10 Most Influential Sacred Book in History

Most of the sacred texts, having a relationship with religious belief, mythologies, ritual, practices, laws, and spiritual aspirations, were written during the ancient times. 

The world was divided into various religions which led to the creation of multiple writings or beliefs of their faith. The writings were known as the sacred texts and some of them are the Torah, the Bible, the Quran, the Vedas, and the Tripitaka.

Out of which, the Quran, the Bible, and the Vedas can be considered as the most influential sacred texts of all time. They are read and worshipped by the maximum number of people all over the world.

Various other sacred texts have some influence and here is the list of 10 Most Influential Sacred Texts in History.

10. The Kojiki: Sacred Text of Shinto

The Kojiki: Sacred Text of Shinto

The sacred book, the Kojiki, also known as Records of Ancient Matters, was written in 712 AD in Japan. It is the holy text of the religion Shintoism, the oldest surviving Japanese religion.

The two primary sources for Shinto- a Japanese National Religion which started with the realm of myth along with the creation of Japan from foam, the Kajiki, also includes the description of innumerable gods and goddesses, moving the narration from mythology to historical legends with a culmination of the new Imperial Line.

Indulgement of some dense stories, super-natural episodes, tales of betrayal – murder- passion, and reminiscence of Icelandic sagas make the explanation of the customs, magical practices, and ceremonies followed by the Shintos in Japan clearer in the sacred text.

The Kojikwas translated into English in the year 1882.

9. Egyptian Book of the Dead: Sacred Funerary text of Ancient Egyptian

Source: Wikipedia

The sacred funerary text, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, was written and used from the early 1500 BCE to 50 BCE. It is a text written in papyrus for funerary rituals.

Containing about 192 magical spells meaning to guard the deceased person towards their journey to the afterlife(underworld) and also helping them in avoiding deception and pitfalls during their journey, the Ancient Egyptians used it.

The creation of this book had no two copies of the same work and was created especially for the people who were able to afford the invention to use it as a manual to help them after death. All the copies of this book were different.

Considering the afterlife to be the continuation of life on earth and, after one has passed through severe judgement from the Hall of Truth, the magic spells were used to help the deceased to find peace.

Amongst all, the Weighing of the Heart was considered to be the most famous spell which would help regain the power of movement and speech to the deceased afterlife.

8. The Guru Granth Sahib : Sacred Text of the Sikhs

The sacred book, the Guru Granth Sahib, written between 1563 and 1606, is the most respected holy text of the Sikhs.

Consists of 5894 hymns(Shabads) and is composed of 18 ragas. Out of all the hymns, 976 are by Guru Nanak, 907 by Guru Amar Das, 61 by Guru Angad, 2216 by Guru Arjan, 118 by Guru Tegh Bahadur, and 937 by the 15 bhagats and bards.

The Guru Granth Sahib is divided into 33 sections which include three prayers: Japji(morning prayer), Sodar(evening prayer), and Sohela(bedtime prayer) in the first section, the composition of the Bani of Gurus and Bhagats in the second, and Acknowledgements(Sloka) at last.

Along with the hymns and prayers, it also includes songs of Sikh religion. The sacred book has its place to sleep known as Sach Khand (the Pure Haven), as the Guru Granth Sahib was considered as the living Guru.

7.Tao Te Ching : Sacred Text of Chinese Taoist

The Tao Te Ching was written during the 6th century BC by the sage Laozi. It is also referred to as Daodejing, in pinyin and is in the flowing style of calligraphy.

A classic Chinese text which, composed according to the tradition, contains 81 brief chapters with both religious and philosophical Taoism. It is considered to have influenced the schools of Chinese Buddhism, Legalism, and Confucianism.

The sacred text presents a way of life intending to restore tranquillity and harmony amongst the people and has received various interpretations due to its mystical overtones and elusiveness.

With the success of the creation, numerous commentaries have been written including 250 in Japanese, 350 in Chinese, and almost 40 translations are done in English.

6. The Agamas: Sacred Text of Jains

The Suryaprajnaptisūtra, a 4th or 3rd century BCE astronomy text of Śvētāmbara Jains
Source: Wikimedia Common

The sacred book, the Jain Agamas are the canonical texts of Jainism. They are based on the teachings of Mahavira for his disciples. This sacred book was written between the 4th and 3rd century BCE.

The disciples memorized all the teachings of Mahavira and compiled his words into sutras or texts. So, the holy book of Jains is not one but more than one compiled by many of his disciples. They are recorded by Ganadharas and 12 angas(departments).

Besides the book, the holy place where this book is preached is known as Shrut Jnana which has a total of 14 purvas and 11 angas.

5. The Tipitaka – Sacred Text of Buddhist

Source: Wikipedia
The woodblock of Tripiṭaka Koreana in Haeinsa, Hapcheon, South Korea

A sacred book, Tipitaka,  written around the 1st Century BCE,  is authoritative, especially in Theravada Buddhism.

