About Hindu Scriptures
By Swami Sivananda
Division of the Vedas
Each Veda comprises four parts:
a) The mantra-samhitas: hymns of praise to deities to attain material prosperity in this world and happiness in the next.
b) The brahmanas: manual for the performance of sacrificial rites.
c) The aranyakas: philosophical interpretations of the rituals.
d) The Upanishads, a.k.a. vedanta (“end of the Vedas”): the essence or mystical portion of the Vedas.
These four divisions of the Vedas are often described in terms of a divine harvest, where the samhita represents the tree, the brahmana the flower, the aranyaka the unripe fruit, and the upanishad the ripe, sweet fruit.
Smriti means “remembered”. These are the secondary scriptures, of human composition.
A. The Four Upavedas (“Subsidiary Vedas”)
1) Ayurveda (“Science of life and health”), associated with the Rig Veda:
Charaka Samhita by Charaka.
Susruta Samhita, by Susruta, on the science of rejuvenation.
Vagbhata Samhita by Vagbhata.
Kama Sutras by Vatsyayana, on the science of healthy sex.
2) Dhanurveda (“Military science”), associated with the Yajur Veda:
Dhanur Shastra by Sage Vishwamitra, in four chapters dealing with both offensive and defensive warfare, mystic missiles, spells, etc
3) Gandharva Veda (“Science of music and art”), associated with the Sama Veda:
Gandharva Shastra by Sage Bharata on the science of vocal and instrumental music and dance as a means to concentrate the mind on God.
4) Arthashastra (“Science of politics and economics”).
Note: Other (minor) sources consider this fourth upaveda to be sthapatya shastra (“Science of mechanics and construction”), associated with the Atharva Veda.
Arthasastra dealing with the acquisition of material things like wealth by righteous means. Under this head, nitisastra, shilpasastra, the sixty-four kalas and also other physical and metaphysical subjects are included.
According to the Vamakeshvara Tantra, there are 64 books called kalas. There are various lists of these 64 “arts”. One such list is as follows:
1. Vocal music
2. Instrumental music
6. Making emblems
7. Making garlands and other creations with flowers
8. Artwork for mattresses
9. Artwork for bedspreads
10. Body esthetics
11. House decoration
12. Making musical instruments operated by water (such as the jalataranga, for instance)
13. Making sound effects in water
14. Costume and fashion design
15. Making pearl necklaces
16. Hair styling
17. Art of dressing
18. Making ear ornaments
19. Flower decoration
20. Food styling
24. Pastry making
25. Making drinks
27. Making nets
28. Solving and creating riddles
29. Reciting poems
30. Discoursing on epics and poetical works
32. Attending theatrical plays
33. Completing verses left unfinished (samasya) by others as a challenge
34. Making cane furniture
38. Assessing gold and gems
40. Cutting and polishing diamonds
41. Searching for ore
42. Special knowledge of trees and plants
43. Cock fighting
44. Interpreting the songs of birds
46. Hair care
47. Sign language
48. Learning foreign languages
49. Scholarship in local languages
50. Predicting the future
51. Mechanical engineering
52. Strengthening memory power
53. Learning by ear
54. Instantaneous verse-making
55. Decisiveness in action
58. Preserving clothes
60. Playing dice
61. Playing with children
62. Rules of respectful behavior
63. Art of storytelling and entertaining, (like bards and minstrels)
64. Grasping the essence of subjects.
Kautilya Artha Shastra by Sage Kautilya (a.k.a. Chanakya): a treatise on government by the prime minister of India’s first great emperor, Chandragupta Maurya.
Chanakya Neeti by Chanakya.
Note: the Mahabharata can also be classified as part of the artha shastra.