I learned from internet that there are 16 shastras, But I didn't find valid source for list of those shastras. Can you tell me please the what are those 16 shastras? Are there any upa-shastras (sub-shastras) like upavedas and upapuranas?

5 Answers 5


According to Prsthanabheda (प्रस्थानभेदः�) of Madhusudan Sarasvari,

Quoted from Sanskrit Documents

अथ सर्वेषां शास्त्राणां भगवत्येव तात्पर्यं साक्षात्परम्परया वेति समासेन तेषां प्रस्थानभेदोऽत्रोद्दिश्यते । तथा हि-ऋग्वेदो यजुर्वेदः सामवेदोऽथर्ववेद इति वेदाश्चत्वारः । शिक्षा कल्पो व्याकरणं निरुक्तं छन्दो ज्योतिषमिति वेदाङ्गानि षट् । पुराणन्यायमीमांसा धर्मशास्त्राणि चेति चत्वार्युपाङ्गानि । अत्रोपपुराणानामपि पुराणेऽन्तर्भावः । वैशेषिकशास्त्रस्य न्याये, वेदान्तशास्त्रस्य मीमांसायां, महाभारतरामायणयोः सांख्यपातञ्जलपाशुपतवैष्णवादीनां धर्मशास्त्रे, मिलित्वा चतुर्दश विद्याः । तथाचोक्तं याज्ञवल्क्येन (१।३)

पुराणन्यायमीमांसाधर्मशास्त्राङ्गमिश्रिताः । वेदाः स्थानानि विद्यानां धर्मस्य च चतुर्दश ॥ इति ।

एता एव चतुर्भिरुपवेदैः सहिता अष्टादश विद्या भवन्ति । आयुर्वेदो धनुर्वेदो गन्धर्ववेदोऽर्थशास्त्रं चेति चत्वार उपवेदाः । सर्वेषां चाऽऽस्तिकानामेतावन्त्येव शास्त्रप्रस्थानानि । अन्येषामप्येकदेशिनामेतेष्वेवान्तर्भावात् ।

All the scriptures have the supreme Lord as their purport. Here the different prasthAnas are dealt with in brief.

The Vedas are four in number—Rgveda, yajurveda, sAmaveda and atharvaveda. The vedAngas are six—shikShA (science of pronunciation), yyAkaraNam (grammar), niruktam (etymology), Chandas (metre), jyoutiSham (astronomy and astrology), and kalpa. The upAngas are four— purANa, nyAya, mImAmsA and dharmashAstras. The upapurANas are included in the purANas, vaisheShika is included in nyAya, vedAnta in mImAmsA, and mahAbhArata, rAmAyaNa, sAnkhya, yoga, pAshupata, vaiShNava, ertc., are included in dharmashAstra. Thus altogether there are� fourteen vidyAs. So has it been said by sage YAjnavalkya—

“The purANas, nyAya, mImAmsA, dharmashastra and the Vedas (including vedAngas) together constitute the fourteen vidyAs”.

These, along with the four upavedas are the eighteen vidyAs. The four upavedas are—Ayurveda, dhanurveda (archery), gAndharvaveda (music) and arthashAstra (political science). These only are the prasthAnas for all Astikas. The prasthAnas of other ekadeshIs (those who hold different views in some matters) are included in these.�

Thus, 18 Shashtras also called 18 Vidyas (अष्टादश विद्या) are as follows:

enter image description here

  • Where do Upanishads fit in here?
    – MathGod
    Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 16:56
  • 2
    @IshanSingh Upanishads are parts of Vedas, visit this.
    – Pandya
    Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 2:30
  • What about Tarka Shastra? Wikipedia says they are a part of "six Shastras, others being Vyakarana, Mimamsa, and Vedanta", but doesn't give a reference.
    – MathGod
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 16:37
  • Also, can you take a look at this question?
    – MathGod
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 16:41
  • does arthashastra refer to the one made by Chanakya ?
    – ram
    Commented Nov 24, 2018 at 3:37

There are 18 Vidyasthanas (Indian knowledge systems or Branches of knowledge) These 18 vidyasthanas are as follows.

The four most important basic branches of knowledge are the four vedas

  1. Rigveda
  2. Yajurveda
  3. Saama veda
  4. Atharva veda

These are called Angi or the main sources of knowledge.

The six angas or ancillary or subsidary aspects of the vedas are

  1. Shiksha (śikṣā): phonetics, phonology and morphophonology (sandhi). Science of pronunciation

  2. Kalpa (kalpa):the procedure to perform vedic ritual and other related aspects

  3. Vyakarana (vyākaraṇa): grammar; The science that informs the right and wrong words and their usages including the science of linguistics.

