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Balaji ViswanathanBalaji Viswanathan, Product Manager at a Venture f... (more)
Hindu scriptures are broadly organized into following categories (ordered in terms of scriptural authority)
  1. Veda Samhitas (ritual performance) -- the texts with highest authority in Hinduism. These are considered to be the oldest literature in the world that are still in existance. They were believed to be composed before 1500 BC, are 432,000 syllables long and were completely passed through oral tradition.  They are poems that glorify nature, delve into human mind and explore the human connection to nature. They are further subdivided into 4 groups - Rig Veda (the core essence of Vedic rituals), Yajur Veda (manual for performing rituals), Sama Veda (a sweet melody used for a specific type of "fun" ritual - Somayajna) and Atharvana Veda (scientific elements of rituals - it is believed to have contained higher level scientific references that are now lost).   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedas 
    (Rendition of the beautiful Sama Veda from 1:30)
  2. Brahmanas (ritual commentaries) - these are the commentaries to Vedas and are often esoteric & profound. The Brahmanas attempt to make the religion organized by talking about the superior quality of Veda rituals. They also defined various stages of human life and delved into the purpose of human existence and so on. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bra...
  3. Aranyakas (wilderness experiments) - These are experiments in wilderness that our sages did 3000+ years ago. The rituals they attempted were considered dangerous to experiment and hence the wilderness location.  These included the massive fire experiment of Agnicayana - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agn... Some of the successful experiments got codified into our modern exercises such as"Surya Namaskar" - "Sun worship with yogic exercises". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ara...
  4. Vedangas (pedagogy)- These are studies that help in proper utilization of the vedas. These included studies on how Vedas have to be recited, taught and also included studies on astrology and phonetics. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ved...
  5. Upavedas (sciences) - These are applied knolwedge of Vedas that accompanied the holy texts. These included Ayurveda (a medicinal science still in use), Dhanurveda (archery science), Shastrasastra (military science) and Gandharveda (science of music and dance). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upa...
  6. Upanishads (philosophy) - These are studies on philosophical and scientific elements of the universe. These are the Hindu texts that have received the greatest attention among non-Hindus. There are 108 of them and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upa... One of the most important of them is Prashna Upanishad - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pra... that was like a Quora for Indian sages.
  7. Bhagvat Gita (the "Bible") - This is the Hindu equivalent of the Bible and is a study of morality and human conduct. For most modern Hindus, study of the Gita is enough to attain highest form of religious learning. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bha...
  8. Ithihasas (historical/mythical events) -- The study of Ramayana (the king Rama who stands for truth and wins over evil -- similiar to Illiad by Homer) and Mahabharata (a deep novel that teaches Hindus morality and pragmatism). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iti...
  9. Puranas (mythology & theology) - These are a group of 18 mythical texts that introduces Hindus to various theological concepts such as hell & heaven, major gods and various tales of good over evil. Currently one of the most utilized scriptures among the religious. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pur...
  10. Other scriptures - Other motley of texts that influence an Hindu's everyday life but are not superior to the religious texts above. This includes Manu dharma (the controversial work that introduces caste system) and Artha Sastra (an Indian version of "Art of War") that talks about strategy.