Intro to Satsang - Scriptures

  • HINDU SCRIPTURES
  • SWAMINARAYAN SCRIPTURES
  • WORLD RELIGIONS' SCRIPTURES

  • HINDU SCRIPTURES

    Just as Sanatan Dharma (the Hindu faith) is the oldest existing tradition, its scriptures are also the oldest. Further, the Hindu faith is gifted with many scriptures, originally written in the divine Sanskrit language.

    Vedas
    Also called the Shruti Scriptures (those that were heard first-hand) or Nigams, the Vedas convey the original knowledge attained by Hindu sages in meditation. Vyasji compiled the knowledge, which is said to have come out of Brahma's 4 mouths, into 4 books (in about 100 thousand verses): Rig, Yajur, Saam, and Atharva. The Vedas consists of Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and the Upanishads.

    Upanishads
    Also called the Vedanta Scriptures, which means the conclusion or essence of the Vedas. 108 of the Upanishads, connected to one of the four Vedas, are considered major.

    Vedangas
    Considered as supplements to the Vedas, the 6 Vedangas help understand the Vedas' message and its application: Shiksha (phonetics), Vyaakran (grammar), Chhandas (meter), Nirukta (etymology/dictionary), Jyotisha (astrology/astronomy), and Kalpa (ritual action/actual performance).

    Upavedas
    Additional to the Vedas, the Upavedas include: Ayurveda (pertaining to medical science), Dhanurveda (military science), Gandharvaveda (music and art sciences), Arthaveda (political sciences), and Sthapatyaveda (archittectural science).

    Smruti
    Various sages contributed to the Smruti (from memory, or second-hand) scriptures, elucidating the meaning behind Shruti texts. They are also called Dharma Scriptures, and include the Manu Smruti and Yagnavalkya Smruti. In a broader context, the Smrutis include all spiritual works besides the Vedas.

    Itihaas
    Itihaas literally refers to historical texts. The two most famous epics or historical records are the Ramayan and the Mahabharat.

    Ramayan
    Based on the life of Rama Bhagwan of the Sun Dynasty in Ayodhya and written by Valmiki Rushi, it consists of 6 khandas or books (in about 24 thousand couplets). The most famous retelling of the work was by Tulsidas in Hindi (called Ramacharitramanas, it consists of 7 books).

    Mahabharat
    Based around the royal Kuru family of the Lunar Dynasty in Hastinapur, the Mahabharat was delivered by Vyasji, and written by Ganeshji. It is divided into 18 parvas or parts (in over 100 thousand couplets), including the famous Bhagavad Gita. Also part of the Mahabharat is Vishnu Sahasranam that gives the thousand holy names of Lord Vishnu and Vidur Niti, spiritual advice given by Hastinapur's chief minister Vidur to King Dhritarashtra.

    Bhagavad Gita
    In the 6th parva of the Mahabharat (Bhisma-parva), the Bhagavad Gita is a 700-verse dialogue (divided into 18 chapters) between Krishna Bhagwan and Arjun.

    Purans
    Authored by Vyasji, there are 18 Purans to elevate devotees and divinize their three modes of nature. The Shrimad Bhagavat Puran and Skand Puran (which includes Vasudev Mahatmya in the Vishnu khand) are famous examples.

    Shrimad Bhagavat
    The Shrimad Bhagavat Puran contains 12 skandas (cantos), detailing the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The 5th canto talks about King Priyavrat and Lord Rushabhdev and his son Bharatji (per Shikshapatri verse 99, it is on yoga). The 10th canto highlights the divine life of Lord Krishna (per Shikshapatri verse 99, it is on bhakti). The Narayan Kavach is given in chapter 8 of the 6th canto. [The Bhagavat's recitations are as follows: Vyasji to his son Shukji; Shukji to Arjun's grandson, King Parikshit; Suta Goswami (who heard Shukji's recitation) to Saunak Rishi and the 88 thousand sages at Naimisharanya forest.]

