Grantha Samadhi


All auspicious beginnings in Hinduism is made at the feet of Ganesha, the divine son of Shiva & Parvati

Nithyanandeswara and Nithyanandeswari - the manifestations of Shiva & Parvati, are the presiding deities of the Nithyananda Dhyanapeetham, Bengaluru Aadheenam

His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda - Mahasadashivoham, December 2017

His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda - during the Aushada Process at Mahasadashivoham,

December 2017

Vision of The Avatar, His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda

विद्या नाम नरस्य रूपमधिकम् प्रच्छन्नगुप्तम् धनम् विद्या भोगकरी यशस्सुखकरी विद्या गुरूणाम् गुरूः | विद्या बन्धुजनो विदेशगमने विद्याम् परम् दैवतम् |

vidyā nāma narasya rūpamadhikam pracchannaguptam dhanam vidyā bhogakarī yaśassukhakarī vidyā gurūṇām gurūḥ | vidyā bandhujano videśagamane vidyām param daivatam |

Sacred Knowledge is human’s ultimate beauty, the hidden treasure. Through knowledge, one can enjoy different happiness, success and it is the Master of all masters. During foreign travel, knowledge is our kin. Knowledge is verily the supreme Divine.

Nīti śatakam, Verse 20


Access to Information is foundational in developing a Conscious Global Society and a University.

Unfortunately, with the rapid pace of change in India there has been an alarmingly rapid loss of ancient information. Many of the powerful repositories of information in the Vedic system, the scriptures, are not being translated or accessed in modern languages. It is this loss of vast amounts of potent information that  is being directly addressed by Nithyananda Hindu University. The University is undertaking the task of collecting, sorting and translating vast banks of Vedic data for access.

The goal is to create the largest repository of Indian scriptural knowledge in the world.

Swayambu Lingam at the Nithyananda Devasthanam, Bengaluru Adheenam


His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda’s vision for the Vedic Grantha Samadhi

“A civilization is made up of its Gods, Scriptures, rituals and tenets that are lived. These aspects provide the vatavarana (environment) where human beings flourish in whichever dimension of life they are passionate about. Sanatana Hindu Dharma is the oldest living civilization on planet earth. This glorious civilization has about 20 million source books. One source book is sufficient for a religion to emerge. For most of these books, there are bhashyas (commentaries), tikas (commentaries on commentary), and varthikas (commentaries on tikas). There are more than 32 different types of commentaries that exist in Sanatana Hindu Dharma. Each and every source book can be commented in more than thousand ways by permutation and combination of various types of writing. Imagine the richness of this tradition.

In this digital age, Sanatana Hindu Dharma is hardly understood even by Hindus as the amount of digitization of Hindu scriptures is a very small percentage of what is even available or known. Translation of our scriptures to commonly used languages of this day is another issue in accessing these treasures of our ancient and ever-relevant wisdom.

It is very unfortunate; Hindus spend so much money on building temples, but we don’t invest on building libraries. Libraries are a low priority. This is also one reason why we have become weak.  The reason for why we have been weakened is we spend so much money on building temples and not enough on libraries.

I want educating organizations, educational tools, knowledge transmission methodologies, knowledge transmission apparatus, knowledge transmission systems to be available.  I want that. The Nithyananda Jnanalaya, is a step to start addressing these issues.”

The key aspects of His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda’s vision is summarized below.

Influence of Hinduism & How it Expanded to regions of South-East Asia


Vaidika Grantha Samadhi – The Vision


On May 25, 2014 His Divine Holiness Paramahamsa Nithyananda first articulated his vision of the largest Grantha Samadhi of Hinduism, while releasing the Hindi translation of the 3rd volume of His rendering of the Bhagavad Gita.

The 16th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, 24thShloka says:

ThasmaathShaasthramPramaanam they kaaryaakaaryavyavasthithau |

Jnaathvaashaasthravidhaanoktham karma karthumihaarhasi||

 ‘Therefore let the scriptures be the authority in determining what ought to be done and what ought not to be done; having known what is said in the ordinance of the scriptures, thou should act here in this world.’

Quoting this 24th Shloka in the 16th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda articulated his vision of a Vaidika Grantha Samadhi. It is a vision of an internet based Sarvajnapeetha (meaning, Think Tank of Hinduism) which He called as the Antharjaala SarvjanPeetha.

“It’s our job to build beautiful libraries, the knowledge transferring methodologies and mechanisms, …  Not only library; making the library user-friendly, useful to people, where people can really, really get involved, know more about it, making it more visually presenting.  Please understand, human-beings have started learning visually now. Almost all learning process has become visual; less words more visual presentation. We should work on creating video encyclopaedia of Hinduism.

An Indian birch bark manuscript

At least ten-thousand concepts of Hinduism like Birth, Life, God, Death, Karma, Listening, Intranalyzing, at least ten-thousand concepts of Hinduism and the spiritual masters, religious leaders, various philosophies should be visually presented with examples like a slide show or animated version, and it should be made freely available in the Internet for the whole world to receive knowledge about Hinduism, and the true Hindu preachers, activist, should be trained through these visual presentations. And the people who live Hinduism authentically should be inspired to live it and people who are new to Hinduism, we should introduce Hinduism to them.”

The Different Samadhis in Hindu Tradition where Worship Happens

His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda identifies 5 types of Samadhis that are very important in Hinduism. These are:

Jeeva Samadhi: It is the place where the enlightened master enters into Samadhi while he was breathing.  The samadhis of enlightened masters such as Raghavendra Swami, Palaya Swamigal of Thanjavur, Dakshinamurthi Swamigal of Tiruvarur, Paramahamsa Yogananda, are Jeeva Samadhis.

Videha Samadhi: When an enlightened being leaves the body and his disciples take the body and build a Samadhi around it, this becomes a Videha Samadhi. The samadhis of enlightened masters such as Ramana Maharshi, Shirdi Saibaba, are Videha Samadhi.  

Pushapa Samadhi: When items used by / an item of an enlightened being such as a garland, rudraksha, cloth, hair, a nail is buried and a samadhi is built around it, this is called a Pushpa Samadhi. Therefore, if any of His Divine Holiness Paramahamsa Nithyananda’s devotees get his jewels, rudraksha, clothes, hanky, turban, as a prasada, then such a devotee’s house becomes a Pushpa Samadhi of His Divine Holiness.  

Saanidhya Samadhi:  Is the place where an enlightened master has resided for a long time, his room is maintained as a Saanidhya Samadhi. For e.g. the room of Paramahamsa Yogananda in San Diego, Swami Vivekananda’s room in Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s room maintained in the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple - are all be Saanidhya Samadhi.

Grantha Samadhi: This is the most important of all Samadhis, which has kept Hinduism alive. All scriptural books, palm leaf documents, which are kept in one room and maintained, is a Grantha Samadhi. Grantha Samadhi means ‘Energy Center of Spiritual Books’.

The Oriental Research Institute and Manuscripts Library, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala State

Grantha Samadhi are Deities to be Worshipped!

Books and documents in a Grantha Samadhi are deities and therefore cannot be removed from its place. A traditional rule of the Grantha Samadhi is, the books cannot be removed from its place. Once books and palm leaf manuscripts are placed in a location (library), then they become deities and must be worshipped as such. Just like how a deity cannot be moved from its place after an installation, in the same way, people can refer, read, spend time with the books, get inspired, but cannot take the books out or to their homes.  The granthas are kept as a samadhi there.

In Hindu tradition, books cannot be taken out of a Grantha Samadhi.  A place should be made available with chairs and all the facilities to read. Also, the books should be worshipped every day by putting some flowers on the cupboards, and doing aarati with incense sticks and camphor, as the Grantha Samadhi is the embodiment of god – of Vyasa and Goddess Saraswati – worship them to give us the right knowledge and guidance about life.

“So, please understand, I wanted all our ashrams to have a beautiful, large-size Grantha Samadhi.  Large means, really, really, really large.  I wanted each ashram to have at least million books Grantha Samadhi.  That level Grantha Samadhi.  Don’t even think having books is outdated, because of the Internet all the knowledge is available in the Internet.  No.  In the Internet you can do the reference, but how many of you have ever read full, one full book in the Internet and computer screen, tell me; or Kindle screen?  …  You need to feel the book to read it, to be inspired by it.  There is something about book.  So it can never be outdated, understand?  It can never be outdated.  For reference purposes digital version is great.  One word you can type and get in how many thousands of scriptures that word is explained; you can get that.  For the reference purposes the digital versions are great, computerised versions are great.” His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda, Nithya Satsang, May 25, 2014


A section of the Anna Centenary Library in Kotturpuram, Tamil Nadu which houses painstakingly collected 72,000 palm leaf documents of ancient Tamil texts, for over 200 years. They contain manuscripts of such texts as the Thirukurral, Manimekhalai, Silappadikarm of the Tamil Sangam age, civilization whose dating is comfortably 2500 years old.

Antharjaala SarvajnaPeetha

In early times, anybody had any kind of conflicts, problems, questions, they would go to the Naimisharanya, where all the scriptures were stored, and the rishis, who have read all the scriptures, were available. They would refer immediately to the scriptures and give the answer to the visitors immediately.  This is the Naimisharanya Project that His Divine Holiness Paramahmasa Nithyananda is reviving along with the SarvajnaPeetha.

His Divine Holiness Paramahmasa Nithyananda’s extraordinary vision for a globally accessible library includes the establishment of a SarvajnaPeetha on the Internet (Antharjaala). He called this divine vision as Antharjaala SarvajnaPeetha, or the Internet SarvajnaPeetha. This is a body of people, of at least 25 scholars, whose full-time responsibility will be to answer anyone who sends questions on any topic on Hinduism, to the SarvajnaPeetha.

The Antarjaala SarvjnaPeetha should be organised such that, with just a dial or an email, an individual should get all the replies he or she seeks along with the reference of the original/authentic scripture. The question can be as simple as ‘How can I worship cow every morning in my house?’, to as complicated as ‘Should I go for this marriage with this person?’ The questions can be simple, big, small, relevant, irrelevant question. These twenty-five members, will give answers based on Hindu scriptures, with solid reference and quote from the original scripture. For e.g., A response can be, ‘You belong to this gotra and you are descendant of this family.  So, as per your family tradition, your body should be cremated.  This is the sutra, smriti reference about your gotra.  This is the reason we arrive to this decision.  Please have it.”  

The response should be completely substantiated by a Hindu scripture and be available to all free of cost. People should know that the answers are coming from an authentic Vedic tradition. The solutions provided for any questions asked should include yogic solution, kriya solution, spiritual solution, and knowledge solution.

This Internet Omniscient Peetha, the Antharjaala SarvajnaPeetha will have a collection of scriptures that will be available for free download.  This means, Nithyananda Dhyanapeetham will pay some royalty to the authors, publishers, and get their books and make digital copies available for free download. 


A painting depicting great seekers learning in the Naimisharanya SarvajnaPeetha

Antharjaala SarvajnaPeetha – A Structured Approach

His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda further elaborated how the information must be structured to make it very easy for people to find the information they are seeking.

The information should be organised in such a manner that, if for example a person is seeking concepts of a particular Spiritual Master, say Adi Shankara, he should get them under one head, by going into sub-links. These could be Adi Shanakaracharya’s concept of Karma, Advaita, about the world, any idea.

These sub-links, should be like million visual presentations.  In this way the largest visual encyclopaedia for Hinduism should be created and made available. He reiterated that “the first priority should be knowledge transferring, educating apparatus, tools, systems, methodologies, accessories, things necessary.”  He appealed that every ashram and temple of the Nithyananda Centers across the globe should start the Jnanalaya - start with His Divine Holiness’ own books and works in different languages. Thereafter, start adding traditional Hindu scriptures such as the Vedas, Agamas, Upanishads, Puranas, and expand gradually thereon.  The Antharjaala SarvajnaPeetha should be such that:

“For people who are new – introducing;

People who are living – making more authentic;

People who are living authentically – making them as enrichers, preachers or activists

With this aim we should develop a visual encyclopaedia of Hinduism.  Just in ten minutes we can beautifully make people understand the concept of Karma in a very powerful, logical, presentable way.  Same way, in ten minutes we can make a person understand what Hinduism holds as a secret about Birth, the concept of Death, why we make decisions the way we make, why we live the way we live, what is Cognition, all these great truths of Hinduism can be beautifully presented just in five minutes, ten minutes video clips - visually… We should have a beautifully, educating, inspiring, informing, visual encyclopaedia of Hinduism… I want educating organizations, educational tools, knowledge transmission methodologies, knowledge transmission apparatus, knowledge transmission systems to be available. “His Divine Holiness Sri Pramahamsa Nithyananda, Nithya Satsang, May 25, 2014

His Divine Holiness Paramahamsa Nithyananda further states how the responses from authentic Vedic sources will be given to the inquirer.  He says, the first level scriptures are the Vedas, the Shrutis – Vedas and Upanishads.  At the next level comes the Darshanas.  Then comes the Puranas and finally the Smritis.  

Left - An ancient SarvajnaPeetha in progress

So if a question can be answered by the Vedas itself, then one need not refer to the next level, i.e. the Darshanas.  If something can be answered by the Darshana itself, then do not go to the next level reference.  By the time one comes down to the level of the Puranas, almost all subjects are dealt with; there is nothing which cannot be handled by this level.  If something is not referred, handled in the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Darshanas, only then should a pundit or scholar go to the modern-day living masters’ references, which become AtmaPramana.  In other words, ShastraPramaana first, followed by AptaPramaana and when neither of these provide the answers only then go to AtmaPramana of modern-day living masters such as His Divine Holiness Paramahmsa Nithyananda.

The Grantha Samadhis should also have an Internet Library corner with a few computers.  Millions and millions of Hindu scriptures, spiritual scriptures in digitised version should be downloaded and kept for reference purposes. Along with digitised form, the scriptures should also be maintained hard copy form.  The 23rd Verse, 16th Chapter in Bhagavad Gita says:

Yah shaastravidhimuthsrijyavarthatheykaamakaarathaha |

Na sasiddhimavaapnothinasukhamnaparaamgathim ||

‘But he who discards the scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims,

attains neither perfection nor happiness nor the supreme destination.’

His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda sees the Vaidika Grantha Samadhi as his unique contribution to revive Vedic traditions, along with the Nithyananda Gurukul and the Sarvajnapeetha. Towards this end, His Divine Holiness envision nearly a 1000 pundits answering 100,000 questions per day, via all means of internet communication such as Facebook, Whatsapp, email, Youtube, Skype through the world’s largest Vaidika Granths Samadhi. Where, all Hindu services will be available at one place, free of cost, to billions of Hindus for any questions relating to Hinduism and Vedic traditions. His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahmasa Nithyananda also envisions the Vaidika Grantha Samadhi to be based in Varanasi along with the whole mechanism of the Antharjaala SarvajnaPeetha.

The setting up of the Antharjaala Sarvajnapeetha will require financial investments for:

A view of the ruins of Nalanda University, the world’s largest, most famous and most ancient university which attracted students from all over the world. Nalanda was burnt down by the fanatic warlord Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1198 CE. It is said that it took 3 months for the fire to die down, destroying millions of precious ancient Hindu, Jain & Buddhist texts in its wake. 1000s of students and acharyas living and studying there were brutally murdered within its precincts. With it began the downfall of India as the greatest center of learning of the ancient world.

Gurukul Balasanths pore over books at the Nithyananda Jnanalaya at the Bengaluru Adheenam

Nithyananda Jnanalaya @ Bengaluru Adheenam

Nithyananda Jnanalaya was established in the year 1992 with the aim to locate, collect, preserve, revive and spread Sanatana Hindu Dharma. Under the direct guidance of His Divine Holiness Paramhamsa Nithyanda, the Jnanalaya has been working tirelessly to collect and preserve all source books from Sadashiva, the revelations of ultimate truth.

Nithyananda Jnanalaya, under its unique project seeks to unearth and preserve the source manuscripts on Hinduism. Sanatana Hindu Dharma being the source of estimated 20 million source manuscripts, possesses the largest collection on religious text.

The department has invested its time and energy in locating, recognizing and procuring precious manuscripts available across India. Nithyananda Jnanalaya took this project as urgent need to revive Sanatana Hindu Dharma scriptures, which contained all powerful cognitions to run a life.

The Nithyananda Jnanalaya, works to create the world’s largest knowledge collection center on Hinduism. It will house all books and manuscripts belonging to Sanatana Hindu Dharma which also includes texts on Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. There are currently more than 70,000 titles on various discipline on Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. All these contains some of the rarest textbooks and source books on Hinduism.

Palm Leaf Manuscripts - Soft Power New-Clear Bomb

His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda is particularly pleased with the sacredly preserved scriptures in palm leaf manuscripts, the Agamas. He shows deep gratitude to the generations of Shivacharyas and organizations who have collected, scanned and preserved these documents with dedication and devotion. He see these palm leaves written in the Grantha script, as one step towards the preservation and revival of Sanatana Hindu Dharma.  

These manuscripts are so rich with knowledge and instructions, that every leaf is like a soft-power nuclear bomb! The atom bomb was hard power, used to instil fear and control people. But the soft power atom bomb, if you just throw that on one country, people there will forever with devotion and respect out of gratitude, love, respect, surrender! They are there forever because, so much is contributed to their life.

His Divine Holiness holding a single palm leaf scripture - with delight, devotion and reverence!

The Agamas are direct and detailed instructions from Mahadeva himself, on every aspect of life. Agamas should have become the book of Hinduism. His Divine Holiness Paramahamsa boldly declares – “for all lifestyle issues, social issues, how we should conduct ourselves in society, in the way of liberated thinking, how we should live, everything, Agamas should have become the scripture, because, no other master has the courage to think or the clarity to think to this depth than Mahadeva.”

