The Buddhist Tantras are a varied group of Indian and Tibetan texts which outline unique views and practices of the Buddhist tantra religious systems. Buddhist Tantric texts began appearing in the Gupta Empire period though there are texts with elements associated with Tantra that can be seen as early as the third century. By the eighth century Tantra was a dominant force in North India and the number of texts increased with numerous Tantric pandits writing commentaries; the earliest known datable Buddhist Tantra is the Guhyasamāja Tantra, dated to the fifth century by Alex Wayman. Another early Tantra is the Mahavairocana Tantra, mentioned and collected by the Chinese pilgrim Wu-xing c. 680 CE. According to Tibetologist Alex Wayman, the Buddhist Tantras arose from "a previous lore reaching back into the Vedic literature and amalgamating this tradition with various Buddhist tenets"; some of the material is similar to content in the Yoga Upanishads. Buddhist Tantric traditions were variously influenced by Śaiva and Pancharatra Hindu traditions, local god/goddess cults, Yaksha or nāga rites as well as drawing on pre-existing Mahāyāna Buddhist ideas and practices.
Many early Buddhist Tantric texts termed “action Tantras”, are collections of magical mantras or phrases for worldly ends called mantrakalpas and they do not call themselves Tantras. Tantric texts from the eighth century onward advocated union with a deity, sacred sounds, techniques for manipulation of the subtle body and other secret methods with which to achieve swift Buddhahood; some Tantras contain antinomian and transgressive practices such as ingesting alcohol and other forbidden substances as well as sexual rituals. Some of the unique themes and ideas found in the Buddhist Tantras is the revaluation of the body and its use in attaining great bliss, a revaluation of the role of women and female deities and a revaluation of negative mental states, which can be used in the service of liberation as the Hevajra Tantra says "the world is bound by passion by passion it is released". Buddhist Tantra spread out of India into nearby countries like Tibet and Nepal in the eighth century, as well as to Southeast Asia.
Buddhist Tantra arrived in China during the Tang Dynasty and was brought to Japan by Kukai, where it is known as Shingon. It remains the main Buddhist tradition in Nepal and Tibet where it is known as Vajrayana. There are between 1500 and 2000 surviving Indian Buddhist Tantric texts in the original Sanskrit, over two thousand more Tantras survive in translation. In the Tibetan canons, there are 2400 in the Tengyur. Tantric texts were brought to Tibet in the 8th century and the 11th century; the ancient translation school, or Nyingma and the New translation schools organize Tantras into different categories. The Nyingma tantra collection is known as the Nyingma Gyubum and has six tantra categories: Three Outer Tantras: Kriyayoga Charyayoga Yogatantra Three Inner Tantras, which correspond to the Anuttarayogatantra: Mahayoga Anuyoga Atiyoga, further divided into three classes: Mental SemDe Spatial LongDe Esoteric Instructional MenNgagDe The Sarma or New Translation schools of Tibetan Buddhism divide the Tantras into four categories: Kriyayoga Charyayoga Yogatantra Anuttarayogatantra Mother tantras, Yogini tantras Father tantras Nondual Tantra or Advaya Class Many Tantric texts have titles other than'Tantra', including Dharani, Rajñi, stotra and sutra.
