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The Hindu texts are classified in Shruti (श्रुति) and Smriti (स्मृति). I want to know:

  • What is the difference between Shruti and Smriti?
  • What scriptures are included in Shruti & in Smriti?
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    Shruti - Vedas and Upanishads. Smriti - Everything else. – Sai Sep 16 '15 at 14:41
  • @Pandya Where in our Scriptures you found this classification?That all Hindu Scriptures belong to either of these two kinds?By Smrits Hindu Texts specifically mean the Dharma Shastras ..by Puranas the Puranas..by Srutis the Vedas and so on.. – Rickross Jan 19 '17 at 6:59
  • @Rickross I've mentioned the references at the last. (I'll add scriptural reference when find, sure) – Pandya Jan 19 '17 at 7:06
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  1. Shruti(श्रुति) means that which has been heard or communicated from the beginning.

    • Veda(वेद) are Shruti scripture. It is said/believed that Rishi in the state of Tapasya heard Vedas directly from Parabrahma/Parameshwara, In other words Rishi attained this jnana in state of samadhi which is called Shruti. So, Vedas are called अपौरुषेय that means it is not created by man i.e impersonal/authorless and believed to be the words of Ishwara, eternal. Rishish are द्रष्टा (seers) rather than author of Veda. There are four Vedas : Rigveda(ऋग्वेद), Samaveda(सामवेद), Yajurveda(यजुर्वेद) & Athrvaveda(अथर्ववेद).
    • Vedas are basically classified into two categories: 1.Mantra(मन्त्र) / Samhita(संहिता) part 2.Brahmanas(ब्राह्मणग्रन्थ) part. Actually Samhita is the core part of Veda (which is heard by Rishis) and Brahmanas are the interpretation and commentaries on Mantra/Samhita part of Vedas which helps to explain, understand the meaning and significance of Veda and also provides the way of doing rites (i.e rituals). As it gives Karma Kanda in Vedic Yajna, known as Karma Kanda (कर्मकाण्ड) part of Veda. (Each Brahamana is associated with one of the 4 Vedas)
    • Due to very much significance/influence of Brahmanas (ब्राह्मणग्रन्थ), it is considered as the part of Veda and hence classified as Shruti. Sayanacharya in his Bhashya on Rigveda, said that मंत्र ब्राह्मणात्मको वेद which means Mantra(मंत्र) and Brahmanatmak(ब्राह्मणात्मक) combined forms Veda. मन्त्रब्राह्मणयोर्वेदनामधेयम् (From Aapstamb Srauta Sutra) means Mantra as well as Brahmana parts are Veda.

    • Brahmanas constitutes Aaranyaka (आरण्यक) at the end and Aaranyaka constitues Upanishads(उपनिषद्) at the end. In other words, Aaranyaka are extracted from Brahmanas and Upanishads are extracted from Aaranyaka (except from Isha Upanishad which is the last part of Shulka Yajurveda Samhita). So, Vedas are generally classified into to 1.Samhita 2.Brahmana 3.Aaranyaka 4.Upanishad

    • Hence Four Vedas i.e Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Athrvaveda with Samhita, Brahmana, Aaranyaka & Upanishad are Shruti texts.

  2. Smriti(स्मृति,2) means which is remembered or which is based upon memory. In other words, which is produced out of human intellect.

    • These are texts written/composed by Rishi and handed down by tradition. So, in contrast to Shruti which is authorless (divine origin), Smriti is derivative work (produced out of intellect) that is usually attributed to an author. Smriti texts are written on the basis of or inspired by Shruti but given less importance/supremacy than Shruti.

    • Major Smriti scriptures are: Vedang(वेदाङ्ग), Upaveda(उपवेद), Upang(उपांग), Dharma-Sutra/Shstra(धर्मसूत्र) [including popular Smriti scriptures by sage Manu, Yajnavalkya, Narad, Parasar etc.] and other Sutras, 18 Purans(पुराण), Itihasa i.e Ramayana, Mahabharata (Bhagavad Gita) etc., Commentaries(भाष्य) on various Shruti texts by Aacharyas including Brahma Sutra etc. and various scriptures on Darshan Shastra (Sankhya,Yoga, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa, Nyaya etc.)


