In today’s world, where science and technology have taken over almost all aspects of human life, the concept of ‘Shastra’ has become alien and unfamiliar to most. Many ancient civilizations had philosophies and ideas that they used daily. One such ancient civilization was the Vedic people who lived in India during the distant past.
The Shrutis, Sutras, and other Vedic works are an essential part of Indian culture that embraces many perspectives on life. These ancient works have withstood numerous tests over time and continue to provide invaluable insights into many aspects of modern society. These Shastras discuss Hinduism, values, ethics, human nature, gender roles, duty towards parents and elders, duty towards children, and duties towards animals and other beings.
These writings also discuss how one should be to live a happy and fulfilled life, what kind of duties we have as humans, what purpose our lives have, what attitude we should adopt towards everything around us, how to behave in different types of situations etc.
What is Shastra?
Shastra is the Sanskrit word for ‘science’ or ‘teaching.’ Shastra is usually used as ‘scripture’ or ‘holy book.’ In ancient India, scriptures played an essential role in the life of people. The Vedas, as well as other Shastras, were considered ‘Divine revelations.’ The Veda Samhitas and the Upanishads are indeed ‘holy books. The Vedas are the oldest literature in the world. They are the most revered scriptures in India. The Upanishads and the Vedas were the most important Shastras in ancient India.
What Are Some Types of Shastras?
There were different types of Shastras in ancient India. Some of them are: The Vedas
- The Upanishads
- The Puranas
- The Arthashastra
- The Shastras of the other Rishis
- The Gita
- The Itihasas
- The Bhagavad Gita
- Other Shastras
Role of Shastra in Society
The role of Shastra in society can be understood from the fact that these writings were not only considered ‘holy books’ but were considered the ‘Law of the land’. All the kings, as well as the citizens, had to follow these writings. These writings were used by society to govern society and regulate people’s behavior.
The Vedas are believed to be ‘revealed scriptures’ by God. The Puranas are supposed to have been written by many authors who lived during different times. These authors were believed to be ‘Visionary Rishis’ of the past. The Arthashastra is another important Shastra in ancient India. It is a treatise on management.
The Shastras of the other Rishis are collections of poems and essays. The Gita is the speech of Lord Krishna. It is considered one of the essential Shastras in India. The Itihasas and the Bhagavad Gita are also important Shastras in India.
How Do Shastras Play a Role in Life?
The Vedas are believed to have been revealed by God to the sages. The Upanishads are supposed to have been told by the ‘Visionary Rishis’ to the scholars. The main objectives of these Shastras were explained in different verses of these Shastras.
The Vedas explain the purpose of human life and give directions on how one should live. The Upanishads describe the importance of meditation and spirituality in a person’s life. The Puranas describe the importance of different aspects of life.
The Arthashastra and the Shastras of the other Rishis talk about the duties and responsibilities of a person. The Gita talks about the duties and responsibilities of a person towards others. The Itihasas and the Bhagavad Gita give spiritual and ethical thoughts.
Shastras are considered to be the most ancient writings of the world. They are called ‘scriptures’ in another language. They were supposed to be the ‘Divine Revealed Scriptures’ by the Hindus. These writings were not just the spiritual life support system of the Hindus. Still, they also played a significant role in their social life.
The Veda is the oldest Hindu scripture. After the Vedas, there were the Upanishads. The Upanishads are the following oldest Hindu scripture after the Veda. The Arthashastra and the Shastras of the other Rishis are collections of essays.
The Gita is believed to have been spoken by Lord Krishna. It is one of the essential Shastras in India. It discusses the importance of personal spiritual growth, self-restraint, and universal love. The Itihasas and the Bhagavad Gita are also important Shastras that discuss the same topics.