According to Wikipedia there are two main types of scriptures, the four Vedas (which are seen as eternal), and the Smritis (which are seen as revealed). I was wondering what the current Hindu thought on the status of the Smritis are, like are they canon? Are they not accepted by everyone, like the apocrypha of Christianity?


4 Answers 4


Vineet Menon has given a very good answer to this question. I will add the following: Both Sruti and Smriti cannot override human reason. I am posting here two quotes on the importance of reason:

Acharya Shankara, for example, in his Gita Bhasya 18.66 says:

"The appeal to the infallibility of the Vedic injunction is misconceived. The infallibility in question refers only to the unseen forces or apurva, and is admissible only in regards to matters not confined to the sphere of direct perceptions, etc. ..... Even a hundred statements of sruti to the effect that fire is cold and non-luminous won't prove valid. If it does make such a statement, its import will have to be interpreted differently. Otherwise, validity won't attach to it. Nothing in conflict with the means of valid cognition or with its own statements may be imputed to sruti."

Yoga Vasistha Ramayan II.18 says:

"The remark of a child is to be accepted, if it is in accordance with reason; but the remark of even Brahma Himself, the creator of the world is to be rejected like a piece of straw if it does not accord with reason."

The Smritis (Dharma Shastras) themselves suggest that some of the laws should be changed if they are found offensive to future generation:

"However, discard the desire (kama) and material wealth (artha) if contrary to Dharma; as also, any usage or custom or rules regarded as source of Dharma if at any time they were to lead to unhappiness or arouse people's indignation. (Manu Smriti 4.176)


From Shiv Rahasya book (less information available about this book) says following about the laws of Man (Smritis). It says such laws Should be followed with wisdom, not blindly.

O you who are Princes amongst men! know that the Law whereby Life takes its course is of three kinds. That which has been laid down by the forefathers or decreed by a Ruler and is followed by a whole community of men, is the Law of Man. Being man-made and imperfect, it shall be followed by the wise with wisdom and not blindly. That which is followed naturally by moving and unmoving things, is the Law of Nature. It shall be followed by beast, plant and inanimate thing, each according to its distinctive nature and appropriate place and time. 11.2

Updated 12-12-2020,

Manu Smriti states that a twice-born isn't supposed to reject Smriti, lest he should be considered an infidel.

योऽवमन्येत ते मूले हेतुशास्त्राश्रयाद् द्विजः ।
स साधुभिर्बहिष्कार्यो नास्तिको वेदनिन्दकः ॥ ११ ॥

yo'vamanyeta te mūle hetuśāstrāśrayād dvijaḥ |
sa sādhubhirbahiṣkāryo nāstiko vedanindakaḥ || 11 ||

If a twice-born person, relying upon the science of dialectics, should disregard these two sources [Vedas & Smritis], he should be cast out by good men,—the detractor of the Veda being an infidel.—(2.11)

  • 1
    None of the Smritis were actually written by men. Many of them were celestial beings the Rishis.. many Vedic Rishis (to whom were revealed the Vedas) like Vashishta, Atri, Parashara etc etc.. others like Brihaspati, Shukra are deities.. Daksha is a Prajapati.. none of them were thus men.
    – Rickross
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 17:13

Hindu scripture is made up of two categories, Shruti and Smriti. Shruti means "that which is heard" (what Christians would call "revelation"). Hindus believe that from time immemorial, sages known as Dhrishtas (literally "seers") have, during a state of Tapasya (deep meditation), heard sacred verses directly from the gods. In the Dwapara Yuga (the age before the one we're currently living in), these verses were compiled by a sage named Krishna Dwaipayana Veda Vyasa (or Vyasa for short) into a set of four books we call the Vedas. (Technically Vyasa only compiled the first three books - Rig, Yajur, and Sama - while the Atharvana Veda is attributed to the sages Angiras and Atharvan.) As the words of the Vedas are believed to be divine in origin, they are held to be the foremost authority of the Hindu religion. As Rama says in the Ayodhya Kanda of the Ramayana, the Vedas "have the foundation in Truth [and] one should thoroughly surrender to truth."

The second category of Hindu scripture is called Smriti, literally "that which is remembered". It refers to those sacred texts of Hinduism which were composed by human authors and then passed down by teacher to student via oral tradition. Note that just because the specific words of these scriptures were composed by humans, that does not mean that they're not divinely inspired. (It's similar to how in the Bible, the words "I am the Lord thy God who delivered thee from Egypt" are thought to be words that God himself chose, whereas the Torah as a whole is believed to be authored by Moses but inspired by God.) There are numerous works that are called Smriti, but among the most prominent works are the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Puranas.

(Note: this is an abbreviated version of my answer here, where I go into greater about the scriptures that fall into each category.)


Yes Wikipedia is right in saying that Hinduism has two types of scriptures, Shruti and Smriti.


The word itself means 'to be heard' and are supposed to be cosmic vibrations from the Brahman itself. This class of Hindu scripture includes, four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva) which are supplanted by Upanishads, Brahmanas and Aranyakas.


The word 'shruti' means 'remembered', which implies that these texts are works of great sages and Rishis and they incorporated their knowledge which is passed on. They are definitely inferior to Shruti and are generally codified laws. There are numerous Smritis like Narada Smriti, Manu Smriti. Typically, Hindu jurisprudence consider Smritis as suitable for a particular generation or time, after which they become obsolete.

  • None is superior and inferior. They all are complementary of each other. If Shrutis are Constitutional Book then Each Law has been explained with case studies in Smritis. 'Shruti Smriti Puranadi pancaratriki vidhim vina, ekantaki harer bhakti utpataiva hi kalpate'
    – Ashutosh
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 5:29
  • Smitis are inferior compared to Shruti because of the absolute divine origins of Shruti. When both are compared for references, Shruti wins by a great margin. books.google.co.in/… Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 5:33
  • The book itself is originated from and by non-authorized sources and hence can not be accepted for reference. Declaration of smritis inferior to shrutis have been done by followers of advaita and mayavadis but that's lame conclusion. Both were compiled by Vyas so how can this happen. Infact Bhagavatam the final most official commentary on vedanta sutra was personally compiled by narrated by ved vyas and his son.
    – Ashutosh
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 5:45
  • Vyas may have compiled Vedas and Bhagvatam, but he wasn't the author of Vedas. How on earth are you equating Vedas with Manu-smriti? Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 5:55
  • that is dharmashastra but when you say smriti it also includes itihasa and puranas
    – Ashutosh
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 6:31

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