The Major Tantras accumulated secondary literature, such as'Explanatory Tantras', commentaries and sadhana literature. Major Buddhist Tantric texts include: Guhyasamāja Tantra, Father Tantra class, Mahavairocana Tantra, Charya Tantra class, Vajrapãṇyabhiṣeka Tantra Vajrasekhara Sutra Tattvasaṃgraha Tantra, Yogatantra class, Hevajra Tantra, Mother class, Cakrasaṃvara Tantra a.k.a. Sri-Heruka-bhidhana, Mother class Guhyagarbha tantra, Mother class Sarvabuddha Samayoga, Mother class Vajramrta Tantra, Mother class Vajrapañjara Tantra, Mother class Vajrabhairava Tantra or Yamantaka Tantra, Father class, Mañjuśrī-mūla-kalpa Shurangama Sutra Shurangama Mantra Susiddhikara Sutra Sarva-tathāgata-tattva-saṅgraha-sūtra Kurukullā Tantra Mahākāla Tantra Samvarodaya Tantra Vajrapatala Tantra Sri-Vajriimrta-tantra Mañjuśrīnāmasamgīti, Nondual class Mahachinacara Tantra Mayajala Tantra The Eighteen Texts of the Mind Series Kulayarāja Tantra - "The All Creating King" Kalachakra Tantra, Nondual class Seven texts of Space series Mahāvarntaprasaranirajatantranāma - "Samantabhadra’s Royal Tantra of All-Inclusive Vastness" Seventeen Tantras of Menngagde, Dzogchen Saṃvara Tantra Mahamaya Tantra Vajrayogini Tantra Sarvarahasya Tantra Sri-Paramadya-Tantra Nīlakaṇṭha Dhāraṇī or Mahākaruṇā Dhāraṇī, popularly known as the'Great Compassion Mantra' Chandamaharosana Tantra Prajnopaya-viniscaya Siddhi Naro Chos-Drug Nigu Chos-Drug Mila Gnubum Sutra of Secret Bliss Kalika Purana Padma Kathang Sanglingma Bardo Thödol Nyingtig Yabshi Seven Treasures Padma Kathang Sheldrakma Longchen Nyingthig Yuthok Nyingthig Rinchen Terzö Chenmo As Buddhist Tantra became more practiced in the middle of the seventh century, pandits at mainstream Buddhist scholastic institutions began
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
Hindu texts are manuscripts and historical literature related to any of the diverse traditions within Hinduism. A few texts are broadly considered as Hindu scriptures; these include the Upanishads. Scholars hesitate in defining the term "Hindu scripture" given the diverse nature of Hinduism, many include Bhagavad Gita and Agamas as Hindu scriptures, while Dominic Goodall includes Bhagavata Purana and Yajnavalkya Smriti to the list of Hindu scriptures. There are two historic classifications of Hindu texts: Shruti – that, heard, Smriti – that, remembered; the Śruti refers to the body of most authoritative, ancient religious texts, believed to be eternal knowledge authored neither by human nor divine agent but transmitted by sages. These comprise the central canon of Hinduism, it includes the four Vedas including its four types of embedded texts - the Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas and the early Upanishads. Of the Shrutis, the Upanishads alone are influential among Hindus, considered scriptures par excellence of Hinduism, their central ideas have continued to influence its thoughts and traditions.
The Smriti texts are a specific body of Hindu texts attributed to an author, as a derivative work they are considered less authoritative than Sruti in Hinduism. The Smrti literature is a vast corpus of diverse texts, includes but is not limited to Vedāngas, the Hindu epics, the Sutras and Shastras, the texts of Hindu philosophies, the Puranas, the Kāvya or poetical literature, the Bhasyas, numerous Nibandhas covering politics, culture and society. Many ancient and medieval Hindu texts were composed in Sanskrit, many others in regional Indian languages. In modern times, most ancient texts have been translated into other Indian languages and some in Western languages. Prior to the start of the common era, the Hindu texts were composed orally memorized and transmitted orally, from one generation to next, for more than a millennia before they were written down into manuscripts; this verbal tradition of preserving and transmitting Hindu texts, from one generation to next, continued into the modern era.
The Vedas are a large body of Hindu texts originating in ancient India, with its Samhita and Brahmanas complete before about 800 BCE. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit hymns, 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"; the knowledge in the Vedas is believed in Hinduism to be eternal, neither authored by human nor by divine source, but seen and transmitted by sages. Vedas are called śruti literature, distinguishing them from other religious texts, which are called smṛti; the Veda, for orthodox Indian theologians, are considered revelations, some way or other the work of the Deity. In the Hindu Epic the Mahabharata, the creation of Vedas is credited to Brahma. 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.
