Classification of Hindu Scriptures
We read books to gain something out of it.
It could be knowledge. It could be entertainment.
Conversely, writers write books to share their
experience or knowledge.
So, what is the knowledge shared in scriptures ?
The knowledge of how to be always happy.
In the past, we defined Dharma
a set of actions/steps
that lead to eternal happiness.
So, we could say that the objective of scriptures
is all about Dharma. Or the scriptures are
sources of Dharma.
What are the Hindu scriptures ?
The root scriptures are the Vedas.
At one time, Vyasa classified the Vedas into four:
Rg, Yajus, Sama & Atharvana.
Since that classification, the scriptural corpus has grown.
These days, we could classify
the Hindu scriptures into six entities :
Veda: the four Vedas
Vedanga: 6 topics related to understanding the Vedas and practicing it
Purana: emphasizing the message of the Vedas through stories
Darshana: deals with the philosophy of the Vedas
Dharmashastra: about dos and donts in ones life
Agama (aka Tantra): various means of worship, including temple worship
Each of them constitute a corpus of their own.
So, this is really a top level classification.
And at all levels, the topics or books
is founded on the Vedas
or derive their inspiration from the Vedas.
That is indeed what is meant
by this saying in Sanskrit:
Vedokhilo Dharma Mulam
(Vedas are the source of all Dharma)
A traditional classification has been the
chatur-dasha dharma pramana
(14 sources of dharma).
The 4 Vedas, 6 Vedangas, Puranas,
Dharmashastras, Mimamsa, Nyaya
make up the fourteen.
Mimamsa and Nyaya being two of the six Darshanas