Note: Aagama(आगम) (literally means 'that which has come down' or 'acquisition of knowledge' ) scriptures (Including Tantra and Yantra part) are also often considered as Shruti scriptures parallel to Nigama(निगम) (i.e Vedas). (Though some Aagamic scripture is not considered as Shruti/canonical sometimes). Visit What are the Agama scriptures? Are they related to Shruti/Vedas? for further information.


Referances:

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    This is very uesful info. for newcomers and beginners ,as all of these answers covering core basic definations & classification of Hinduism texts. – SwiftPushkar Aug 10 '16 at 10:11
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Shruti

Shruti when translated to English is 'that which is/was heard(by ancient seers/Rishis)'.

So in hinduism there is only one scripture or literature which is heard (from the divine bramhan) that is Vedas, only the Samhita part of the Vedas is shruti since it is the only part that was heard by Rishi's in their deep meditations. So due to divine origin shruti is highest Shabda pramana, no one can deny this.(Everyone including nastika Purva Mimansa School Accepts this).

List of Shruti texts

  1. Rig Veda (Samhita, Bramhanas, Aranyaka, Upanishads).

  2. Yajur Veda (Samhita, Bramhanas, Aranyaka, Upanishads)

  3. Samaveda (Samhita, Bramhanas, Aranyaka, Upanishads)

  4. Atharva Veda (Samhita, Bramhanas, Aranyaka, Upanishads)

Note

  • I have written is/was in first line because Shruti's are always heard if listener is at level of ancient seers/Rishi's.

  • Ideally and in my opinion only Samhitas of Vedas are Shruti, but whole Vedas are considered Shrutis(with all four limbs) due to their flawless compilation by Veda Vyasa.

Smriti

Smriti translates to 'That which must be remembered'.

The remembrance is focused here due to the everyday requirement of jisp of these texts. Smriti's address our everyday life problems. The problems that we get during following our dharma(be it Swadharma , Matrudharma, Manushyadharma etc).Smriti's in General do not have divine origin they have a author who is one of the seers of Shruti's or person with Equivalent status.

Like in case of Arjuna before the Start of Kaurava Pandava War he had to choose to either fight relatives or give up his Kshatra dharma Arjuna Vishad Yoga. Second case of Yudhishthira when he had to choose to lie and do the Adharma or to Speak the truth to Dronacharya Death of Dronacharya.

I am listing only important Smriti texts(ranked according to my priority) Full list of Smriti texts

  1. Shrimad Bhagwad Gita

  2. Bramha-Sutras with suited commentary.

  3. Manu Smriti

  4. Bramha Vidya's Commentry on these Upanishads to be remembered for lifetime

  5. Itihas (Ramayana, Mahabharata etc.)

  6. Puranas (Because of multiple conflicts)

  • 1
    I'm surprised (and confused) to see Upanishads listed as Smriti! (Though wikipedia clarifies that "early Upanishads are considered Sruti literature", you should also clarify here) – Pandya Apr 27 '16 at 15:57
  • @Pandya Sorry I didn't notice that conflict in my answer. I have made it clear now. Thankyou for your feedback! To be more specific I meant the clear philosophical thoughts propagated with the medium of upanishads by the Great ancient Seers, they are to be rembembered for lifetime, There is a upanishadic path towards moksha by meditation on Bramha Vidyas only for jnan yogi's who are eligible to do so ramanuja.org/sri/Web/BrahmaVidya – Yogi Apr 27 '16 at 16:02
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"Sruti" means which has been heard.Sruti refers to the Vedas.

"Smriti" however refers to the Dharma Shastras.Smriti means which has to be remembered.It also means traditions that has to be remembered.So,Smritis are the traditions that are handed down to us from time immemorial.

There are 18 major Smritis :Manu,Yajnvalkya,Vyasa,Atri,Vishnu,Harita,Parashara,Yama,Daksha,Brihaspati etc are few of them.Apart from these major ones there are a few more minor ones which are called the Upasmritis.

As far i'm concerned Sruti and Smriti are the two eyes of Almighty.And this is not merely my belief.It has been so stated in Hindu Scriptures only.