    Agamas/Pancharatra
    The Agama set of texts is of 3 divisions: Vaishnav, Saiva, and Shakta. The Vaishnav Agama have two branches: Vaikhanas and Pancharatra. The Vaikhanas are mostly followed in temples of South India (e.g. the Venkateshwar Balaji in Tirumala). The Narad Pancharatra is the Panchratra Tantra, composed by Vasudev Bhagwan, revised by Naradji. Considered the bhakti shastra, the Pancharatra discuss temple construction, installation of and worship to moortis, mantra recitation, festivals, etc.

    Darshan Shaastra
    There are six schools of philosophy that have their major scriptures (containing sutras or concise statements): Nyay by Gautam, Vaisheshik by Kanad, Saankhya by Kapil, Yoga (whose acharya is Hiranyagarbh) by Patanjali, Purva Mimamsa by Jaimini, and Uttar Mimamsa (also known as Vedanta) by Vyasji. The Uttar Mimamsa scripture by Vyasji is called Vedant-Sutra or Brahma-Sutra or Vyas-Sutra.

    Bhaashyas
    The Bhaashyas are commentaries on the scriptures (typically the Vedanta-sutras and as a trio, including the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita) by acharyas or sect heads such as Ramanujacharya (vishishta-advaita), Shankaracharya (advaita), Madhvacharya (dvaita), etc., that discuss the soul's worship to God.

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    SWAMINARAYAN SCRIPTURES

    SHIKSHAPATRI
    Shikshapatri literally means "letter of teachings." Lord Swaminarayan wrote the Shikshapatri in Vadtal on Vasant Panchami (February 12, 1826) in Sanskrit. It consists of 212 verses that encompass the care of devotees from the physical to the spiritual.

    Lord Swaminarayan reveres the following 8 Hindu scriptures in the Shikshapatri (verses 93-95): the Vedas, the Vyas-Sutras, the Shrimad Bhagavat Puran, the Shree Vishnu Sahasranaam, the Bhagavad Gita, the Vidur Niti, Shree Vasudev Mahatmya, and the Yagnavalka Smruti.

    VACHANAMRUT
    Vachana means command or discourse and amruta is nectar that gives immortality. Lord Swaminarayan extracted the essence of all Hindu scriptures and related them in the form of the Vachanamrut. Scribed and compiled by Gopalanand Swami, Muktanand Swami, Nityanand Swami, and Shukanand Swami, the Vachanamrut is a compilation of Lord Swaminarayan's discourses with devotees in Gujarati (in Devnagri/Sanskrit script). There are a total of 273 published talks, with an account of the date and place. (The Vadtal version had 262. The Ahmedabad version published 11 more, and notes that Brahmanand Swami is a fifth compiler.) There are 18 aphorisms (19 in the Ahmedabad version) that attest to the compilers, number, and places of the Vachanamrut. Shatanand Swami translated the Vachanamrut into Sanskrit (Harivaakhyasudhasindhu), and Brahmanand Swami translated the Vachanamrut into Vraj/Hindi.

    Given in Vachanamrut Loya 7, "In the assembly, Nityanand Swami brought the Vachanamrut manuscript and presented it to Shriji Maharaj. Shriji Maharaj examined the manuscript and was extremely pleased."

    TownNo.PlaceDates
    Gadhada or Durganagar or Gurgapattam (First)78Dada Khachar's darbaar (court)Nov. 21, 1819 to July 13, 1820
    Sarangpur18Jiva Khachar's darbaar
    - Amra Patgar's home in Kundal [ref. 9]
    - Under a pipal tree in Khambhda [ref. 10]
    Aug. 28, 1820 to Sept. 15, 1820
    Kariyani12Vasta Khachar's darbaarSept. 19, 1820 to Nov. 20, 1820
    Loya18Sura Khachar's darbaarNov. 30, 1820 to Jan. 5, 1821
    Panchala7Jinabhai's darbaarMarch 3, 1821 to March 29, 1821
    Gadhada (Middle)67Dada Khachar's darbaar - Lakshmi Vadi (farm on the outskirts of Gadhada, belonging to Dada Khachar)
    June 15, 1821 to Feb. 6, 1825
    Vadtal or Vruttalaya20Lakshmi-Narayan temple
    - Mango grove on banks of Lake Gomti
    Nov. 21, 1825 to Feb. 10, 1826
    Ahmedabad or Shrinagar3+5=8Nara-Narayan templeMarch 4, 1826 to March 31, 1826
    - Ashlali1Mango groveApril 9, 1826
    - Jetalpur5In a palace and at Baldevji's temple [ref. 2]April 10, 1826 to April 14, 1826
    Gadhada (Last)39Dada Khachar's darbaar
    - Lakshmi Vadi (farm on the outskirts of Gadhada, belonging to Dada Khachar)
    - Radha-Gopinath temple
    June 1, 1826 to July 25, 1829