His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda – Dedicating Life to Spread Agamas

“People may raise a doubt, ‘How do you know it was written by Mahadeva? Or somebody wrote and attributed to Mahadeva’s name?’ Any brain which can think to this depth with this understanding, that person has already become Mahadeva, he has achieved Shiva Consciousness. So you don’t have to worry if it was written by Mahadeva with four arms under the banyan tree, Uma at His side, with Damaru in His hand, or Mahadeva who happened as Thirumoolar, or Mahadeva who entered into some Rishi’s system; from whichever consciousness, whichever brain, I know for 120% sure, they became Mahadeva, it’s only from Him these things can come out!

I just feel like I should dedicate My whole life to do research, organizing, collecting, living and spreading, radiating, Agamas. And, I have decided to do that. No doubt, Upanishads are the first, but Agamas are the minutest. Upanishads made user friendly is Agamas. In next few days, you will continue to get the soft power nuclear bombs, the Agamas, to enrich your life and realize what these Upanishads are telling; whatever Upanishads declare, Agamas makes it as lifestyle.

When the original scriptures, Vedas, were hidden into the ocean by the demon Hiranya, Varaha Avatara happened. Vishnu took the incarnation and brought those scriptures out and revealed it to the world. Now it is my responsibility - collecting it from all the corners of the world wherever it was secretly lying, the original agamas, the yogic scriptures and gathering it, revealing it to the whole world and making it available to the whole world through the internet. We are successful in collecting more than 3 Terabyte original material on Yoga – Revelations by Sadashiva. And we are scanning everything, cleaning it up. We are ready with original material – scanned palm leaves – revelations about Yoga by Sadashiva and his direct disciples. We will offer this to the whole world copyright free. You have a right to copy. I am declaring it as copyright free. If you are copying, not only are you welcome, you are celebrated.

And bowing down to Sadashiva, surrendering at His feet and all His disciples and all the great people, beings involved in keeping this whole knowledge experience current and alive on the planet earth, bowing down to all of them, surrendering at all their feet, I am revealing, whatever is shared by them and kept alive till now on the planet earth, to all of you back again. Now it is in the form of the original palm leaf scanned. Soon you can expect the various language translations of these scriptures. Please wait for all those translations. It will be soon available to all of you. But the original scriptures are shared with you all today through this digital library.” His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda

More than 15 terabytes of manuscripts have been collected so far and are being processed and more is being acquired, researched and made available to the world. This will foster deeper learning of our wisdom and tradition and pave the way for the conscious expansion of human beings; which is the sole purpose of life on this planet.

An ancient buddhist manuscript

Above - A partial manuscript

A mantra on a palm leaf revived by His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda, to distribute to lakhs of pilgrims and devotees who thronged the Nithyananda Dhyanapeetham camp, during the Simhasta Maha Kumbh, Ujjain in May 2016.

What is a Manuscript?

A manuscript is a handwritten document, in Sanskrit, Grantha, Tamil or such ancient script, usually on palm-leaves, dating back to atleast 200 years ago. Often, one language could use multiple scripts to preserve a writing. For example, Sanskrit could be written in Grantha, Sharada, Tamil, Devanagiri and many other scripts. The study of manuscripts reveals the social, cultural, historical, economic, artistic and aesthetic changes that have occurred in the course of development of our civilization.

In the ancient days, knowledge and experience were recorded and preserved for the benefit of future generations. In India, writing was done on walls, footsteps and pillars of temples, stones, bricks, metal sheets, silk and cotton cloths, wooden boards, terracotta boards, bamboo chips, birch bark, palm leaves, etc. Such manuscripts have been found in hundreds of different languages and scripts all over India.

These manuscripts are available in different libraries, sadhu-deras, religious institutions, private collectors or as heirlooms handed down to the next generation. etc. Many of the palms leaf manuscripts in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu have been preserved by sivacharyas, siddha practitioners or in families as heirlooms or as forgotten legacies leading many to waste away.

By collecting and preserving these manuscripts we are preserving the intellectual heritage of mankind.

Knowledge Areas

Since ancient Vedic times, over thousands of years, it has been the effort of Hindu enlightened masters or Rishis and other great thinkers of the time, to make all effort to excel in every field of knowledge known to mankind. It became a dedicated endeavor to inquire into the ultimate objective of life making it the focal point of intellectual discourses through inquiries, debates, meditation, penance, observances, rituals and the like. The nature of the country Bharat to allow for multicipility to prevail, allowed for the free flow of ideas and intensive and extensive discourses to take place. In course of time, this shaped the intellectual traditions of the sub-continent allowing several schools of thoughts to emerge, each suggesting multiple ways to achieve the ultimate or union with the Paramatman.

These traditions left no issue untouched for intellectual debates, which eventually gave rise to prolific writings which the country has been fortunate to inherit today. These writings deal with a wide range of subjects like Veda, Agama, Vedanta, Darshana, Ayurveda, Aesthetics, Astronomy, Astrology, Yoga, Vastu, Mathematics, Linguistics and many such subjects written in different ancient scripts and in different languages prevailing at the times.

Above - A manuscript from Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda

Summary of Ancient Hindu Scriptures

Before we can delve into what the world’s largest Vedic Library will contain, let us look briefly on the mind boggling range of texts that form the broad spectrum of Hindu scriptures and texts. Hindu literature can be classified under six orthodox heads and four secular heads. The orthodox heads include the Srutis, Smritis, Itihasas, Puranas, Agamas and Darsanas. The four secular writing include Subhasitas, Kavyas, Natakas and Alankaras.

The Shrutis - “that which has been heard” - they are canonical, consisting of revelation and unquestionable truth, and are eternal. Shrutis refers mainly to the Vedas, are the oldest scriptures of Hinduism and of the world. The Vedas are hymns in Vedic Sanskrit and form the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature. The great epic Mahabharata, credits the creation of Vedas to Brahma. However, the Vedic hymns themselves assert that they were skillfully created by Rishis (sages), after inspired creativity. The rishis passed them down orally and left no names on these revelations.

The Srutis are called the Vedas, or the Amnaya. These are direct intuitional revelations and are held to be apaurusheya or entirely superhuman, without any author in particular. The Vedas are the eternal truths revealed by Sadashiva to the great rishis. Rishi means a ‘seer’, derived from dris, to see. The rishi is the mantra-drashta, a seer of mantra or thought.


There are 4 Vedas:


Each Veda has been sub-classified into four major text types:

  1. Samhitas (mantras and prayers) - the 4 Vedas mentioned above fall in this category
  2. Aranyakas  or ‘forest books’ are theologies contain rituals, ceremonies, and symbolic-sacrifices for sannyasis (ascetics) to enable them practice a life of meditation and abstinence from worldly pleasures in pursuit of their spiritual goals
  3. Brahmanas are commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices - each Veda had several Brahmanas attached to it
  4. Upanishads are texts discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge. They form the concluding portion of the Vedas are are therefore also called ‘Vedanta’ . Some scholars add a fifth category – the Upasanas (worship).

   Sample of a rescued palm leaf manuscript reprinted at the Nithyananda Jnanalaya

The Upanishads

The Upanishads primarily discuss philosophy, meditation, and the nature of God; they form the core spiritual thought of Vedantic Hinduism. They are mystic or spiritual contemplations of the Vedas, their supposed end and essence, the Upanishads are also called Vedanta ("the end/culmination of the Vedas").

The Upanishads do not belong to a particular period of Sanskrit literature. The oldest, such as the Brhadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads, may date to the Brahmana period while the youngest, depending on the canon used, may date to the medieval or early modern period.

The word Upanishad comes from the Sanskrit verb sad (to sit) and the two prepositions upa and ni (under and at). Each Upanishad is associated with a Veda, Isha-upanishad with Shukla Yajurveda, Kena-upanishad with Samaveda, and so on. There are as many as 112 Upanishads available today. But the major Upanishads are ten, Isha, Kena, Kattha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Shwetashwatara, Chhandogya and Brihadaryanyaka. The teachings of the Upanishads, and those of the Bhagavat Gita, form the basis of the Vedanta philosophy. Here are the core of some of the Upanishads:

Astika & Nastika - Schools of Hindu Philosophies Emerging from the Vedas

Many philosophies emerged each of whom took differing position on the Vedas. This lead to 2 broad schools of Hindu philosophies - those that accept and cite the Vedas as their scriptural authority are classified as the Astika (orthodox) school. The Astika schools of Hindu philosophy include Nyāyá, Vaiśeṣika, Sāṃkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā, and Vedānta.

Those that do not regard the Vedas as their authority came to be called the Nastika (non-orthodox) school. The Nastikas include shramana traditions such as the Lokayata, Carvaka, Ajivika, Buddhism and Jainism. Despite the rejection of the authority of the Vedas by the Nastika schools, the shramana tradition discuss concepts and traditions that are similar to the Vedas.

The Smritis - that which was remembered and passed down from great rishis and acharyas to their shishyas (students) over many generations and centuries.

The Smritis aim at outlining and giving a picture of how to live life in a way to fulfill the purpose of life, thus make life meaningful. They also aim at reflecting Vedic worldview in daily life.

Based on the nature of knowledge, the Smriti literature is of two types: one that expounds shastra and one that outlines codes of conduct. While texts like Manusmriti and Puranas contain both types of knowledge, there are specific texts for specific purposes. Texts like Paniniya Astadhyayi (Vyakarana), Gautama Sutras (Nyaya), Tarka Samgraha (tarka) expound specific sastras. Dharma Sutras and similar literature expound codes of conduct, judiciary etc.

Based on the method of organizing the text, the smriti literature is of two forms: sutra and metrical. Sutra method is a concise way of stating information, where entire text is arranged in a sequence of rules. A rule below borrows context from the above ones, unless stated otherwise.  

The non-sutra texts are more descriptive, so each statement is unambiguous in its meaning. These are in sloka (poetry) or prose form, but mostly in poetry form. Examples are Manusmriti and Itihasa Puranas.

Smritis could be broadly classified as:


The Darsanas are grouped into three pairs of aphoristic compositions or Sutras which explain the philosophy of the Vedas in a rationalistic method of approach. They are:

Each set of Sutras has got its Bhashya, Vritti, Varttika, Vyakhyana or Tika and Tippani.

These are not mutually exclusive classes. For instance, Nyaya and Mimamsa are Darsanas as well as Upangas. Dharma Sutras are included in Vedanga Kalpa as well as Dharma Sastras (Upanga). Dharma Sastra is a guideline that outlines ideal practices.

The Smritis are a comprehensive guide to life that defines goals of life, gives methods to achieve them, clarifies where there are confusions, and explains how to stick to those goals and how to correct oneself if one is going wrong in the path. While outlining what is best, smriti takes into consideration all combinations in which things can happen, and explains how to deal with all those situations. Thus smriti is thoroughly founded in life and society and is not an out of the world text.

Also, because of the flexibility it offers, it applies to all times with the fewest modifications. Further, smriti seeks to present with clarity the rights and wrongs of a situation along with dos and don'ts. While describing the actions of most righteous it demonstrates how one can realize ideals in life. It also clarifies the dilemmas and confusions man faces in various life situations and explains what its stand is and why.

It also outlines social design such as various stages of life, functions of man and woman, various classes/sections of the society, polity, administration, judiciary and polity.

The Dharma Shastras

The people of ancient India believed in the order and regularity of the world as the manifestation of God's will and intent, and the clear victory of the divine forces over the demonic. Hence, the laws governing the conduct of individuals and the order and regularity of Hindu society were formulated by many scholars and sages in ancient India since the earliest times. From time to time, a great lawgiver would take his birth. He would codify the existing laws and remove those that had become obsolete. He would make some alterations, adaptations, readjustments, additions and subtractions, to suit the needs of the time and see that the way of living of the people would be in accordance with the teachings of the Veda.

Of such law-givers, Manu, Yajnavalkya and Parasara are the most celebrated persons. Hindu society is founded on, and governed by, the laws made by these three great sages. The Smritis are named after them. Hence, we have Manu Smriti or Manava Dharma-Sastra (Laws of Manu or the Institutes of Manu), Yajnavalkya Smriti and Parsara Smriti. The Laws of Manu are intended for the Satya Yuga; those of Yajnavalkya are for the Treta Yuga; those of Sankha and Likhita are for the Dvapara Yuga; and those of Parasara are for the Kali Yuga.

There are eighteen main Smritis or Dharma Sastras. The other fifteen are those of Vishnu, Daksha, Samvarta, Vyasa, Harita, Satatapa, Vasishtha, Yama, Apastamba, Gautama, Devala, Sankha-Likhita, Usana, Atri and Saunaka.

Manu is the greatest law-giver of the race. He is the oldest lawgiver as well. The Yajnavalkya Smriti follows the same general lines as the Manu Smriti and is next in importance to it. Manu Smriti and Yajnavalkya Smriti are universally accepted at the present time as authoritative works all over India. Yajnavalkya Smriti is chiefly consulted in all matters of Hindu Law. Even the present day Government of India is applying some of these laws.


Manusmriti: Manusmriti, translated as "The Laws of Manu" or "The Institutions of Manu," is the most important and authoritative Hindu Law Book (Dharmashastra), which served as a foundational work on Hindu law and jurisprudence in ancient India for 1000s of years. Until the modern times, it was the standard reference for expending justice in civil and criminal cases by the rulers who patronized Vedic faith as also the people who practiced Hinduism.

The Hindu Law Books have been distilled and codified through observation, experience, analysis, and the study of the Vedas, keeping in view the best interests of the humanity and society. Hence, they are not entirely without the flaws of humans.

Manusmriti projects an ideal society and ideal human conduct as the basis to establish an orderly society and divine centered life. To promote those ideals and enforce divine will, it proposes numerous laws to minutely govern human life and conduct as applicable to each individual according to her or his social class, duties and responsibilities. Their purpose is to inculcate discipline, provide a basis for the rulers to enforce lawful conduct, and ensure the orderly progression of the world through righteous conduct and observation of obligatory duties by individuals who have chosen for themselves the life of a householder, or that of a renunciant.

The power to enforce the laws is carefully distributed among the rulers and the guardians of society who assist him in decision making. Manusmriti recognizes the corrupting and deluding influence of power over the mind and cautions the kings to exercise their judgment with great care to avoid sinful karma and harmful consequences for themselves and for the world.

The laws that were proposed by Manu to govern human conduct and society reflect the conditions, needs and values of the times in which they were formulated. They acknowledge prevailing social and gender inequalities as natural conditions of human existence, and propose laws to govern the behavior of individuals.

Manusmriti acknowledges and justifies the varna & jati system as the basis of order and regularity of society. It clearly recognizes four classes of people (Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras), and their respective roles in the preservation of dharma. It is important to study Manusmriti with an open mind to understand its historical and religious significance in the evolution of Hinduism from its early days to its present form.


Smritis Expanded - Upavedas, Vedangas, Veda Upangas, Dharma Shastras

Itihasa - Ramayana & Mahabharata

"Itihāsam" = "iti-ha-asam" (it happened thus). The "ha" in the middle means "without doubt", "truly". So an "itihāsa" means a true story, also a contemporary account. Itihasa consists of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (sometimes the Puranas too, are included). They also include the Yogavashishta and the Harivamsa.


Valmiki composed the Ramayana (Rama’s Journey)  during the lifetime of Rama. The Ramayana contains the story of Rama and relates the legends of the Suryavamsa (Solar dynasty). It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife, and the ideal king. The Ramayana consists of 24,000 verses in seven books (kāṇḍas) and 500 cantos (sargas).


It tells the story of Rama (an avatar of Bhagavan Vishnu & a great Shaiva devotee), whose wife Sita is abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka (current day Sri Lanka). Rama, with the aid of a monkey army, builds a bridge across to Lanka (now identified as the Rama Setu), wages a war with Ravana, kills him, releases Sita and brings her back to his kingdom Ayodhya.


Thematically, the Ramayana explores human values and the concept of dharma. The Ramayana is not just a story: it presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and devotional elements. Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Bharata are all examples of persons following their dharma. 

The characters of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Hanuman, Ravana, etc. are all fundamental to the cultural ethos of India, Nepal, and many south-east Asian countries such as Thailand & Indonesia.


Veda Vyāsa, author of the Mahabharata ((The Great Tale of the Bharata Dynasty), lived during the time of the five Pandavas and was witness to the events narrated by him in this epic. The Mahabharata was dictated to and written by Ganesha, the son of Shiva & Parvati. It contains more than 100,000 shlokas or verses and is divided into 18 books (parts) and is the longest poem ever written. The Mahabharata records the traditions of the Chandravamsa (Lunar dynasty) in the form of embedded tales.

The Mahabharata is a complex multi-layered text, with several stories and sub-texts within, containing deep philosophical and devotional material. Within it lies the principal and most important work ever known to humankind, the Bhagavad Gita – The Song of God, as also a synopsis of another great work, the Ramayana.

The dates of this timeless true story, goes back more than 7000-8000 years - but its lessons of intrigues, dynamics of family loyalty & duty, complex conflicts of kinship & friendship, cunning politics, war strategies & destructive warheads, futility of wars, etc. can be applied to any time and place on this planet.

(L - Krishna Gets ready to blow the conch Panchajanya to declare the start of the Kurukshetra War)

The Mahabharata is the epic narrative of the dynastic struggle of two warring family of brothers for the throne of Hastinapura – the Kauravas & Pandavas - and the twists and turns in their fate that ends in a ruthless and bloody war in Kurukshetra, which lasts 18 days – annihilating entire lineages in both families and ending in a victory for the Pandavas.

The Mahabharata ends with the death of Krishna, (the central most critical figure in this epic), the subsequent end of his dynasty and ascent of the Pandava brothers to heaven.  It also marks the beginning of the Kali Yuga, the fourth and final age of mankind, in which great values and noble ideas have crumbled, and man is heading towards the complete dissolution of right action, morality and virtue.

Bhagavad Gita

Often referred to simply as the Gita, the Bhagavad Gita is a 700-verse scripture divided into 18 chapters, within the Mahabharata. The Gita is set in a narrative framework of a dialogue between the Pandava prince Arjuna and his guide and charioteer Krishna.