The Upanishads are a collection of Hindu texts which contain some of the central philosophical concepts of Hinduism. The Upanishads are referred to as Vedānta, variously interpreted to mean either the "last chapters, parts of the Veda" or "the object, the highest purpose of the Veda"; the concepts of Brahman and Ātman are central ideas in all the Upanishads, "Know your Ātman" their thematic focus. The Upanishads are the foundation of its diverse traditions. Of the Vedic corpus, they alone are known, the central ideas of the Upanishads have had a lasting influence on Hindu philosophy. 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 verbally. The early Upanishads all predate the Common Era, some in all likelihood pre-Buddhist, down to the Maurya period.
Of the remainder, some 95 Upanishads are part of the Muktika canon, composed from about the start of common era through medieval Hinduism. New Upanishads, beyond the 108 in the Muktika canon, continued being composed through the early modern and modern era, though dealing with subjects unconnected to Hinduism; the texts that appeared afterwards were called smriti. Smriti literature includes various Shastras and Itihasas, Harivamsa Puranas and Darshanas; the Sutras and Shastras texts were compilations of technical or specialized knowledge in a defined area. The earliest are dated to half of the 1st millennium BCE; the Dharma-shastras, derivatives of the Dharma-sutras. Other examples were bhautikashastra "physics", rasayanashastra "chemistry", jīvashastra "biology", vastushastra "architectural science", shilpashastra "science of sculpture", arthashastra "economics" and nītishastra "political science", it includes Tantras and Agama literature. This genre of texts includes the Shastras of the six schools of Hindu philosophy.
The Puranas are a vast genre of Hindu texts that encyclopedically cover a wide range of topics myths and other tradi
The'Vishnu Purana' is one of the eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of ancient and medieval texts of Hinduism. It is an important Pancharatra text in the Vaishnavism literature corpus; the manuscripts of Vishnu Purana have survived into the modern era in many versions. More than any other major Purana, the Vishnu Purana presents its contents in Pancalaksana format – Sarga, Vamśa, Manvañtara, Vamśānucaritam; some manuscripts of the text are notable for not including sections found in other major Puranas, such as those on Mahatmyas and tour guides on pilgrimage, but some versions include chapters on temples and travel guides to sacred pilgrimage sites. The text is notable as the earliest Purana to have been translated and published in 1864 CE by HH Wilson, based on manuscripts available, setting the presumptions and premises about what Puranas may have been; the Vishnu Purana is with about 7,000 verses in extant versions. It centers around the Hindu god Vishnu and his avatars such as Krishna, but it praises Brahma and Shiva and asserts that they are one with Vishnu.
The Purana, states Wilson, is pantheistic and the ideas in it, like other Puranas, are premised on the Vedic beliefs and ideas. Vishnu Purana, like all major Puranas, attributes its author to be sage Veda Vyasa; the actual author and date of its composition are unknown and contested. Estimates range of its composition range from 1st millennium BCE to early 2nd-millennium CE; the text was composed and rewritten in layers over a period of time, with roots in ancient 1st-millennium BCE texts that have not survived into the modern era. The Padma Purana categorizes Vishnu Purana as a Sattva Purana; the composition date of Vishnu Purana is unknown and contested, with estimates disagreeing. Some proposed dates for the earliest version of Vishnu Purana by various scholars include: Vincent Smith: 400-300 BCE, CV Vaidya: ~9th-century, Moriz Winternitz: early 1st millennium, but states Rocher, he added, "it is no more possible to assign a definite date to the Vishnu Purana than it is for any other Purana".
