down in Kshatriya circles". The original Puranas comes from the priestly roots while the genealogies have the warrior and epic roots; these texts were collected for the "second time between the fourth and sixth centuries A. D. under the rule of the Gupta kings", a period of Hindu renaissance. However, the editing and expan
The Kama Sutra is an ancient Indian Sanskrit text on sexuality and emotional fulfillment in life. Attributed to Vātsyāyana, the Kama Sutra is neither nor predominantly a sex manual on sex positions, but written as a guide to the "art-of-living" well, the nature of love, finding a life partner, maintaining one's love life, other aspects pertaining to pleasure-oriented faculties of human life. Kamasutra is the oldest surviving Hindu text on erotic love, it is a sutra-genre text with terse aphoristic verses that have survived into the modern era with different bhasya. The text is a mix of prose and anustubh-meter poetry verses; the text acknowledges the Hindu concept of Purusharthas, lists desire and emotional fulfillment as one of the proper goals of life. Its chapters discuss methods for courtship, training in the arts to be engaging, finding a partner, maintaining power in a married life and how to commit adultery, sexual positions, other topics; the majority of the book is about the philosophy and theory of love, what triggers desire, what sustains it, how and when it is good or bad.
The text is one of many Indian texts on Kama Shastra. It is a much-translated work in non-Indian languages; the Kamasutra has influenced many secondary texts that followed after the 4th-century CE, as well as the Indian arts as exemplified by the pervasive presence Kama-related reliefs and sculpture in old Hindu temples. Of these, the Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh is a UNESCO world heritage site. Among the surviving temples in north India, one in Rajasthan sculpts all the major chapters and sexual positions to illustrate the Kamasutra. According to Wendy Doniger, the Kamasutra became "one of the most pirated books in English language" soon after it was published in 1883 by Richard Burton; this first European edition by Burton does not faithfully reflect much in the Kamasutra because he revised the collaborative translation by Bhagavanlal Indrajit and Shivaram Parashuram Bhide with Forster Arbuthnot to suit 19th-century Victorian tastes. The original composition date or century for the Kamasutra is unknown.
Historians have variously placed it between 400 BCE and 300 CE. According to John Keay, the Kama Sutra is a compendium, collected into its present form in the 2nd century CE. In contrast, the Indologist Wendy Doniger who has co-translated Kama sutra and published many papers on related Hindu texts, the surviving version of the Kamasutra must have been revised or composed after 225 CE because it mentions the Abhiras and the Andhras dynasties that did not co-rule major regions of ancient India before that year; the text makes no mention of the Gupta Empire which ruled over major urban areas of ancient India, reshaping ancient Indian arts, Hindu culture and economy from the 4th-century through the 6th-century. For these reasons, she dates the Kama sutra to the second half of the 3rd-century CE; the place of its composition is unclear. The candidates are urban centers of north or northwest ancient India, alternatively in the eastern urban Pataliputra. Vatsyayana Mallanaga is its accepted author because his name is embedded in the colophon verse, but little is known about him.
Vatsyayana states. In the preface, Vatsyayana acknowledges that he is distilling many ancient texts, but these have not survived, he cites the work of others he calls "teachers" and "scholars", the longer texts by Auddalaki, Dattaka, Ghotakamukha, Gonikaputra and Kuchumara. Vatsyayana's Kamasutra is mentioned and some verses quoted in the Brihatsamhita of Varahamihira, as well as the poems of Kalidasa; this suggests he lived before the 5th-century CE. The Hindu tradition has the concept of the Purusharthas which outlines "four main goals of life", it holds that every human being has four proper goals that are necessary and sufficient for a fulfilling and happy life: Dharma – signifies behaviors that are considered to be in accord with rta, the order that makes life and universe possible, includes duties, laws, conduct and right way of living. Hindu dharma includes the religious duties, moral rights and duties of each individual, as well as behaviors that enable social order, right conduct, those that are virtuous.
Dharma, according to Van Buitenen, is that which all existing beings must accept and respect to sustain harmony and order in the world. It is, states Van Buitenen, the pursuit and execution of one's nature and true calling, thus playing one's role in cosmic concert. Artha – signifies the "means of life", activities and resources that enables one to be in a state one wants to be in. Artha incorporates wealth, activity to make a living, financial security and economic prosperity; the proper pursuit of artha is considered an important aim of human life in Hinduism. Kama – signifies desire, passion, pleasure of the senses, the aesthetic enjoyment of life, affection, or love, with or without sexual connotations. Gavin Flood explains kāma as "love" without violating dharma and one's journey towards moksha. Moksha – signifies emancipation, liberation or release. In some schools of Hinduism, moksha connotes freedom from saṃsāra, the cycle of death and rebirth, in other schools moksha connotes freedom, self-knowledge, self-realization and liberation in this life.
