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Shruti and Smruti Scriptures


Hindu scriptures broadly fall into two categories - Shruti and Smruti.


Shruti - that which is "heard" / divine revelations.

Shruti is what the sages have experienced as universal truths and have recorded them in 4 Vedas and subsequent Upnishads in the Vedantas.


Smruti - that which is memorized / remembered.  It is hence "man-made"
Smruti are the teachings of the great teachers.  This also constitutes "tradition", "culture" and social mores.  6 Upavedas, 18 Puranas and Itihas (Ramayan and Mahabharata) and scores of other scriptures are classified as Smrutis.


Smruti is dynamic in nature and may need to change to reflect new understanding of ancient texts.  Hence over time, some aspects of Smruti may become obsolete and require modification or amendment. 


BUT - Shruti is the final authority. If there is anything in a Smruti which contradicts the Shruti, the Smruti is to be rejected in favour of Shruti.  For example, an Act of Law will have several Rules to explain it.  Act of Law is like Shriti.  Rules are like Smruti.  A Rule may help explain an Act but if ever there is conflict in how a Rule interprets the Law, the Act will be the final word and not the Rule.


There are hundreds of shrutis.  Amongst these, there are 18 that are spcifically called "Shrutie", outlining the "ideal society" of that time.  These 18 shruties are named after the sages who wrote them.  Manu, Parasara, Yajnavalkya, Gautama, Harita, Yama, Visnu, Sankha, Likhita, Brhaspati, Daksa, Angiras, Pracetas, Samvarta, Acanas, Atri, Apastamba and Satatapa are the eighteen sages whose works are known after them like Manusmruti, Yajnavalkya-smruti, Parasara-Smruti and so on.  British found the Manusmruti text to be more favourable to their rule of India and hence based their "Hindu family law" on Manusmruti.  As a result, most people still focus on Manusmruti and do not study the other smrutis.  

Please click here for a more indepth article on shruti and smruti.


(Shrutis) Veda Samhitas > Upnishads > (Smrutis) UpaVedas > Puranas > Itihasas > Divya Prabandha > Agamas > Tantras


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