For example:

Devi Bhagvatam,Book 11,Chapter 1 says:

Nârada said :– “O Muni! The S’âstras are not one, they are many and they lay down different rules and contradictory opinions, How then Dharma is to be followed? And according what Dharma S’âstra?” Nârâyana said :– S’ruti and Smriti are the two eyes of God; the Purânam is His Heart. Whatever is stated in S’ruti, the Smriti and the Purânams is Dharma; whatever else is written in other S’âstras is not Dharma. Where you will find differences between S’ruti, Smriti and Purânas, accept the words of the S’rutis as final proofs. Wherever Smriti disagrees with the Purânas, know the Smritis more authoritative.

The same thing has also been declared in a different way in other Scriptures like the Atri and Harita Smritis .

The S'ruti and the Smriti are described as the two eyes of the Vipras. One who is deficient in either of the two, is described as the one-eyed ; and one who is deficient in the both, as stone-blind. (344)

Therefore the Brahmanahood (i.e., the status and dignity) of a Brahmana[is encompassed] by both the Vedas and the Dharma-S'astras and not by the Vedas only. The divine Atri has said so. (346)(Atri Smriti,Chapter 1)

In the above passage,note that by Smritis Atri specifically mentioned the Dharma Shastras and not any other scriptures.

And, also note that, the Devi Bhagvatam mentions the Puranas and Smritis separately.This clearly proves that Smritis and Puranas are different categories of Hindu Texts.

Brahmana who is ignorant of the S'ruti and the Smriti, encompasses the destruction of the giver's family. Therefore a Brahmana, with all care, should study the Dharma-Shastras. (23,24)

The Sruti and the Smriti are the two eyes of the Brahmanas created by God. If deprived [of' the knowledge] of the one, [a person] is called one-eyed ;and if of the two, a blind. (25)(Harita Smriti)

So,the Harita Smriti also mean the Dharma Shastras only when it refers to Smriti.

Hence,Smritis are the Dharma Shastras. And Srutis are the Vedas. This confusion needs to be cleared(that any scripture which is not Sruti is Smriti).

And,Smritis,Puranas,Itihasas,Vedangas,etc can together be and loosely called as the "Hindu Shastras".

Now,regarding the relative importance of Sruti-Smriti, an interesting read,that clarifies a lot of confusions,is a book called Hindu Dharma,which is a collection of the speeches of Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji (at various times during the years 1907 to 1994).

If interested you can read the whole passage on the same page.Here i am quoting only portions from it which i consider as the essence(of the whole chapter).

The experience constituted by the Vedas and manifested as the memory is the Smriti or Dharmasastra. Smriti does not become Smriti without its Vedic root. Are not the Vedas the"experience" that is the source of the Smrtis? Without such a source the name suggesting "notes of memory" would be meaningless. How can we describe as notes of remembrance" anything that is new and is not founded on something prior to it?

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 Smriti - 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. Just as the Sthala Puranas fill in the gaps in the major Puranas and the epics, so the Smritis speak of what is left out in the Vedas. We use terms "Sruti pramana" and "Smriti pramana"(the authority of the Vedas and the authority of the Smritis), but making such a distinction does not mean that we should treat Sruti and Smriti different or that we should think that the one is inferior to the other.

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    Agree with you ,there is also lot's of pure philosophical part in puranas besides rest of the stuff.And one can find teaching of all philosophical schools in puranas.So it's said that - they are essence of vedas & Upanishdas. – SwiftPushkar Jan 21 '17 at 9:35
  • @Parikshitha Yes they can sometimes i guess. I also have the same doubt. But mostly they don't. – Rickross Jan 16 '18 at 7:25
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Vedas are considered Shruti scriptures. Shruti scriptures have been heard unlike the Smriti scriptures which are remembered. Shruti scriptures are believed to be the record of the intuitive perception of Vedic Rishis of the Divine. Smriti scriptures have human authors and are considered to be commentaries on the Divine Vedas.

Shruti scriptures include the 4 Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and probably 108 Upanishads. Smriti scriptures include Itihasas like Ramayana and Mahabharata, Dharma Shastras, Nibandhas, Puranas, Agamas and Tantras, Darshanas and many other writings like Yoga Vasishtha and Panchatantra.

