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I don't understand Hinduism, so I'm looking for the most accepted and the most authentic texts to read. I've been attempting to discover what those texts are but, so far, I've only concluded that this may be the Rig Veda. However, I've also come across the Bhagavad Gita, the Puranas, the Itihasa, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana texts, and some of these appear to be considered more authentic than the Vedas. The more I look into it, the more confused I get.

I'm assuming that the oldest texts are the most accepted ones, but I'm even having trouble concluding which texts are considered the oldest, or which texts are linked to which names (because everything is referred to by multiple alternative names and spellings).

So, I've come to ask for a list of the most accepted texts in general: the texts that every Hindu would accept, and if possible, I would like to know the order in which they rank in importance.

  • Santana Dharma (original faith of Hindus - Hinduism) is not just a religion but a way of life. Scholars and wise men have spent decades to understand it - what to say of laypersons posing as knowledgeable. Yes some are more learned than most of us - to quote Saint Thygaraja "Endaro Mahanubhavo anthar ki vadanamu" [There are so many of well versed and learned in this gathering i bow before all of you.] That said Vedas (Rig being the earliest) lays down the rituals and practices, Itihasa -Puranas (Ramayana and Mahabharata are Itihasas) is the history of the persons involved Sri Rama, continued – Suresh Ramaswamy Jul 27 '18 at 4:53
  • Pandavas and Kauravas, etc. – Suresh Ramaswamy Jul 27 '18 at 4:54
  • Hence there are no particular set of accepted books for this faith. Further there are also Upanishads which are part of the religious texts. – Suresh Ramaswamy Jul 27 '18 at 4:57
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The Vedas are the most authoratative and original Hindu texts in existence. All conventional Hindus have the Vedas as their primary authority.

The Upanishads are secondary texts used to interpret the Vedas, but are still nearly as widely regarded. Think of them as the Hindu equivalent of what the Hadiths are too the Qur'an.

There are also various sutras but their authority is more dubious than that of the Vedas and Upanishads. Each denomination has its own sutras exclusive to it.

The Ramayana and the Mahabharata (which contains the Bhagavad Gita) are parable style story books that contain useful teachings but are not considered in of themselves authoratative scripture for most Hindus.

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    By the way, if you're wanting to learn about Hinduism then the best text to start with is definitely the Bhagavad Gita – Charlie Jul 26 '18 at 20:22
  • Why is the Bhagavad Gita the best text to start with when wanting to learn about Hinduism? Wouldn't the more ancient texts be better representations of Hinduism? Does the Bhagavad Gita more closely represent modern Hinduism? – user3776022 Jul 26 '18 at 20:32
  • The Vedas are massive texts, thousands of pages each. Each Veda takes 12 years to fully study, meaning 48 years in total. The Gita is a much smaller text, only a few hundred pages long. However, the Gita contains all the basic concepts of Hinduism and instruction on how one should conduct their life. The Vedas contain hundreds of pages of prayers, mantras, laws and spells. This isn't necessary for a beginner. – Charlie Jul 26 '18 at 20:49
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    I'll explain briefly what's in the Gita. The Gita is a conversation between the warrior Arjuna, who needs advice on what action he should undertake in the coming battle, and so consults Krishna. It is a text all about the nature of self, the individual, life purpose, how to fulfill that purpose, and how and why to worship and achieve enlightenment. Its doesn't contain much back story or cosmonogy, though it essentially proposes the idea of worshipping Vishnu alone and that Vishnu is the supreme – Charlie Jul 26 '18 at 22:57
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    @ user3776022 Hindu Cosmology does not talk of 33 crores of Gods ,it talks of 33 types of Devas / Ishwars. The Sanskrit word - KOTI - not only indicates the number Crore (ten million) it also means categories / classes the 33 Koti here are 12 Adityas(including Vishnu), 11 Rudras (including Shiva), 8 Vasus and 2 Ashwini Kumaras - totalling 33 koti devatas. – Suresh Ramaswamy Jul 27 '18 at 5:08

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