Religious text

Religious texts, also known as scripture or scriptures (from the Latin scriptura, meaning "writing") are texts which religious traditions consider to be central to their practice or beliefs. Religious texts may be used to provide meaning and purpose, evoke a deeper connection with the divine, convey religious truths, promote religious experience, foster communal identity, and guide individual and communal religious practice. Religious texts often communicate the practices or values of a religious traditions and can be looked to as a set of guiding principles which dictate physical, mental, spiritual, or historical elements considered important to a specific religion. The terms 'sacred' text and 'religious' text are not necessarily interchangeable in that some religious texts are believed to be sacred because of their nature as divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired, whereas some religious texts are simply narratives pertaining to the general themes, practices, or important figures of the specific religion, and not necessarily considered sacred by itself. A core function of a religious text making it sacred is its ceremonial and liturgical role, particularly in relation to sacred time, the liturgical year, the divine efficacy and subsequent holy service; in a more general sense, its performance.

It is not possible to create an exhaustive list of religious texts, because there is no single definition of which texts are recognized as religious.

Codex Vaticanus B, 2Thess. 3,11-18, Hebr. 1,1-2,2
The Septuagint: A page from Codex Vaticanus

History of religious texts

One of the oldest known religious texts is the Kesh Temple Hymn of Ancient Sumer,[1][2] a set of inscribed clay tablets which scholars typically date around 2600 BCE.[3] The Epic of Gilgamesh from Sumer, although only considered by some scholars as a religious text, has origins as early as 2150-2000 BCE, and stands as one of the earliest literary works that includes various mythological figures and themes of interaction with the divine.[4] The Rig Veda of ancient Hinduism is estimated to have been composed between 1700–1100 BCE, which not only denotes it as one of the oldest known religious texts, but also one of the oldest written religious text which is still actively used in religious practice to this day, though no actual evidence of this text exists prior to the 13th century AD.

There are many possible dates given to the first writings which can be connected to Talmudic and Biblical traditions, the earliest of which is found in scribal documentation of the 8th century BCE,[5] followed by administrative documentation from temples of the 5th and 6th centuries BCE,[6] with another common date being the 2nd century BCE.[6] Although a significant text in the history of religious text because of its widespread use among religious denominations and its continued use throughout history, the texts of the Abrahamic traditions are a good example of the lack of certainty surrounding dates and definitions of religious texts.

High rates of mass production and distribution of religious texts did not begin until the invention of the printing press in 1440,[7] before which all religious texts were hand written copies, of which there were relatively limited quantities in circulation.

Sacred texts of various religions

The following is an in-exhaustive list of links to specific religious texts which may be used for further, more in-depth study.

Bronze Age

Ancient Egyptian religion
Hieroglyph Text from Teti I pyramid
Pyramid texts from Teti I's pyramid.

Classical antiquity

Cippo perugino, con iscrizione in lingua etrusca su un atto giuridico tra le famiglie dei velthina e degli afuna, 02
The Cippus of Perugia, 3rd or 2nd century BCE
  • Mandaeanism
    • The Ginza Rba
    • Book of the Zodiac
    • Qolusta, Canonical Prayerbook
    • Book of John the Baptizer
    • Diwan Abatur, Purgatories
    • 1012 Questions
    • Coronation of Shislam Rba
    • Baptism of Hibil Ziwa
    • Haran Gawaita

