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First of all,by Smriti here i mean only the Dharma Shastras like Manu Smriti,Parashara Smriti etc.

It is very often that i find comments of the following nature here:

"In Hinduism Sruti is the ultimate authority ,so whenever you find a Smriti contradicting Sruti you have to reject the Smriti in that case."(this is just a paraphrase & not an exact comment )

So,i assume there must be many such instances where a Smriti has contradicted Sruti.

But in his this speech "Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji " says that a Smriti never contradicts Sruti:

There is no second opinion regarding the fact that what is called "Srauta"(directly mentioned in the Vedas) is wholly authoritative. But what is not directly mentioned in Sruti but included in Smrti - that is Smarta - is not to be taken to be less authoritative. Smarta never contradicts Srauta. In some matters Smritis may go beyond Sruti, but that too is fully authoritative being based on the inner spirit of Sruti

The Manu Smriti also says the same thing that Smriti is based on Sruti only.Those traditions that are not based on Vedas are false .So Manu Smriti being not a false doctrine itself is based on the Vedas.

12.95. All those traditions (smriti) and those despicable systems of philosophy, which are not based on the Veda, produce no reward after death; for they are declared to be founded on Darkness.

12.96. All those (doctrines), differing from the (Veda), which spring up and (soon) perish, are worthless and false,

Question

What are the instances where a Smriti Text has contradicted a Sruti statement?

  • Well, Puranas sometimes contradicts with Shruti, though i'm not sure about Smriti, as i haven't read Dharma Sastras. – The Destroyer Jan 28 '17 at 12:59
  • Btw, for Bhagavad-Gita (considering Smriti), Verse 8.16 may be the instance. – Paṇḍyā Jan 28 '17 at 13:34
  • Pandya Here i'm talking only about the Smritis or the Dharma Shastras. and not about other Scriptures like Ramayana,Mahabharata etc. – Rickross Jan 28 '17 at 15:04
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    What is the reason for the downvote?? – Rickross Jan 29 '17 at 4:35
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    @Pandya Gita 8.16 does not contradict Sruti. – Swami Vishwananda Jan 29 '17 at 10:27
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Adhyaya 1 Pada 3 of Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini discuss of Authority of Shruti and Smriti and Authority of Shruti being higher than Smriti.

Adhikarana 2 states:

Shruti (Veda) more authoritative than Smrti.

Sutra 3 of Adhikarana 2 states:

When There Is Conflict (Between Veda and Smriti,) The Smriti Should Be Disregarded; Because It Is Only When There Is No Such Conflict That There Is An Assumption (Of Vedic Text In Support Of Smriti).

Shabara Bhasya on this Sutra is as:

The question that arises now is How would it be in cases where there is a conflict between Smriti and Shruti ? For instance

(a) The Smriti rule that the whole of the Udumbara-Post should be covered is in conflict with the Shruti rule that one should sing a Saman, touching the Post [no touching of the Post is possible when the whole of it is covered with cloth] ;

(b) The Smriti rule that one should remain a Vedic Student for forty-eight years is in conflict with the rule that one should install the Fire when a son is born to him and his hair is still black'. [If a man is to remain a student for 48 years, he would not marry before he is 55 or 56 years old, by which time his hair would cease to be black, and he could not instal the Fire before marriage] ;

(c.) the Smrti -rule that one should not take food at the place of one who has purchased Soma (for the Soma-sacrifice) is in conflict with the Shruti-rule that on the completion of the Agnistoma stage (of the Soma-sacrifice) one should dine at the house of the sacrifice!.

Thus in the above Bhasya we clearly see Smritis are in contradiction with Shruti. There are also such contraction due to motives of Greedy persons. Hence Sutra 4 of Adhikarana 2 states:

Also Because We Find Motives.

Shabara Bhasya on this Sutra is as:

(a) Some greedy priests being desirous of having a large piece of cloth, covered up the whole of the Post at a certain performance ; tliis was what gave rise to the Smrti-rule (that the whole post should be covered up). (b) Some greedy Priest took food at the house of the Sacrificer after he had purchased the Soma [and this gave rise to the Smrti-rule permitting such eating]. (c) Some people, with a view to conceal their want of virility, remained Religious Students for forty-eight years ; and this is what gave rise to the Smrti-rule permitting such a course. [For this reason also, no authority can attach to the Smrti which is found to have its source in such motives.

And Hence the Adhikarana 3 states that:

No authority attaches to Smrtis prompted by worldly motives.

And Sutra 4 of Adhikarana 3 states:

If Worldly Motives Are Discernible The Smriti Rules Cannot Be Regarded as Trustworthy.

Shabara Bhasya on Sutra 4 states:

There are such Smrti-rules as (a) 'The cloth used at the Vaisarjana Homa is to be taken by the Adhvaryu priest ', and (6) They should give away the cloth covering the Post '. In regard to the authoritative character of these, the Purvapaksa view is that they are authoritative, because the agent is the same (as declared in Sutra 1. 3. 2)." The Siddhanta view however is that such Smrti-rules cannot be regarded as authoritative ; because at the root of these there is something totally different (from motives of Dharma) ; the fact being that some people did such an act through greed, and this gave rise to the Smrti. This view (rejecting the authority of such Smrtis) is more reasonable than the assuming of Vedic texts in their support.

But when such no motives can be detected Smriti rules can be called Useful. Hence the Sutra 7 of Adhikarana 4 states:

But When No Motive Can Be Detected, They Should Be Recognised As Useful.

Shabara Bhasya on this Sutra is as:

The right view is that when Smriti texts like those under consideration are such as are not found to have been prompted by an improper motive, they must be accepted as authoritative. But they are found to militate
against the prescribed order of sequence and the prescribed time." Let them militate against it; that does not violate their authority; because the rinsing of the mouth is an act, while the order of sequence is only a quality of (accessory to) the act; and an act cannot be omitted for the sake of an accessory. Further, it is only when the acts are already done that the order of sequence comes in subsequently ; so that at the time that the acts appear there is no order present, with what then will the acts be in conflict ? [Hence there is nothing against the authority of the Smrti-rule in question.] Similarly, if with a view to guard against the transgression of time, one were to cease to act with the right hand only, in this case also considerations of time should not alter the form of the act [i.e. the act to be done by the right hand should not be done by the left] ; because Time is only a subsidiary factor in the performance and auxiliary to it ; and hence for the sake of the Time, the Act should not be disturbed. Further, acting with the right hand and wearing the sacrificial thread constitute purity (or cleanliness), and such things are not regarded as interruptions at all; because purity or cleanliness is a necessary adjunct to all actions. From all this it follows that the Smrti-rules relating to all these acts Rinsing, Using the Right Hand, Wearing the Sacrificial Thread and the like are authoritative (trustworthy).

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    Good answer. I was planning to post an answer with these same quotes from Shabara's Bhashya, haha (And the associated parts of Kumarila Bhatta's Tantra Vartika.) – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 26 '17 at 6:05
  • Tezz-So are these more or less all the examples of where Smriti and Sruti is in conflict? – Rickross Feb 26 '17 at 6:20
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    @Rockross Yes, I think we may not find many examples.... – Tejaswee Feb 26 '17 at 6:25

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