Shruti & Smriti

The basic material or mantra text of each of the Vedas is called “Samhita”. Some post Vedic texts are also known as “Samhitas” such as Ashtavakra Gita, Bhrigu Samhita, Brahma Samhita, Deva Samhita, Garga Samhita, Kashyap Samhita, Shiva Samhita and Yogayajnavalkya Samhita.

The Vedic literature is broadly divided into two categories viz. Shruti and Smriti.

  • Shruti describes the sacred texts comprising the central canon of Hinduism viz. Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, & Upanishads.
  • Smiriti literally means “that which is remembered,” and it is entire body of the post Vedic Classical Sanskrit literature. It comprises Vedanga, Shad darsana, Puranas, Itihasa, Upveda, Tantras, Agamas, Upangs. There is another post Vedic class of Sanskrit literature called Epics which includes Ramayana and Mahabharta.

Difference between Shruti & Smriti:

Shruti is “that which has been heard” and is canonical, consisting of revelation and unquestionable truth, and is considered eternal. It refers mainly to the Vedas themselves.

Smriti is “that which has been remembered” supplementary and may change over time. It is authoritative only to the extent that it conforms to the bedrock of Shruti. It’s worth note that, there is not a distinct divide between Shruti and Smriti. Both Shruti and Smriti can be represented as a continuum, with some texts more canonical than others.

Shruti Literature:

The “Samhita” or 4 Vedas along with their “Brahmanas”, 108 Upanishads and the Aranyakas are Shruti Literature. Brahmanas are commentaries on the four Vedas and deal with proper performance of rituals.

  • Brahmanas are ritualistic and all rituals are outward in nature, proceeding primarily through speech, breath and mind.

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