Rajendra Chandra Hazra: 275-325 CE Ramachandra Dikshitar: 700-300 BCE, Roy: after the 9th century. Horace Hayman Wilson: acknowledged that the tradition believes it to be 1st millennium BCE text and the text has roots in the Vedic literature, but after his analysis suggested that the extant manuscripts may be from the 11th century. Wendy Doniger: c. 450 CE. Rocher states that the "date of the Vishnu Purana is as contested as that of any other Purana". References to Vishnu Purana in texts such as Brihadvishnu whose dates are better established, states Rocher, suggest that a version of Vishnu Purana existed by about 1000 CE, but it is unclear to what extent the extant manuscripts reflect the revisions during the 2nd millennium. Vishnu Purana like all Puranas has a complicated chronology. Dimmitt and van Buitenen state that each of the Puranas including the Vishnu Purana is encyclopedic in style, it is difficult to ascertain when, why and by whom these were written: As they exist today, the Puranas are a stratified literature.
Each titled work consists of material that has grown by numerous accretions in successive historical eras. Thus no Purana has a single date of composition, it is as if they were libraries to which new volumes have been continuously added, not at the end of the shelf, but randomly. Many of the extant manuscripts were written on palm leaf or copied during the British India colonial era, some in the 19th century; the scholarship on Vishnu Purana, other Puranas, has suffered from cases of forgeries, states Ludo Rocher, where liberties in the transmission of Puranas were normal and those who copied older manuscripts replaced words or added new content to fit the theory that the colonial scholars were keen on publishing. The extant text comprises 126 adhyāyas; the first part has 22 chapters, the second part consists 16 chapters, the third part comprises 18 chapters and the fourth part has 24 chapters. The fifth and the sixth parts are the longest and the shortest part of the text, comprising 38 and 8 chapters respectively.
The textual tradition claims that the original Vishnu Purana had 23,000 verses, but the surviving manuscripts have just a third of these, about 7,000 verses. The text is composed in metric verses or sloka, wherein each verse has 32 syllables, of which 16 syllables in the verse may be free style per ancient literary standards; the Vishnu Purana is an exception in that it presents its contents in Vishnu worship-related Pancalaksana format – Sarga, Vamśa, Manvañtara, Vamśānucaritam. This is rare, state Dimmitt and van Buitenen, because just 2% of the known Puranic literature corpus is about these five Pancalaksana items, about 98% is about diverse range of encyclopedic topics. Vishnu Purana opens as a conversation between sage Maitreya and his guru, with the sage asking, "what is the nature of this universe and everything, in it?" The first Amsha of Vishnu Purana presents cosmology, dealing with the creation and destruction of the universe. The mythology, states Rocher, is woven with the evolutionary theories of Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy.
The Hindu god Vishnu is presented as the central element of this text's cosmology, unlike some other Puranas where Shiva or Brahma or goddess Shakti are. The r
The Samaveda, is the Veda of melodies and chants. It is an ancient Vedic Sanskrit text, part of the scriptures of Hinduism. One of the four Vedas, it is a liturgical text. All but 75 verses have been taken from the Rigveda. Three recensions of the Samaveda have survived, variant manuscripts of the Veda have been found in various parts of India. While its earliest parts are believed to date from as early as the Rigvedic period, the existing compilation dates from the post-Rigvedic Mantra period of Vedic Sanskrit, c. 1200 or 1000 BCE contemporary with the Atharvaveda and the Yajurveda. Embedded inside the Samaveda is the studied Chandogya Upanishad and Kena Upanishad, considered as primary Upanishads and as influential on the six schools of Hindu philosophy the Vedanta school; the classical Indian music and dance tradition considers the chants and melodies in Samaveda as one of its roots. It is referred to as Sama Veda; the Samaveda is the Veda of Chants, or "storehouse of knowledge of chants". According to Frits Staal, it is "the Rigveda set to music".
It is a fusion of the Rig verses. It has far fewer verses than Rigveda, but Samaveda is textually larger because it lists all the chant- and rituals-related score modifications of the verses; the Samaveda text contains notated melodies, these are the world's oldest surviving ones. The musical notation is written immediately above, sometimes within, the line of Samaveda text, either in syllabic or a numerical form depending on the Samavedic Sakha. R. T. H. Griffith says that there are three recensions of the text of the Samaveda Samhita: the Kauthuma recension is current in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and since a few decades in Darbhanga, the Rāṇāyanīya in the Maharashtra, Gokarna, few parts of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and the Jaiminiya in the Carnatic, Tamil Nadu and Kerala The Samaveda comprises two major parts; the first part include four melody collections and the second part three verse "books". A melody in the song books corresponds to a verse in the arcika books; the Gana collection is subdivided into Gramageya and Aranyageya, while the Arcika portion is subdivided into Purvarcika and Uttararcika portions.
