Which smṛti or smṛtis (Manu, Parāśara, Yājñavalkya etc.) are to be followed in Kali-yuga§?

The Parāśara smṛti supposedly mentions that it is meant for Kali-yuga. Do we have similar statements in other smṛtis about the yuga in which they are to be followed?

Can we follow multiple smṛtis at the same time, in other words, can we follow a smṛti even after the yuga it is meant for has completed?

§ Some people contest that we are not in Kali-yuga but Dwapara-yuga but for the sake of this question, assume that we are in Kali-yuga.

P.S: If you just want to state your opinion just leave a comment under the question. Please don't try to answer citing blogs. I'm mainly looking for answers backed by scripture. Answers can also be opinions of an āchārya or a guru.

  • 2
    You're not asking about Smritis in general; Smriti just refer to those Hindu scriptures which have an author, as opposed to Shruti which is Apaurusheya or authorless. You're asking about Dharma Shastras, which are a category of Smritis that describe the rules of moral behavior. – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 17 '16 at 3:03
  • Yes, you are right, smṛtis such as Manu. – sv. Sep 17 '16 at 6:02
  • So you should change your title from Smritis to Dharma Shastras. – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 17 '16 at 13:12
  • Parasara smriti is to be followed in kali yuga. Mahabharata also may be referred. Then there are treatises like dharma sindhu and nirnaya sindhu. As to people contesting the start date of kali yuga, I say they are continually spreading all kinds of false information about Hinduism. Let's not give credence or propogation to their "knowledge". – user1195 Sep 18 '16 at 5:26

The Dharma Shastra (the rule book of what to do and what not to do) to be followed in Kali Yuga is Parashara Smriti only & not those of Manu and others. This is as per the Parashara Smriti .

I don't know if there are any other Scriptures which contradicts with this or not.

Refer to Parashara Smriti :

According to the nature of age the Laws to be applied (in that age) differ . What applies ,for example,in Krita does not apply in Treta , what applies in Dwapara does not apply in Kali and so on.

Chapter 1, Verses 21,22 are given below:

  1. " The author of the Veda there is none ; (he) the fourfaced (God), at each succeeding revolution of a Kalpa, recalls to mind the Veda ; and so does Manu remember the law (at each succeeding revolution of a Kalpa).

  2. " In conformity to the character of the age, the rules of law (suitable) for men differ from age to age. The rules for the Krita differ from the Treta rules ; the Dvapara laws are not identical with the Kali rules.

Sloka 24 (same chapter) makes it precise as to which rules to be applied in which age.

Krite tu Manava Dharmastretayam Gowtamah Smritaha||
Dwapare Sankhalikhitah Kalou Parashara Smritaha||

For Krita Manu's laws apply, Gowtama's for Treta, in Dwapara those written by Sankha and Likhita apply and Prashara Smriti is the one that applies in Kali.

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All the Smritis are comprised of an Achara section, which describes how to perform the religious rites, a Vyavahara section, which describes the civil laws and the Prayaschitta section, which contains various rules regarding atonement measures.

The main problem with Parashara Smriti being a standalone Smriti for Kali Yuga is that the text does not have a Vyavahara Kanda at all.

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  • A lot of answers on this site cite only Manu-smriti, so are those wrong? – sv. Sep 17 '16 at 15:48
  • 1
    @sv, there are some universal truths that apply across time and space. Such truths may be found in other smirits as well and need to be received as such. Parasara smriti overrides others when it comes to practices specific to day to day life. – user1195 Sep 18 '16 at 5:28

In the book, Hindu Dharma: The Universal Way of Life, Swami Chandrasekharendra Saraswati hints that all smṛtis are relevant in every yuga and any differences between various smṛtis are reconciled in the Dharmaśāstra Nibandhanas adapted to the region where you live.

Smṛtis and Allied Works

Manu, Parāśara, Yājñavalkya, Gautama, Hārīta, Yama, Vişņu, Śaňkha, Likhita, Brhaspati, Dakşa, Angiras, Pracetas, Sarihvarta, Acanas, Atri, Apastamba and Satatapa are the eighteen sages who mastered the Vedas with their superhuman power and derived the Smrtis from them. Their works are known after them like Manusmrti, Yajñavalkya-smrti, Parasara-smrti and so on, and they contain all that we need to know about all the dharmas to be adhered to and all the rituals to be performed during our entire life. Apart from these eighteen, there are eighteen subsidiary Smṛtis called Upasmṛtis(1). It is customary to include the Bhagavadgīta among the Smṛtis.

What we find in one Smṛti may not be found in another. There may also be differences between one Smṛti and another. These give rise to doubts which are sought to be cleared by works called "Dharmaśāstra Nibandhanas".

There are some Smrtis that do not contain instructions with regard to all observances. For instance, some do not mention sandhyavandanas. The reason must be it is such a common rite that everybody is expected to know it. Then some omit the Śrāddhas ceremony and some others are silent on various types of "pollution" (for instance, that due to the birth of a child in the family or the death of a relative). Certain matters are taken for granted. After all, we do not have to be told about how to breathe or eat.

The nibandhanas do not leave out any rite or dharma. Differences between various Smṛtis are sought to be reconciled in them.

