Shruti Vs Smriti

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon Aug 11 20:29:18 CDT 1997

On Mon, 11 Aug 1997, Nanda Kumar wrote:

> I just finished reading a commentry on the Bhagavat Gita by C.
> Rajagopalachari and couldn't help noticing the shift in thought from the
> the Upanishads (translation by Swami Prabhavananda). The Gita seemed
> more to accomodate the changing times and even a bit linient and
> understanding in it's teachings.

Bear in mind you are reading translations.  I don't know Swami
Prabhavanandas credentials beyond he was associated with Christopher
Isherwood (which isn't much of a recommendation) but Rajagopalachari was a
politician in the early days of India.  How do you know he didn't censor
his translation to fit his political agenda?

> Where the Upanishads says, those who desire material life and  to have
> offsprings are condemned to a world of darkness, the Gita says it's not
> really necessary to give up the normal life. For even in day to day
> life, if one performs his/her activities without any attatchment to the
> outcome, without self-interest, that itself will lead to Karma Yoga. And it
> also says people should be very careful about renunciation et al, for
> actually they would only be deluding themselves and their desires
> forcibly controlled would only fester and grow out of proportion. And
> that renunciation and the control of the senses should be done in a
> gradual manner thru practice.

The Upanishads are the jnana kanda of the Vedas.  They are meant for
Sannyasis only.  The Karma kanda of the Vedas like the Gita is
meant for householders and contains just as many "life-affirming"
statements.  However the Advaita tradition is very firm that Moksha
requires Sannyasa.  The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads
do not diverge on this.

> Where the Upanishads mentions only the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas
> eligible for Self-Realisation, the Gita allows women and the lower castes
> too.

The Shruti is only meant for men of the Brahman, Kshatriya, and Vaishya
varnas so why would it mention anyone else?  For the benefit of others
Maharshi Veda Vyas took the essence of the Shruti and wrote the Mahabharat
which the Bhagavad Gita is a part) and the 18 Puranas.

> Also noticable is that the word Brahman is substituted with

??? Part of the problem might be that Brahma (a masculine noun meaning the
Creator God), Brahman (a neuter noun meaning the Supreme), and Brahman (a
masculine noun meaning a man of the priestly caste) all share much od
their declensions.  Brahma could refer to the Creator or a priest in the
nominative case or the Supreme Being in the accusative case.  This is not
a big deal most of the time for someone who understands Sanskrit grammer
but an ignorant translator may screw things up.

> Did the fathers of Hinduism, feel that the brahmans or the brahmins were
> getting too big for their boots and realize the problem with casteism?

The Bhagavad Gita is hardly an argument against caste.  Krishna Bhagavan
forces Arjuna to fight even though he doesn't want to precisely because

> So my question is, why is the Shruti given precedence over the Smriti, in
> this case, the Bhagavat Gita?

Shruti and Smriti both teach the same thing.  The only time Shruti takes
precedence is when there is a contradiction between the two and here there
is no contradiction.

Jaldhar H. Vyas [jaldhar at]   And the men .-_|\ who hold
Consolidated Braincells Inc.                          /     \ -)~~~~~~~~  Perth->*.--._/  o-
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