Ancient China

Ethnic religions


Bodleian J2 fol 175 Y 28 1
Yasna 28.1 (Bodleian MS J2)
  • Primary religious texts, that is, the Avesta collection:
    • The Yasna, the primary liturgical collection, includes the Gathas.
    • The Visperad, a collection of supplements to the Yasna.
    • The Yashts, hymns in honor of the divinities.
    • The Vendidad, describes the various forms of evil spirits and ways to confound them.
    • shorter texts and prayers, the Yashts the five Nyaishes ("worship, praise"), the Sirozeh and the Afringans (blessings).
  • There are some 60 secondary religious texts, none of which are considered scripture. The most important of these are:
    • The Denkard (middle Persian, 'Acts of Religion'),
    • The Bundahishn, (middle Persian, 'Primordial Creation')
    • The Menog-i Khrad, (middle Persian, 'Spirit of Wisdom')
    • The Arda Viraf Namak (middle Persian, 'The Book of Arda Viraf')
    • The Sad-dar (modern Persian, 'Hundred Doors', or 'Hundred Chapters')
    • The Rivayats, 15th-18th century correspondence on religious issues
  • For general use by the laity:
    • The Zend (lit. commentaries), various commentaries on and translations of the Avesta.
    • The Khordeh Avesta, Zoroastrian prayer book for lay people from the Avesta.
  • The true core texts of the Yazidi religion that exist today are the hymns, known as qawls. Spurious examples of so-called "Yazidi religious texts" include the Yazidi Black Book and the Yazidi Book of Revelation, which were forged in the early 20th century



Bhagavad Gita, a 19th century manuscript
The Bhagavad Gita is Lord Krishna's counsel to Arjuna on the battlefield of the Kurukshetra.
In Purva Mimamsa
In Vedanta (Uttar Mimamsa)
In Yoga
In Samkhya
  • Samkhya Sutras of Kapila
In Nyaya
In Vaisheshika
  • Vaisheshika Sutras of Kanada
In Vaishnavism
  • Vaikhanasa Samhitas
  • Pancaratra Samhitas
  • Divyaprabandha
In Saktism
In Kashmir Saivism
In Pashupata Shaivism
  • Pashupata Sutras of Lakulish
  • Panchartha-bhashya of Kaundinya (a commentary on the Pashupata Sutras)
  • Ganakarika
  • Ratnatika of Bhasarvajna
In Shaiva Siddhanta
  • 28 Saiva Agamas
  • Tirumurai (canon of 12 works)
  • Meykandar Shastras (canon of 14 works)
In Gaudiya Vaishnavism
In Lingayatism
In Kabir Panth
In Dadu Panth


Tipitaka scripture
Ancient style of scripture used for the Pāli Canon
Theravada Buddhism
East Asian Mahayana
The Chinese Diamond Sutra, the oldest known dated printed book in the world, printed in the 9th year of Xiantong Era of the Tang Dynasty, or 868 CE. British Library.
Tibetan Buddhism


  • 11 Angas
    • Secondary
      • 12 Upangas, 4 Mula-sutras, 6 Cheda-sutras, 2 Culika-sutras, 10 Prakirnakas
  • Jina Vijaya
  • Tattvartha Sutra
  • GandhaHasti Mahabhashya (authoritative and oldest commentary on the Tattvartha Sutra)


Sri Guru Granth Sahib Nishan
Illuminated Guru Granth folio with Mul Mantar(basic religion mantra) with signature of Guru Gobind Singh.


Torah and jad
A Sefer Torah opened for liturgical use in a synagogue service
Rabbinic Judaism
See also: Rabbinic literature
  • Kabbalah: Primary texts
  • Zohar
Karaite Judaism


Christian Bible, 1407 handwritten copy

The Liturgical books. Many denominations each have their own Worship or Service Books within their Church. These books may also considered religious texts.

Christian Scientists
Bible and science and health
The Bible (left) and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (right) serve as the pastor of the Christian Science church.
Jehovah's Witnesses
Latter Day Saint movement
The Book of Mormon- An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi
Cover page of The Book of Mormon from an original 1830 edition, by Joseph Smith, Jr.
(Image from the U.S. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.)
Native American Church (Christian-leaning factions)
See below.
Rastafari movement
See below.
Seventh-day Adventists
See below.
Unification Church
See below.


11th Century North African Qur'an in the British Museum

There are thousands of books written about the biography of Prophet Muhammad. Mentioning all of them are very difficult. So, some of the most authentic and famous Books on biography of Muhammad will mention.

    • Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya.
    • The Making of the last prophet by Ibn Ishaq
    • The Life of Prophet Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq
    • Sira Manzuma.
    • al-Mawahib al-Ladunniya.
    • al-Zurqani 'ala al-Mawahib.
    • Sirah al-Halabiyya.
    • I`lam al-Nubuwwa.
    • Madarij al-Nubuwwa.
    • Shawahid al-Nubuwwa.
    • Nur al-Safir.
    • Sharh al-Mawahib al-laduniyya.
    • al-Durar fi ikhtisar al-maghazi was-siyar.
    • Ashraf al-wasa'il ila faham al-Shama'il.
    • Ghayat al-sul fi Khasa'is al-Rasul.
    • Ithbat al-Nubuwwa.
    • Nihaya al-Sul fi Khasa'is al-Rasul.
    • Al Khasais-ul-Kubra, al-Khasa'is al-Sughra and Shama'il al-Sharifa.
    • al-Durra al-Mudiyya.

Pre-Columbian Americas

New religious movements

  • The writings of Franklin Albert Jones a.k.a. Adi Da Love-Ananda Samraj
    • Aletheon
    • The Companions of the True Dawn Horse
    • The Dawn Horse Testament
    • Gnosticon
    • The Heart of the Adi Dam Revelation
    • Not-Two IS Peace
    • Pneumaton
    • Transcendental Realism
  • Caodaism
    • Kinh Thiên Đạo Và Thế Đạo (Prayers of the Heavenly and the Earthly Way)
    • Pháp Chánh Truyền (The Religious Constitution of Caodaism)
    • Tân Luật (The Canonical Codes)
    • Thánh Ngôn Hiệp Tuyển (Compilation of Divine Messages)[9]
  • Cheondoism
    • The Donghak Scripture
    • The Songs of Yongdam
    • The Sermons of Master Haeweol
    • The Sermons of Revered Teacher Euiam[10]
  • Dudeism
    • The Dude De Ching
    • Duderonomy
  • Konkokyo
    • Oshirase-Goto Obobe-Chō
    • Konko Daijin Oboegaki
    • Gorikai I
    • Gorikai II
    • Gorikai III[11]
  • Oahspe Faithism
    • Oahspe: A New Bible


  1. ^ Kramer, Samuel (1942). "The Oldest Literary Catalogue: A Sumerian List of Literary Compositions Compiled about 2000 B.C.". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. 88: 10–19.
  2. ^ Sanders, Seth (2002). "Old Light on Moses' Shining Face". Vetus Testamentum. 52: 400–406 – via EbscoHost.
  3. ^ Enheduanna; Meador, Betty De Shong (2009-08-01). Princess, priestess, poet: the Sumerian temple hymns of Enheduanna. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9780292719323.
  4. ^ George, Andrew (2002-12-31). The Epic of Gilgamesh: The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. Penguin. ISBN 9780140449198.
  5. ^ "The Yahwist". Contradictions in the Bible. 2012-12-23. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  6. ^ a b Jaffee, Martin S. (2001-04-19). Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism 200 BCE-400 CE. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198032236.
  7. ^ "The History Guide". Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  8. ^ Eastern Orthodox also generally divide Baruch and Letter of Jeremiah into two books instead of one. The enumeration of the Books of Ezra is different in many Orthodox Bibles, as it is in all others: see Wikipedia's article on the naming conventions of the Books of Esdras.
  9. ^ "Caodaism In A Nutshell".
  10. ^ Archived February 18, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Sacred Scripture (Kyoten) - KONKOKYO".