The Gita begins just before the start of the climatic Kurukshetra War where the Pandava prince Arjuna is filled with doubt on the battlefield. Realizing that his enemies are his own relatives, beloved friends and revered teachers, he turns to his charioteer and guide, Bhagavan Vishnu’s 8th incarnation Krishna, for advice. Responding to Arjuna's confusion and moral dilemma, Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and prince and is counseled to fight the Dharma Yuddha or righteous war between the Kauravas & Pandavas, and "fulfill his Kshatriya duty as a warrior and establish Dharma”.

The Bhagavad Gita presents a synthesis of the concept of Dharma, the yogic ideals of moksha, through jnana, bhakti, karma, raja yoga and samkhya philosophy. (For a great understanding of dharma, karma, bhakti, mokhsa, jnana, Atman, Paramatma – everything that is at the core of and central to Hinduism & Advaita Vedanta, read His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda’s brilliant version of the Gita in the 3-volume presentation The Bhagavad Gita – Demystified.)

The 18 Mahapuranas

The word Puranas Sanskrit: literally means "ancient, old", is a vast genre of Hindu literature on a wide range of topics, containing legends and traditional lore. Composed primarily in Sanskrit, but also in regional languages, several of these texts are named after major Hindu deities such as Vishnu, Shiva and Devi. The Puranas genre of literature is found in both Hinduism and Jainism.

Om, in a weave patch

Vyasa is the compiler of the Puranas. The Puranas were written to popularise the religion of the Vedas to the masses. They contain the essence of the Vedas. The aim of the Puranas is to impress on the minds of the masses the teachings of the Vedas and to generate in them devotion to God, through concrete examples, myths, stories, legends, lives of saints, kings and great men, allegories and chronicles of great historical events. The sages made use of these things to illustrate the eternal principles of religion.

A Purāņa must have five characteristic features – (lakshanas).

  1. First is sarga (creation of the cosmos)
  2. Second is prati-sarga (how eon after eon it expanded)
  3. Third is vamsa (the lineage of living creatures beginning with the children of Brahmā)
  4. Fourth is manvantara (dealing with the ages of the 14 Manus, forefathers of mankind during the 1,000 caturyugas), and
  5. Fifth is vamsānucarita (genealogy of the rulers of the nation including the solar and lunar dynasties). Besides there are descriptions of the different worlds such as bhoomi (earth), swarga (paradise), naraka (nether world)

The Puranic literature covers diverse topics such as cosmogony, cosmology, genealogies of gods, goddesses, kings, heroes, rishis, demigods, folk tales, pilgrimages, temples, medicine, astronomy, grammar, mineralogy, humor, love stories, as well as theology and philosophy. The Hindu Puranas have several authors and were written over many centuries. On the other hand, the Jain Puranas are datable and have assigned authors.

Srimad Bhagavatam: 

Of the Puranas the most well known is the Bhagavata Purana, also called Bhagavatam. The Srimad Bhagavad Purana is a chronicle of the dasavatara or 10 Avataras of Bhagavan Vishnu. The aim of every Avatara is to save the world from some great danger, to destroy the wicked and protect the virtuous.

An ivory carving of the Dashavatara of Bhagavan Vishnu

The dashavataras are: Matsya (the Fish), Kurma (the Tortoise), Varaha (the Boar), Narasimha (the Man-Lion), Vamana (the Dwarf), Parsurama (Rama with the axe, the destroyer of the Kshatriya race), Ramachandra (the hero of Ramayana, the son of King Dasharatha; Sri Rama who destroyed Ravana), Sri Krishna (the teacher of the Bhagavad Gita), Buddha (the prince-ascetic and the founder of Buddhism), and Kalki (the hero riding on a white horse, who is still to come at the end of the Kali-Yuga).

The Mahapuranas can be classified based on a specific deity, although the texts are mixed and revere all gods and goddesses:


Brahma Purana, Padma Purana


Brahma Vaivarta Purana


Agni Purana


Shiva Purana, Linga Purana, Skanda Purana, Varaha Purana,

Vāmana Purana, Kūrma Purana, Matsya Purana,

 Mārkandeya Purana, Bhavishya Purana, Brahmānda Purana


Vishnu Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Nāradeya Purana,

 Garuda Purana, Vayu Purana, Varaha Purana

Contents of each Mahapurana


Purana name

Verses number




15,400 verses

Includes geography of Mithila (Bihar and neighboring states),

cultural history, politics, education system, iconography, taxation theories,

organization of army, theories on

proper causes for war, diplomacy, local laws, building public projects, water distribution methods, trees and plants, medicine,

Vastu Shastra (architecture),

gemology, grammar, metrics, poetry, food, rituals and numerous other topics



18,000 verses

The most studied and popular of

 the Puranas, telling of Vishnu's

 Avatars, and of Vaishnavism. It contains genealogical details of various

dynasties. Numerous versions

 of this text and manuscripts exist,

 in many Indian languages.

Influential and elaborated during

 Bhakti movement.



10,000 verses

Sometimes also called Adi Purana,

 the text has 245 chapters, shares

 many passages with Vishnu, Vayu, Markandeya Puranas, and with the

Mahabharata. Includes mythology,

theory of war, artwork in temples, and other cultural topics.

Describes the ancient state of Odisha.



12,000 verses

One of the earliest composed Puranas, it contains a genealogical details of various

dynasties. Includes the Lalita

Sahasranamam, law codes, system of governance, administration, diplomacy, trade, ethics. Old manuscripts of this have been found in the Hindu literature collections of Bali and Indonesia.



18,000 verses

It is related by Savarni to Narada, and centres around the greatness of Krishna

and Radha. In this, the story of

Brahma-varaha is repeatedly told. Notable for asserting that Krishna is the supreme

 reality and the gods Vishnu,

Shiva, Brahma are incarnations of

 him. Mentions geography

and rivers such as Ganga to Cauvery.



19,000 verses

An encyclopedia of diverse topics.

Primarily about Vishnu, but

praises all gods. Describes how

Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma

collaborate. Many chapters are

 a dialogue between Vishnu and

 Garuda. Describes cosmology, relationship between gods. Discusses ethics,

what are crimes, good versus evil,

various schools of Hindu

 philosophies, the theory of Yoga,

the theory of "heaven and hell"

with "karma and rebirth", includes Upanishadic discussion of self-knowledge as
a means of moksha. Includes

 chapters on rivers, geography of

Bharat and other nations on

earth, types of minerals and

stones, testing methods for stones

for their quality, various

diseases and their symptoms,

various medicines, aphrodisiacs,

prophylactics, Hindu calendar

and its basis, astronomy, moon,

 planets, astrology, architecture,

building home, essential features of

 a temple, rites of passage,

virtues such as compassion, charity

and gift making, economy, thrift,

 duties of a king, politics, state

officials and their roles and how

to appointment them, genre of

 literature, rules of grammar, and

 other topics. The final chapters

discuss how to practice Yoga

(Samkhya and Advaita types), personal development and the benefits of




17,000 verses

Is the second of ten major avatars

 of Lord Vishnu.



11,000 verses

Discusses Lingam, symbol of Shiva,

and origin of the universe.

It also contains many stories of

Lingam, one of which entails

how Agni Lingam solved a dispute

between Vishnu and Brahma.



9,000 verses

Named after sage Markandeya, a student of Brahma. Describes Vindhya Ranges and western India. Probably composed in the valleys of Narmada and Tapti rivers, in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Contains chapters on dharma and on the epic Mahabharata. The Purana includes Devi Mahatmyam of Shaktism.



14,000 verses

An encyclopedia of diverse topics.Narrates the story of Matsya, the first of ten major Avatars of Vishnu. Likely composed in west India, by people aware of geographical details of the Narmada river. Includes legends about Brahma and Saraswati. It also contains genealogical details of various dynasties.



25,000 verses

Also called Naradiya Purana. Discusses the four Vedas and the six Vedangas. Dedicates one chapter each, from Chapters 92 to 109, to summarize the other 17 Maha Puranas and itself. Lists major rivers of India and places of pilgrimage, and a short tour guide for each. Includes discussion of various philosophies, soteriology, planets, astronomy, myths and characteristics of major deities including Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, Krishna, Rama, Lakshmi and others.



55,000 verses

A large compilation of diverse topics. The north Indian manuscripts of Padma Purana are very different than south Indian versions, and the various recensions in both groups in different languages (Devanagari and Bengali, for example). Describes cosmology, the world and nature of life from the perspective of Vishnu. Discusses festivals, numerous legends, geography of rivers and regions from northwest India to Bengal to the kingdom of Tripura, major sages of India, various Avatars of Vishnu and his cooperation with Shiva, the story of Rama-Sita that is different than the Hindu epic Ramayana. Like Skanda Purana, it is a detailed treatise on travel and pilgrimage centers in India.



24,000 verses

Discusses Shiva, and stories about him.



81,100 verses

Describes the birth of Skanda (or Karthikeya), son of Shiva. The longest Purana, it is an extraordinarily meticulous pilgrimage guide, containing geographical locations of pilgrimage centers in India, with related legends, parables, hymns and stories.



10,000 verses

Describes North India, particularly Himalayan foothills region.



24,000 verses

Primarily Vishnu-related worship manual, with large Mahatmya sections or travel guide to Mathura and Nepal. Presentation focuses on Varaha as incarnation of Narayana. Many illustrations also involve Shiva and Durga.



24,000 verses

Possibly the oldest of all Maha Puranas. Some medieval Indian texts call it Vayaviya Purana. Praises Shiva. Discusses rituals, family life, and life stages of a human being. The content in Vayu Purana is also found in Markandeya Purana. Describes south India, particularly modern Telangana and Andhra Pradesh regions. It contains genealogical details of various dynasties.



23,000 verses

A Vaishnavism text, focussed on Vishnu, it is one of the most studied and circulated Puranas. It contains a genealogical details of various dynasties. Better preserved after the 17th century, but exists in different versions. The more ancient pre-15th century versions are very different from modern versions, with some versions discussing Buddhism and Jainism. Some chapters likely composed in Kashmir and Punjab region of South Asia.


The Tamil Puranas

Lord Siva incarnated Himself in the form of Dakshinamurti to impart knowledge to the four Kumaras. He took human form to initiate Sambandhar, Manikkavasagar and Pattinathar. He appeared in flesh and blood to help his devotees and relieve their sufferings. The divine lilas (divine play) of Lord Siva are recorded in the Tamil Puranas like Siva Purana, Periya Purana, Siva Parakramam and Tiruvilayadal Purana.


Besides the Mahapuranas are the lesser known Upapuranas. They include Sanat-kumara, Narasimha, Brihan-naradiya, Siva-rahasya, Durvasa, Kapila, Vamana, Bhargava, Varuna, Kalika, Samba, Nandi, Surya, Parasara, Vasishtha, Devi-Bhagavata, Ganesha, Mudgala, and Hamsa.

The Ganesha and Mudgala Puranas are devoted to Ganesha. The Devi-Bhagavata Purana, which is in praise of the goddess Durga, is along with the Devi Mahatmya of the Markandeya Purana, a basic text for Devi worshippers.

Sthala Puranas

The Sthala Puranas tell of the origins and traditions of particular Tamil Shiva temples. There are numerous Sthala Puranas, most written in vernaculars, some with Sanskrit versions as well. The 275 Shiva Sthalams of the continent have puranas for each, famously glorified in the Tamil literature Tevaram. Some appear in Sanskrit versions in the Mahapuranas or Upapuranas.  

(Ref. Puranas -


Aside from the Shruti and Smriti are another vast amount of Hindu scriptures called Shastras and Sutras. Shastra is Sanskrit for "rules", or principles. In essence, shastra is the knowledge, which is based on principles that are held to be timeless.


The word is generally used as a suffix in the context of technical or specialized knowledge in a defined area of practice in modern neologisms, e.g. bhautikashastra - physics, rasayanashastra - chemistry, jīvashastra - biology, vastushastra - architectural science, bhagashastra - science of cooking, shilpashastra - science of sculpture, arthashastra - economics and nītishastra - political science, natyashastra – science of dance & drama, etc.

Left - A sculpture defined as per the shilpashastra


A sutra is an aphorism or a collection of aphorisms (meaning terse saying, expressing a general truth, principle, or astute observation) in the form of a manual or a text in Hinduism Jainism & Buddhism. Literally it means a thread or line that holds things together and is derived from the verbal root siv-, meaning to sew. The word "sutra" was very likely meant to apply quite literally to these texts, as they were written down in books of palm leaves sewn together with thread.


The first sutras in Hindu literatures emerges within the Aranyakas and Brahmana vedic works. Hindu Sutras include:

Below are the different commentaries on the Sutras:


A Bhashya is an elaborate exposition, a commentary on the Sutras, with word by word meaning of the aphoristic precepts, their running translation, together with the individual views of the commentator or the Bhashyakara. The best and the exemplary Bhashya in Sanskrit literature is the one written by Patanjali on the Vyakarana (grammar) Sutras of Panini.


A Vritti is a short gloss explaining the aphorisms in a more elaborate way, but not as extensively as a Bhashya. An example is Bodhayana’s Vritti on the Brahma Sutras.


A Varttika is a work where a critical study is made of that which is said and left unsaid or imperfectly said in a Bhashya, and the ways of making it perfect by supplying the omissions therein, are given. Examples are the Varttikas of Katyayana on Panini’s Sutras, of Suresvara on Sankara’s Upanishad-Bhashyas, and of Kumarila Bhatta on the Sabara-Bhashya on the Karma-Mimamsa.

Vyakhyana or Tika

A Vyakhyana is a running explanation in an easier language of what is said in the original, with little elucidations here and there. A Vyakhyana, particularly of a Kavya (poetry and prose), deals with eight different modes of dissection of the Sloka, like Pada-Chheda, Vigraha, Sandhi, Alankara, Anuvada, etc. This forms an important aspect in the study of Sanskrit Sahitya Sastra (science of Sanskrit literature). The best Vyakhyanas are of Vachaspati Misra on the Darsanas, especially on Sankara’s Brahmasutra-Bhashya.


Tippani is just like a Vritti, but is less orthodox than the Vritti. It is an explanation of difficult words or phrases occurring in the original. Examples are Kaiyata’s gloss on the Mahabhashya of Patanjali, Nagojibhatta’s gloss on Kaiyata’s gloss, or Appayya’s gloss on Amalananda’s gloss on the Bhamati of Vachaspati Misra.

Other Scriptures

The Tevaram and the Tiruvachakam which are the hymns of the Saiva saints of South India, the Divya-Prabandham of the Alvar saints of South India, the songs of Sant Kabir, the Abhangas of Sant Tukaram and the Ramayana of Sant Tulasidas - all of which are the outpourings of great realised souls- are wonderful scriptures. They contain the essence of the Vedas.

Secular Writings

Besides the spiritual and religious text are a wide range of secular writings. They include:

The Subhashitas

The Subhashitas are wise sayings, instructions and stories, either in poetry or in prose. Examples are Bhartrihari’s three centuries of verses, the Subhashita-Ratna-Bhandagara and Somadeva Bhatta’s Katha-Sarit-Sagara or Kshemendra’s Brihat-Katha-Manjari. The Panchatantra and the Hitopadesa also belong to this category.

The Kavyas

These are highly scholarly compositions in poetry, prose or both. The greatest of poetical Kavyas are those of Kalidas (The Raghuvamsa, Abhignana Shakuntalam and Kumara-sambhava), Bharavi (The Kiratarjuniya), Magha (The Sisupalavadha), and Sri Harsha (The Naishadha). The best prose Kavyas in the whole of Sanskrit literature were written by Bhattabana (The Kadambari and Harshacharita), the great genius in classical Sanskrit. Among those containing both poetry and prose, the Champu-Ramayana and the Champu-Bharata are most famous. These wonderful masterpieces will forever remain the glory of India’s literary calibre.

The Natakas (dramas)

These are scholastic dramas embodying the Rasas (expressions, mostly facial) of Sringara (decorate or beautify), Vira (brave), Karuna (compassion), Adbhuta (astonishment), Hasya (laugh), Bhayanka (fearsome), Bibhatsa (disgusting or loathsome) and Raudra (terrible). It is told that none can write on the ninth Rasa, viz., Shanti (peaceful). It is attainable only on final Liberation. The best dramas are written by Kalidasa (Sakuntala), Bhavabhuti (Uttara-Rama-Charita), and Visakhadatta (Mudrarakshasa).

(Left - Navarasas in Odissi dance)

The Alankaras

These are grand rhetorical texts, treating of the science of perfection and beauty of ornamental language and of effective composition with elegance and force, in poetry and in prose. These are the fundamentals of Sanskrit Sahitya (literature). The best of them are Mammata (Kavyaprakasa) and Jagannatha (Rasagangadhara).

Medical Manuscripts - Palm Leaf Manuscripts of the Tamil Siddha Tradition

A lot of palm leaf manuscripts relate to the ancient system of medicine called Siddha. It is a traditional Tamil system of medicine, originated between 10,000 to 4,000 BCE, finding its archeological evidences in the submerged land of Kumari Kandam in the Indian Ocean. The uniqueness of Siddha System is evident by its continuous service to humanity for thousands of years in combating diseases and also in maintaining its physical, mental and moral health while many of its contemporaries have become extinct.

A lot of the manuscripts at the French Institute of Pondicherry (FIP) Puducherry, are Siddha manuscripts rescued from Siddha practitioners who tended to not use them and therefore let it to neglect. These were manuscripts that the practitioners would have inherited or were bequeathed to them, which they were reluctant to spend time to decipher and log its invaluable knowledge. The FIP has played an invaluable role in retrieving these manuscripts, (often found in total neglect) cleaned, restored and digitised these manuscripts and stored them in their archives.

What is Siddha Medicine?

Siddha is holistic medicine that aims at restoring balance to the mind-body system, destroying the disease from root rather than suppressing the symptoms and further making body and mind strong enough such that no disease ever touches you.

