shruti versus smriti (was Re: Some Vedic sacrifices...)

Sankaran Jayanarayanan kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU
Fri Jan 21 15:41:29 CST 2000

On Thu, 20 Jan 2000, Anand Hudli wrote:

> On Thu, 20 Jan 2000 12:33:31 -0600, Sankaran Jayanarayanan
> <kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU> wrote:


> >Chapter on "shruti-smR^iti shrauta-smArta," p.503:
> >"It is not proper to think that the smR^itis are inferior to the Vedas or
> >that the purANas are inferior to the smR^itis. We must learn to take an
> >integrated view of all of them. In the purANa the Vedic truths are
> >illustrated in the form of stories. The smR^itis bring the Vedic dharmas
> >and karmas in the form of instruction and injunctions and tell us how the
> >rites are to be performed."
> >
> >p.504:"We use the terms "shruti pramaaNa" and "smR^iti pramANa" (the
> >authority of the Vedas and the authority of the smR^itis), but making such
> >a distinction does not mean that we should treat shruti and smR^iti as
> >different or that we should think that the one is inferior to the other."
> >
> >Again in the chapter on "Sacrifices," p.625:
> >"I told you, do you remember, that there was no question of shruti being
> >superior to smR^iti or vice versa?"
>  Perhaps, the ParamAchArya is being misinterpreted here. Can you show
>  me where he says that it is OK to reconcile the shruti with a smR^iti
>  when the latter  contradicts the former? The question of superiority
>  of shruti only arises when there is some contradiction between
>   the shruti and a non-shruti source. But that is not being discussed
>  in the sayings of ParamAchArya that you have quoted above.

The paramAchArya's words imply that there is absolutely no contradiction
between shruti and smR^iti. The smR^itis and the purANas are both founded
on the Vedas (from which they derive their authority), and they never
contradict the authority of the Vedas. There is a whole chapter titled,
"The source of smR^itis is the Vedas" in the book "Hindu dharma". However,
this chapter is mainly about dharmashAstras and not about purANas. The
first chapter on the discussion of purANas is "Magnifying glass of the

In the chapter "shruti-smR^iti shrauta-smArta," the first paragraph goes,
"Shruti, smR^iti and the purANas, all three belong to the same tradition.
Shankara is said to be the abode of the three ("shruti-smR^iti-purANAnAM
AlayaM"). If the three were at variance with one another how can they
exist together in harmony in the same person?" (page 503)

>  Of course, on points of agreement between the shruti and other non-shruti
>  sources such as smR^iti's and purANas, it becomes unnecessary to assert
>  the superiority of the shruti.
>  But still it is correct to say that the smR^itis and other non-shruti
>  sources of dharma derive their strength precisely as long as they do
>  NOT contradict shruti. In  cases where  they don't,  they have equal
>  validity as the shruti. But in cases where they do contradict the
>  shruti, we should ignore the directives of such non-shruti sources or
>  perhaps interpret the *non-shruti* so as to be consistent with what
>  the shruti is saying. The shruti cannot be *forced* or tortured to
>  be consistent with the non-shruti.

The contradictions are only apparent.

It is more or less taken for granted that the smR^iti is to be interpreted
so as to be compatible with shruti, and not the other way round. Even the
paramAchArya says, "There is no second opinion regarding the fact that
what is called "shrauta" (directly mentioned in the Vedas) is wholly
authoritative. But what is not directly mentioned in shruti but included
in smR^iti -- that is smArta -- is not to be taken to be less
authoritative. smArta never contradicts shrauta." (page 504)

>  Anand


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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>From ADVAITA-L at LISTS.ADVAITA-VEDANTA.ORG Sat Jan 22 15:30:14 2000
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Subject: Potential of the Mind
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In shrii sha~Nkara's commentary on the bhagavadgiitaa (Samata Books) P. 46,
is a section entitled 'Knowledge of the Immutable Self is possible'. In
this, sha~Nkara seems to be saying that it IS possible for the mind to
'appreciate' the truth of the Self. Otherwise, for example, what would be
the point of the Scriptures, he asks. In response to the objection 'Because
the Self is inaccessible to any of the senses', he answers 'Not so. For the
Scripture says "It can be seen by the mind alone."'

Here, he quotes the bR^ihadaaraNyaka upanishad.h iv. 19. This says: -

manasaivaanudrashhTavyam.h, naiha naanaasti kiM cana : mR^ityoH sa mrtyum
aapnoti ya iha naaneva pashhyati.

Can anyone provide literal and paraphrased translations of this? Also is
anyone able to say what shrii sha~Nkara actually said in the giitaa
commentary (i.e. literal translation of the Sanskrit? Would anyone like to
try to explain how this can be (that the mind can see the Self)? My
understanding was that (ignoring the fact that body and mind do not really
exist anyway) the mind is so much more gross than the Self that it could
never apprehend the Self in any way whatsoever. Even if we allow that, by
mind here, is not meant manas or the senses but a 'purified intellect',
still this seems a contradiction of fundamental principles of advaita (as
well as of the statements of Kant and Schopenhauer).


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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