The Purvarcika portion of the text has 585 single stanza verses and is organized in order of deities, while Uttararcika text is ordered by rituals. The Gramageya melodies are those for public recitations, while Aranyageya melodies are for personal meditative use such as in the solitude of a forest; the Purvarcika collection were sung to melodies described in the Gramageya-Gānas index, the rules of how the verses mapped to verses is described in the Sanskrit texts such as the Puspasutra. Just like Rigveda, the early sections of Samaveda begin with Agni and Indra hymns but shift to abstract speculations and philosophy, their meters too shifts in a descending order; the sections of the Samaveda, states Witzel, have least deviation from substance of hymns they derive from Rigveda into songs. The purpose of Samaveda was liturgical, they were the repertoire of the udgātṛ or "singer" priests; the Samaveda, like other Vedas, contains several layers of text, with Samhita being the oldest and the Upanishads the youngest layer.
The Samaveda consists of 1,549 unique verses, taken entirely from Rigveda, except for 75 verses. The largest number of verse come from Books 8 of the Rig Veda; some of the Rigvedic verses are repeated more than once. Including these repetitions, there are a total of 1,875 verses numbered in the Samaveda recension translated by Griffith. Samaveda samhita is not meant to be read as a text, it is like a musical score sheet that must be heard. Staal states that the melodies existed before the verses in ancient India, the words of the Rigveda verses were mapped into those pre-existing melodies, because some early words fit and flow, while words do not quite fit the melody in the same verse; the text uses creative structures, called Stobha, to help embellish, transform or play with the words so that they better fit into a desired musical harmony. Some verses add in meaningless sounds of a lullaby, for the same reason, remarks Staal, thus the contents of the Samaveda represent a tradition and a creative synthesis of music, sounds and spirituality, the text was not a sudden inspiration.
The portion of the first song of Samaveda illustrates the link and mapping of Rigvedic verses into a melodic chant: Two primary Upanishads of Hinduism are embedded inside the Samaveda – the Chandogya Upanishad and the Kena Upanishad. Both are notable for the lifting metric melodic structure, but it is Chandogya which has played a historic role in the evolution of various schools of Hindu philosophy; the embedded philosophical premises in Chandogya Upanishad have, for example, served as foundation for Vedanta school of Hinduism. It is one of the most cited texts in Bhasyas by scholars from the diverse schools of Hinduism. Adi Shankara, for example, cited Chandogya Upanishad 810 times in his Vedanta Sutra Bhasya, more than any other ancient text; the Chandogya Upanishad belongs to the Tandya school of the Samaveda. Like Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, the Chandogya Upanishad is an anthology of texts that must have pre-existed as separate texts, were edited into a larger text by one or more ancient Indian scholars.
The precise chronology of Chandogya Upanishad is uncertain, but it is the youngest layer of text in the Samaveda, it is variously dated to have been composed by 8th to 6th century BCE in India. The Chandogya text combines a metric, melodic structure with a wide range of specu
Ramayana is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Mahābhārata. Along with the Mahābhārata, it forms the Hindu Itihasa; the epic, traditionally ascribed to the Hindu Valmiki, narrates the life of Rama, the legendary prince of the Kosala Kingdom. It follows his fourteen-year exile to the forest from the kingdom, by his father King Dasharatha, on request of his second wife Kaikeyi, his travels across forests in India with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, the kidnapping of his wife by Ravana, the great king of Lanka, resulting in a war with him, Rama's eventual return to Ayodhya to be crowned king. There have been many attempts to unravel the epic's historical growth and compositional layers; the Ramayana is one of the largest ancient epics in world literature. It consists of nearly 24,000 verses, divided into about 500 sargas. In Hindu tradition, it is considered to be the adi-kavya, it depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal husband and the ideal king.