External links

Abdul Karim Parekh

Abdul Karim Parekh (1928–2007), popularly known as Maulana, was an Indian social worker and scholar, known for his translation of Quran into Urdu language and his discourses on the Islamic religious text. Born on 15 April 1928 at Kanseoni village in the western Indian state of Maharashtra to Abdul Latif and Hanifa as the third of the 13 children born to them, his schooling was only up to primary classes after which he worked as a labour to earn a living. He was known to have been self-taught and translated the Quran into Urdu language which reportedly had 40 re-prints. He was the founder treasurer of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and is a recipient of the Pride of India honour from American Federation of Muslims from India (AFMI). The Government of India awarded him the third highest civilian honour of the Padma Bhushan, in 2001, for his contributions to society. He died on 11 September 2007, at the age of 79, survived by four sons and five daughters; his wife had predeceased him.

Barton Cylinder

The Barton Cylinder is a Sumerian creation myth, written on a clay cylinder in the mid to late 3rd millennium BC, which is now in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Joan Goodnick Westenholz suggests it dates to around 2400 BC (ED III).

Bhagavat of Sankardev

The Bhagavat of Sankardev is the Assamese adaptation of the Bhagavata Purana made by Srimanta Sankardev in 15th-16th century in the regions that form present-day Assam and Cooch Behar. Though the major portions of the work was transcreated by Sankardev, a few other writers from that period contributed to the remaining sections.

This book is revered and forms the central religious text for the followers of Sankardev (Ekasarana Dharma). The text is not a literal translation from the original Sanskrit into the vernacular but it is an adaptation to the local milieu in language and content.

Criticism of Sikhism

Sikhism has been criticized in one way or another by proponents of other theories. These critics include both Sikhs and non-Sikhs under different motives. These criticisms extend across a large portion of the beliefs and practices of Sikhism and even question the authenticity of the origin of the faith. As a result, Sikhs continue to face discrimination due to their presence and past activities. Many believe that these criticisms lack the depth of understanding of the underlying teachings of Sikhism, which requires time and education to fully appreciate and put into context with other religions and beliefs.

Dasam Granth

The Dasam Patishah Ji Da Granth (Gurmukhi: ਦਸਮ ਪਾਤਿਸ਼ਾਹ ਦਾ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ), commonly known as Dasam Granth (Gurmukhi: ਦਸਮ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ), is a religious text containing many of the texts traditionally attributed to Guru Gobind Singh. It is written primarily in Brij Bhasha, with Awadhi, Hindustani, Punjabi and Persian compositions written almost entirely in the Gurmukhi script except for the Fatehnama, Zafar Nama and Hikayat, which are in the Persian alphabet.The Dasam Granth is a separate religious text from the Guru Granth Sahib.Some compositions of the Dasam Granth such as Jaap Sahib, Tav-Prasad Savaiye and Benti Chaupai are part of the Nitnem or daily prayers and also part of the Amrit Sanchar or baptism ceremony.


Exegesis (; from the Greek ἐξήγησις from ἐξηγεῖσθαι, "to lead out") is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, particularly a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for work with the Bible; however, in modern usage "biblical exegesis" is used for greater specificity to distinguish it from any other broader critical text explanation.

Exegesis includes a wide range of critical disciplines: textual criticism is the investigation into the history and origins of the text, but exegesis may include the study of the historical and cultural backgrounds of the author, text, and original audience. Other analyses include classification of the type of literary genres presented in the text and analysis of grammatical and syntactical features in the text itself.

The terms exegesis and hermeneutics have been used interchangeably.


"Fnord" () is a word coined in 1965 by Kerry Thornley and Greg Hill in the Discordian religious text Principia Discordia. It entered the popular culture after appearing in The Illuminatus! Trilogy (1975) of satirical and parody conspiracy fiction novels by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. In these novels, the interjection "fnord" is given hypnotic power over the unenlightened, and children in grade school are taught to be unable to consciously see the word "fnord". For the rest of their lives, every appearance of the word subconsciously generates a feeling of unease and confusion, preventing rational consideration of the text in which it appears.

