Ok, I understand there are lot of Hindu scriptures.

How to read them?

I wish to read them for.:

  • meditation

  • to gain wisdom/knowledge

  • raise positive vibrational energy

  • but most importantly break out of bad karma do (I believe in reincarnation)

Can I read it continuously till I finish, and then start again?

Or are some parts read during some times of the day.?

And which texts do you recommend for beginners? Would Bhagavad Gita, Rig Vedas be a good start?


3 Answers 3


The following sentence from question motivated/inspired me to introduce following two steps:

Ok, I understand there are lot of Hindu scriptures.

Step-1 Know about Hindu scriptures.

First of all you should get the basic knowledge about Hindu scriptures, you can read following articles:

The following posts can also help you regarding it:

The following part from question is also included in the this step:

I wish to read them for - meditation - to gain wisdom/knowledge

And which texts do you recommend for beginners? Would Bhagavad Gita, Rig Vedas be good start?

Step-2 Select the scripture for reading.

This is an important topic to consider. After getting basic knowledge about Hindu scriptures, you can decide which scripture to select reading. In this step you are supposed to choose the scriptures according to your interest and intellect. This also includes How can one know which path among karma, bhakti and jnana is suitable for him?. In other words, according to the intellect and spiritual-level specific path among Jnana, Bhakti, Karma and Raja Yoga may be suitable. Following are some recommendation:-

  1. Srimad Bhagavad Gita - This is recommended considering the following factors:

    • It's explanation is simple and easy to understand as compared to Upanishads.
    • It's believed to be an extract of Upanishads. In other words it covers the major thoughts of Upanishads.
    • It constitutes all the Yoga i.e Jnana, Bhakti, Raja and Karma as well.
    • It is very suitable for almost all in today world.

    So, as the beginner point of view, Bhagavad Gita is very suitable.

  2. Ramayana & Mahabharata - These are important epics and Itihasa. These are suitable for those who are interested in learning the values and simple philosophy of Hinduism in story/epic nature. They provide the teaching of life-style i.e How to live with performing your duties ethically. This is recommended for kids and beginners as well.

  3. Puranas - Puranas are important text of Sampradayas. Puranas covers stories of God's incarnations, creation of universe, stories of fight between Devas ans Ashuras, stories of various kingdoms and historical places, temples etc.

    • Puranas are actually expansion of Vedas which nature/language is complex and monotonous for general people into simple and interesting nature/language with composing the topics/philosophy/content of Vedas by Veda-vyasa.
    • The most popular is Srimad Bhagavat Maha Purana which promotes Bhakti.
    • There are total 18 major Puranas. Vishnu Purana, Shiva Purana, Skada Purana, Padma Purana, Devi Bhagavat etc. have profound significance in Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism. The well known Durga Saptashati is a part of Markandeya Purana.
  4. Vedas: Literally means knowledge. These are the most important Shruti texts which are considered Apaurusheya and has profound significance in Hinduism. Also visit How did the Vedas in Hinduism come into existence?.

    • Actually there are Veda Pathshala, also known as Gurukula or Vidyapitha which are Vedic schools where Vedas are taught.
    • It is recommended to learn Veda from / with the help of / under the guidance of Guru.
    • If you're Brahmin, then you're recommended to learn your Vedas.
  5. Upanishads - Also known as Vedanta which are extract of Vedas and full of spiritual philosophy. If you're interested in spiritual philosophy or kindly speaking curious to know the absolute/ultimate truth/reality, then it is recommended to select Mukhya Upanishads.

  6. Vedanga, limbs of Vedas. These texts, namely Siksha, Vyakarana, Chhanda, Nirukta, Kalpa and Jyotisha are said to be essential as supportive/auxiliary texts for complete understanding and interpretation of Vedas.

    • Siksha and Vyakarana are useful to learn Sanskrit, Nirukta is useful for interpretation and Chhanda for chanting. Kalpa Sutras gives various customs and Jyotisha is well known. Refer this post for more information.
  7. Darshan Shashtras - These are the the six Hindu schools of philosophy namely Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa and Vedanta.