Ramayana was an important influence on Sanskrit poetry and Hindu life and culture. Like Mahabharata, Ramayana is not just a story: it presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and ethical elements; the characters Rama, Lakshmana, Hanuman and Ravana are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of India, Sri Lanka, south-east Asian countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia. There are many versions of Ramayana in Indian languages, besides Buddhist and Jain adaptations. There are Cambodian, Filipino, Lao and Malaysian versions of the tale; the name Ramayana is a tatpuruṣa compound of the name Rāma. According to Hindu tradition, the Ramayana itself, the epic belongs to the genre of itihasa like Mahabharata; the definition of itihāsa is a narrative of past events which includes teachings on the goals of human life. According to Hindu tradition, Ramayana takes place during a period of time known as Treta Yuga. In its extant form, Valmiki's Ramayana is an epic poem of some 24,000 verses.
The text survives in several thousand partial and complete manuscripts, the oldest of, a palm-leaf manuscript found in Nepal and dated to the 11th century CE. A Times of India report dated 18 December 2015 informs about the discovery of a 6th-century manuscript of the Ramayana at the Asiatic Society library, Kolkata; the Ramayana text has several regional renderings and sub recensions. Textual scholar Robert P. Goldman differentiates two major regional revisions: the southern. Scholar Romesh Chunder Dutt writes that "the Ramayana, like the Mahabharata, is a growth of centuries, but the main story is more distinctly the creation of one mind." There has been discussion as to whether the first and the last volumes of Valmiki's Ramayana were composed by the original author. Most Hindus still believe they are integral parts of the book, in spite of some style differences and narrative contradictions between these two volumes and the rest of the book. Retellings include Kamban's Ramavataram in Tamil, Gona Budda Reddy's Ramayanam in Telugu, Madhava Kandali's Saptakanda Ramayana in Assamese, Krittibas Ojha's Krittivasi Ramayan in Bengali, Sarala Das' Vilanka Ramayana and Balaram Das' Dandi Ramayana both in Odia, sant Eknath's Bhavarth Ramayan in Marathi, Tulsidas' Ramcharitamanas in Awadhi and Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan's Adhyathmaramayanam in Malayalam.
Ramayana predates Mahabharata. However, the general cultural background of Ramayana is one of the post-urbanization periods of the eastern part of north India and Nepal, while Mahabharata reflects the Kuru areas west of this, from the Rigvedic to the late Vedic period. By tradition, the text belongs to second of the four eons of Hindu chronology. Rama is said to have been born in the Treta Yuga to king Dasharatha in the Ikshvaku dynasty; the names of the characters are all known in late Vedic literature. However, nowhere in the surviving Vedic poetry is there a story similar to the Ramayana of Valmiki. According to the modern academic view, who, according to Bala Kanda, was incarnated as Rama, first came into prominence with the epics themselves and further, during the puranic period of the 1st millennium CE. In the epic Mahabharata, there is a version of Ramayana known as Ramopakhyana; this version is depicted as a narration to Yudhishthira. Books two to six form the oldest portion of the epic, while the first and last books are additions, as some style differences and narrative contradictions between these two volumes and the rest of the book.
