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Thread: Which text to start with?

  1. #1

    Which text to start with?

    Quick intro - I was brought up a hindu but never taught much. I am familiar with the practices and historical texts (Ramayan, Mahabharat, etc) but not with the principle meanings and messages of the religion. At 32, I am looking to learn more.

    I've read the Bhagavat Gita but it's very focused on the path to enlightenment. I am interested in reading more of the core texts that define dharma and core principles of hinduism. Not sure what's the best place to start? Vedas, Purans, Upanishads? Which ones specifically?

    Any suggestions?

    thank you.

  2. #2
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    Re: Which text to start with?

    Namaste

    Suggestions:

    Upanishads, picking out the mukhya & samanya upanishads
    Adhyatma Ramayana
    Puranas, perhaps picking out:
    -Bhagavata
    -Devi Bhagavata
    -Linga
    Brahma sutra
    Narada bhakti sutra

    There is also the dharma shastra body of texts which may appeal to your specific interest.

    The vedas are ... very little read these days, for all that they are upheld as the foundation of SD - it's more a matter of people hunting down this or that decontextualized shlok to prop up the views of their sampradaya than taking them in wholly, without preconceptions. One of the reason the vedas have receded from the knowledge of man is because they can be baffling if read literally. However, in my opinion, they need to be read - else all this talk of Vedic this and Vedic that is a hypocrisy, and so after you have done enough reading of other texts, a reading of the vedas after studying some of the commentary describing their esoteric nature, leaving aside perhaps the atharva, may be beneficial for you.

    How do you feel about the agama shastra?

    The darshanic source texts may also be of interest to you.

    Namaste

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    Re: Which text to start with?

    Quote Originally Posted by lonelyheart View Post
    Quick intro - I was brought up a hindu but never taught much. I am familiar with the practices and historical texts (Ramayan, Mahabharat, etc) but not with the principle meanings and messages of the religion. At 32, I am looking to learn more.

    I've read the Bhagavat Gita but it's very focused on the path to enlightenment. I am interested in reading more of the core texts that define dharma and core principles of hinduism. Not sure what's the best place to start? Vedas, Purans, Upanishads? Which ones specifically?

    Any suggestions?

    thank you.
    Dear lonelyheart,

    If you are still around, pick Shrimad BhAgvat mahApurANa - the crown jewel that unfolds the cryptic history and truths in the veda samhitas, narrates long-term itihAsa, makes clear assertions on dharma, adharma, and duties of various beings in varNAshrama dharma,
    Defines core principles of hinduism,
    Most importantly, describes and teaches the purpose of human life to be acheived through bhakti towards Shri Hari.

    It says - if you are human, keep relishing and re-hearing bhAgvat kathA till either the prANa (life breath) is around, or till the mind is no more.

    It also calls the unrealized as well as Self-realized to drink the nectar of this bhAgvat. pIbata bhAgavata rasika ho...

    Here is a blog about BhAgvat and core principles you have mentioned - bhakti (devotion) and dnyAna (knowledge): Walking With Mukunda
    Please don't be lonely, it is impossible with Him around. The real kathA-summary has not begun, but keep visiting.

    Good Luck. May Shri KRshNa Mukunda MAdhava Hari Govinda bless you

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    Smile Re: Which text to start with?

    Tathva Bodha by Adi Sankara Bhagavadpada is a useful basic introductory text to understand Vedantha!

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    Re: Which text to start with?

    Namaste,

    The OP made his/her last post over a year ago. So the chances of your suggestions being read are very slim.

    Pranam.

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    Re: Which text to start with?

    hari o
    ~~~~~~
    namasté

    There is an ocean of knowledge to consider , please see this post: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=1946&highlight=ocean

    Like any ocean it is vast and deep. One needs to have a bearing or a compass direction. My thoughts are here:

    If one wishes to begin, it would be good to see this ocean in just one cup. That would be the bhāgavad gītā , considered the cream of the veda-s. Some too call it the hariḥ gītā or nārāyaṇa gita ( so says the mahābhārata, śanti parvan).
    It gives you a full 360º view of the knowledge at hand. So, since you read this, it is of great value to study this. ( There's a difference, no ? ) There are a few views offered:
    • gitārtha sagraha which is abhinavagupta-ji's work that brings the bhāgavad gītā within the purview of kaśmir śaivism
    • ānadeva's (some call jñāneśvarī) view in his Bhāvārtha Dipikā
    • There are few who have considered the aṇu gītā. This too is found in the mahābhārata,aśvamedha parvan.
    My view also suggests that the quality of the gītā is enhanced by the paramārthasāra ; in essence the work of śeṣa patañjali ( some call ādiśeṣa ) consisting of 85 śloka-s. Abhinavagupta-ji then took the 85 and expanded it to 105, and adapted it to the advitīya (~ non dual~, without a second) kaśmir śaivism POV for one's kind use. Why bring this up ? It is to be noted that the 'original work' of śeṣa patañjali was more aligned to the śāṁkhya dṛṣṭa (view) as it deals with puruṣa and prakṛti. The work is brilliant in my opinion.

    Then - if you are not window shopping and wish to go deeper into the knowledge, then I would consider the top 10 upaniad-s. This post reviews them for you:
    http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=4617

    In my humble opinion after reading the information above one can begin to form a reasonable point of view regarding sanātana dharma. All along the way one can ask questions here on HDF and get other's insights and their take on the knowledge. You will (quickly) find the views are rarely unanimous .

    iti śiva
    Last edited by yajvan; 13 February 2014 at 05:39 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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