The Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas are often said to be smriti. But I have seen several lists of smritis given in various Hindu texts and none of them include these Itihasa texts, they only include the Dharma-related texts like the Manusmriti, Yajnavalkha Smriti, Naradasmriti and so on.

For eg, here's the list of given by the Yajnavalkha smriti

Manu, Atri, Vishnu, Harita, Yajnavalkya, Usana, Angira, Yama, Apastamba, Samvarta, Katyayana, Brihaspati, Parashara, Vyasa, Sankha, Likhita, Daksha, Gautama, Satatapa and Vashishta.

The Parashara smriti gives a similar list but it replaces Yama, Brihaspati and Vyasa with Kashyapa, Gargya and Pracheta. And the Padma Purana lists 36 smritis; its list is similar to the list of Yajnavalkha but it omits Atri and adds 17 new smritis given below

Marichi, Pulastya, Pracheta, Bhrigu, Narada, Kashyapa, Vishvamitra, Devala, Rishyasringa, Gargya, Baudhayana, Paithinashi, Javali, Samantu, Paraskara, Lokaksh and Kuthumi

As we can see Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas are absent. The Vyasa Smriti written by Vyasa is mentioned in at least two of the lists but his more important contributions, the Mahabharata and Puranas, are absent.

Also I was reading the writings of Prof. Purushottama Bilimoria who is a fellow at Oxford University and he makes quite a grand claim about all the texts included in smriti.

"...The smriti texts comprise, in particular, the six Vedangas (the auxiliary sciences in the Vedas), the epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana, the Dharmasutras and Dharmasastras (or Smritisastras), Arthasasastras, the Puranas and kavya or poetical literature, which regulate Hindu social order..." - Bilimoria,Purushottama, The Idea of Hindu Law (2011), Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

So I'm curious is there a scriptural basis for including all these texts under smriti? Or is smriti just some open-ended category of traditional literature in which anything ranging from the Manusmriti to the Shiva Purana to even Kalidas' Meghdutta can be included?

1 Answer 1


The smritis are those texts that teach the Dharma as expounded in the Vedas. Accordingly, they are also called as Dharmashastra (literally translated as Dharma teacher).

The definition of Smriti has been given as follows:

श्रुतिस्तु वेदो विज्ञेयो धर्मशास्त्रं तु वै स्मृतिः। ते सर्वार्थेष्वमीमांस्ये ताभ्यां धर्मो हि निर्बभौ॥१०॥

The Veda should be known as the ‘revealed word,’ and the Dharmaśāstra as the ‘recollections’; in all matters, these two do not deserve to be criticised, as it is out of these that Dharma shone forth.
-Manusmriti 2.10

The reason for the Dharmashastra being called a Smriti is because it is a conscientious recollection (rememberance, Smriti) by persons who know the Dharma of the Vedas:

वेदोऽखिलो धर्ममूलं स्मृतिशीले च तद्विदाम्। आचारश्चैव साधूनामात्मनस्तुष्टिरेव च॥६॥

The entire Veda is the root-source of Dharma; also the Conscientious Recollection of righteous persons versed in the Veda, the Practice of Good (and learned) Men, and their self-satisfaction.
-Manusmriti 2.6

The texts mentioned above like Atri, Yajnavalkya, Vasishtha teach Dharma and hence have been correctly called Smriti. On the other hand, Puranas are a different category of scriptures that recount the history of the world from creation. The following can be referred to:

  1. Why are only Ramayana and Mahabharata classified as Itihasa?
  2. Characteristics of Puranas

So no, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas cannot be classified as Smriti

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