  4. Nirukta (nirukta): Meanings of words used in Vedic sanskrit along with etymology

  5. Chandas (chandas): meter (relating to the poetry both vedic and non-vedic)

  6. Jyotisha (jyotiṣa): Time measurement, forecasting movement of Sun, Moon and planetary movement, astronomy, astrology

The four upa-angas or sub-subsidary aspects are

  1. Mimamsa shatra (Purva and Uttara mimamsa)
  2. Nyaya - Vistara
  3. Puranas
  4. Dharma shastras

In addition to these are four more Upa-Vedas, each related to one of the four main vedas. These are

  1. Ayurveda (Subsidary of Rgveda)
  2. Dhanurveda ( Subsidary of Yajurveda)
  3. Gandharveda (Subsidary of Saamaveda)
  4. Arthasastra (Subsidary of Athrvaveda)

So, in total there are 18 vidyasthanas or Indian knowledge systems.

Also, one need to be conversant with 18 vidyasthanas to understand the entire gamut of brahma sutras or vedanta sutras or any of the bhasyas on brahma sutras.

  • No references to any scriptures mentioned in the answer.
    – Bingming
    Commented Mar 11, 2023 at 6:47

Here is a scriptural reference (which is missing from all the other answers) for the 14 Vidyas. It's from a Shakta Tantric scripture called Jnanasanakalini Tantram.

It's a small text comprised of only 107 verses.

The first five verses are as follows:

Mahadevi questioned Maheshvara, the Deva of all devas, the World Guru, sitting on the peak of Mount Kailasha: Speak to me of knowledge! (1)

Devi said - Deva! what is creation and how is creation destroyed? What is the Brahma Jnana beyond creation and destruction? (2)

Ishvara answered - Creation comes from that beyond words (avyakta) and returns to that beyond words at (the time of) destruction. Brahma Jnana is the avyakta, beyond creation and destruction. (3)

From the syllable Om comes everything, the fourteen vidyas, mantra, puja, dhyana, action and non-action. (4)

The four vedas, the six limbs of veda, mimamsa, nyaya, dharma shastra and puranas are the fourteen Vidyas. (5)

So, the four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva) + 6 Vedangas (Shiksha, Chandah, Vyakarana, Nirukta and Jyotish) + Mimamsa + Nyaya + Dharmashastra + Purana = The 14 Vidyas.

For the time being unable to find scriptural references for the remaining four though.


These 14 VidyAs are also mentioned in the 1st chapter of Yajnavalkya Smriti.

enter image description here

PurAna nyAya mimAngsA dharmshAstrAnga mishritAh |
VedAh sthAnAni vidyAnAm dharmasya cha chaturdasha ||

The 14 VidyAs pertaining to Dharma are -- PurAna, NyAya, MimAngsA, DharmashAstra, VedAnga (6 of them) and the Veda (4 of them). (Chapter1, verse 3)

So, this verse too is talking about 14 Shastras and not 16.

  • Means Upavedas are not part.
    – Pandya
    Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 11:12
  • Among 14 Shatras Upavedas are not there. @Pandya My answer is only giving scriptural ref for 14 Shastras and not 16 or 18.
    – Rickross
    Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 12:14
  • Ok. Btw, I found that the association of Upavedas with Vedas is not clear. Have a look at this question.
    – Pandya
    Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 12:50
  • Okay saw it .. nice question @Pandya
    – Rickross
    Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 14:10
  • 1
    The Yājñavalkya smr̥ti reference was very helpful, thanks!
    – Bingming
    Commented Mar 11, 2023 at 6:45

The 14 (or 18) vidyas are mentioned in Visnu Purana 3.6.28-29

Padma Purana 5.109.37-44a

Brahmanda Purana


Linga Purana 72.24

This is the text from Visnu Purana:

"The four Vedas, the six Atigas (or subsidiary portions of the Vedas, viz., Siksha. rules of reciting the prayers, the accents and tones to be observed; Kalpa, ritual; Vyakarana, grammar; Nirukta, glossaries comment; Chandas, metre and Jyotisa, (astronomy), with Mimamsa (theology), Nyaya (logic), Dharma (the institutes of law) and the Puranas, constitute the fourteen principal branches of knowledge or they are considered as eighteen, with the addition of these four; the Ayurveda, medical science (as taught by Dhanvaritari); Dhanurveda, the science of archery or arms, taught by Bhrgu; Gandharbaveda or the drama and the arts of music, dancing, of which the Muni Bharata, was the author; and the ArthSastram or science of government, as laid down first by Brhaspati."

For others I direct the inquisitive reader to the relevant Purana and check for themselves. You can find most of them on the Internet archives.

  • Can you quote the verses please?
    – CDR
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 20:52

The shastras refer to the various religious books of Hinduism. Thus the vedas are one type of shastra (Vedas are the most important as well). There are more than 16 types of shastras. I cant list them all at the moment. But by adding all the religious books of Hinduism together you can find it out. I.e 4 vedas + 108 upanishads + 2 itihasas + 1 gita.... etc.

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