Does Hinduism have any official books like the bible?


Hindu religious texts are some of the world’s oldest sacred writings. A group of texts known as the Vedas, containing hymns and sacrificial formulas, originated in North Indian oral traditions and were written down from roughly 1500-500 BCE. These texts are described as “heard” and considered to be divinely revealed, as opposed to later “remembered” writings which are considered to be of human origin. Then the Upanishads, philosophical works that develop the spiritual teachings of the Vedas, emerged during the first millennium BCE. One particularly significant later text, embedded within a foundational epic called the Mahabharata, is the Baghavad Gita, the “Song of God.” It contains philosophical and spiritual teaching cloaked in a wartime discourse between Lord Krishna and the warrior Arjuna. Additional spiritual writings developed over the centuries, including commentaries and devotional literature. Because Hinduism is an amalgam of popular religious traditions developed over thousands of years, the term “official” (as opposed to “unofficial”) can only be applied loosely. Among the vast body of Indian sacred texts there are stories, prayers and teachings analogous to parts of the bible; other writings have more a scholarly than a popular significance today.

Neela Kale

Neela Kale

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.