The origins of Siddha medicine is traced to Shaiva tradition. Agasthiyar or Maharishi Agastya (image below) is the originator of the Siddha medicine (as also of the Tamil language). He occupies the same position as Hippocrates in modern western medicine. Siddha means an established one or one who is firmly established within himself or herself.

The word Siddha denotes one who has achieved some extraordinary powers (siddhi). This achievement was related to the discipline of mind and its superiority over body, and was accomplished through both yoga and medicine. Thus siddhars (practitioners of Siddha) became the symbols of psychosomatic perfection and so the Siddha medicine became a combination of medicine and yoga. They emphasised the “perfection of the body” by means of yoga, alchemy, astronomy, astrology, philosophy, medicine, and certain types of tantric religious rituals.


Siddha is closer to body’s energy system than Ayurveda is. Ayurveda is more disease-oriented, whereas Siddha is more health-oriented and simply about rejuvenation. Siddha medicine gives equal importance in prevention and curing of diseases. Diet and lifestyle play a major role in Siddha medicine, not only in health but also in curing diseases. The aim is to make the body perfect and not allow it to decay.

According to Siddha cosmology, all matter is composed of two primal forces of matter (shiva) and energy (shakti). These two principles of existence operate in humans as well as nature, and connect the microcosm with the macrocosm. This is expressed by the association between the human body and the signs of the zodiac in Indian astrology.

The Science behind Siddha Medicine

Siddha Doctrine is based on following principles:

 Siddha : Study of Anatomy:

Five Gross elements (pañcamahabhutam): The five gross elements make up the entire natural world: solid/earth, fluid/water, radiance/fire, gas/wind, and ether/space. These combine in certain ways to give the three bodily humours: they are said to be in the proportion of 1 wind (vatham) to ½ bile (pittam) to ¼ phlegm (siletuman - kapha in Sanskrit).

Siddha: The Treatment

Siddha Medicine has five branches: general medicine, paediatrics, toxicology, ophthalmology, and rejuvenation.

Treatment is classified into three categories:

●  Devamaruthuvum (divine method), where medicines like parpam, chendooram, guru, kuligai made of mercury, sulphur and pashanams are used

●  Manuda maruthuvum (rational method), where medicines made of herbs like churanam, kudineer, vadagam are used

●  Asura maruthuvum (surgical method), where incision, excision, heat application, bloodletting, leech application are used


The therapeutic treatment in Siddha is further categorized into purgative therapy, emetic therapy, fasting therapy, steam therapy, oleation therapy, physical therapy, solar therapy, bloodletting therapy and yoga therapy. Siddha medicine also excelled in ophthalmology, treating ninety-six different eye-diseases and toxicology, including indigenous systems of treating snake bites and other forms of poisoning.


Siddha & Martial Arts

Closely connected with the tradition of the martial arts in South India there developed a type of acupressure treatment based on the 108 vital points in the human body, known as varmam (Sanskrit: marman). Siddha doctors developed techniques of applying pressure to special points, called varmakkalai, to remove certain ailments and of massaging the points to cure diseases. The Siddhas specialised in bone-setting and often practised an ancient form of the martial arts, called cilampam or silambattam, which involved a kind of duelling with staffs. These two developed into the fine art of Kalaripayatu, which is the oldest martial art form in the world.

Medical Manuscripts - Ayurveda

Ayurveda is based on the Atharvana Veda, which is the most recent among the four Vedas. Given the importance of this text, Ayurveda is sometimes called the 5th Veda. The name ‘Ayurveda’ means that it is a the science of life. ’Ayu’ means longevity or lifespan and ‘Veda’ means science.  

The main principles of Ayurveda are illustrated in this hymn:

Prayojanam cha asya swasthasya swaasthya rakshanam

Aaturasya vikaara prashamanam cha

(Charaka Sutra sthaana 30/26)

“Utility of this science is protection of health of a healthy person, then treating the diseased.”

This text completely deals with the wellbeing of a person. It is the oldest science to describe health and disease factors. In Vedic times there were great scholars who dealt with the health aspect of humans, animals and plants. They were well versed in the anatomy and physiology of humans and animals like horse, goat, and elephants (Hasti ayurveda, Vrukshayurveda, and so on). They included astrology while treating the diseased person.


Schools of Vaidyas

There were two main schools of vaidyas (doctors); one was the school of Patanjali where general medicine was followed. Acharya Charaka was considered as the best among them. The second school concentrated on surgery and was called Dhanvantari school, in which Acharya Sushruta was the most famous and is considered the father of surgery.


Modes of Healing

In the Vedic period, mainly herbs were used for treatment, along with some purified metals like mercury, gold, silver and mica and also select animal products. During the period of early Vedas like Rig Veda, health aspects were mixed up with generic topics of living. But, in due course, Ayurveda acharyas started maintaining separate documentation on health science. This literature came to be called Samhitas.

Branches of Ayurveda - Ashtanga Ayurveda

Ayurveda has eight branches or Ashtanga Ayurveda.  They were general medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, ENT, surgery, toxicology, geriatrics, eugenics and aphrodisiacs.

The main doctrines written in Ayurveda were Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hrudaya.

Definition of Ayurveda according to Acharya Charaka is:

Hitaahitam sukham dukham aayustasya hitaahitam

Maanamch tattcha yatroktam aayurvedaha sa uchyate (Charaka Sutra sthaana1/40)


“The science which changes Ahitaayu (unhealthy life) to Hitaayu (healthy life) from Dukhaayu (miserable life) to Sukhayu (pleasant life) is Ayurveda.”


Principles of Ayurveda

Definition of health according to Ayurveda:

Sama dosha samaagnishcha sama dhaatu malakriya

Prasanna aatmendriya manaha swasta ityabhidiyate

(Sushruta Sutra sthaana 15/41)

“The person is called healthy when there is balance in bio energies, digestive fire, body tissues and excretion from the body; pleasant soul, sensory organs, and mind.”

Sushruta (L) & Charaka (R) - Founders of the oldest schools of surgery and medicine respectively,  in the world

Sushruta performing a surgery - depiction of an ancient  Indian surgery scene

If a person is considered as healthy, then he should pass all the below mentioned calibers.  They are:

The main principle of Ayurveda is the prevention of illness and subsequently, treating the disease. In all the Samhitas, the initial chapters contained methods, which if followed, a person would live healthily. They were

After explaining these methods, Samhitas clearly says that people who do not follow these procedures will become diseased, explaining the causes and treatments for the diseases.

This science not only deals with our physical health but also mental and spiritual aspects. The main aim of Ayurveda is:

Dharmaartha kaama mokshaanaam aarogyam mulamuttamam

(Charaka Sutra sthaana 1/15)


During the Vedic times, each individual born on earth had some duties to fulfill, namely

To the fulfillment of dharma (duty), artha (wealth), kama (sex) and moksha (liberation) the person should have physical mental and spiritual  health. Following Ayurveda leads to compete health.

Knowledge Areas: The Veda-Agamas

His Divine Holiness Paramahamsa Nithyananda gives a simple, yet powerful definition to Agamas.

“Delivered by Sadāshiva, received by Devi, adopted as the Cosmic Constitution by the maintainer, Vishnu, is Agama.”

Agama literally means, that which has been bequeathed or ‘come down.’ They are an assemblage of scriptures of a gamut of Hindu devotional schools, with three main branches: Shaivism (of Lord Shiva), Vaishnavism (of Lord Vishnu) and Shaktism (of Adi Shakti).

The Agama literature is humongous and includes: 28 Shaivagamas, 77 Shakta Agamas, which are also called tantras, and 215 Vaishnava Agamas. But as His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda asserts, “There are Agamas - Shakta Agamas, Vaishnava Agamas, Shaiva Agamas - but all Agamas non-controversially agree, that they have been delivered by Sadashiva.”

The Vaishnava Agamas come from the mouth of Bhagavan Vishnu Himself. There are 100s of Viashnava Agamas. Broadly they can be classified as Pancaratra and Vaikhanasa. Pancaratra, as the name suggests, involve a five-fold ritual schedule. There are about 200-225 Pancaratra texts. Vaikhanasa agamas were taught by Vikhana to his disciples like Marichi and Bhrigu. A few Vaishnava Agamas are Isvara, Ahirbudhnya, Narada, Hayasirsha, Paushkara, Satvata, Jnanamrita sara.

The Sakta Agamas or Tantras hold Sakti as the supreme Godhead. These are of two kinds, Vama and Dakshina. There are 77 Sakta Agamas, many of which are in the form of Siva-Sakti conversations. A few Sakta Agamas are Kularnava, Rudra Yamala, Brahma Yamala, Vishnu Yamala, Maha Nirvana.

The Tantras are imbued with reverence for the feminine, representing goddess as the focus and treating the female as equal and essential part of the cosmic existence. The

feminine Shakti found in the Vedic literature, flowers into extensive textual details only in the Shakta Agamas. These texts emphasize the feminine as the creative aspect of a male divinity, cosmogonic power and all pervasive divine essence. The Shakta Agamas are related to the Shaiva Agamas, with their respective focus on Shakti with Shiva in Shakta Tantra and on Shiva in Shaiva texts. The Shakta tantras are 64 in number. 

Agamas teach systematic methods of spirituality that involve worship in the form of rituals, pujas (acts of worship) and yajnas (a fire ritual with a particular objective), but they also lay down the means to live the lifestyle of the Gods themselves.

Agama – The Shaastra Pramaana:

āgatāṃ śivavaktrebhyo gataṃ ca girijāmukhe

mataṃ hi vāsudevasya tasmādāgama ucyate

~ svacchanda tantra

“That which has come from Śiva’s mouth and directly heard and received by Devi Girijā (Pārvati), which has been ordained by Śri Vāsudeva (Viṣṇu) to govern the world, therefore that is called Āgama.”

2017-5may-13th-nithyananda-diary_DSC_4501_bengaluru-aadheenam-sadashivatva-day1-sadashiva-darshan-swamiji_0.jpgThe Agamas are forms of instructions from Shiva to Shakti and take their name from the first three letters of the words agatam 

(originated), gatam (fell) and matam (ordained) as mentioned in the shloka.

The Sakta- Agamas on the other hand, define Agamas as the wisdom revealed by Parvati to Siva. However, there are some Agamas which are revealed by Siva to other recipients as well, such as Matanga (Matanga-Paramesvaragama), Ruru (Rauravagama) and Visnu (Ajitagama)

These texts are in the form of dialogues. Although the originators of these Agamas are Siva, Visnu or Parvatl the knowledge that exists today has come down to us either orally or through texts from a succession of consecrated teachers. 

(Ref: The Agama Encyclopedia, Prof. S K Ramachandra Rao, Satguru Publications, Revised & Enlarged Edition, 2005)

The word ‘Agama’ deals with worship and the philosophical, psychological, ritualistic and behavioural aspects thereof.  The Agamas deal with all types of worship, either in temples or at home, in communities or in private. They form the basis for the temple- culture as it prevails today. They prescribe the structure and architecture of various kinds of temples, the customs to be followed the rituals to be performed, and the festivals to be conducted, in fact the entire gamut of activities connected with the temples.

Agama is characterized by seven ‘marks’ - saptabhir laksanairyuktam tvagamam:

  1. creation - srshti 
  2. dissolution - pralaya
  3. worship of gods - devatarcana 
  4. spiritual practices - sadhana
  5. repetition of the mantras - purascarana 
  6. the group of six magical practices - sat- karma-sadhana
  7. contemplative techniques - dhyana- yoga

Vedas give great importance to fire rituals (yagnas & homas) while the Agamas recommend worship of the images of God (vigraha / moorti) with rituals (tantra) and word-symbols (mantra) as the road to liberation (moksha). The Agamas hold bhakti or devotion to deity as a primary requisite to attain salvation, and wisdom or enlightenment (jnana) as the last step in the path of emancipation. Its approach is dualistic: that of man seeking the Supreme, whose grace alone can save him from the misery of worldly attachment.

It is this element of devotion, which has given rise to the temple culture and of worship. The approaches of ritualistic action (karma) and liberating wisdom (jnana) are made subordinate to deep devotion.

The Agama texts no doubt extol knowledge and prescribe ritualistic action, but they emphasize that without devotion they are ineffective and become irrelevant. And in the Agama context, devotion is defined as intense interest in worship. (pujadisvanuragah bhaktih).

Interview by well-known scholar and intellectual kshatriya Rajeev Malhotraji with His Divine Holiness Sri Pramahamsa Nithyananda, where He revealed the connection between the Vedas and Agamas and its scientific significance.

Shaivagamas – A Chronicle

The Agamas existed mostly in South India, in Tamil Nadu, recorded on palm leaf manuscripts and preserved in the homes of Shivacharyas who were entrusted with organising and performing the pujas and rituals in the Shiva temples for several millenniums. They are in the Grantha script evolved by the Tamil people to preserve Sanskrit scriptures, 1000s of years ago.

The Agamas saw their greatest revival soon after Adi Shankaracharya unified Sanatana Hindu Dharma, during the times of the Shaiva devout Chola rulers, from the 9th to 12th centuries CE.

A distinctive Shaiva Advaita philosophy took shape from the days of Thirumoolar and Karaikal Ammaiyar which was given a fresh life and a new direction by the Saiva Nayamars such as Sambanthar, Appar, Sundarar and Manikkavasagar. Under these saints, the Agamas flourished into temple building and temple worship from the 9th to the 13th centuries CE. The greatest exponent of this revival was the saint, Thirugnanasambanthar.

While the Shaiva Agamas led to the Shaiva Siddhanta philosophy in Tamil-speaking regions of South-India, it gave rise to Kashmir Shaivism in the Northern region of India i.e. in Kashmir.


A painting representing the Triad of Shiva, Shakti, Nara in Kashmir Shaivism

Kashmiri Shaivism

Monistic Kashmiri Shaivites such as Abhinavagupta accepted the Bhairava and Kaula Tantras as their prime authorities. These focus on the worship of Kalabhairava (the form of Shiva that is the Lord of Time & Space) and goddesses. Twelve of these Tantras are amongst the e-texts of the Muktibhoda Digital Library. They include Tantras of the Kalikula that developed into the Krama system of Kashmiri Shaivism, centred on the worship of various forms of Kali. They also include the Sritantrasadbhava, an important and extensive Tantra of the Trika school which Kashmiri Shaivites adopted as their own.

Shiva, Shakti & Nara - A symbolic representation of the Triad that is at the core of Kashmir Shaivism

The red line indicates the traditional boundaries of the once princely state of Jammu & Kashmir!

Along with the Kashmiri Shaivites, the Kashmir Valley was also the home of more dualistic Shaivites who focused specifically on the public worship of Shiva. They adopted the Siddhanta Agamas as their prime authority and wrote commentaries on some of them as well as independent theological treatises in which they expounded and defended the theology and metaphysics of the Siddhanta Agamas. Although they were not pure monists as their Kashmiri Shaivites, they were a source of much inspiration for the latter who also drew from the Siddhanta Agamas and related texts, whose doctrines they presented in the framework of their own monistic idealism.

The Agamas of Kashmiri Shaivism is also called the Trika Shastra. It centers mainly on the Trika system of maalinI, siddha and naamaka Agamas and venerates the triad Shiva, Shakti, Nara (the bound soul) and the union of Shiva with Shakti. The Trika philosophy derives its name from the three shaktis, namely, paraa, aparaa and paraapara; and provides three modes of knowledge of reality, that is, non-dual (abheda), non-dual-cum-dual (bheda-bheda) and dual (bheda). The Saiva-agama which was preserved in Kashmir lost its temple-orientation, after the domination of that area by the iconoclast Muslims.

These days, Shaiva Siddhanta is virtually unknown in North India whereas it flourishes vigorously in the South mainly in Tamil Nadu. Their exegeses and commentators in Sanskrit and Tamil contributed to its further development. Comparison of the Siddhanta Agamas found in South India with the few Siddhanta manuscripts preserved in Nepal reveals that substantial changes and additions were made to the Agamas in the South.

Role of Adi Shankaracharya

The great ancient philosopher, theologian and saint, is credited for organising all traditions of Sanatana Hindu Dharma to its very core. He traveled the length and breadth of Bharatavarsha, establishing mathas in the 4 directions of the country. Along the way, he debated various traditions of Sanatana Hindu Dharma with experts of the time such as Kumarila, Mandana, Prabhakara of the Mimamsa school, and consolidating the Advaita Vedanta into a whole. In this way, Adi Shankaracharya travelled to Kashmir where he was initiated into the Shakta Agamic tradition by Abhinava Gupta, the great theologian, mystic, poet, musician, dramatist, logician of that region, all those years ago. With this, Adi Shankracharya integrated the Shakta Srividya Sampradaya into the Vedanta Sampradaya.

The redoubtable Adi Shankaracharya organised the various traditions of Sanatana Hindu Dharma to its very core.

Delving into the Shaivagamas

The Shaivagamas, also known as Shaiva Siddhanta Shastras (or the Shivagamas) in Sanskrit, are replete with mantras, techniques and practices to aid in transcending individuals from a lower to a higher state of consciousness. These scriptures reveal the exact nature of Pati (the Supreme Protector) and the souls that are bound which make known the exact nature of transcendental Parashiva (the Absolute which is beyond comprehension).

The Shaiva Siddhanta Shastras have been revealed by Lord Shiva to constitute the final and well ascertained conclusive principles that should be accepted or discarded.


Lord Shiva has five faces, and each of these five faces revealed different scriptures of the 28 Shaivagamas. The faces are: Sadashiva.JPG

Shiva & Parvati - Ellora Cave-29

The Shaivagamas were directly delivered by Lord Shiva to Devi and to sages who were adherents of the Shaivite order, such as Kaushika, Kashyapa, Bharadvaja, Agastya and Gautama. Each Shaivagama upholds a particular set of instructions, be it for priests who want to conduct homas and pujas, or for people who want to live the lifestyle of Lord Shiva and who want to strengthen the connection with Him. These Agamas are also meant for those who strive for enlightenment, or simply for those individuals who wish to follow Lord Shiva’s dictums and live His very life. There are a total of 28 Shaivagamas.