The author or authors of Bala Kanda and Ayodhya Kanda appear to be familiar with the eastern Gangetic basin region of northern India and with the Kosala and Magadha regions during the period of the sixteen Mahajanapadas, based on the fact that the geographical and geopolitical data accords with what is known about the region. Dasharatha is father of Rama, he has three queens, Kausalya, Ka
The Agamas are a collection of scriptures of several Hindu devotional schools. The term means tradition or "that which has come down", the Agama texts describe cosmology, philosophical doctrines, precepts on meditation and practices, four kinds of yoga, temple construction, deity worship and ways to attain sixfold desires; these canonical texts are in Tamil. The three main branches of Agama texts are those of Shaivism, Shaktism; the Agamic traditions are sometimes called Tantrism, although the term "Tantra" is used to refer to Shakta Agamas. The Agama literature is voluminous, includes 28 Shaiva Agamas, 77 Shakta Agamas, 108 Vaishnava Agamas, numerous Upa-Agamas; the origin and chronology of Agamas is unclear. Some are Vedic and others non-Vedic. Agama traditions include Yoga and Self Realization concepts, some include Kundalini Yoga and philosophies ranging from Dvaita to Advaita; some suggest that these are others as pre-Vedic compositions. Epigraphical and archaeological evidence suggests that Agama texts were in existence by about middle of the 1st millennium CE, in the Pallava dynasty era.
Scholars note that some passages in the Hindu Agama texts appear to repudiate the authority of the Vedas, while other passages assert that their precepts reveal the true spirit of the Vedas. The Agamas literary genre may be found in Śramaṇic traditions. Bali Hindu tradition is called Agama Hindu Dharma in Indonesia. Āgāma is derived from the verb root गम meaning "to go" and the preposition आ meaning "toward" and refers to scriptures as "that which has come down". Agama means "tradition", refers to precepts and doctrines that have come down as tradition. Agama, states Dhavamony, is a "generic name of religious texts which are at the basis of Hinduism and which are divided into Vaishnava Agamas, Saiva Agamas, Sakta Agamas. Agamas, states Rajeshwari Ghose, teach a system of spirituality involving ritual worship and ethical personal conduct through precepts of a god; the means of worship in the Agamic religions differs from the Vedic form. While the Vedic form of yajna requires no idols and shrines, the Agamic religions are based on idols with puja as a means of worship.
Symbols and temples are a necessary part of the Agamic practice, while non-theistic paths are alternative means of Vedic practice. Action and will drive Agama precepts. This, does not mean that Agamas and Vedas are opposed, according to medieval-era Hindu theologians. Tirumular, for example, explained their link as follows: "the Vedas are the path, the Agamas are the horse"; each Agama consists of four parts: Jnana pada called Vidya pada – consists of doctrine, the philosophical and spiritual knowledge, knowledge of reality and liberation. Yoga pada – precepts on yoga, the physical and mental discipline. Kriya pada – consists of rules for rituals, construction of temples; this code is analogous in the Buddhist text of Sadhanamala. Charya pada – lays down rules of conduct, of worship, observances of religious rites, rituals and prayaschittas; the Agamas state three requirements for a place of pilgrimage: Sthala and Murti. Sthala refers to the place of the temple, Tīrtha is the temple tank, Murti refers to the image of god.
Elaborate rules are laid out in the Agamas for Silpa 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, air circulation, lighting in the temple complex, etc. The Manasara and Silpasara are some of the works dealing with these rules; the rituals followed in worship services each day at the temple follow rules laid out in the Agamas. The Agama texts of Hinduism present a diverse range of philosophies, ranging from theistic dualism to absolute monism; this diversity of views was acknowledged in Chapter 36 of Tantraloka by the 10th-century scholar Abhinavagupta. In Shaivism alone, there are ten dualistic Agama texts, eighteen qualified monism-cum-dualism Agama texts, sixty-four monism Agama texts; the Bhairava Shastras are monistic. A similar breadth of diverse views is present in Vaishnava Agamas as well; the Agama texts of Shaiva and Vaishnava schools are premised on existence of Atman and the existence of an Ultimate Reality.
The texts differ in the relation between the two. Some assert the dualistic philosophy of the individual soul and Ultimate Reality being different, while others state a Oneness between the two. Kashmir Shaiva Agamas posit absolute oneness, God is within man, God is within every being, God is present everywhere in the world including all non-living beings, there is no spiritual difference between life, matter and God; the parallel group among Vaishnavas are the Shuddhadvaitins. Scholars from both schools have written treatises ranging from dualism to monism. For example, Shivagrayogin has emphasized the non-difference or unity of being, rea