Sacred Texts in World Religions
Some sacred texts form the cornerstone of a religion, instilling law, character and spirituality in its people; some are narratives of historical figures in the faith. A text might be viewed as the unchanging “Word of God;” other texts are revised and expanded by later generations. Texts can be literal, or metaphorical, or both. This guide shows you how to find online versions, commentary and historical context of scriptures for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.
Buddhist Sacred Texts: The Sutras
The Buddhist canon consists of the Sutras: the words and teachings of the Buddha. There are also a ... read more »
Christian Sacred Texts: The Bible
Christianity combines the Jewish Old Testament with the New Testament to form the Christian Bible, ... read more »
Hindu Sacred Texts: The Vedas
The Vedas, or “Books of Knowledge,” are the foremost sacred texts in Hinduism. These books, written from around 1200 BCE to 100 CE, began with four vedas, or mantras: Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. These expanded over time to include Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads.
- For more information about Hinduism, read the findingDulcinea Hinduism Web Guide.
- There are two kinds of Hindu texts: sruti ("heard") or smruti ("remembered"). According to ReligionFacts, sruti are “considered divinely inspired and fully authoritative for belief and practice, while smruti are recognized as the products of the minds of the great sages.”
To learn about Hindu texts …
The BBC has a concise overview of the Hindu sacred texts, describing the Vedas, Upanishads, Samhitas, Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana.
Hinduwebsite.com also offers the basics about Hindu texts, but in slightly more detail than the BBC site. You can also find the online versions of some Hindu scriptures on the site.
To access Hindu texts and commentary …
The Internet Sacred Texts Archive does a great job digitizing the sacred Hindu texts. Not every available interpretation and transcription is provided here, but you’ll find a variety of options. Look for English and Sanskrit versions of the Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas, in addition to the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics, some further texts and the Bhagavad Gita.
Celextel’s Online Spiritual Library has English versions of the sacred Hindu texts. The graphic design isn’t the best, but the site is fairly user friendly: to access the material, just click on the text of your choice on the left sidebar.
Islamic Sacred Texts: The Quran and Hadith
As the third of the Abrahamic religions, Muslims respect the Old and New Testaments, and consider ... read more »
Jewish Sacred Texts: The Tanach, Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash
Judaism is the oldest of the Abrahamic religions, and its primary sacred text is the Tanach, or the ... read more »