Of the Shaivagamas, the Kamika Agama is the foremost scripture that came out of the Sadyojata face, and was directly uttered by Lord Shiva to Devi and a Sapta Rishi (Kaushika) on Mount Meru in Ujjain, India. He in turn transmitted it to 3 more sages. Thus began the flowering of a unique and divine culture ensconced in the Hindu-Vedic tradition that set forth ways and means to practice living with the ultimate super-consciousness.

As Paramahamsa Nithyananda says about the Kamika Agama, “It is the only spiritual inner science to manifest anything one wants as reality.”

Further each of Shaiva-Agamas are divided in multiple Upagamas. Following is detailed list of Up-Agama corresponding to each Agama.

Agama Number

The Agama (28)

Upagamas (207)



1. Vaktrāram

2. Bhairavoṭṭaram

3. Nārasimham (Mṛigendram)



4. Vinashikoṭṭaram

5. Tāram

6. Chantam

7. Santati

8. Atmayogam

Agama Number

The Agama (28)

Upagamas (207)



9. Suchintyam

10. Subhakam

11. Vāmam

12. Pāpanāsam

13. Parodbhavam

14. Amṛitam



15. Karanam

16. Pavanam

17. Daurgam

18. Mahendram

19. Bhimam

20. Maranam

21. Dveshtam



22. Prabhūtam

23. Parotbhūtam

24. Pārvatīsha Samhitai

25. Padma samhitai



26. Ameyam

27. Saptam

28. Achchādyam

29. Asankyam

30. Amidaujasam

31. Anandam

32. Mādavotbhūdam

33. Atbhutam

34. Akshatam



Sukshma Samhitai



35. Atītam

36. Mangalam

37. Shuddam

38. Aprameyam

39. Jātibāk

40. Prabuṭṭam

41. Vibhutam

42. Hastam

43. Alankāram

44. Subodakam

Agama Number

The Agama (28)

Upagamas (207)



45. Vidyāpurāṇa Tantram

46. Vāsavam

47. Nīlalohitam

48. Prakāraṇam

49. Bhūta Tantram

50. Ātmālankāram

51. Kāshyapam

52. Gautamam

53. Aindram

54. Brāmhyam

55. Vāśhiśhṭam

56. Ishānam






57. Vijayam

58. Utbhavam

59. Saumyam

60. Agoram

61. Mṛityunāsanam

62. Kuberam

63. Mahāgoram

64. Vimalam



65. Nishvāsham

66. Uṭṭara Nishvāsam

67. Nishvāsamugodhayam

68. Nishvāsa Nayanam

69. Nishvāsa kārikai

70. Gorasamjñam

71. Yamākyam

72. Guhyam



73. Prajāpatimatam

74. Padmam

75. Svāyambuvam


Āgneya / analavira


76. prastAram

77. Pullamallam

78. Prabodham

79. Bhodam

80. Bhodhakam

81. Amoham

82. Mohasamayam

83. Hākaṭam

84. Sakaṭadikam

85. Halam

86. Vilekanam

87. Bhadram

88. Vīram



89. Kālāgnam

90. Kādītam

91. Rauravam

92. Rauravoṭṭam

93. Mahākālamatam

94. Aindram



95. Makuṭam

96. Makuṭoṭṭaram



97. Anantam

98. Bhogam

99. Agrāntam

100. Vṛiśabingam

101. Vṛiśodaram

102. Vṛiśādbhudam

103. Sudandam

104. Raudram

105. Bhadravitam

106. Arevatam

107. Atigrāntam

108. Aṭṭahāsam

109. Alankṛitam

110. Archchitam

111. Dhāraṇam

112. Tantram



113. Stiram

114. Sthānu

115. Mahāntam

116. Vāruṇam

117. Nandikeshvaram

118. Ekapādam

119. Shankaram

120. Nīlarudrakam

121. Shivabhadram

122. Kalpabedam

123. Shrīmukham

124. Shivashāshanam

125. Shivashekharam

126. Devīmatam



The Agama (28)

Upagamas (207)



127. Chaturmukham

128. Malayam

129. Ayokam

130. Samstopam

131. Pratibimbakam

132. Ātmālankāram

133. Vāyavyam

134. Dauṭikam

135. Tuṭinīrakam

136. Kalādyayam

137. Tulāyogam

138. Kuṭṭimam

139. Bhaṭṭashekharam

140. Mahāvidyai

141. Mahāsauram



142. Kavacham

143. Varāham

144. Pingalamatam

145. Pāshabandham

146. Daṇḍadaram

147. Ankusham

148. Dhanurdharam

149. Shivajñānam

150. Vijñjñānam

151. Shri Kālajñānam

152. Āyurvedam

153. Dhanurvedham

154. Sarpa damśtrī Vibedhanam

155. Gīdam

156. Bharatam

157. Adodyam



158. Lalitam

159. LaLitoṭṭaram

160. Kaumāram



161. Cāroṭṭaram

162. Ausanoṭṭaram

163. Kālābedam

164. Shashikaṇṭam

Agama Number

The Agama (28)

Upagamas (207)



165. Lingādyaksham

166. Surādyaksham

167. Shankaram

168. Amaleshvaram

169. Ashankyam

170. Anilam

171. Duvanduvam



172. Shivadharmoṭṭaram

173. Vāyuproktam

174. Divyaproktam

175. Ishānam

176. Sarvotgītam



177. Matangam

178. Yakshaṇipadmam

179. Pārameshvaram

180. Puśkaram (Pauśkaram)

181. Suprayogam

182. Hamsam

183. Sāmānyam



184. Gāruḍam

185. Nairudham

186. Nīlam

187. Rūksham

188. Pānukam

189. Denukam

190. Prabuddam

191. Buddam

192. Kālam



193. Vāṭulam

194. Uṭṭaravāṭulam

195. Kālajñānam

196. Prarohitam

197. Sharvam

198. Dharmātmakam

199. Shreśṭam

200. Nityam

201. Shuddam

202. Mahānanam

203. Vishvam

204. Vishvātmakam

What do the Agamas Contain?

These texts include Shaiva cosmology, epistemology, philosophical doctrines, precepts on meditation and practices, four kinds of yoga, mantras, meanings and manuals for Shaiva temples, and other elements of practice. These canonical texts exist in Sanskrit and in languages such as Tamil.

The Agamas present a diverse range of philosophies, ranging from theistic dualism to absolute monism. In Shaivism, there are ten dualistic (dvaita) Agama texts, eighteen qualified monism-cum-dualism (bhedabheda) Agama texts and sixty four monism (advaita) Agama texts. The Bhairava Shastras are monistic, while Shiva Shastras are dualistic.

Conventionally, each of the agama texts have been compiled into four books (padas): the first known as the Jnana or Vidya-paada, dealing with the philosophical and the theoretical framework; the second, called Yoga-paada, dealing with the aspects of divine communion; the third, called Kriya-paada, dealing mainly with the worship rituals; and the last, known as Carya-paada, dealing with the priestly conduct and other observances.

While this is the ideal division of all agamas, in reality, very few agamas comprise of all the four divisions. This is so even among the Saivagamas which invariably prescribe the four-fold division. It is only some agamas like Suprabheda, Kirana and Mrgendra, that contain all the four divisions.

Greater emphasis in the Agama texts is given to the Kriya-pada. This is natural because Agama is mainly related to the temple and details of worship in it. Whatever is the subject- matter of the first two divisions finds its fulfillment and application (viniyoga) only in the Kriya-pada; and whatever is dealt with in the fourth division is only auxiliary to the Kriya-pada. Some of the agamas like Kamika and Karana have only Kriya-pada, but the

matter pertaining to the other three have also been dealt within the body of the text. The four-fold division is not strictly followed in the Vaisnava-agamas (except in Padma-samhita and Visnu- tattva-samhita), although they deal with all the matters that are generally dealt with in the other Agama texts.

At the Core of Agamas - Temple Building & Worship

The practice of worshipping deities at home has been in existence in India for 1000s of years.. But the Agamas, is distinguished by its almost exclusive concern with worship in temples. The Agama manuals invariably draw a distinction between worship carried out by the householder in his own home (atmartha) and worship carried out by priests in the temples for the sake of others (parartha). As a result, this clearly established the need for two mighty institutions in Hinduism - consecrated priests to carry out the elaborate rituals described in the Agamas and the need for a public place of worship, viz. the temple.

Rules were laid down for the building of the temples and for the installation of images therein. Temples had been growing in importance since the days of the Saiva Samayacharyas. Most temples follow the Kamika or the Karana agama for practices of day to day worship, while the Nataraja temple in Chidambaram follows the Makutagama; the Thiruvengadu temple follows three agamas - Kamika, Makuta and Karana agamas, Thirueengoimalai follows Vatulagama; Thirunallam temple follows Karana agama and Sukshuma agama; Thirunallar temple follows Makudagama.

The UNESCO declared heritage 11th century CE Brihadeeswara Temple, Tanjavur, is built as per the agamas

The Makutagama seem to occupy a unique place among the agamas. It is quoted as the authority in temples where Lord Nataraja is said to perform one of His Cosmic dances.

Similarly, the Agamas state three requirements for a place to be a center for pilgrimage: sthala, tirtha, and murti. Sthala refers to the place of the temple, Tīrtha is the temple tank, and Murti refers to the image of the deity.

Elaborate rules are laid out in the Agamas for shilpa (the art of sculpture) describing the quality requirements of the places where temples are to be built, the kind of images to be installed, the materials from which they are to be made, their dimensions, proportions, air circulation, lighting in the temple complex, etc. The Manasara and Silpasara are some of the works dealing with these rules.

Spread of Agama Literature - Going Beyond India into Buddhism & Jainism

Early in the 11th century, the advent of the iconoclast Muslims created an unrest among the Hindus. Custodians of the Agama literature fled to South India and to Kashmir to find refuge and patronage. The Saiva-agama which was preserved in Kashmir lost its temple-orientation by the 12 century CE, after the domination of that area by the Muslims. What could survive here was only the philosophical portions of the agama literature.

Siddhanta-agama found the conditions in South India favourable for its consolidation, even as it disappeared almost entirely from North India. It was nurtured in South India, and has therefore acquired a typical South Indian colour. Thus Saiva-agama in the temple-context is now found only in South India.

A Jain manuscript

During the same period, some of the Agama-tantra literature migrated to Nepal, Tibet and the adjoining countries. Along with the rise of Mahayana Buddhism, the Agama ideology also made its impact. Thus we have an entire class of Agama literature which could be designated as Buddhist agama and which found its roots in Vajrayana Buddhism (prevalent in Tibet, Mangolia, China and Japan). The visualization of deities is an important aspect of the sadhana in this variety of Buddhism. Icons are visualized and represented, contemplated upon and worshipped. Shrines are built for the icons, and elaborate rituals are conducted. And therefore there are numerous texts in Tibet and China which deal with iconic worship and they are generally referred to as Sadhana-texts. They have naturally borrowed extensively from Saiva-agama and Tantra literature.

Similarly the Jaina canon also adopted the Agama literature for the Jains, who also had images of tirthankaras and attendant divinities to worship ritualistically both in household and in public shrines. The icon-worshipping group (murti-pujaka) is more prevalent, and the Jaina shrines are in thousands in the country. There is a considerable literature concerning Jaina-agama dealing with making and installing of vigrahas, worship rituals and building of shrines. The medium through which this migration and adoption were effected was probably through the Natha-Siddha tradition in the Himalayan foothills. The leaders of this Natha tradition, the nine Nathas and the sixty-four Siddhas were essentially Saiva in orientation, incorporating however the Sakta elements from the Tantra. Thus we find that both the Buddhist and Jaina agamas align themselves principally to Saiva and secondarily to Sakta agama outlook.

Vedas & Agamas

His Divine Holiness Paramahamsa Nithyananda elaborates, “Vedas are the ultimate, superior authority for the Hindus. Vedas are like a pure science, where the ultimate truths are explained, but Agamas are the scriptures where the applied technology, the applied science is expanded. All the Hindu bodies, be it the Kashi Vidvat Sabha or the Akhada Parishad, accept Vedas and Agamas as Shruti. Vedas and Agamas, Vedagamas are given the status of Shruti and everything else follows like a Smriti and they have their own status and respect.

Agamas are directly revealed by Sadashiva; more like a practical manual of how to, what to, where to, when to. All these detail is answered with the right context, giving enough of understanding in a more sympathetic, compassionate way, with a lot of concern for human beings.”

This makes the Agamas tremendously user-friendly, with no threats of any kind. Anyone following Agamas and agamic way of life is only given completion and prayaschitta and not condemnation as happens in certain religious faiths. In the Agamas, even animals, if they ask for it, have to get initiation from

a Guru, Sadashiva. Which is why one will read stories in Hindu scriptures of this ant or that elephant worshipping Sadashiva and becoming enlightened. In fact, all LIVING BEINGS and all genders, are given possibility in Agamas for initiation by Sadashiva.

Besides the Agamas there are Upagamas, which are Agamas in an expanded way. Upagamas run into nearly 1000 numbers. The Agamas serve as practical manuals. Take for example the Kamika Agama - this Agama gives how Ganesha should be worshiped, how Shiva should be connected, or how a devotee should connect with Devi. The Upagama of this part of the Kamika Agama, takes it up and organises it.  For e.g. if a temple has seven Ganeshas, then the Ganesha puja has to be repeated for all seven of them. Being so minutely detail oriented in every aspect of rituals and worship, the Upagamas runs into atleast 2 crore verses which are available to us today.

The Vedas were definitely much larger in number – there were 1000s of Shakhas or branches, however a lot of it is not available to us now. But a very large body of Agamas are available, therefore making it the largest body of Hindu scriptures available to mankind.

Not Simply Agamas – They are Vedagamas

“Agamas are not a separate set of scriptures. Within the Vedas itself, from Shiva Samhita starts the whole Agama.”  His Divine Holiness Sri Paramhamsa Nithyananda.

Therefore, one cannot separate the two as Vedas and Agamas and must refer to them together as Vedagamas; because what is accepted as Vedas in Shiva Samhita, Agama starts there, in the Shiva Samhita.

Scholars on the Agamas have this to say about Vedagamas. The heritage of the Agamas, states Krishna Shivaraman, was the "Vedic piety maturing in the monism of the Upanishads presenting the ultimate spiritual reality as Brahman and the way to realizing as portrayed in the Gita". David Smith remarks, that, "a key feature of the Tamil Saiva Siddhanta … is that its source lies in the Vedas as well as the Agamas, in what it calls the Vedagamas. This school's view can be summed up as, “The Veda is the cow, the true Agama its milk. — Umapati”.


Agamas Are Scientific

Science is about verifying, testing and showing results. There are two requirements for science. It should be based on some theoretical framework (which is fulfilled by the the Shaastra) which

says if you cause this, this will be the effect.  If you do this, this is going to be that result. Agamas too says the same thing.

“Agama says you must do these procedures you’ll get these results.” … Paramahamsa Nithyananda. So it satisfies the first requirement of science. Second requirement is that you should be able to test and verify whether it really works. So if somebody says they’re Hindu, they really cannot deny the importance of Agama, as a verifiable Shaastra and cannot down-play the importance of what you are doing because you are reviving, rediscovering these, testing them.

Therefore, the practices, rituals, symbols, the intricate elaborate practices could be considered similar to modern technology – like the protocols when setting up Wi-Fi and so on whose needs an engineer will understand very well but a lay person using the technology will not see its relevance.

Works that Evolved from the Agamas

The Agamas in turn led to the development of many auxiliary texts based on them, by learned scholars. These were called the Ashta Prakarna and interestingly all the authors of these texts are from Kashmir. These texts focus on the Nyaya Paada of the Agama.

Sl. No.

Name of the Text



Tattva Prakaashika



Tattva Sangraha



Tattva Traya Nirnayam



Ratna Trayam



Boga Kaarika



Naada Kaarika

Bhatta Ramakantha


Mokha Kaarika



Paramokha Niraacha Kaarika


The other series of texts that evolved out of the Agamas were the Paddhathis. These are quick-reference manuals that bring out the applications that would be useful in rituals. These texts are focused on the Cariya and Kriya Paada parts of the Agamas. There are several well-known paddhathi manuals. But the most well-known are those by Somashambhu and Aghora Shivam.

Sanskrit - the Language of the Gods, the Language of Hinduism!

Most scriptures of Hinduism are in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the oldest language in the world, and was handed down to enlightened rishis and munis by Bhagavan Brahma. These rishis and munis in turns passed on the knowledge to their disciples first orally which came to be preserved as Shruti literature in the Vedas & their genre.

Sanskrit is one of the 14 original languages in India’s Constitution. It is largely used in Carnatic music in the form of bhajans, shlokas, stotras, and kirtanas, all indicating various hymns to the gods, and songs and mantras of worship. Sanskrit language has been the traditional means of communication in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. Sanskrit literature also holds the privilege of being used in ancient poetry, drama, dance and sciences, as well as in religious and philosophical texts.

The scientific world has come to accept Sanskrit as the most systematic and technical language and therefore most suited for writing computer algorithm and for artificial intelligence. As a result, despite claims by scholars such as Sheldon Pollock, calling it a dead language, Sanskrit is in fact seeing a resurgence in many parts of the world, especially in the West, where many colleges and universities have a Sanskrit department or a Sanskrit Chair. Many schools are making it a compulsory language right at the primary school level - for e.g. the St. James Independent School London, or the John Schottus School in Dublin, Ireland or the more than 14 universities in Germany that is making learning of Sanskrit compulsory.


