Shastram is the Sanskrit word for scriptures. The scriptures help us in the attainment of human goals. They can be compared to a “ May I help you?” counter in the Railway Station. They do not force themselves on us, but are available if we seek their help. Hindu scriptures are voluminous, unlike other religions. The Primary Literature: The Vedas: The Vedas are also called Sruti – that which means “that which is is heard”. Vedas were not invented by human intellect, but are considered to be the gift of the Lord. It is said that Rishis served as the media for receiving them in the form of sound waves. They gave them to the entire humanity and a tradition was set up. The Vedas are four in number – RigVeda, YajurVeda, SamaVeda and Atharva Veda. The Rig Veda consists of hymns to gods like Indra and Agni. The Yajur Veda concerns the knowledge of rites. The Sama Veda concerns the knowledge of chants. The Atharva Veda contains knowledge given by Sage Atharvana. The Secondary Literature: They are written by great teachers and deal with the attainment of human goals. The Vedas are abstract whereas these bring the ideas into concrete form through various stories. They are more systematically arranged than Vedas. Some of them are: The Sutras: They codify the vedic teachings and present in a terse form called an aphorism ie a profound idea is stated in a short form so that people can learn them easily byheart. We have Dharma-sutras, Srauta-sutras and Grhya-sytras written by Rishis. The Smritis: These are systematic presentation of secondary literature. Smritis mean “remembered wisdom”. They are compositions set to meter and consist of verses. General duties, specific duties, duties in crisis are all given in a well-codified form. Some examples are Manu-smriti, Yajnavalkya-smriti, Vyasa-smriti etc. The Puranas: Here there are stories for every duty. They run to lakhs and lakhs of verses. They convey eternal truths. Though ancient, they are ever valid, ever useful, ever meaningful and never obsolete. Along with philosophy, there is ethics, sociology and psychology. An example is Harischandra Purana. The western psychologists are talking today about the greatness of our puranas. We do not require a Walt Disney, for we have our puranas to cater to our children’s fantasies. We have instances in puranas of man becoming animal, man becoming a stone, a stone becoming an animal and so on. That is why a mythological story attracts attention even today on a T V show. The Ithihasas: This is historical literature like Ramayana and Mahabharatha. Veda-Purva and Veda-anta: These are 2 broad classifications of Vedas. Veda-Purva deals with the fulfillment of the first three human goals, namely, security, pleasre and dharma. Veda-Anta helps a person to discover independence (moksha)and enjoy the happiness within himself. This is ultimately what a mature person wants in life. Love & regards, Chithra.