Each region follows its own nibandhana. In the North, it is the one authored by Kasinatha Upadhyaya. In Maharastra, it is the Mitaksara: it has the force of law and is accepted as such by the law courts. Niraayasindhu by Kamalakara Bhatta is also accepted as an authority there. In the South, the Vaidyanatha-Diksitiyan by Vaidyanatha Diksita is followed. These are the important authorities for householders. Sannyasins follow Visvesvara-samhita. In Tamil Nadu the Dharmasastra means the Vaidyanatha-Diksitiyam. This nibandhana has been translated into Tamil.

(1) The authors of these are : Jabali, Naciketas, Skanda, Laugăkşi, Kăéyapa, Vyăsa, Sanatkumāra, Śantanu, Janaka, Vyāghra, Kātyāyana, Jātukarnya, Kapiñjala, Baudhāyana, Kāņāda, Viśvāmiktra, Paițhinasa, Gobhila. - Rā. Ga.

  • Yeah I agree that every smirti is valid, and I doubt Parashara smriti because there is no scripture other than Parashar Smriti which declares about its authenticity. In general people refer to the Manu Smriti as Aryan Lawbook. There are certain laws in shruti's as well. For e.g. Ghriya sutras which sates duties of a human in all phases of life viz bramhachari/household/Sanyasi. Btw nice one on 'Some people'. – Yogi Sep 21 '16 at 20:16

I think the five virtues: "अहिंसा सत्यमस्तेयं शौचः संयममेव च" ie Non-violence, Truth, Non-stealing, Purity and contol of all senses are the essence of Dharma/Smiri shastras in any yuga. So far as I know, both Manusamhita and the Mahabharata accept this.

I think the following prescriptions of Bhagavan Manu taken from https://vedkabhed.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/manu-smriti-and-untouchables/, IF QUOTED AND TRANSLATED CORRECTLY, are no less fierce than the Kaliyuga itself. Either we have to accept them as interpolations or have to accept what Swami Vivekananda wrote in his early youth : "The Smritis and the Puranas are productions of men of limited intelligence and are full of fallacies, errors, the feelings of class and malice. Only parts of them breathing broadness of spirit and love are acceptable, the rest are to be rejected. The Upanishads and the Gita are the true scriptures."

Manu Smriti 5.140 Following the path of equity, Sudras must shave their heads once, each month, follow the rules of purification laid down in respect of the Vaishyas, and eat the leavings of Brahmana’s food.

Manu Smriti 10.129 No collection of wealth must be made by a Sudra, even though he be able (to do it); for a Sudra who has acquired wealth, gives pain to Brahmanas food.

Manu Smriti 10.96 A man of low caste who through covetousness lives by the occupations of a higher one, the king shall deprive of his property and banish.

Manu Smriti 8.270-1. A once-born man (a Sudra), who insults a twice-born man with gross invective, shall have his tongue cut out; for he is of low origin. If he mentions the names and castes (gati) of the (twice-born) with contumely, an iron nail, ten fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his mouth.

Manu Smriti 8.272 If a Sudra insolently gives any religious or moral advice to a Brahmana, the king, shall cause hot oil to be poured into his mouth and ears.

Manu Smriti 8.281-2 A low-caste man who tries to place himself on the same seat with a man of a high caste, shall be branded on his hip and be banished, or (the king) shall cause his buttock to be gashed.

Manu Smriti 3.112 Even a Vaisya and a Sudra who have approached his [Brahmin] house in the manner of guests, he [Brahmin] may allow to eat with his servants, showing (thereby) his compassionate disposition.

Manu Smriti 3.92 Let him gently place on the ground (some food) for dogs, outcasts, Kandalas [Chandal] (Svapak), those afflicted with diseases that are punishments of former sins, crows, and insects.

Manu Smriti 5.131 Manu has declared that the flesh (of an animal) killed by dogs is pure, likewise (that) of a (beast) slain by carnivorous (animals) or by men of low caste (Dasyu), such as Kandalas.

Manu Smriti 8.279-80 With whatever limb a man of a low caste does hurt to (a man of the three) highest (castes), even that limb shall be cut off; that is the teaching of Manu. He who raises his hand or a stick, shall have his hand cut off; he who in anger kicks with his foot, shall have his foot cut off.

Manu Smriti 4.80 Let him [i.e., Brahmin] not give to a Sudra advice, nor the remnants (of his meal), nor food offered to the gods; nor let him explain the sacred law (to such a man), nor impose (upon him) a penance.

Manu Smriti 4.140 Let him [i.e., Dvija] not journey too early in the morning, nor too late in the evening, nor just during the midday (heat), nor with an unknown (companion), nor alone, nor with Sudra.

Manu Smriti 5.104 Let him not allow a dead Brahmana to be carried out by a Sudra, while men of the same caste are at hand; for that burnt-offering which is defiled by a Sudra’s touch is detrimental to (the deceased’s passage to) heaven.

I think time has come for us to understand what are our true Dharma that we can follow.

  • What is the gist of your answer? This: "The Smritis and the Puranas are productions of men of limited intelligence and are full of fallacies, errors, the feelings of class and malice. Only parts of them breathing broadness of spirit and love are acceptable, the rest are to be rejected. The Upanishads and the Gita are the true scriptures."? So ignore all the verses that deal with caste/varna? – sv. Jan 28 at 18:23

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