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

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 23 12:20:15 CST 2000

On Fri, 21 Jan 2000 15:41:29 -0600, Sankaran Jayanarayanan
<kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU> wrote:

>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)
> [...]

>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)

 It is also worth noting that Manu says: "shrutistu vedo viGYeyo dharma-
 shAstraM tu vai smR^itiH", the shruti is to be known as the Veda(s) and
 the dharmashAstra as the smR^iti. And he also says "vedo .akhilo dharma-
 mUlaM ...", the entire corpus of Veda is the root of Dharma. It is
 important to note that an assertion is being made here that the *entire*
 Veda is accepted as being valid in matters of dharma (and also for
 matters related to Brahman by the VedAntins). Veda therefore stands
 an independent source of knowledge about these two - dharma , based on
 which pUrva-mImAmsA sUtras were written, and Brahman, based on which
 the VedAnta sUtras were written.

 In the case of smR^iti, it is NOT an independent source of knowledge
 about dharma (or Brahman). It is accepted as being based on the shruti.
 smR^iti is paurushheya, having an author, unlike the shruti. As such,
 smR^iti has to be taken as explaining the shruti, not contradicting it.
 A smR^iti may expand on the shruti and lay down further injunctions
 in addition to the Veda, but a smR^iti cannot contradict the shruti
 with its own injunction. In case there is an apparent contradiction,
 the smR^iti can be reconciled with the shruti, if possible. But if
 ever, there is no reconciliation possible, the smR^iti must yield.
 This is clearly stated in the Jaimini sUtra 1.3.3: "virodhe tvanapexyaM
 syAdasati hyanumAnam.h", when there is a contradiction between the
 smR^iti and the shruti, the former is ignored; only when the smR^iti
 does NOT contradict the shruti, we have to assume that the smR^iti
 injunction is based on some shruti text, and explained in the tantra-
 vArtika of KumArila BhaTTa.

 This mImAmsaka position, which is also accepted by advaitins in this
 case, is necessary to rule out the authority of non Vedic scriptures
 such the Bauddha which are shown to be lacking in authority. If smR^iti
 were to be an independent authority like the shruti, then we would
 have to accept the Baudhha scriptures as explaining Dharma also -
 an absurd proposition. Since smR^iti must be based on shruti and
 therefore depend on shruti, any smR^iti that contradicts the shruti
 must lose its significance, just as a branch of a tree whose root
 has been cut off does not survive.


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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