The Vedangas and The Upavedas

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There are also 2 important bodies of supplementary literature, related closely to the Vedas themselves:

  • The Vedangas which expound the sciences required to understand and apply the Vedas:
  • Kalpa: Ritual detail
  • Siksha: Pronounciation
  • Vyakarana: Grammar
  • Nirukti: Etymology
  • Chandas: Meter
  • Jyotisha: Astronomy/Astrology
  • The Upavedas (usually considered Smrti) which deal with 4 traditional arts and sciences:
  • Ayur-veda: Medicine
  • Gandharva-veda: Music and dance
  • Dhanur-veda: Military
  • Shilpa-veda: Architecture
  • Within the category of Smriti there are 4 main subcategories:
  • The Itihasas include “histories” and great epics like the Mahabharata (110.000 verses) and the Ramayana, which are the most popular texts for Hindus. The Mahabharata includes the Bhagavad Gita (700 verses) which is a philosophical Smriti text and the most widely read book by Hindus. (It comes closest to what the Bible is for Christians and the Koran for Muslims).
  • The Puranas include 18 Maha (great) Puranas and many Upa (subsidiary) Puranas. The Bhagavata Purana is the most popular and very important for Vaishnavas of all denominations.
  • The Dharma Sastras are “law books” which include the famous Manu-smriti and the Vishnu-smriti.
  • The Sutras are books of concise truths or aphorisms and include the Shrauta sutras, Shulba-sutras, Grihya-sutras, Vedanta-sutras, etc.

Finally the writings and commentaries of the great Acharyas or Theologians are also considered Vedic scriptures.

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