I came across this quote of Shankaracharya:

Shankarāchārya says, "Shruti is a means of direct perception [in the sphere of transcendent knowledge], since, in order to be an authority it is necessarily independent of all other authorities; while Smriti plays a part that is analogous to induction, in that it derives its authority from an authority other than itself."

What's the source of this quote?

Edit: I want the source from Shankara's works. Because the author has claimed that Shankara has said this. I want to verify this.

I'm also interested in scholarly content* that compares the authority of Shruti and Smriti. Does Smriti have less authority or the same authority in comparison with shruti?


1 Answer 1


The classification of scripture into Sruti (heard, revealed; i.e. Vedas, as the Vedas are revealed from God directly) and Smriti (written by men) is much earlier than Shankaracharya. Shankaracharya is not the one that made the classification. One of the earliest references is Manu Smriti. Manu writes in 2.10:

But my Sruti (revelation) is meant the Veda, and by Smriti (tradition) the Institutes of the sacred law; those two must not be called into question in any matter, since from those two the sacred law [dharma] shone forth.

In his commentary to Brahma Sutras verse 1.2.25 Shankaracharya says (Swami Vireswarananda translator, available here - https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/brahma-sutras):

The Smritis are interpretations of Sruti texts. So when a doubt arises as to the meaning of a Sruti the former may be consulted to throw light on the subject...

And in Brahma Sutras 2.1.1, the Brahma Sutra text itself refutes Smritis that are not based on Sruti.

  • Brahmasutra talks about Samkhya Karika of Ishwarakrishna which cannot be traced to the original Samkhya smriti of Kapila. There are many things in Smriti that are not found in Shruti. Then how would you trace Smriti's authority without accepting its own authority?
    – user6990
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 7:36
  • In case Smriti contradicts with Shruti — these are rare instances. I'm more interested in the general authority of Smriti.
    – user6990
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 7:40
  • Nice, we have some queries regarding the smriti classification, can you visit and join/discuss here?
    – Pandya
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 8:36

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