    • If you're interested in Hindu Philosophy, then Samkhya provides the basic terminology and knowledge. Relevant scriptures are Samkhya Karika and Samkhya Sutra
    • Yoga provides the way/practice/path to attain and realize everything by means of Dhyana (meditation). If you're interested in meditation, then Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Raj Yoga are good choice.
    • Vaisheshiki is the philosophy of understanding universe by material and it's attributes/properties and Nayaya is the philosophy of judging pramana i.e epistemology by logical arguments. Vaisheshiki Sutra and Nyaya Sutra are the scriptures of these philosophies respectively.
    • Mimansa is an analysis on Brahmanas of Vedas. It provides philosophical justification and rules on rites, rituals and sacrifices that are discussed in Brahmanas. It establish the authority of Vedas to be authoress and has profound significance on interpretation of Vedas.
    • Vedanta is the most popular philosophy which is based on three primary texts known as Prasthanatrayi. Brahma Sutra is very important text which summarise and systematize the philosophical and spiritual ideas in the Upanishads and leads to various doctrines. If you want to be Vedanti, then this is what you're looking for!

Considering the title of question

Step-3 How to read scriptures.

For Vedas & Upanishads, it is better to learn Vedas under the guidance of Guru instead of just reading. Visit already asked related questions : Start reading Hindu Vedas and What order should I read the Vedas and Upanishads in?.

For Bhagavad Gita, we've already a post How to start reading Bhagavad Gita? which may help you.

Here are some general guidance:

  • As per my observation and experience, for many scriptures (talking about purchased hard copies), when you start reading you'll find the instruction given for the method of reading. Some prescript and guidance should be given on Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas etc. scriptures. You can follow it.

The following topics from question can be solved by considering following things

-raise positive vibrational energy - but most importantly break out of bad karma do (I believe in reincarnation)

  • Common things to consider are:
    • Open mind: It is very important to grasp/absorb the knowledge.
    • Positive thinking : It is also important for ensuring that the true goal is not getting diverted/distorted as well as for establishing supportive/favorable nature of mind/intellect for interpreting texts.
    • Shradhha (faithfulness/trustfulness/reverence) in Bhagavan/Ishwar as well as in scriptures you're reading.
    • Maintaining Satva Guna over Rajas and Tamas. You can read some qualities of Satva from Bhagavad Gita Adhyaya 18 verses- 9, 10, 20, 23, 26, 30, 33, 51-53 etc.
    • Nishkama Karma helps in Chitta Suddhi (purification of mind) which is necessary in spirituality.

Considering following topic from the question

Can I read it continuously till I finish, and then start again?
Or are some parts read during some times of the day.

There is no strict rules to be followed but as earlier discussed, it depends upon your interest, intellect and the level of spirituality or as guided by Guru.

The general tip/guidance would be: Generally the scripture is divided into some parts called Adhyaya (अध्याय). You can allocate certain time for one Adhyaya daily according to the length of Adhyaya and the time you're going to provide everyday or alternatively as per your convenience but once you've decided and started to reading, then it is expected to follow it regularly with concentration.

Additional Notes:

Following part is suitable for spiritual readings like Upanishads/Vedanta:

Note that just reading scripture only is not enough/effective. Learning of scripture includes three steps/aspects: Shravana, Manana and Nididhyasana.

  • Shravana means listening the thoughts or gist/significance of Shruti from Guru. Here you can roughly compare it with reading scriptures.
  • Manana means deep thinking/reflection or consideration/contemplation on what is listened (here you can roughly compare it with what read) in first step.
  • Nididhyasana means repeated meditation (Dhyana) on the true sense of scripture (more precisely absolute truth of Upanishad) till it gets realized!

Above aspects are explained in Panchadasi and Sarva Vedanta Siddhanta Saar Sangrah.

Quoting some related verses on it:

  • From Vivekachudamani:

    श्रुतेः शतगुणं विद्यान्मननं मननादपि ।
    निदिध्यासं लक्षगुणमनन्तं निर्विकल्पकम् ॥ ३६४॥

    364. Reflection should be considered a hundred times superior to hearing, and meditation a hundred thousand times superior even to reflection, but the Nirvikalpa Samadhi is infinite in its results.

  • From Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.4.5:

    आत्मा वा अरे द्रष्टव्यः श्रोतव्यो मन्तव्यो निदिध्यासितव्यो मैत्रेयि,
    आत्मनो व अरे दर्शनेन श्रवणेन मत्या विज्ञानेनेदं सर्वं विदितम् ||

    The Self, my dear Maitreyi, should be realized – should be heard of, reflected on and meditated upon; by the realization of the Self, my dear, through hearing, reflection and meditation, all this is known.