    In Swami Ni Vato 4/136, Gunatitanand Swami expalins, "To have value in other [books] than the Vachanamrut, is itself moha."

    As a memory aid, Vachanamrut titles were added by saints at the Junagadh temple during Gunatitanand Swami's time.

    Vachanamrut references in Swami Ni Vato (Vachanamrut Number - Swami Ni Vato Number):
    Swami Ni VatoGadhada FirstSarangpurKariyaniLoyaPanchalaGadhada MiddleVadtalAhmedabadGadhada Last
    ch. 163-30717-1897-3117-83x9-263, 54-182, 67-1893-289x5-238, 13-204, 35-205, 39-208
    ch. 2xxxxxx2-172x31-123
    ch. 323-13, 63-23, 71-7117-6112-55x7-388-67, 9-12, 30-13, 45-13, 67-6611-122-13, 3-1338-12
    ch. 416-2011-45xxx11-14/61, 14-29xx7-1
    ch. 537-193, 71-93/1937-1808-9317-1101-415, 7-1305-163, 9-325/360, 10-233, 14-92, 17-93, 28-365, 48-84, 63-1791-92, 11-360, 13-138/163x2-117/138, 13-228, 33-353, 34-34, 35-120/230, 39-324
    ch. 619-254, 26-32, 38-92, 54-212, 70-29x8-25614-34/49/242/293, 17-128/2432-879-22/34, 13-34/236, 21-236, 28-136, 38-34x2-992-218/254, 24-9, 26-198, 30-250, 33-9, 39-23
    ch. 7xxxxxxxxx
    ch. 814-14, 20-15, 21-29, 37-15, 41-28/29, 58-14, 60-18, 63-8/22/30/35, 71-1/29, 75-1410-14, 17-88-266-15, 9-22, 12-1/10/27/29/30, 13-27, 14-14-15/32, 7/283-29, 9-15/28/30, 10-22, 13-28, 24-28, 30-10, 31-29/35, 42-25/26, 47-15, 49-15, 54-6, 67-8/10/22/31xx2-6/17, 19-15, 21-22, 38-28, 39-6/15
    ch. 918-168x10-12713-57/1671-16447-126, 59-22216-110xx
    ch. 1041-3, 71-21110-24310-27013-3, 14-3, 15-3, 17-82/234x13-3, 22-117, 24-43, 35-86, 50-3xx1-31, 30-163, 31-3, 38-43, 39-163
    ch. 115-96, 18-294, 23-85, 54-167, 56-20510-167x13-1054-83, 7-1249-100/126, 10-105, 28-163/167, 35-295, 50-132, 54-167, 56-2491-240, 5-167, 11-167, 12-74x7-167, 11-167, 16-167, 24-292, 26/167, 29-105/194, 39-140
    ch. 12x1-164x17-124x28-8, 54-123xx9-154, 30-188
    ch. 1371-407-13, 10-110, 12-91xx2-1271-66, 13-71, 24-130xx29-19, 39-17
    ch. 1433-17, 44-193, 59-772-73, 7-17/156, 18-118/1563-201, 12-2048-139, 11-210, 17-1491-168/193, 30-229, 37-123, 59-196, 62-206, 63-77xx2-523-227, 24-96, 26-210, 33-96

    SWAMI NI VATO
    The Swami Ni Vato are the recorded discourses of Anaadi Mool Akshar Moorti Gunatitanand Swami in Gujarati during the latter part of His life. Krishnaji Ada's eldest son, Vaijanaath, published the compilation with 16 chapters. It is a commentary on the Vachanamrut that teaches the true glory of Lord Swaminarayan, Mool Akshar Gunatitanand Swami, and gunaateeta saints.

