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10 Big Questions About Hinduism, Answered

9

Is There a Hindu "Bible"?

Bhagavad Gita
A man totes a copy of the Bhagavad Gita in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The Bhagavad Gita is a well-known Hindu holy text but certainly not the only one. It takes the form of a poem where Lord Krishna answers his disciple's questions concerning right living (Dharma) in a complex world. Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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Hinduism is rich with ancient and sacred texts that serve a role in some ways similar to the Torah in Judaism, the Bible in Christianity, and the Quran in Islam.

While there is no central Hindu text that carries the singular authority of the Bible, each book in the Hindu canon contributes to deeper understanding and worship of the Divine.

For example, there are sacred Hindu texts that read like hymns of praise (the Samhitas) and others that tell stories of gods, goddesses and ancient wars (the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita). Other Hindu texts are focused on priestly matters of worship and ritual (the Brahmanas), while some dive deep into the mystical mysteries of ultimate reality (the Upanishads).

The holy texts of Hinduism began as oral traditions passed down for centuries before being written down and codified between 1200 B.C.E. and 200 C.E. The oldest texts are the Vedas, which serve as a foundational Hindu text from which most other holy works expand upon.

Hindus have a slightly different relationship with scriptures than other faiths, Shukla explains. Hinduism teaches that enlightenment is ultimately achieved through personal experience of great truths that come about through study, prayer and introspection (realization), not through faith alone (revelation). Another difference is that Hindus believe that the words of a living, enlightened teacher like a guru are as important and valid as words found in the holy texts. The most important thing is how you live those eternal truths and how they change you.

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