Each of these pursuits became a subject of study and led to prolific Sanskrit and some Prakrit languages literature in ancient India. Along with Dharmasastras and Mokshasastras, the Kamasastras genre have been preserved in palm leaf manuscripts; the K
The Skanda Purana is the largest Mahāpurāṇa, a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts. The text contains over 81,000 verses, is part of Shaivite literature, titled after Skanda, a son of Shiva and Parvati, known as Kartikeya and Murugan. While the text is named after Skanda, he does not feature either more or less prominently in this text than in other Shiva-related Puranas; the text has been an important historical record and influence on the Hindu traditions related to the war-god Skanda. The earliest text titled Skanda Purana existed by the 8th century CE, but the Skanda Purana that has survived into the modern era exists in many versions, it is considered by scholars, in a historic sense, as among the "shiftiest, living" texts, edited, over many centuries, creating numerous variants. The common elements in the variant editions encyclopedically cover cosmogony, genealogy, festivals, temples, discussion of virtues and evil, of theology and of the nature and qualities of Shiva as the Absolute and the source of true knowledge.
The editions of Skandapurana text provide an encyclopedic travel handbook with meticulous Tirtha Mahatmya, containing geographical locations of pilgrimage centers in India and Tibet, with related legends, parables and stories. This Mahāpurāṇa, like others, is attributed to the sage Vyasa. Haraprasad Shastri and Cecil Bendall, in about 1898, discovered an old palm-leaf manuscript of Skanda Purana in a Kathmandu library in Nepal, written in Gupta script, they dated the manuscript to 8th century CE, on paleographic grounds. This suggests. R. Adriaensen, H. Bakker, H. Isaacson dated the oldest surviving palm-leaf manuscript of Skanda Purana to 810 CE, but Richard Mann adds that earlier versions of the text existed in the 8th century CE. Hans Bakker states that the text specifies holy places and details about the 4th and 5th-century Citraratha of Andhra Pradesh, thus may have an earlier origin; the oldest versions of the Skandapurana texts have been discovered in the Himalayan region of South Asia such as Nepal, the northeastern states of India such as Assam.
The critical editions of the text, for scholarly studies, rely on the Nepalese manuscripts. Additional texts style themselves as khandas of Skandapurana, but these came into existence after the 12th century, it is unclear if their root texts did belong to the Skandapurana, in some cases replaced the corresponding chapters of the original. Some recensions and sections of the Skandapurana manuscripts, states Judit Torzsok, have been traced to be from the 17th century or but the first 162 chapters in many versions are the same as the older Nepalese editions except for occasional omissions and insertions. There are a number of manuscripts that bear the title Skanda Purana; some of these texts, except for the title, have little in common with the well-known Skandapurana traced to the 1st millennium CE. The original text has accrued several additions, it is, therefore difficult to establish an exact date of composition for the Skanda Purana. Stylistically, the Skanda Purana is related to the Mahabharata, it appears that its composers borrowed from the Mahabharata.
The two texts employ similar stock compounds that are not found in the Ramayana. Some of the mythology mentioned in the present version of the Skanda Purana is undoubtedly post-Gupta period, consistent with that of medieval South India; this indicates. The Kashi Khanda, for example, acquired its present form around the mid-13th century CE; the latest part of the text might have been composed in as late as the 15th century CE. The whole corpus of texts which are considered as part of the Skanda Purana is grouped in two ways. According to one tradition, these are grouped in six saṁhitās, each of which consists of several khaṇḍas. According to another tradition, these are grouped in seven khaṇḍas, each named after a major pilgrimage region or site; the chapters are travel guides for pilgrimage tourists. The Maheśvara Khaṇḍa consists of 3 sections: the Kedāra Khaṇḍa the Kaumārikā Khaṇḍa or Kumārikā Khaṇḍa and the Arunācala Khaṇḍa or Arunācala Māhātmya, further divided into two parts: Pūrvārdha and Uttarārdha The Viṣṇu Khaṇḍa or Vaiṣṇava Khaṇḍa consists of nine sections: Veṅkaṭācalamāhātmya Puruṣottamakṣetramāhātmya Badarikāśramamāhātmya Kārttikamāsamāhātmya Mārgaśirṣamāsamāhātmya 17 chapters, Mathura Tirtha region) Bhāgavatamāhātmya Vaiśākhamāsamāhātmya Ayodhyāmāhātmya and Vāsudevamāhātmya The Brahma Khaṇḍa has three sections: Setumāhātmya Dharmāraṇya Khaṇḍa and Uttara Khaṇḍa or Brahmottara Khaṇḍa The Kāśī Khaṇḍa is divided into two parts: Pūrvārdha and Uttarārdha The Āvantya Khaṇḍa consists of: Avantikṣetramāhātmya Caturaśītiliṅgamāhātmya and Revā Khaṇḍa The Nāgara Khaṇḍa consists of Tirtha-māhātmya.
The Prabhāsa Khaṇḍa
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