    ChapterNumberWriterTopic(s)
    1343Jaga SwamiGod and His Saint's Mahimaa (Glory)
    2192Jaga SwamiSant Samaagam (Association with the Saint)
    374Jaga SwamiSarvopari Nishchay (Ultimate Conviction) and Mahaatmay (Understanding)
    4144Harishankarbhai RavalSvaroop Nishthaa (Faith in Manifest God)
    5433Harishankarbhai RavalMahimaa (Glory) and Krutaarthpanu (Forever-Obliged/Overwhelmed)
    6295SadashankarbhaiSarvadeshi Samjan (Universal Understanding)
    730Balmukunddas SwamiAsaadhaaran Aishvarya (Extraordinary Powers)
    836Jaga SwamiSarvopari Nishchay and Mahaatmay
    9335Narayanpradhaan ThakkarSarvadeshi Samjan
    10353Narayanpradhaan Thakkar Sarvadeshi Samjan
    11300Narayanpradhaan ThakkarSarvadeshi Samjan
    12215Narayanpradhaan ThakkarSarvadeshi Samjan
    13130Narayanpradhaan ThakkarSarvadeshi Samjan
    14230Narayanpradhaan ThakkarSarvadeshi Samjan

    VEDARAS
    Swaminarayan Bhagwan wrote a 400+ page letter in Gujarati to Swayamprakashanand Swami and the Paramhansas on the panchvartamaan (five vows of sainthood: nishkaamee or free of lust, nirlobhee or free of greed, nihsnehee or free of attachment, nirsvaadhee or free of tastes, and nirmaanee or free ego). Over half of it is on the topic of going above ego.

    BHAKTACHINTAMANI
    Nishkulanand Swami's 164-chapter book in poetic Gujarati expounding Swaminarayan Bhagwan's divine play on earth, including vivid descriptions of festivals, places, and devotees.

    NISHKULANAND KAVYA
    Nishkulanand Swami's Gujarati work containing 22 books: Purushottamprakaash, Snehgita, Vachanvidhi, Saarsiddhi, Bhaktinidhi, HaribaalGita, Hridayprakaash, Dhirajkhyan, Harismruti, Chosathpadi, Manganjan, Gunagraahak, Harivicharan, Arajivinay, Kalyaannirnay, Avatarchintamani, Chinhachintamani, Pushpachintamani, Lagnashakunavali, Yamdand, Vrittivivaah, and Shikshapatribhaashya.

    HARICHARITAAMRIT SAAGAR
    In Vachanamrut Gadhada Middle 58, Swaminarayan Bhagwan tells Muktanand Swami that a sampraday flourishes by the scriptures which narrate its Ishtadev's divine incidents from His birth up until His passing away. Up to his death, just one and a half month after God's passing away, Muktanand Swami wrote extensively on Swaminarayan Bhagwan's life. Adharanand Swami (Siddhanand Swami) compiled the writings into a large 28-chapter work into poetic Hindi verse.

    MUKTANAND KAVYAM
    Collection of 21 poem books written by Muktanand Swami.

    SHIKSHAPATRI ARTHADIPIKA
    Sanskrit commentary on the Shikshapatri by Shatanand Swami that Swaminarayan Bhagwan praised.

    HARI VAAKHYA SUDHA SINDHU
    Sanskrit translation of the Vachanamrut by Shatanand Swami.

    SATSANGIJIVAN
    Written by Shatanand Swami in Sanskrit while staying at Gadhada. Swaminarayan Bhagwan reviewed the work that includes a description of God's life, the satsanga, and philosophy. The segment for sadhus, Dharmaamrut and Nishkaam Suddhi, are referenced in Swami Ni Vato often.

    SATSANGI BHUSHAN
    Written by Vasudevanand Swami, the work is similar to Satsangijivan, and inlcudes all of the places visited and devotees that Lord Swaminarayan met.

    HARIDIGVIJAY
    Written by Nityanand Swami in Sanskrit on the divine play of Swaminarayan Bhagwan.