In India, Samskriti Bharati is playing a stellar role in spreading Sanskrit as a spoken language in many cities and towns. Thanks to their efforts, 7 villages in India are now wholly Sanskrit speaking villages. Foremost among these is Mattur, in Shivamogga district of Karnataka, where Sanskrit has been the language of communication for more than 600 years. The other villages are Hosahalli also in Shivamogga District, Jhiri, Bhaguwar and Mohad in Madhya Pradesh, Sassana in Odisha and Ganoda in Rajasthan.

The three major Hindu philosophical concepts which were formulated in Sanskrit are Dvaita (Madhvacharya), Advaita

(Sankaracharya) and Vishistadvaita (Ramanujacharya). Among the best-known masterworks of Sanskrit literatures are Ramayana and Mahabharata epics, the Panchatantra by Vishnu Sharma, Arthashastra by Chanakya, Bhagavad Gita, poems and plays of Kalidasa, the Puranas & Upanisads. Apart from these are books on astronomy, science, astrology, medicine and law in large numbers.

Kalidasa - the greatest Sanskrit poet  of all times - his immortal works include Abhijnana Shakuntalam, Kumara-Sambhavam, Meghadootam, Raghuvamsam, etc.

Why the Demand for Sanskrit in the Modern World?


Unlike most European and Asian language, which have undergone fundamental changes and corrected its course to tie in with the needs of the time, Sanskrit has not changed over 1000s of years of its existence. Sanskrit stands out above all other languages for its beauty of sound, precision in pronunciation and reliability as well as thoroughness in every aspect of its structure. It has had no need to change making it the most perfect language of Mankind ever.

The reason for the constancy in Sanskrit is that it is completely structured and thought out. Sanskrit language has an extremely rich complex grammatical structure and an enormous vocabulary. There is not a word that has been left out in its grammar or etymology, which means every word can be traced back to where it came from originally. The precision of Sanskrit stems from the unparalleled detail on how the actual sounds of the alphabet are structured and defined. The sounds have a particular place in the mouth, nose and throat that can be defined and will never change.

This is why in Sanskrit the letters are called the ‘indestructibles’ [aksharáni]. Sanskrit is the only language that has consciously laid out its sounds from first principles.

It is the only language that is still used in Hindu ceremonies and rituals in the form of mantras and shlokas. Sanskrit mantras, when recited in combination with the sound vibrations have specific effect on the mind and the psyche of a person. Sanskrit is the language with which we have been gifted the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, the great epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata, the timeless Bhagavad Gita.

Left - image of a homa kund

Sanskrit Origins

Sanskrit has been called Devabhasa or Devavani or Language of the Gods since ancient times. The script is called Devanagiri or ‘that which was used in the city of the Gods’. Sanskrit is a combination of two words - Sanskar and Krit,  where Krit means ‘inculcating’ and Sanskar means ‘essence of moral values’. This makes Sanskrit a language that has the capacity to inculcate higher values in an individual, and the self.

Although Sanskrit is now written mostly in the Devanagiri script, it has not had a script of its own. Various regions used their own scripts to write Sanskrit. Hence, Sanskrit manuscripts can be found written in over two dozen scripts giving us more than 30 million manuscripts, whose total magnitude surpasses Greek and Latin works put together! Sanskrit has been written in Gurumukhi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Sharada, Grantha, Siddham, Thai, Tibetan scripts, to name a few.

Sanskrit in terms of its literary association is classified into two different periods, the Vedic and Classical. Vedic Sanskrit is found in the oral tradition of the Vedic sacred texts where the most original form of the language was used. This early Sanskrit is rich in vocabulary, phonology, grammar, and syntax, which remains undiluted in its purity to this day. It consists of 52 letters in total, 16 vowels and 36 consonants. These 52 letters have never been tweaked or altered and have been constant since the beginning, thus making it the most perfect language for word formation and pronunciation.


Panini the Grammarian: Over thousands of years, many scholars have contributed to Sanskrit literature. What followed the Vedic Sanskrit is the Classical Sanskrit beginning with Rishi Panini's Sanskrit grammar called Ashtadhyayi. The Ashtadhyayi gives the details of how the language works and forms the basis for modern Sanskrit grammar. The Ashtadhyayi contains 3959 systematised rules that are undiluted in brevity, full of wonderful analysis, explanation, and preferential usage of the language and word formation. Panini was responsible for the standardisation of the language, which to this day remains in use in multiple forms. (Ref.

As a language it has a very rich tapestry with numerous synonyms for each word each having a specific meaning in the language of Sanskrit. This richness of Sanskrit makes it truly versatile and a great language for super conscious growth of an individual. For e.g. English has only one word for ‘love’, while Sanskrit has 96!

Similarly, English has only one word for ‘water’ while Sanskrit has 69 words for it. The language is so vast that it has more than 250 words to describe rainfall, and 65 words to describe earth, among other descriptions.

Phonetically, Sanskrit is the most accurate language for pronunciation. It uses 49 types of sounds that make pronunciation of different kinds of words very distinct. The attention devoted to grammar, phonetics and linguistics in Sanskrit has seen no parallel till date. Sanskrit has also been proved to help in speech therapy. Learning the language improves brain functioning as also improves the academic performance of the students dramatically. It enhances memory power and concentration and its precision and grammar is most suited for science and mathematics.

The language has been generated by observing the natural progression of sounds created in the human mouth, thus considering sound as an important element of language formation. This is one of the prime reasons why Sanskrit has been rich in poetry and its expressive quality of bringing out the best meaning through perfect sounds that are soothing to the human ear. Vedic Sanskrit also contains abstract nouns and philosophical terms which are not to be found in any other language. The consonants and vowels are flexible enough to be grouped together to express nuanced ideas. In all, the language is like an endless ocean without a base due to its reach,  complexity, and hundreds of words to express a single meaning or object.

Devanāgarī Alphabet for Sanskrit


Vowels and vowel diacritics (घोष / ghoṣa)

Sanskrit vowels and vowel diacritics

Consonants (व्यञ्जन / vyajjana)

Sanskrit consonants

Conjunct consonants (संयोग / saṅyoga)

There are about a thousand conjunct consonants, most of which combine two or three consonants. There are also some with four-consonant conjuncts and at least one well-known conjunct with five consonants. Here's a selection of commonly-used conjuncts:

A selection of Sanskrit conjunct consonants

Numerals (संख्या / saṇkhyā)

Sanskrit numerals and numbers from 0-10

Why Only An Avatar’s Translation of Sanskrit Can be the most Authentic?

In his seminal work The Battle for Sanskrit, Rajiv Malhotraji talks in detail of the dangers of Sanskrit falling in Western hands and being subject to Western ideological interpretations. To quote, his book (pg. 2),

        “seeks to wake up traditional scholars of Sanskrit and samskriti (Indian civilization) concerning an important school of thought that has its base in US and has started to dominate the discourse on the cultural, social and political aspects of India. This academic field is called Indology or Sanskrit studies… From their analysis of the past, the scholars of this field are intervening in modern Indian society with the explicitly stated view of detoxifying it of ‘poisons’ allegedly built into Sanskrit and its texts. Often, they interpret India in ways that the traditional Indian experts would outright reject or atleast question.”

Further, on pg. 23, Rajiv Malhotraji explains what aspects of Sanskrit are at stake - they are qualities that actually make Sanskrit an invaluable legacy for Hindus which these Orientalists and so-called Indologists are neutralizing and negating.

Blissfulness personified - His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda offering arati

Given how structured and precise Sanskrit is with words to be used in exact specific contexts, translating manuscripts of Sanskrit requires astute scholarship and deep understanding of the language. Most times, the limitations of European languages such as English make it very difficult to find the correct replacement for a specific Sanskrit word.

Besides, traditional scholars of Sanskrit are a dwindling lot making translating the manuscripts a very expensive proposition - for e.g. it cost as much as Rs. 100/- to translate one stanza/verse of a Sanskrit mantra!  One can therefore imagine the humongous costs that will be involved to transcribe and translate the 30 million or so manuscripts that exist and are being gathered at a furious pace at the Nithyananda Jnanalaya.

But for divine beings, who are constantly in oneness space with the highest consciousness, this can be very easy work.

His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda, in the daily satsangs he delivers live to the world over two-way video conference relayed live on via YouTube, maps the day’s mantra from Sanskrit to approximate words in English and shares that knowledge with the world. This mapping can only happen because of the avatar’s oneness with the Supreme Being or Paramashiva, making him the best person to present the most authentic translation of Sanskrit manuscripts to the world.

Devi Mahatmya - a fragment of Sanskrit manuscript

Treasures of Manuscripts in the Nithyananda Jnanalaya

Bharatavarsha was exceedingly advanced in intellectual activity during the ancient and medieval times. The sub-continent has the distinction of multiplicity of thoughts, languages, scientific, artistic, cultural, philosophical perceptions and knowledge system. These

composite knowledge is perceived as the key resource for developmental activities.

For thousands of years, the Indian knowledge Systems were passed down from generation to generation through oral and written traditions. A variety of writing materials such as stones, copper plates, birch bark, palm leaves, parchments and paper were to preserve the intellectual heritage.

His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda looks with absolute reverence at a set of palm leaf manuscripts

This treasure of wisdom containing the ancient knowledge systems has come down to us in the form of manuscripts. Indian manuscripts are the richest collection of written documents that provide information on the existence of different civilizations and the cultural affluence of the nation. Written in different Indian languages and scripts, these manuscripts are spread all over the country in monasteries, temples, libraries, museums, in private collections of individuals and in several private institutions. In reality, India has possibly the oldest and the largest collection of manuscripts in the world. (Ref.

Nithyananda Jnanalaya has identified manuscripts with unique spiritual and heritage value. Manuscripts are selected for their outstanding value to humanity and also for their contribution to human life, and giving super-conscious breakthrough to human life.

Nithyananda Jnanalaya has procured and collected more than 20,000 manuscripts on various subjects related to Hinduism. We have largest collection of Shaiva Agama procured, some of collections are on 300-year old palm-leaf. Along with Shaiva Agama, Nithyananda Jnanalaya has manuscripts on Vedas, Puranas, Itihasa and various other subjects.

The recognition seeks to sensitize archivists and collectors on the value of these resources and the need to preserve them.


His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda releasing one of his many works


The existing Nithyananda Jnanalaya at the Bengaluru Adheenam

Efforts of the Government of India-The National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM)

It is important to highlight efforts being made by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of the Government of India in collecting and preserving the invaluable millions of manuscripts spread across the country.

The National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) was established in February 2003. NMM works towards fulfilling its motto, of “Conserving the Past for the Future”. The Mission seeks to unearth and preserve the vast manuscript wealth of India. India possesses an estimated ten million manuscripts, probably the largest collection in the world. These cover a variety of themes, textures and aesthetics, scripts, languages, calligraphies, illuminations and illustrations.

The Mission has the mandate of identifying, documenting, conserving and making accessible the manuscript heritage of India.  The NMM is a national level comprehensive initiative which caters to the need of conserving manuscripts and disseminating knowledge contained therein. It has emerged as a movement,

undoubtedly the most popular and effective among all the heritage conservation initiatives in the country.


A Background on NMM’s Efforts on Preserving Manuscripts

“The National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) works with the help of 57 Manuscript Resource Centres across the country. These include well-established institutes, museums, libraries, universities and non-government organisations that act as the Mission’s coordinating agency in their respective regions. They are primarily responsible for surveying and documenting every manuscript in their area. The Mission liaises with them for awareness campaigns and outreach activities such as lectures, school theatre programme and training workshops.

The 34 Manuscript Conservation Centres consists of a team of trained conservators with a laboratory equipped to undertake manuscript conservation. They also provide technical know-how on the preventive and curative conservation of manuscripts throughout the country. Various outreach programs are conducted to promote knowledge about conservation and the skill-sets of the conservators are regularly updated with workshops and training sessions.

The 42 Manuscript Partner Centres identified by NMM consist of certain prominent institutions with large holdings of manuscripts for collaboration with the Mission and they are required to document and catalogue their own collections. The third initiative by NMM is the 300 Manuscript Conservation Partner Centres with which the Mission collaborates to advice on storage and maintenance of their collections in a scientific manner.”  (Ref.

A microfilming process

Mission of the Nithyananda Jnanalaya

His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda says there are nearly 10,000 such Digital Libraries in India. It will be the endeavor of the Nithyananda Jnanalaya to identify each of these Libraries and touch base with them. The purpose is to integrate the scattered knowledge of Indology and Hindu manuscripts across several location into one large web, in the Antarjaala Sarvjanapeetha.

Conservation  & Preservation of Manuscripts

The study of manuscripts reveals the social, cultural, historical, economic, artistic and aesthetic changes that have occurred in the course of development of a civilization. Thus, collecting and preserving the manuscripts enables preserving the intellectual heritage of mankind. In India, manuscripts are available in different libraries, sadhu-deras, religious institutions, in private collections or as heirlooms handed down to the next generation. etc. in varying states of deterioration.

Manuscripts require special attention and care for the reason of their importance as well as fragile nature. If due attention is not given for the conservation of manuscripts, there is then every possibility that we will lose our cultural heritage.

In the ancient days, knowledge and experience were recorded and preserved for the benefit of future generations written on walls, foot steps and pillars of temples, stones, bricks, metal sheets, silk and cotton cloths, wooden boards, terracotta boards, bamboo chips, birch bark , leaves of palm tree, and the like. The studies of manuscripts are often confined to matters written by hand on wood, paper, leather, wax, sheets of metal, etc.


Major Forms of Manuscripts in India

Three major types of manuscripts are found in India. They are:

Joy and bliss writ large - His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda with a strip of palm leaf verse!

Materials Used for Writing

The general name of an instrument for writing was lekhani which includes the stylus, pencils, brushes, reed and wooden pens. Crow-quills were also formerly used for writing very small character for amulets, but never for ordinary manuscripts. Pieces of reed, bamboo or wood, cut after the manner of pens, were used in all part of India where the use of ink prevailed; all the existing ancient manuscripts on palm leaves and birch bark probably had been written with such pens. Different types of inks were used for writing.


The processes of preservation and conservation are applied to safeguard physical and historical integrity of manuscript. They increase longevity of the integrity of manuscripts.

Generally, the two terms ‘Preservation’ and ‘Conservation’ are used synonymously. Technically, these two words have different connotations but they are related to each other. Preservation generally means keeping an object from harmful effect such as loss, destruction and the like. It is the process in which all actions are taken to retard deterioration of the manuscript or to prevent damage to manuscripts. It involves controlling the environment and conditions of use; and may include treatment in order to maintain manuscripts, as much as possible, in an unchanging state.

Whereas, Conservation is the process in which all actions are aimed at the safeguarding of manuscripts for the future. The purpose of conservation is to study, record, retain and restore the intervention. Conservation includes examination, documentation, preventive conservation, preservation, restoration and reconstruction. Conservation focuses on three basic aspects, namely examination, preservation and restoration. Manuscripts are often old and preserve texts which are otherwise lost or readings which are forgotten. Therefore, they need special care and attention in order to be preserved for the future generations.

A fragment of a Indian manuscript in a Chinese Library


The word preservation is now applied to a wide variety of collection management responsibilities intended to preserve collections of print and nonprint materials for future generation. It encompasses the activities which prolong the usable life of archival records.

Preservation activities are designed to minimize the physical and chemical deterioration of records and to prevent the loss of informational content. These activities include providing a stable environment for records of all media types, using safe handling and storage methods, duplicating unstable materials to a stable media, copying potentially fragile materials into a usable format (e.g. microfilming or digitization), storing records in housings made from stable materials (e.g. document boxes made from "acid-free" paperboard), repairing documents to maintain their original format, establishing a pest control program and instituting a disaster recovery plan which includes plans for emergency preparedness and response. In preservation, preservative measures are taken to stop or to check or to retard deterioration. It is, therefore, an unending process.


Conservation is the physical and chemical treatment of material to retard their future deterioration. The purpose of conservation is to stabilize an object and to maintain it as close as possible to its original condition. The conservation is a term, which embraces three closed related term, preservation, protection and maintenance.

Conservation comprises the examination, documentation, and treatment of records. Conservators perform treatments which preserve records in their original format. They examine records and assess their condition and the materials which comprise them, recommend remedial treatments to arrest deterioration, recommend treatments to improve condition, and document (in writing and with photographs) the treatments they perform on records.

Treatment documentation is important because it provides information to future archivists and conservators about what was done to records in the past. Some of the treatments that might be performed on a record include cleaning, removing damaging materials (e.g. mold, tape, or deteriorating adhesives), mending tears, de-acidifying records at risk from acid deterioration, and providing custom housing made from stable materials.

A termite damaged fragment of manuscript at the Nithyananda Jnanalaya


Deterioration is an alteration in an object produced by interaction between the object and factor of destruction. The different types of deterioration are reflected in the form of wear and tear, cracks, shrinkage, brittleness, softening, staining, warping, bio-infestation, discoloration, dust and dirt accumulation, abrasions, holes, missing pieces, internal stress. Manuscripts are susceptible to deterioration by physical factors, biological factors, chemical factors and human factors.

Physical Factors

Sample of a damaged Sanskrit manuscript from Nepal - 12-13 century CE

Biological Factors

Chemical Factors

A box of manuscripts received at the Nithyananda Jnanalaya

Human Factors

Mishandling of the manuscripts while carrying them from one place to other can cause damage to manuscripts. Secondly, faulty conservation treatment of manuscripts can cause irreparable damage to manuscripts. Improper cleaning of manuscripts is also risky as damage to the manuscripts can be caused even by friction.