It is written in Pali language and the word Tirpitika is a Sanskrit word – meaning Three – Baskets, having a collection of three scared Buddhist books under it: Vinaya Pitaka(Discipline Basket), Sutta Pitaka(Discourse Basket), and Abhidhamma Pitaka(Higher Knowledge Basket).

Vinaya Pitaka is a book containing 227 rules made for the monks, nuns, and guidelines of interaction for the laity and sangha. It was recalled by Upali, a monk.

Sutta Pitaka contains the actual teaching of Buddha presenting a conversation about the techniques of meditation between Lord Buddha and his followers. It was recited by Lord  Buddha’s cousin, Ananda.

Whereas, Abhidhamma Pitaka contains the discussion of interpreting and understanding of Lord Buddha’s teachings including some poetry, songs, and stories. It was recited by Lord Buddha’s successor, Mahakashyapa.

4. The Tanakh: Sacred Text of Jewish

The sacred book, the Tanakh, also known as the Jewish Bible, was written during the period of BC 1500 and AD 100.

It is the founding document of the people of Israel which describes the origins, visions of a just society, and its history.

A collection of Jewish texts from which some source materials are served as the basis for the Christian Bible’s Old Testament as many of the same divine teachings from the Bible are in it. 

Tanakh is an acronym which was derived from the three divisional names of the Hebrew Bible: The Torah, which is the instruction, or the Law consists of five books – Genesis, Numbers, Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, Nevi’im, the prophets comprised of eight books, and The Ketuvim meaning writings.

3.The Bible: Sacred Text of Christian

The Bible, a collection of many sacred texts and scripture, is the most popular books which are read worldwide by Jewish and Christians. 

It is considered a divine inspiration which records the genuine relationship between humankind and God, having authoritative guidelines for belief and behaviour.

Containing the messages which provoke many scholars and believers, the sacred book consists of 66 books further divided into 2 sections: 39 The Old Testament and 27 New Testament.

The Old Testament was written at different times between 1200 and 165 BC, and the New Testament was written in the 1st Century AD. 

Combining the work of different human authors along with the dictation from God, the Holy Bible, is comprised of expert writing skills, styles, personalities, views, and cultures. 

Despite the diversity in the books of the Bible, specific themes unify them, including the belief of the existence of only one God as the creator and maintainer, God-loving all his people-nationalities-religions, creation of man-woman with the power to differentiate between good-evil, and God-seeking salvation of all his people.

2. The Vedas and The Upanishads: Sacred Text of Hindu

The Vedas and The Upanishads: Sacred Text of Hindu
Source: Wikipedia

A sacred book, Vedas, written between 800 and 400 B.C, includes original texts – Mantra and commentary portion – Brahmana. They are the oldest Sanskrit Literature and the oldest writings of Hinduism.

Vyasa compiled the Vedas and arranged into four collections: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda. Whereas Upanishads are the parts of Vedas, every Veda is divided into four parts: Brahmana, Aranyaka, Samhita, and Upanishads.

The Rig-Veda includes the teachings of the procedure of wedding, Yajur-Veda consists of the sacrificial rites, Sam-Veda consists of the songs or chantings of praise, and Atharva-Veda includes the political-philosophical issues.

All the individual verses on the Vedas comprise of hymns and prose explained by the Brahmanas which serves as complementary prose, and the ends of the Vedas are the Vedanta, also known as the Upanishads. 

1. The Quran: Sacred Text of Islam

The Quran: Sacred Text of Islam

The sacred book, Quran, written between 609 – 632 CE, was orally revealed to Muhammad – the final prophet by God. It was done so through the archangel Gabriel (Jibril) and is written in Quranic Arabic.

The Muslims read the Quran five times a day, is the follower of Islam. It is taken as the Miracle’s revelation of God towards his prophet Muhammad to maintain peace forever. 

Recited in Arabic and the person who has memorized the whole of it is called a Hafiz. Isa is taken as a holy Prophet and Mariam as a Holy Woman, and it represents the Divine guidance for all the Muslims.

It consists of 114 chapters, classified as Mecca or Medina, known as Surah. Surah has many verses (Ayat), Al-Kawthar is the shortest Surah and Al-Baqara is the longest.

86 Meccan deals with afterlife and faith, whereas 28 Medinan concern with the growth of the Muslim community and social life.

Conclusion:

With the indulgent of spiritual truth, magical spells, mantras, powerful divine myths, and mystical experiences, these sacred texts have influenced every human being in one way or the other.

The books tell us who we are with the ideas and beliefs included in them and also makes us realize the very sense of being.

Other significant sacred texts which have a great influence on human life include Bhagavad Gita, The Book of Shadows, The Avesta, and The Kesh Temple Hymn.

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Cite this article as: Richard Marrison, "10 Most Influential Sacred Book in History," in HistoryTen, March 8, 2020, https://historyten.com/religion/most-influential-sacred-text-book-history/.
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