The word has been used in newsgroup and hacker culture to indicate irony, humor, or Surrealism. Placement at the end of a statement in brackets (fnord) explicitly tags the intent, and may be so applied to any random or surreal sentence, coercive subtext, or anything jarringly out of context, intentional or not. It is sometimes used as a metasyntactic variable in programming. Fnord appears in the Church of the SubGenius recruitment film Arise! and has been used in the SubGenius newsgroup alt.slack.

Genesis Rabbah

Genesis Rabba (Hebrew: בְּרֵאשִׁית רַבָּה, B'reshith Rabba) is a religious text from Judaism's classical period, probably written between 300 and 500 CE with some later additions. It is a midrash comprising a collection of ancient rabbinical homiletical interpretations of the Book of Genesis (B'reshith in Hebrew).

It is expository midrash to the first book of the Torah, assigned by tradition to the amora Hoshaiah (or Osha'yah), who flourished in the third century in Christian Palestine. The midrash forms an aggadic commentary on Genesis, in keeping with the midrashic exegesis of that age. In a continuous sequence, broken only toward the end, the Biblical text is expounded, verse for verse, often word for word. Only genealogic passages and passages that furnish no material for exposition (as the reiterated account of Abraham's servant in Genesis 24:35-48) are omitted.

Kapila Purana

The Kapila Purana (Sanskrit: कपिल पुराण, Kapila Purāṇa) (ca. 11th century) is a Hindu religious text. The text is considered as one of the 18 Upapuranas. It contains 21 chapters which mostly narrate glories about the puņyakṣetras (sacred places) of Utkala. It subsequently describes the greatness of Purusottama Kshetra, Viraja Kshetra, Maiterya Vana, and Ekamra Tirtha. Sage Kapila is the main narrator of this Purana. He describes to king Shalyajit regarding the glorified virtue of Utkala Kingdom, which he reports as a conversation between sage Bharadvaja and the sages performing tapas (austerities) in Pushkarakshetra. It describes the Shiva, Durga, Vishnu and Surya shrines in and around Orissa. The Jnana yoga is described in the final chapter of this Purana.


Mormonism is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationist Christianity started by Joseph Smith in Western New York in the 1820s and 30s.

The word Mormon originally derived from the Book of Mormon, a religious text published by Smith, which he said he translated from golden plates with divine assistance. The book describes itself as a chronicle of early indigenous peoples of the Americas and their dealings with God. Based on the book's name, Smith's early followers were more widely known as Mormons, and their faith Mormonism. The term was initially considered pejorative, but Mormons no longer consider it so (although generally preferring other terms such as Latter-day Saint or LDS).After Smith was killed in 1844, most Mormons followed Brigham Young on his westward journey to the area that became the Utah Territory, calling themselves The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Other sects include Mormon fundamentalism, which seeks to maintain practices and doctrines such as polygamy, and other small independent denominations. The second-largest Latter Day Saint denomination, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, since 2001 called the Community of Christ, does not describe itself as "Mormon", but follows a Trinitarian Christian restorationist theology, and considers itself Restorationist in terms of Latter Day Saint doctrine.

Mormonism has common beliefs with the rest of the Latter Day Saint movement, including the use of and belief in the Bible, and in other religious texts including the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. It also accepts the Pearl of Great Price as part of its scriptural canon, and has a history of teaching eternal marriage, eternal progression and polygamy (plural marriage), although the LDS Church formally abandoned the practice of plural marriage in 1890. Cultural Mormonism, a lifestyle promoted by Mormon institutions, includes cultural Mormons who identify with the culture, but not necessarily the theology.

New Testament apocrypha

The New Testament apocrypha (singular apocryphon) are a number of writings by early Christians that give accounts of Jesus and his teachings, the nature of God, or the teachings of his apostles and of their lives. Some of these writings have been cited as scripture by early Christians, but since the fifth century a widespread consensus has emerged limiting the New Testament to the 27 books of the modern canon. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches generally do not view these New Testament apocrypha as part of the Bible.