    HARILEELA KALPATARU
    Gunatitanand Swami asked Achintyanand Brahmachaari to write the 12 cantos, 33,000-verse book that reveals the supreme glory of Lord Swaminarayan by way of His life events (see Swami Ni Vato 3/19). The book is in Sanskrit and bears the name of Acharya Raghuvirji Maharaj.

    HARILEELAMRUT
    Dalpataram's poetic book in Gujarati on Swaminarayan Bhagwan's life with devotees. It bears the name of Acharya Viharilalji Maharaj.

    OTHER saints such as Gopalanand Swami, Nirgundas Swami, Adbhutanand Swami, and Bhaiatmanand Swami, amongst others have also written about Swaminarayan Bhagwan and given renowned commentaries of Hindu scriptures, while saints such as Premanand Swami and Brahmanand Swami have written thousands of beautiful poems and devotional songs (bhajanas/kirtanas).

    WORKS OF GUNAATEETA SAINTS
    Jaga Swami Ni Vato (Jaga Swami's discourses)
    Krishnaji Ada Ni Vato (Krishnaji Ada's discourses)
    Compilation of Shatriji Maharaj's letters
    Yogi Gita/Krupa Prasad (from Yogi Bapa's discourses)
    Patra Sanjivani and Brahmapravaha (compilation of Kakaji's letters)
    Kakaji authored the following: The Divine Grace, Lord Swaminarayan and Applied Brahm-Gnan, The Real Essence of Tantra, Jnan Samadhi, Panchyagna, and GunatitoAksharambrahma.
    There are also several books that depict the life stories of gunaateeta saints.

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    WORLD RELIGIONS' SCRIPTURES

    The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is the main text of the Jewish faith, containing 39 books by many authors over a thousand years. They are usually separated into the Law (the first 5 books, called the Torah or Pentateuch), Prophets, and Writings - canonized by around the first century BCE. It is both historical (with the first patriarch, Abraham) and philosophical. The Mishnah (later the Talmud, including the Gemara) is a commentary on Jewish law and tradition.

    In addition to the Old Testament valued by Judaism, Christianity places importance on the New Testament (also called the Bible), which contains 27 books that are a compilation of the writings of several authors in Greek language, canonized around the 4th century CE. These books convey the message and life of Jesus Christ (b. c. 4 BC in Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem).

    The Koran is the principal text of Islam with 114 chapters in Arabic. Revealed by the Prophet Mohammed (b. 570 CE in Mecca), it forms the basis of the Muslim faith.

    Chinese tradition has been most influenced by Confucius (b. 551 BCE), whose sayings and dialogues, known collectively as the Analects, were written down by his followers. Lao-tzu (around 4th century BCE) wrote The Tao te Ching and founded Taoism. Chaung Tzu's (around 4th century BCE) popular book is also Taoist.

    The Buddhist faith's most prominent texts include the Tipitaka (containing Suttas, Vinayas, and Abhidhammas) that highlight the teachings of Siddharth Gautam Buddha (b. 563 BCE in today's Nepal). Buddha preached in Magadhi, the dialogues are handed down in Pali (making up the canon of the Theravada school). The Mahayana school contains more sutras (originally in Sanskrit, surviving mostly in Chinese). The Vajranya school additionally contains tantric texts (in Tibet).

    The Sikh faith's major scripture is the Guru Granth Sahib, compiled by the 5th of the 10 gurus, Guru Arjun Dev in 1604. The first guru was Guru Nanak Dev (b. 1469 in today's Punjab, India) and last was Guru Gobind Singh (b. 1666). It contains works of the gurus along with saints like Kabir.

    The Jain faith has many scriptures called Jain Agam or Agam Sutras in Magadhi (accepted by Swetambar Jains), orally transmitted for about one thousand years, based on the teachings of the 24th tirthankar, Mahavir Swami (b. 599 BCE in today's Bihar, India). Digambar Jains accept two main texts (Shatkhand Agam and Kasay Pahud) and four Anuyogs (consisting of about 20 texts) written by great Jain acharyas from 100 to 800 CE.

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