These sacred texts were not preached by any single Messiah but evolved over a period of time - a sort of a culmination of the wisdom of several saints. Hence the depth and range of these ancient texts is so vast that one can pick and choose ones path to salvation as per ones attitudinal and spiritual inclinations. They permit you to lay flat on your back in Shavasana and pray God, or squat cross legged in Padmasana to worship, or stand upside down in Sheershasana, or stand on one leg, or stand waist deep in water or sit on a bed of nails.
The eight schools of thought permit you to follow a path of your own choice. According to the Adwaita school you can believe that you and God are one, according to Dwaita you and God are separate and the Sankhya and Charvaka schools are almost agnostic in their approach. You can follow the Bhakti yoga path of total devotion, or the Hatha yoga path of raising the physical and mental faculties and the tantriks follow the mantra and the yantra path. The Krishna followers claim that Krishna is the managing director of heaven and the rest of the Gods are like clerks working under him.
The Shiva worshipers place him on the heights of mount Kailash an scatter the other Gods in the jungles. There are those who believe that the Devine Father is the greatest and you have others who cannot think of anything other than the Devine Mother. Yes it is the scriptures which have made the Hindu religion the most in-depth and the most democratically liberal religion. They are the wisdom of our ancients. There are hundreds of them but but of these the following are considered the principle scriptures of Hinduism.
However majority agree that it is the great Veda Vyasa who composed or at least restructured them systematically and taught them to his disciples at Naimisharanya around 3000 B.C. The four Vedas (and the Upanishads which are part of the Vedas), the Brahma Sutras, the Mahabharata and all the Puranas were by Veda Vyasa.
For those who want to understand the essence of the Hindu philosophy the study of the above scriptures is a must. The Legendary sixth century philosopher Adi Shankaracharya wrote detailed commentaries on all these and his works are the most authentic and the best. Translations of Adi-Shankara's commentaries on the above are published by the Ramakrishna Math publications and also by the Advaita Ashram publications.
Most of the translators are highly evolved swamis of these organisations and hence the works have that extra spiritual perception and depth which many of the so called "scholar-translators" lack. Equally good are the translations by the Devine Life Society of Swami Shivananda, Hrikesh and the Chinmaya Mission publications.
The Puranas explain the religious and social doctrines in a simple to understand manner. Apart from that they also give a very detailed account of the various Gods and Goddesses, their incarnations, teachings etc. They provide us with the mythological stories associated with Hinduism. It is not possible for every one to grasp the higher philosophic depth of the major scriptures. Hence it is said that the Vedas etc. scriptures, which are in the form of brief verses, are for the intellectuals and the learned ones and for the common man there are the Puranas.
The 18 main Puranas are: Vishnu Purana, Naradiya Purana, Srimad Bhagavata Purana, Garuda (Suparna) Purana, Padma Purana, Varaha Purana, Brahma Purana, Brahmanda Purana, Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Markandeya Purana, Bhavishya Purana, Vamana Purana, Matsya Purana, Kurma Purana, Linga Purana, Siva Purana, Skanda Purana and Agni Purana. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are also considered important puranas.
The eighteen Upa-Puranas are: Sanatkumara, Narasimha, Brihannaradiya, Sivarahasya, Durvasa, Kapila, Vamana, Bhargava, Varuna, Kalika, Samba, Nandi, Surya, Parasara, Vasishtha, Devi-Bhagavata, Ganesa and Hamsa. Our intension is to put the translations of all these scriptures on the site. So far we have put 150 scriptures on this site. More are coming soon.