At last let me quote one interesting verse from Mundaka Upanishad:

तत्रापरा ऋग्वेदो यजुर्वेदः सामवेदोऽथर्ववेदः शिक्षा कल्पो व्याकरणं निरुक्तं छन्दो ज्योतिषमिति । अथ परा यया तदक्षरमधिगम्यते ॥ ५॥

5 Of these two, the lower knowledge is the Rig—Veda, the Yajur—Veda, the Sama—Veda, the Atharva—Veda, siksha (phonetics), kalpa (rituals), vyakaranam (grammar), nirukta (etymology), chhandas (metre) and jyotisha (astronomy); and the Higher Knowledge is that by which the Imperishable Brahman is attained.

Hope this would help you in 1.Knowing about Hindu scriptures 2.Selecting scripture for reading 3.How to read scripture and some general guidance for proper/effective reading and getting the true knowledge from Hindu scriptures.

  • In step 2, point 6 you have left out the summary & texts of Mimamsa. I'm not sure if this was an oversight, if these texts have gone missing, there are no texts, etc. May 6, 2018 at 18:40
  • @RubelliteYakṣī Thanks for pointing out. I'll consider to add that ; meanwhile go through first paragraph of this answer that introduce about Mimansa.
    – Pandya
    May 7, 2018 at 7:12
  • I see. So, Mimamsa is useful for those still working for the fruits of their work? Though I am interested in the sacred texts, I don't wish to spend time on lessons I have already learned from methods outside Hinduism. That is, your answer assumes someone is starting from a completely mundane, lay experience and describes a good, highly useful path to realizing higher truths. I am coming from a PoV of partial understanding, so I will try to figure out which texts are most relevant to enhancing my current understanding. May 7, 2018 at 13:59
  • Can you also explain "āgamas?" May 7, 2018 at 14:07
  • 1
    @RubelliteYakṣī For Agamas, refer: What are the Agama scriptures? Are they related to Shruti/Vedas?
    – Pandya
    May 8, 2018 at 6:57

You should read a low level introductory book that nevertheless gives a decent overview of Hinduism. Otherwise you will have difficulty in understanding Hindu scriptures. Books like 'The Hindu mind' by Bansi Pandit and 'The complete Idiot's guide to Hinduism' by Linda Johnsen would help. Another introductory text is 'A primer of Hinduism' by D. S. Sharma. A good text is 'Essentials of Hinduism' by Swami Bhaskarananda. A good survey of Hindu scriptures is 'Windows into the Infinite A guide to the Hindu scriptures' by Barbara Powell.

You can then read some of the seminal texts of Hinduism like the Gita, the Upanishads and if you are really interested in the Brahma Sutra. You can read the Gita translated by Swami Tapasyananda. You can also read ‘Universal Message of the Bhagavad Gita: An Exposition of the Gita in the light of Modern thought and Modern Needs’ by Swami Ranganathananda. If you want to go really deep into it then commentaries of Sankara on the Gita, the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutra are a must. You can read Srimad Bhagavad Gita Bhasya of Sri Sankaracharya translated by Dr. A. G. Krishna Warrier. You can also read Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sri Sankaracharya translated by Swami Gambhirananda. Reading the translations of Upanishads by Swami Nikhilananda and Swami Gambhirananda will also be helpful.

You can then read the 9 volume Vivekananda's complete works if you have the time for it. If not, then I recommend 'What religion is in the words of Swami Vivekananda' edited by Swami Vidyatmananda. You can also read Patanjali's Yoga Sutra.

If you have the time for it then you can go through the entire Mahabharata which is full of gems. You can try reading K. M. Ganguli's translation of the Mahabharata. You can also read the translation of Srimad Bhagavataam by Swami Tapasyananda.

Till now you have gained theoretical knowledge. If you have the time then you can go through the Ramakrishna Kathamrita (translated as the 'The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna) to read about an exemplar of the Hindu tradition.

You can go to any Ramakrishna Vedanta Center to learn about Hindu scripture. You can find out about the Centers at the following web site: www.vedanta.org. You will get most of these books from www.vedanta.com or from Amazon.

I have not followed any rule for reading Hindu scriptures. However, shraddha or respect for the subject matter would be helpful.


Wow this is a very exhaustive response to my query. I thank you for this. It seems what I Thought to be a simple pursuit of learning about Hinduism, expecting it to be a one or two weeks, one or two books or a few YouTube videos, is much deeper and requires a lifetime of learning and concentrated commitment with attention. You’re probably very learned and it seems I would need the constant and consistent guidance of a Guru to pursue this endeavour. Now where and how to find such a guru who would be willing to accept a beginner? You response to my query, though very exhaustive and complete, has aroused more questions! lol Oh well I will commence my journey with your suggestion of starting with simple books and will take it from there. Again thanks to you from the bottom of my heart for your well thought out, organised and complete response. Pranam


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