Pau Cin Hau script

The Pau Cin Hau scripts are two scripts, a logographic script and an alphabetic script created by Pau Cin Hau, a Tedim religious leader from Chin State, Burma. The logographic script consists of 1050 characters, which is a traditionally significant number based on the number of characters appearing in a religious text. The alphabetic script is a simplified script of 57 characters, which is divided into 21 consonants, 7 vowels, 9 final consonants, and 20 tone, length, and glottal marks. The original script was produced in 1902, but it is thought to have undergone at least two revisions, of which the first revision produced the logographic script.The logographic script has not been encoded, but the alphabetic script has been encoded in Unicode 7.0.

The characters in the script seem to resemble characters in the Latin script and in the Burmese script in a way similar to the relationship between Pahawh Hmong and both Lao script and Latin script. They are glyphically similar but encode different phonological values.

The script was designed for the Tedim language (also Paite language) but is able to transcribe other Chin languages, as there are additional letters and tone marks to represent sounds present in other Chin languages but not present in Tedim.

The script is known natively as "Pau Cin Hau lai" ('Pau Cin Hau script'), or "tual lai" ('local script'), where "lai" also means 'writing' in Tedim(Paite)

The script also had limited use for Christian literature in the region, as is evidenced by some Baptist documents produced in 1931-32 in Burma.

Rules and regulations for God-heads (Ayyavazhi)

Ayya Vaikundar was the incarnation of Ekam according to Akilathirattu Ammanai, the religious text of Ayyavazhi and the source of Ayyavazhi mythology. As the Ekam is the supreme power in Ayyavazhi, Vaikundar was the supreme power incarnate.

Sarbloh Granth

The Sarbloh Granth (Punjabi: ਸਰਬਲੋਹ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ, sarabalōha grantha), also called Manglacharan Puran or Sri Manglacharan Ji, is a voluminous scripture. It consists of more than 6,500 poetic stanzas. The Sarabloh Granth is a separate religious text from the Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Granth. It is considered as amalgamation of writings of Guru Gobind Singh and other poets. Sarbloh Granth literally means "the Granth or Scripture of all-steel or iron".Khalsa Mahima is present in this granth. No hymn or composition of this granth in used in daily Sikh liturgy and Amrit Sanchar.

There is no complete commentary or exegesis of this granth available and it is still under research. The complete granth was first printed by Jathedar Santa Singh Nihang at Budha Dal Printing Press, Patiala.


Secularity (derived from the word "secular" which comes from Latin saeculum meaning "worldly", "of a generation", "temporal", or a span of about 100 years) is the state of being separate from religion, or of not being exclusively allied with or against any particular religion. Historically, the word secular was not related or linked to religion, but was a freestanding term in Latin which would relate to any mundane endeavour. However, the term, saecula saeculorum (saeculōrum being the genitive plural of saeculum) as found in the New Testament in the Vulgate translation (circa 410) of the original Koine Greek phrase "εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων" (eis toùs aionas ton aiṓnōn), e.g. at Galatians 1:5, was used in the early Christian church (and is still used today), in the doxologies, to denote the coming and going of the ages, the grant of eternal life, and the long duration of created things from their beginning to forever and ever. The idea of a dichotomy between religion and the secular originated in the European Enlightenment. Furthermore, since religion and secular are both Western concepts that were formed under the influence of Christian theology, other cultures do not necessarily have words or concepts that resemble or are equivalent to them. In many cultures, "little conceptual or practical distinction is made between 'natural' and 'supernatural' phenomena" and the very notions of religious and nonreligious dissolve into unimportance, nonexistence, or unawareness, especially since people have beliefs in other supernatural or spiritual things irrespective of belief in God or gods.