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    Actually Agamas/Tantras are classified as Shruti. Shruti is divided into two categories, Nigama, meaning the Vedas, and Agama. – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 16 '15 at 14:50
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    "Sruti, the eternal word, is said to be of two forms – Nigama (Veda) and Agama." hindupedia.com/en/Agama No, Nigama doesn't refer to Devi speaking to Shiva. (Perhaps that's another meaning of the word, but that's not the relevant meaning.) Nigama is another word for the Vedas. That's why Nigamanta is another word for the Vedanta school, and why the Sri Vaishnava Acharya Vedanta Desikan is also referred to as Nigamanta Mahadesikan. – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 16 '15 at 15:01
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    books.google.com/… "Sanskrit lexicon 'Nighahtu' names the veda as 'Nigama' and Tantra as the 'Agama' and hence both have been regarded under a common caption as 'Sruti ', as stated above" books.google.com/… "Kullukabhatta, clearly states in his commentary on Manusmrti that Sruti is of two kinds— Vaidiki and Tantriki." – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 16 '15 at 15:08
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    The Harita Samhita also says that Agamas are Shruti. Yamunacharya's Agamapramanya and Jayanta Bhattar's Agamadambara also discuss at great length the fact that the Pancharatra Agamas are Shruti. – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 16 '15 at 15:10
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    There are different views on the meaning of the Vedas being Apaurusheya. Some believe Apaurusheya means absolutely authoress, but others believe that it just means "without human authors". See my question here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/6912/36 Under the second view, the difference between Shruti and Smriti is that the words of Shruti have a divine origin whereas the words of Smriti are of human origin (although Smriti is still divinely inspired). – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 16 '15 at 16:20
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Yes the classification is accordingly Shruti and Smriti.

The Shrutis : Shruti means 'to hear', so all the books which are been heard by the rishis come under a general term called Shruti. The Shruti are the most sacred of the two types. The Shrutis are more truthfull and in case of hinduism termed as perfect and flawless. The books under this category are very few being Vedas, Upnishads and Bhagwat Gita. As they are heard and termed as coming directly from god.

The Smritis : Smirti comes from word Smaran meaning 'to remember'. As all the souls were created at the very beginning of this universe ( yes this universe, not any other because hinduism also talks about parallel universes ) which can be related to the time of big bang theory ( depicted as golden egg hatching in hinduism ). Now as all the souls are travelling since then taking birth and rebirth, they do forget things after a while. Many yogis and rishis meditate and try to remember what would have taken place in there previous lives even going back to when their soul was first created ie. The tiime of the big bang or the golden egg hatching. As they are trying 'to remember' (which the meditation learning is all about) everything which exists and they write there findings and remembrance on book known as Smritis. The Smriti are termed not to be followed strictly, because they are not perfect and contains flaws. The Smritis talk about circumstances in the perspective of the rememberer that is why many puranas conflict in stories. The books underthis is everything : The Shastras, The Puranas, The Uppuranas and everything else remaining but not Vedas, Upnishads and Bhagwat Gita.

  • For Bhagavad Gita, visit this question – Pandya Apr 27 '16 at 16:00
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Shruti is everything that is God bound or freedom bound as primary goal. This is universal knowledge and time tested. This knowledge doesn't change, but more stuff is revealed as time goes by. The owner of shruti is 'GOD'.

Smriti is every knowledge that is country bound - culture, history, personality, society. This is knowledge applied to a particular society which show up as traditions. Of course traditions can change. The owner of smriti is 'INDIA' for e.g.

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    You should cite some sources. – Pandya Oct 31 '18 at 2:40
  • I am citing the intention behind the various literatures and scriptures as per my understanding after reading them. I have also read many of the conversations recorded of swami vivekananda and I believe the light he has thrown upon India's past is what prompting me to classify this way. I think folks in this group are reading 'literally' india's text rather than seeing intention from various rishis as to why they classified that way. – rajansada Oct 31 '18 at 3:36
  • @rajansada - we're not reading literally as it is. This answer box here is to clarify the OP with authentic scripture by which he can understand on what is said, why is said, and how to follow. And if it is extended discussion, the conversations are moved to chat whereby OP can continue on it. Like there's a place allotted for specifics, the answers here need proper reference! If you can back your view with proper references, it will look like proper answer. Or else it is just a comment! And use @ username to reply or else the user wont be notified! – Akshay S Oct 31 '18 at 5:19
  • you may not like my answer, but here is a perfect quote for people who look for "bookish references" as authority on truth - goodreads.com/quotes/… – rajansada Nov 16 '18 at 6:16

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