Conservation Problems

The archives, libraries, museums are concerned with archival documents, manuscripts, books, painting, decorative art, sculpture, etc. Palm leaf manuscripts, birch bark manuscripts and paper being organic in nature are relatively more susceptible and subject to irreversible and inevitable decay in due course of time as well as due to various deterioration factor. The main conservation problems caused by the deterioration factors are:



The preservation and conservation techniques can be broadly

classified into:

Traditional Techniques

Care of the manuscripts was a major concern in the past and efforts were made to safeguard the collection from the agents of deterioration. The methods used to save the manuscripts were based on the experience and knowledge of natural and herbal products These were used for storage of manuscripts and to prevent them from deterioration. Some of the natural products in use for their germicidal properties and insect repellent potentialities are enumerated below:

Sample of a traditional mode of preservation - oiling

Om, in Tamil

Modern Techniques

With the colonization of India by the Europeans such as the British, French and Portuguese, the traditional techniques of preservation came to be treated as backward due to which they began to be abandoned. In its place, modern readymade chemicals product were imported from the west. Various modern techniques are practiced in libraries, museums and other manuscript repositories to preserve the manuscripts.

Cleaning & Stain Removal: Faulty storage conditions, contact with water, dust and dirt causes the stains on the manuscripts. Different methods are adopted to clean and remove stains. They are:


There are several chemicals which are volatile i.e., they evaporate, if left open, either in normal room temperature or with slight rise in the same. As the vapors of such volatile chemicals are poisonous to the insects, fungi, etc. these can be used for protection against such enemies of the manuscripts. The process of disinfection involving the use of insecticide in gaseous form is called fumigation. Methods adopted for fumigation are:

The fumigants are poisonous not only to insects but also to human beings. Most of them are toxic by ingestion, inhalation and skin absorption. Safety precautions must be observed while working with them.


Restoration involves action taken in order to return the object, as far as possible, to its original physical aesthetic state.


A fragile or a brittle manuscript due to different causes is to be reinforced physically to strengthen it for study, display or storage. Birch bark added strip.


Encapsulation is used for fragile items or where a heavy use is expected. The manuscript is encapsulated with the help of polyester film without using any chemical or heat and pressure. The manuscript is placed between two polyester film. The electrostatic charge of the polyester keep the manuscript in position. The edges are sealed with double sided adhesive tape or using polyester sealing machine. It is completely reversible in nature without affecting the manuscripts. Encapsulation is safe for palm leaf manuscripts, birch bark manuscripts as well as for paper manuscripts.  

Preventive Conservation

Preventive conservation is a process in which all actions are taken to retard deterioration and prevent damage from happening to the objects through the provisions of optimal conditions of storage, use and handling. This is the latest trend in the international conservation field where control measures are adopted to safeguard the collection. We can take the preventive measures, if we have the knowledge of cause of deterioration, by physical, biological, human and chemical factors.

Conservation & Preservation by Nithyananda Jnanalaya

Nithyananda Jnanalaya will use a combination of traditional methods as well as modern methods to conserve and preserve it collection of manuscripts, as enumerated above. Other steps that will be taken include:

Challenges of Preserving Manuscripts

One of the biggest challenges faced is what kind of software tool to use for handwritten manuscripts, that are in varied scripts and written by a varied number of scribes.

During the time of kingly states and kingdoms, royal families had their own scholars. These learned men were considered to be the jewels in the court of the enlightened rulers. It has been a tradition for the rulers of the state to undergo intensive training from a very young age under the guidance of learned men. Hence, the young rulers were quite naturally inclined to be patrons of various forms of learning. These outstanding scholars, well versed in philosophical literature and accomplished speakers, were able to explain difficult matters in a simple and interesting way, thus making knowledge accessible to everyone. These scholarly families across the country have been good collectors of manuscripts and some of them have even donated manuscripts from their collection for preservation to the libraries and research institutes.

Some of the challenges of preserving the manuscripts are as below:

Nithyananda Jnanalaya takes utmost care and the help of a combination of ancient and latest methodologies to preserve these important manuscripts for the future. In this regard following safeguarding and protective measure are taken:

This will require enormous investment, in that an entire building will need to be constructed with every facility described above carefully planned, architected and built.

Collecting, Sorting, Cleaning, Reprinting - Manuscripts @ Nithyananda Jnanalaya

Stacks of Palm Leaf for use in reprinting manuscripts, at the Nithyananda Jnanalaya


Sorting & Segregating

Below - A termite infested manuscript

Cleaning & Preserving - with Oil


Reprinting in Progress

Stacks of Reprinted Manuscripts

A delighted Avatar examines a well preserved manuscript

Conservation of Manuscripts

India is richest in repository of old and rare texts and manuscripts but is also forerunner in conservation efforts in modern times. Earlier all these text and manuscripts were treated as deity and given utmost care. As a decreasing interest and continuous attack by invaders, India has lost respect to these texts and manuscripts. All these manuscripts are suffering due to lack of proper maintenance.

Nithyananda Jnanalaya took this project very seriously. It has trained more than 20 people in preserving the sacred texts. Conservation efforts encompass the following dimensions:

Conservation of manuscripts in original is done through preventive and curative method. For that purpose, a standard methodology comprising the positive aspect of both traditional Indian practices and modern scientific methods has been formulated and followed. Manpower development through various training of volunteers are done on regular basis.

The trusted manuscript printer that is helping the Nithyananda Jnanalaya reprint damaged manuscripts

Conservation of manuscripts in original is done through preventive and curative method. For this purpose, a standard methodology comprising the positive aspect of both traditional Indian practices and modern scientific methods has been formulated and followed. Manpower development through various training of volunteers are done on regular basis.

Indigenous Method of Preservation


A traditional method of palm leaf manuscript preservation in progress.

Nithyananda Jnanalaya emphasis on manuscript conservation stems from the clear problem of upkeep, care and preservation of the invaluable heritage of India. The knowledge of preservation is not new to Indians. Care of manuscripts was a major concern in the past and efforts were made to protect them from the different agents of deterioration. One of the most important of these deterioration agents was biological growth. The methods used to save the manuscripts were based on experience and knowledge of herbs and other natural materials and these practices were passed down from generation to generation.

For centuries custodians of collections in India have used various natural materials for the preservation of their manuscripts. With the advent of new technologies in the field of conservation, and also with the changes in social and living systems the traditional practices and systems of conservation have fallen to disuse. At the same time, in spite of the advent of suitable chemicals for preservation, traditional methods of preservation are in practice in some of the libraries and manuscript repositories in India.

Most of the modern materials used today to counter insect attack are relatively drastic and toxic. It is therefore important to

re-evaluate the traditional materials which are in use and also to explore the possibility of using them with some modifications. If required. conventional insecticides, at the same time, should not be too readily dismissed in favour of non-chemical methods as it is better to work with products which have a long history and for which a lot of information regarding their advantages and disadvantages, is available.

Indigenous knowledge is important for several reasons because, local knowledge can help find the best solution to a development solution with fewer side effects and also indigenous knowledge represents the successful ways in which our ancestors have dealt with the rich heritage. The theme of utilizing existing knowledge to create appropriate solutions occurs repeatedly throughout the development literature. Using indigenous knowledge can help find the best solutions for a culture because, the solutions created must be economically and culturally acceptable to the society being aided

Digitization Process in Nithyananda Jnanalaya:

Digitization means acquiring, converting, storing and providing information in a computer format that is standardized, organised and available on demand from common system. Manuscripts are converted into compressed digital formats with specialized scanners and stored systematically for future reference.

Why Digitize?

Digitization is the primary step in order to preserve the contents of the Manuscripts. It is essential to save the Manuscript treasure and its knowledge base as much as possible before it is lost forever keeping in view the condition of the ancient Manuscripts.

Om in Jain scriptures

Cataloguing Manuscripts – Indological Classification System

The systematic arrangement of texts of a library or a manuscript repository is known as cataloguing. It is also the first stage of research in manuscript studies. Despite the existence of the Dewey decimal classification system used in libraries, Libraries often adopt their own systems for manuscripts. In printed / electronic form, manuscripts can be arranged in alphabetical order according to subject, title, author, place, language and script. On the shelf, it can be organized by object and place.

The Anukramanikas (indices) and Nighantus (etymology) give some idea of indexing and classifications. The Kosas (Metrical Dictionaries) have a system of classification of words in alphabetical order. The anthologies in Sanskrit literature provide different methods of subject wise classification.

Challenges for Nithyananda Jnanalaya for Cataloging

Nithyananda Jnanalaya will evolve its own categorization based on extant methods of classification of Indology or Indian scholarly works, Sanskrit literature and the like.

Described below is standard cataloging procedures that exist today. The Nithyananda Jnanalaya will adopt some of them and arrive at a cataloging system that is suited to the needs of Indian Sanskrit and such ancient language manuscripts. The key aspect of the cataloging will be making it accessible over worldwide web and tying it in with the Antarjaala Sarvjaneetha described in an earlier section above.

Types of Catalogues:

Card index

Generally, custodians use cards indices and the minimum fields required for standard card indexing are:










Collection of manuscripts










No. of folios


Condition of manuscript



A typical card index and accession register

Accession Register

The master record of every bibliographic item in the library is called an accession register. We can use it as Alphabetical Register and list the items by title, author or subject. It is also known as a Tabular Catalogue due to the table-catalogued form in a printed catalogue. The standard fields including Call No.; Class No. and initial letters of author's name are:




Size of manuscript








Status (Com/Incom.)








Missing Portion




Condition of manuscript


Date of manuscript






Name of repository with address


Bundle No. and Manuscript No.


Call No.


No. of Folio


Class No.





Triennial Catalogue

A report collected once every three years is a triennial catalogue. For example, the one at Government Oriental Manuscript Library and Research Centre, Chennai.

Descriptive Catalogue

A Descriptive Catalogue furnishes very detailed description of the manuscript. It has three parts –

  1. Physical Description    b) Catalogue Description    c) Publication

A scholar requires these three parts when he/she takes up any manuscript for research or critical editing, but when a cataloguer prepares the catalogue upon direct consultation with the manuscript, the catalogue description is not necessary. The cataloguer may also give information of copies of a manuscript available in other repositories.

Physical Description


The name of repository or institution


No. of Folios


Serial No. or Record No.


Missing Folios




No. of Syllables (aksaras)


Other Title


No. of lines in a page




No. of letters in a line


Joint Author


No. of Granthas










Scribe & Place


/Reviser of commentary




Beginning Line




Ending Line


Status: Complete/Incomplete




Condition of manuscript


Post Colophon









Catalogue Description


Title of the catalogue






Part No.


Special Collection


Bundle No.




Manuscript No.


Serial No.


Library Acc. No.

Publication Details

















A Standard Catalogue

The cataloguer must write the information in Roman script with diacritical marks or in the original script like Devanagari, including regional languages. It should be written in Pratipadika (mula) or without vibhaktyanta in the standardized catalogue format for

greater comprehension i.e. 'Gitagovinda' not Gitagovindah or Gitagovindam or Gitagovindamu or Gitagovind etc. If any variation comes in regional or national languages, the remarks field should be used. The regional variations of pronunciation and writing of letters such as ba/va, sha/sa, ta/tha etc. should be avoided. The National Mission for Manuscripts has standardized the cataloguing format of fields and subjects, diacritical marks in Roman, Arabic/Persian scripts and developed the National Electronic Catalogue of Manuscripts.

Fields of Cataloguing

Record No.

The serial number of manuscripts of the repository that starts from 1 to the total number of manuscripts.
Date of data collection

The date, when data was collected or recorded in this prescribed format.
Institution/Personal Collection


The complete postal address of the institution or individual that owns the manuscript

A name given to the resource or text or object

Parallel Title

An alternative or parallel name given to the resource or text or object


Joint Author

This refers to person/s jointly responsible for creating the intellectual content of the manuscript, usually the son or successor of the first author who completes the text either simultaneously or later.


Refers to the notes explaining or interpreting a written text/document:

Commentary - Elaborated


A Bhashya is an elaborate exposition, a commentary on the Sutras, with word by word meaning of the aphoristic precepts, their running translation, together with the individual views of the commentator or the Bhashyakara. The best and the exemplary

Bhashya in Sanskrit literature is the one written by Patanjali on the Vyakarana (grammar) Sutras of Panini.


A Vritti is a short gloss explaining the aphorisms in a more elaborate way, but not as extensively as a Bhashya. An example is Bodhayana’s Vritti on the Brahma Sutras.


A Varttika is a work where a critical study is made of that which is said and left unsaid or imperfectly said in a Bhashya, and the ways of making it perfect by supplying the omissions therein, are given. Examples are the Varttikas of Katyayana on Panini’s Sutras, of Suresvara on Sankara’s Upanishad-Bhashyas, and of Kumarila Bhatta on the Sabara-Bhashya on the Karma-Mimamsa.

Vyakhyana or Tika

A Vyakhyana is a running explanation in an easier language of what is said in the original, with little elucidations here and there. A Vyakhyana, particularly of a Kavya (poetry and prose), deals with eight different modes of dissection of the Sloka, like Pada-Chheda, Vigraha, Sandhi, Alankara, Anuvada, etc. This forms an important aspect in the study of Sanskrit Sahitya Sastra (science of Sanskrit literature). The best Vyakhyanas are of Vachaspati Misra on the Darsanas, especially on Sankara’s Brahmasutra-Bhashya.


Tippani is just like a Vritti, but is less orthodox than the Vritti. It is an explanation of difficult words or phrases occurring in the original. Examples are Kaiyata’s gloss on the Mahabhashya of Patanjali, Nagojibhatta’s gloss on Kaiyata’s gloss, or Appayya’s gloss on Amalananda’s gloss on the Bhamati of Vachaspati Misra.


The Commentator is the person primarily responsible for interpreting the intellectual content of a text; Author of the commentary; also known as ‘tikakara', ‘tikakarta', ‘bhasyakarta' ‘vrttikara'.


Language (systems of meaning) in which the text is written. Most of the manuscripts are in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Telugu, wtc. which may have been written using Sanskrit, Sharada, Grantha, Brahmi, Telugu, Tamil, Oriya, Newri, etc. scripts. However, there are manuscripts in many different languages as well. In fact, India has the widest range of regional language with their own unique scripts in which manuscripts have been found in every nook and corner of the country.

On of the greatest challenges of the manuscripts for descriptive cataloging is finding language experts who can interpret the ancient forms of the languages mentioned above and translate them into user-friendly language without losing the core meaning, content and context of each verse.

Sanskrit as a language is complex and the meaning of words are rich and diverse. It is difficult to find equivalent meanings for them in European languages. Sanskrit is a divine language and requires divinity, like an avatar, to translate its rich texture and meaning to a user-understandable language.

This makes the translation of the manuscript, not only a voluminous task but also an exceedingly challenging one, as authentic Sanskrit scholars are difficult to come by. Besides,

home-bred Sanskrit scholars have difficulty communicating and writing in the English language, although they will be very comfortable translating the manuscripts into their known regional language such as Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Oriya, Braj Bhasha and the like.

Another challenge is that several different languages could be used in a single manuscript, such as Hindi or Gujarati with a Bengali commentary and the script for all these languages may be the same. (Below- Ancient Tamil script on the wall of the Brihadeeswara temple, Tanjavur)


Refers to the recognized signs and characters used to represent the units of language in a systematic fashion, such as Newari, Grantha and Brahmi. Many Indian languages have the same name as their script like Oriya, Telugu and Tamil.

Date of manuscript/codex

Date of creation of manuscript by the scribe/writer

  1. Kaliyuga samvat – 3101 or 3100 = A.D
  2. Veeranirvana samvat – 487 = A.D
  3. Maurya samvat – 320 = A.D
  4. Caitradi Vikram samvat – 57 = A.D
  5. Shaka samvat + 78 = A.D.
  6. Kalichuri samvat + 248 = A.D.
  7. Gupta samvat + 320 = A.D.
  8. Gangeya samvat + 570 = A.D.
  9. Harsha samvat + 606 = A.D.
  10. Kollam samvat + 824 = A.D.
  11. Newar samvat + 878 = A.D.
  12. Chalukya Vikram samvat + 1075 = A.D.
  13. Lakshmana Sena samvat + 1118 = A.D.
  14. Shahur san + 599 = A.D.
  15. Uttari Phasali san + 592 = A.D.
  16. Dakshini Phasali san + 590 = A.D.
  17. Bangali san + 593 = A.D.
  18. Magi san + 638 = A.D.
  19. Ilahi san + 1555 = A.D.
  20. Rajyabhisheka samvat + 1674 = A.D.
  21. Hizari san + 622 = A.D.


This refers to the person who has written the copy of the manuscript. The scribe faces the same challenges as that described under language expertise.

“My back and waist and neck are strained, my fist is balled, my head's turned down. With difficulty this has been written! With care one should protect it.”

Reviser/ Translator


Refers to the topic/theme of the manuscript

Beginning Line

The starting lines or some stanzas of the text

Ending Line

The ending lines or stanzas of the text before colophon


It is the anukramanika, the list of chapters and sections of the treatise including key words or phrases that describe the content of the resource.

Colophon ( upasamhara / puspika )

This refers to the declaration of ending the text.

Bundle No./ Manuscript No.

No. of Folios

Refers to the number of the folios within a manuscript

Image of Grantha Script

Size of manuscript

Height * Width, measured in centimeters

No. of Granthas

It refers to total number of syllables in the text.


Refers to the substance or adharapatala that the manuscript is made of including ivory, palm leaf, birch-bark, wood, gold, silver, paper, tortoise shell, agaru-bark, sanchi-pat, tula-pat, etc.


Refers to pictures or diagrams that may accompany the text. Mention must be made of:

Status (Complete / Incomplete)

Missing Portion

Refers to missing text, if at all. Indicate missing folios, if possible, like this - 1-3, 9-11,19-23.


Refers to the condition of the manuscript—‘good', ‘bad', ‘worm infected' ‘fungus', and ‘stuck folio', ‘brittle';‘illustration / script / illegible'.

Source of Catalogue

This refers to the source on which the cataloguing is based. Not applicable in case a primary text itself is used.



