There are four Vedas: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda. Each Veda has four subdivisions – the Samhitas (mantras and benedictions), the Aranyakas (text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices), the Brahmanas (commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices), and the Upanishads (texts discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge). Some scholars add a fifth category – the Upasanas (worship). The texts of the Upanishads discuss ideas akin to the heterodox sramana-traditions.
Vedas are śruti ("what is heard"), distinguishing them from other religious texts, which are called smṛti ("what is remembered"). Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya, which means "not of a man, superhuman" and "impersonal, authorless," revelations of sacred sounds and texts heard by ancient sages after intense meditation.
The Vedas have been orally transmitted since the 2nd millennium BCE with the help of elaborate mnemonic techniques. The mantras, the oldest part of the Vedas, are recited in the modern age for their phonology rather than the semantics, and are considered to be "primordial rhythms of creation", preceding the forms to which they refer. By reciting them the cosmos is regenerated, "by enlivening and nourishing the forms of creation at their base."
The various Indian philosophies and Hindu denominations have taken differing positions on the Vedas; schools of Indian philosophy that acknowledge the primal authority of the Vedas are classified as "orthodox" (āstika). Other śramaṇa traditions, such as Charvaka, Ajivika, Buddhism, and Jainism, which did not regard the Vedas as authorities, are referred to as "heterodox" or "non-orthodox" (nāstika) schools
The Rāmāyana (/rɑːˈmɑːjənə/; Sanskrit: रामायणम्,IAST: Rāmāyaṇam) is a Sanskrit epic composed over a period of nearly a millennium, with scholars' estimates for the earliest stage of the text ranging from the 8th to 4th centuries BCE, and later stages extending up to the 3rd century CE. Ramayana is one of the two important epics of Hinduism, the other being the Mahābhārata.
The epic, traditionally ascribed to the Maharishi Valmiki, narrates the life of Sita, the Princess of Janakpur, and Rama, a legendary prince of Ayodhya city in the kingdom of Kosala. The epic follows his fourteen-year exile to the forest urged by his father King Dasharatha, on the request of Rama's stepmother Kaikeyi; his travels across forests in the Indian subcontinent with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, the kidnapping of Sita by Ravana – the king of Lanka, that resulted in war; and Rama's eventual return to Ayodhya to be crowned king amidst jubilation and celebration.
The Ramayana is one of the largest ancient epics in world literature. It consists of nearly 24,000 verses (mostly set in the Shloka/Anustubh meter), divided into seven Khanda (parts) the first and the seventh being later additions. It belongs to the genre of Itihasa, narratives of past events (purāvṛtta), interspersed with teachings on the goals of human life.
There are many versions of Ramayana in Indian languages, besides Buddhist, Sikh and Jain adaptations. There are also Cambodian (Reamker), Indonesian, Filipino, Thai (Ramakien), Lao, Burmese and Malay versions of the tale.
The Ramayana was an important influence on later Sanskrit poetry and the Hindu life and culture, and its main characters were fundamental to the cultural consciousness of a number of South-East Asian nations, both Hindu and Buddhist. Its most important moral influence was the importance of virtue, in the life of a citizen and in the ideals of the formation of a state (from Sanskrit: रामराज्य, IAST: Ramarajya - a utopian state where Rama is king) or of a functioning society.