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Sacred text
Hinduism is the most ancient of the great world
religions. It may be over 4,500 years old. Hinduism has
no known founder. Some people trace its origins back
to the remians of the ancient civilisations of the Indus
Valley in Northern India. Hindus worship many gods.
The gods express different aspects of the one supreme
There is no one sacred text in Hinduism. Hindus
have many holy books that are written in Sanskrit, an
ancient language that is not used very much today.
The scriptures were passed on by word of mouth for
centuries before they were written down. No one
knows for certain when they were first written or in fact
who wrote them.
Some important Hindu texts
 The Vedas
This is a collection of hymns and poems that go back
to ancient times. The oldest hymns were brought to
India by the Aryan invaders around 2,500 BCE. One
collection, the Rig Veda, contains over 1,000 hymns.
Many of these are used in special Hindu ceremonies
 The Upanishads
This is a collection of teachings about the Hindu way
of life. It was written about 500 BCE. The work deals
with basic religious questions about the meaning
of life - suffering, evil, birth, death, God, love. One
method that is used throughout is a question and
answer session with a teacher.
 The Mahabhata
This is the world’s longest poem, with over 100,000
verses. It is a story of the two ruling families and the
ups and downs of their everyday lives.
The most famous part of this epic poem is the
Bhagavad Gita. It contains the teachings of the
god Krishna on love, peace, and compassion. The
Bhagavad Gita is the most popular, and best loved,
of all Hindu scriptures.
The Hindu god Shiva.
 The Ramayana
This contains the story of the god Rama and his wife
Sita. It was written in the 2nd century BCE. It teaches
Hindus the virtues of courage, friendship, and love.
1. What is Sanskrit?
2. Name some important Hindu texts.
3. Which Hindu text:
a. is the oldest?
b. is the most popular?
c. contains the longest poem in the world?
d. sometimes uses a question and answer
4. How did Hindu sacred writing develop from the
oral to the written tradition?
5. Why do you think sacred scripture is used in
Hindu festivals and celebrations?
© Alpha Press Ltd.
Section C: Foundations of Religion - Hinduism