earlier or lower forms. Older and newer types have continued to exist side by
side, and the writings of each period are still considered to be sacred. Most
Hindu sacred works are written in Sanskrit.
The Four Vedas (written from 1000 B.C. to 800 B. C.) represent
the period of early nature worship. The Rig-Veda, the first one written
and considered to be the most important, is a large collection of lyrical
prayers and praises addressed to the powers of nature. These four works
These texts comprise the most sacred literature of Hinduism known as the
The Brohamahas (about 800 to 600 B.C.) represent priestly Hinduism.
They develop the idea that a person can force the powers he fears to help him
by performing the proper rituals of sacrifice and prayer.
The Upanishads (about 600 to 300 B. C.) represent philosophic
Hinduism. They speculate on the underlying unity of the universe and
conclude that only the unchanging and permanent Brahman is real.
The Laws of Manu (about 250 B. C.) represent legalistic Hinduism. They
make up the most important legal code of Hinduism. The code treats religion
as a compulsory social institution. It gives detailed commandments and
prohibitions for daily living.
The Bhagavad-Gita (about A.D. 1) represents devotional Hinduism. It
interprets religion primarily in terms of devotion and faith. It is the most
esteemed book produced by Hinduism.
The Epics and Puranas (about 200 B.C. to A.D. 250) represent popular
Hinduism. They present the many aspects of the religion in popular form.
The Mahabharata and the Ramayana are the two great epics. The Puranas
are a collection of stories.
THE HINDU CALENDAR
The Hindu calendar is influenced by both lunar and solar cycles. An extra
month is inserted after each month in which two new moons occur (once in
3 years). The intercalary month or the additional month takes the name of
the month which precedes it. The month of Baisakh is sometimes considered
the first month of the Hindu year.