What is difference between Shruti and Smriti?


  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.)


  • Above mentioned classification of Smriti (e.g everything other than Shruti) is in broader sense whereas in specific/strict sense, Smriti refers to 18 Smriti texts which are also called Dharma Shastras and hence Vedangas, Puranas, Darshanas, Itihasas etc. are classified in separate categories.

  • 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.


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