Conceptions of what is and what is not religion vary in contemporary East Asia as well. The shared term for "irreligion" or "no religion" (無宗教, Chinese pron. wú zōngjiào, Japanese pron. mu shūkyō) with which the majority of East Asian populations identify themselves implies non-membership in one of the institutional religions (such as Buddhism and Christianity) but not necessarily non-belief in traditional folk religions collectively represented by Chinese Shendao (shén dào) and Japanese Shinto (both meaning "ways of gods"). In modern Japan, religion has negative connotation since it is associated with foreign belief systems so many identify as "nonreligious" (mushukyo), but this does not mean they have a complete rejection or absence of beliefs and rituals relating to supernatural, metaphysical, or spiritual things. In the Meiji era, the Japanese government consciously excluded Shinto from the category of religion in order to enforce State Shinto while asserting their state followed American-mandated requirements for freedom of religion; this has fed into the contemporary Japanese experience of "secularity" as well as the government's regulation of religious beliefs and institutions from the Meiji era into the present day.One can regard eating and bathing as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them. Nevertheless, some religious traditions see both eating and bathing as sacraments, therefore making them religious activities within those world views. Saying a prayer derived from religious text or doctrine, worshipping through the context of a religion, performing corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and attending a religious seminary school or monastery are examples of religious (non-secular) activities.

The "secular" is experienced in diverse ways ranging from separation of religion and state to being anti-religion or even pro-religion, depending on the culture. For example, the United States has both separation of church and state and pro-religiosity in various forms such as protection of religious freedoms; France has separation of church and state (and Revolutionary France was strongly anti-religious); the Soviet Union was anti-religion; in India, people feel comfortable identifying as secular while participating in religion; and in Japan, since the concept of "religion" is not indigenous to Japan, people state they have no religion while doing what appears to be religion to Western eyes.A related term, secularism, involves the principle that government institutions and their representatives should remain separate from religious institutions, their beliefs, and their dignitaries. Many businesses and corporations, and some governments operate on secular lines. This stands in contrast to theocracy, government with deity as its highest authority.


The Shikshapatri (Gujarati: શિક્ષાપત્રી, Devanagari: (शिक्षापत्री) is a religious text consisting of two hundred and twelve verses, written in Sanskrit by Lord Swaminarayan. The Shikhapatri is believed to have been written in the current form in Sanskrit by Satanand Swami, who incorporated into and compiled the scripture known as SatsangiJivan. The Shikshapatri is a key scripture to all followers of Swaminarayan and is considered the basis of the sect.

The Shikshapatri was written in Vadtal on (Maha Sud 5, 1882 VS) February 11, 1826. It is a dharma text, providing detailed instructions on how to live a spiritually uplifting life.


Vajjabhumi was a part of Rarh in ancient times. It is located in what is now Birbhum district in the Indian state of West Bengal. The more rugged western part of the district was known as Vajjabhumi, the country of the thunderbolt.There is mention of the Rarh region in the Jain text Acaranga Sutra. The last (24th) great Tirthankara Mahavira had wandered through this land, referred to as the "pathless country of Ladha". The people of this region are referred to as ill-mannered and dogs were set upon Mahavira. Some historians have opined that the people of Aryavarta, were not knowledgeable about the areas beyond their territories and often looked down upon the people of those parts. In the religious text Bodhayan, it is mentioned that those who visited Vanga had to perform penance.

Volume of Sacred Law

Volume of Sacred Law (VSL) (also known as the Book of the Law) is the Masonic term for whatever religious or philosophical texts are displayed during a Lodge meeting.

In English-speaking countries, this is most often the King James Version of the Bible or another standard translation of the Bible. If a Lodge has non-Christian members, other texts may be used, and in Lodges with a membership of mixed religions it is common to find more than one sacred text displayed. Every candidate is given his choice of religious text for his Obligation according to his beliefs.

One of the most notable individual VSLs is the George Washington Inaugural Bible. It belongs to St. John's Lodge No. 1 in New York City and has been used at its meetings since 1767. It is famous, however, for being the Bible used at the first inauguration of George Washington as President of the United States. It was also used (sometimes in conjunction with another Bible) for the Presidential inaugurations of Warren Harding, Dwight Eisenhower, George H. W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter.

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