If the text is printed or litho-typed:

Summary of Cataloguing: A Standard Catalogue

The cataloguer must write the information in Roman script with diacritical marks or in the original script like Devanagari, including regional languages. It should be written in Pratipadika (mula) or without vibhaktyanta in the standardized catalogue format for greater comprehension i.e. 'Gitagovinda' not Gitagovindah or Gitagovindam or Gitagovindamu or Gitagovind etc. If any variation comes in regional or national languages, the remarks field should be used. The regional variations of pronunciation and writing of letters such as ba/va, sha/sa, ta/tha etc. should be avoided. The National Mission for Manuscripts has standardized the cataloguing format of

fields and subjects, diacritical marks in Roman, Arabic/Persian scripts and developed the National Electronic Catalogue of Manuscripts.

Sample of a hand-written manuscript


Fields of Cataloguing



Record Number

The serial number of manuscripts of the repository that starts from 1 to the total number of manuscripts. [RE12345]



A name given to the resource or text or object

  • This refers to ‘shirshaka' or ‘pustak ka naam' such as ‘ Ramcaritamanasa', ‘ Raghuvamsa' . The title should be as per written in the manuscript without vibhaktyanta or regional variations in pronunciations.
  • It is found either at the beginning of the text or in the colophon, inter colophon or post colophon.
  • If not available at the beginning or end of the colophon, the name may be written within brackets or in the remarks column after comparison with other texts.
  • If there are no means available to find out the name of the text then fill in ‘unknown'.
  • If the text comes with a commentary, the title of the commentary shall be included. e.g. 'Bhagavadgitatikasahita '. If the text contains only a commentary, the title should be Bhagavadgitati ka or the name of commentary.
  • Alternative titles or parallel titles, if any, must also be noted.
  • One data sheet should be filled in for one manuscript title, although the manuscript may be in more than one folio. If a manuscript is available in more than one volume then separate forms may be filled up for each volume.
  • If there is one volume with more than one title in it, then separate forms may be used for each title.
  • If the title is not available, a few lines from the beginning and end of the text each should be included in ‘Remarks'



 (systems of meaning) in which the text is written.

  • There may be several different languages used in a single manuscript, such as Hindi or Gujarati with a Bengali commentary and the script for all these languages may be the same.



Refers to the recognized signs and characters used to represent the units of language in a systematic fashion, such as Newari, Grantha and Brahmi. Many Indian languages have the same name as their script like Oriya, Telugu and Tamil.



Refers to the substance or adharapatala that the manuscript is made of including ivory, palm leaf, birch-bark, wood, gold, silver, paper, tortoise shell, agaru-bark, sanchi-pat, tula-pat, etc.


Fields of Cataloguing




This refers to the person who has written the copy of the manuscript.

  • The scribe is usually different from the author; he is the person who copies a particular manuscript.
  • Name of the scribe is usually given in the post colophon or uttara pushpika.
  • The name of scribe/writer, his place, father's name, his genealogy and profession should be mentioned in the format.
  • The scribe just copies the text as he reads or understands from the copy codex or exemplar.
  • The words like Lekhaka, pustakavachaka, etc. are used for scribes (types of scribes are Pustakalekhaka, Kayasthalekhaka and Shasanalekhaka)
  • The scribe advises readers on how to use and handle the codex or manuscript and to protect it from oil, water, mouse, natural disaster, fire, humidity and insects, etc. (PHOTO)
  • Indian scribes often write interesting verses at the end of a manuscript. Given below are two examples:

“My back and waist and neck are strained, my fist is balled, my head's turned down. With difficulty this has been written! With care one should protect it.”


Folios in Bundle

Refers to the number of the folios within a manuscript

  • Blank folios should be included in the tally and noted in Remarks.
  • One folio is counted for both 1a and 1b (obverse and reverse) sides
  • Number of folios in a manuscript can be different from its pagination. For instance, a manuscript may have folios numbered from 1 to 50 and if folios 4-8 are missing, then the number of folios in the manuscript is 45.



Refers to the topic/theme of the manuscript

  • Can be expressed in keywords or phrases that describe the content of the manuscript.
  • It might also include classification data, for example, Library of Congress Classification and Dewey Decimal numbers or controlled vocabularies.
  • For subject headings and sub-headings, Indian terminology of the concerned languages should be used, for instance, Veda, Kavya, Natya, Fiqh, Itihasa, Darsana, Tantra, Jyotisa and Nujum.
  • The English terminology can be used along with Indian Terminology such as Vedas, Rigvedasamhita, Vedic literature, where ‘Veda' is the broad subject category, ‘Rigvedasamhita' is the specific branch of study and ‘Vedic literature' is the English equivalent.
  • The classified string of subjects is extremely effective for retrieval purposes.
  • NMM subject list and classifications should be followed in subject classification


Fields of Cataloguing



Institution/Personal Collection

  • Refers to the entity responsible for making the resource available Institute refers to a University, library, Trust, NGO, Govt. organization, temple, mosque or any other organization managed by more than one person.
  • Personal collection refers to an individual or private collection.



The complete postal address of the institution or individual that owns the manuscript



Refers to the condition of the manuscript—‘good', ‘bad', ‘ worm infected' ‘fungus', and ‘stuck folio ', ‘brittle'; ‘illustration/script illegible'.


Folios in Text


Text Range





Width, measured in centimeters



Length, measured in centimeters


Beginning Line

The starting lines or some stanzas of the text

  • It should be written in Roman script with diacritical marks or in Devanagari.
  • The small texts of a Stotra may be noted. e.g.: Aum namo ganeśāya, namo arihantānam, siddham or any auspicious symbols or any mangala sloka of iṣṭadeva.
  • If the starting portion of first folio is missing, the starting text of the available portion may be noted.


Ending Line

The ending lines or stanzas of the text before colophon

  • It should be written in Roman script with diacritical marks or in Devanagari/Arabic



It is the anukramanika , the list of chapters and sections of the treatise including key words or phrases that describe the content of the resource.



  • The details of the manuscript, if it is available elsewhere.
  • If it is published or unpublished.
  • Material of the cover of the manuscript – ivory, skin, wood etc.
  • Whether there is anything written accompanying the text like notes
  • The cataloguer can use this column for giving extra information
  • If a number of grammatical mistakes/errors occur in the text, or the text is error-free, it should be mentioned here.
  • The calligraphy, type of ink used in the text, special size or shape of manuscript, if any i.e. gandi, kacchapi, musti, samputaphalaka, chedapati, scroll; the style of writing i.e. tripatha, caturpatha, suksmaksari, sunda and ornamentation of the text should be mentioned.
  • Details of illustrated manuscripts should be documented – colour, illustrations, style.

Cataloging fields for Author


Types of Commentary






Originally composed by Rishis – Mantra Drashtas



A detailed commentary on the sutra. It represents an “elaboration” or “development” of an aggregation of brief statements called sūtras, a reading (or literally, a ‘speaking’) of them. A bhāṣya has been defined in the tradition as “an amplification or expansion (prapañcaka) of what is said in the sūtras” (sūtroktārthaprapañcakam).



sub-commentary on a bhāṣya, defending its particular construction of the sūtra over alternatives, making revisions and adjustments as necessary.



other higher-level commentarial works, which continue the process of revision and reflectionto arrive at a reflective equilibrium of the commentary



a vivaraṇa in is a kind of grammatical, semantic analysis, combining structural paraphrase and lexical substitution. If an obscure word occurs in the original, it might be replaced in the paraphrase with a more familiar equivalent.

While bhāṣya signifies the extraction and elaboration of philosophical systematicity from the sūtras, vārttika stands for a critical engagement with the ideas so elaborated, including processes of defence, revision, and adjudication.



When the text being elucidated is itself a commentary, the elucidation may often be called a
ṭippaṇa or ṭippaṇī. The term ṭīkā, again like gloss, is also used in a more general sense, as also synonym of vṛtti or vivaraṇa; revealing the true intended meaning of the author;



Some commentators set out to uncover a hidden or deep meaning in the base text, often in opposition to earlier or more established interpretations. These commentaries might be thought of as categorizations.



When the meaning is to be made bright and clear



bhāva, presenting the drift, gist, substance of the text;



viveka, the meaning discriminated, made distinct.











































Defining Languages and Scripts

Sample of Evolution of Tamil Script from the Brahmi Script

  1. Samskrta (Sanskrit) is written in more than twenty different scripts.
  2. Brahmi is the root from which the script tree of our country has grown. (Source: Manuscriptology: An entrance)
  3. A List of 64 scripts are found in Lalitavistara - A Buddhist Purana













Bagri Rajasthani

















































List of Various Indian Scripts:



















Microfilming a manuscript


Some images of palm leaf manuscript preservation and digitization in India.

Hindu Library Classification System

Hindu knowledge system is one of world’s largest knowledge collection. It is largest among all religious text. In order to locate books and manuscripts for research or reference purposes, it need a classification system. A Hindu library classification is a system by which all knowledge of Hinduism are arranged according to specific method given by His Divine Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda.

Internationally, various types of classification systems are used, but all of them fail to provide sufficient place and lacks ability to properly classify Hindu knowledge system. With the aim of becoming world’s largest library housing around 20 million books and manuscripts, we designed and developed a unique classification system.

This new system, especially developed to classify Indological knowledge system caters as unique identifier for each and its physical location in library. All knowledge system is broadly divided in six major categories i.e. Sruti, Smriti, Itihasa, Purana, Agama and Darshana. Each of these categories can be further expanded to various discipline following our ancient tradition.

Below is a classification of the 6 major categories of the Hindu Knowledge System.

Hindu Srip Tree


Each of the six major divisions have further sub-divisions, indicating various disciplines within each main division. The divisions are as below:

The Vedas


Aitareya, Kauśītāki


Chāndogya, Kena

Ātmabodha, Mudgala

Vajrasūchi, Maha, Sāvitrī


Āruṇi, Maitreya, Brhat-Sannyāsa, Kuṇḍika (Laghu-Sannyāsa)

Tripura, Saubhāgyalakshmi, Bahvṛca

Vāsudeva, Avyakta


Rudrākṣa, Jābāli


Yogachūḍāmaṇi, Darśana

Krishna Yajurveda

Taittiriya, Katha, Śvetāśvatara, Maitrāyaṇi


Muṇḍaka, Māṇḍūkya, Praśna

Sarvasāra, Śukarahasya, Skanda, Garbha, Śārīraka, Ekākṣara, Akṣi

Ātmā, Sūrya, Prāṇāgnihotra

Brahma, (Laghu, Brhad) Avadhūta, Kaṭhasruti

Āśrama, Nārada-parivrājaka, Paramahaṃsa parivrājaka, Parabrahma


Sītā, Devī, Tripurātapini, Bhāvana

Nārāyaṇa, Kali-Saṇṭāraṇa

Nṛsiṃhatāpanī, Mahānārāyaṇa (Tripād vibhuti), Rāmarahasya, Rāmatāpaṇi, Gopālatāpani, Kṛṣṇa, Hayagrīva, Dattātreya, Gāruḍa

Kaivalya, Kālāgnirudra, Dakṣiṇāmūrti, Rudrahṛdaya, Pañcabrahma

Atharvasiras, Atharvaśikha, Bṛhajjābāla, Śarabha, Bhasma, Gaṇapati

Amṛtabindu, Tejobindu, Amṛtanāda, Kṣurika, Dhyānabindu, Brahmavidyā, Yogatattva, Yogaśikhā, Yogakuṇḍalini, Varāha

Śāṇḍilya, Pāśupata, Mahāvākya

Sub-divisions of Veda




Aitareya Brahmana

Kauthuma Arsheya Brahmana

Sankhyayayana Aranyaka

Chhandogya Mantra Brahmana

Samavidhana Brahmana


Devatadhyaya Brahmana

Samhitopanishad Brahmana


Gopatha Brahmana

Satapatha Brahmana


Jaiminiya Arsheya Brahmana

Shadvimsha Brahmana


Jaiminiya Brahmana

Shankhayana Brahmana

Maitrayaniya Aranyaka

Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmana

Taittiriya Brahmana

Kanviyam Shatapatha Brahmana

Taittiriya Chardi Brahmana

Kathaka Brahmana

Tandya Brahmana


Vadhula Anvaakhyaana Brahmana

Vamsa brahmana

Sub Division of Vedanga































* other than Panini


























Abhidhana (Samanya)






Mishrita (mixed)






Agni Purana

Adi Purana, Aditya Purana


Bhagavata Purana

Bhargava Purana


Bhavishya Purana

Brihannaradiya/Brihan-Narada Purana

Brahma Purana

Devi Bhagavatam

Brahmanda Purana

Durvasa Purana

Brahmavaivarta Purana

Maheshvara Purana

Garuda/Suparna Purana

Kalika Purana

Kurma Purana

Kapila Purana

Linga Purana

Nandikeshvara Purana

Markandeya Purana

Narasimha Purana

Matsya Purana

Parasara Purana

Naradiya/Narada Purana

Samba Purana

Padma Purana

Siva-Dharma Purana

Shiva Purana

Ushanah (Usanas) Purana

Skanda Purana

Surya Purana

Vamana Purana

Vashishta Purana

Varaha Purana

Varuna Purana

Vishnu Purana

Vayu Purana

Sub-division of Purana

Other Up-Purana

Samavya Purana

Mahabhagavata Purana

Aunasa (Ausanas) Purana

Manava (Manu) Purana

Basava Purana

Marica Purana

Bhanda Purana

Medasani-vari Purana (??)

Brihaddharma Purana

Mudgala Purana

Ganesh Purana

Nandi Purana

Hamsa Purana

Nilamata Purana

Harivamsha Purana

Peria (Periya) Purana

Kula Purana

Samba Purana

Magha Purana

Sanatkumara Purana

Siva Purana

Saura Purana

Siva Rahasya Purana

Kuberaka Purana

Sthala Puranas

Malla Purana

Swayambhuv Purana

Sabaramati Purana (Sabarmati Mahatmaya)

Tula Purana

Sarasvati Purana

Vaisakha Purana

Kotyaka Purana (Kotyakamahatmaya)

Vashishtha Lainga’s Mahesvara

Limbaja Purana

Vinayaka Purana

Bauddha Purana

Vishnu-Dharma Purana

Jati Purana

Jaina purana

Various sub-divisions in Tantra

Group of Bhairava Tantras

Group of yāmala tantras

Group of mata-tantras
























Group of Mangala tantras

Group of cakrāṣṭaka tantras

Group of bahurūpa tantras
























Group of vāgīśa tantras

Group of śikhā tantras

















Various sub-divisions in Vaishnav Agama

Vaishnava Agama





Ahirbudhnya Samhita


Brahma Samhita


Brihat-Brahma-Samhitabrihat brahma samhitha






Garga Samhita






Vaishnava Agama




Visnu Tantra









Laksmi Tantra










Various Other Divisions:






Shuddha Advaita


Brahma Mimamsa





















Navya Vedanta



Search Engine Implementation


We need the ability to phonetically search irrespective of the text present in the content.

●   If we search for the word 'shiva' the search result should include content matching 'shiva', 'शिव' or written in any other script like kannada, tamil etc.

●   The phonetics definition should be according to the aksharas defined in sanskrit. For e.g., search for 'shiv' should bring up 'शिवे', शिवो' etc.


To address this search requirement the following approach has been considered

Search Engine

Solr search engine a leading search engine can serve the purpose. This would require to build custom filters to implement the required phonetic filtering.

Solr Phonetic Filter Design

The Filter needs to implement the following capabilities

1.  Akshara level 16 bit phonetic code definition

2.  Convert each character received to corresponding phonetic code. e.g., क् is mapped to \u0050

a. The conversion should be handled irrespective of the script used viz., Roman, Devanagari, Kannada etc.

3. The phonetic code is indexed instead of the scripts'; unicode values.

4. Once the script is all mapped to their respective phonetic code then content from various script will be their corresponding phonetic representation only. This homogenizes the content across multiple languages. This will ensure our ability to be able to search in a language agnostic way.

Pramanas App


To enlist any of the four Pramanas viz., shastra, apta, atma for the various concepts found in Hinduism with references to the various texts where the concepts are explained or detailed.


The approach taken for accomplishing this project is to extract individual shlokas and tag it with the concepts that it expounds with translation. This is stored in a database and concept wise search will list all pramanas or references to this concept in texts found.

A good example could be all the various yoga asanas and their references in various yoga texts belonging to all periods in all languages.

Technical Overview

Pramana Kosha App


The Pramana Kosha is a system to capture at least 2000 concepts of Hinduism as explained by His Divine Holiness Paramahamsa Nithyananda through his discourses and teachings.


The transcripts and His Divine Holiness’ discourses and teachings are tagged with the concepts. This has some overlapping with the Pramanas project, with the highlight on Swamiji’s Atma pramanas while the pramanas projects focuses on Shastra and Apta pramanas. This also doubles up as a resource center for Swamiji’s teachings and Hinduism.

Satsang App


The Satsang Application is to make available a searchable database of all the satsang and discourse videos of His Divine Holiness Paramahamsa Nithyananda


Currently the satsang videos are available through YouTube. The captioning and transcripts will be enabled on all the videos and these will be indexed and made available as a searchable content. Through this application one can find all videos where His Divine Holiness had spoken about on any given topic and can listen to that segment of the video where he is expounding the concept of interest.



The OCR application is to allow scanned text to be converted into unicode text which can be indexed and searched. The aim is to support OCR of all Indian languages which have texts related to Hinduism.


To OCR any scanned document, the scanned PDF is uploaded to the application and the application will split the PDF into individual pages and convert the scanned content to unicode text with feature to proof read the converted text against the original page, side-by-side. This will facilitate crowdsourcing effort for proof reading and verification page by page. Once the whole content is proof read the final document can be generated and added to the document repository which can be searched in. Existing OCR services or libraries like Google OCR will be leveraged where possible and in case there is no support for specific scripts then separate OCR library will be developed.

Shiva manifested as  Dakshinamurthi to teach the 4 Kumaras -  Nithyananda Dhyanapeetham,  Bengaluru Aadheenam

Nithyananda Dhyanapeetham’s very own Naimisharanya - The Banyan Tree where seekers finds all the answers!

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