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Smriti (Sanskrit: , IAST: Sm?ti), literally "that which is remembered" are a body of Hindu texts usually attributed to an author, traditionally written down but constantly revised, in contrast to ?rutis (the Vedic literature) considered authorless, that were transmitted verbally across the generations and fixed.Smriti is a derivative secondary work and is considered less authoritative than Sruti in Hinduism, except in the Mimamsa school of Hindu philosophy. The authority of smriti accepted by orthodox schools, is derived from that of shruti, on which it is based.
The Smrti literature is a corpus of diverse varied texts. This corpus includes, but is not limited to the six Ved?ngas (the auxiliary sciences in the Vedas), the epics (the Mah?bh?rata and R?m?yana), the Dharmas?tras and Dharmastras (or Smritistras), the Arthasastras, the Pur?nas, the K?vya or poetical literature, extensive Bhasyas (reviews and commentaries on Shrutis and non-Shruti texts), and numerous Nibandhas (digests) covering politics, ethics (Nitisastras), culture, arts and society.
Each Smriti text exists in many versions, with many different readings. Smritis were considered fluid and freely rewritten by anyone in ancient and medieval Hindu tradition.
Smrti is a Sanskrit word, from the root Smara (?), which means "remembrance, reminiscence, thinking of or upon, calling to mind", or simply "memory". The word is found in ancient Vedic literature, such as in section 7.13 of the Chandogya Upanishad. In later and modern scholarly usage, the term refers to tradition, memory, as well as a vast post-Vedic canon of "tradition that is remembered". David Brick states that the original meaning of smriti was simply tradition, and not texts.
Smriti is also a symbolic synonym for number 18, from the 18 scholars who are credited in Indian tradition for writing dharma-related smriti texts (most have been lost). In linguistic traditions, Smrti is the name of a type of verse meter. In Hindu mythology,Smriti is the name of the daughter of Dharma and Medha.
In scholarly literature, Smriti is also spelled as Sm?ti.
Smrtis represent the remembered, written tradition in Hinduism. The Smrti literature is a vast corpus of derivative work. All Smriti texts are regarded to ultimately be rooted in or inspired by Shruti.
The Smrti corpus includes, but is not limited to:
Artha: Artha-related texts discuss artha from individual, social and as a compendium of economic policies, politics and laws. For example, the Arthashastra of Chanakya, the Kamandakiya Nitisara, Brihaspati Sutra, and Sukra Niti.Olivelle states that most Artha-related treatises from ancient India have been lost.
Kama: These discuss arts, emotions, love, erotics, relationships and other sciences in the pursuit of pleasure. The Kamasutra of V?tsy?yana is most well known. Others texts include Ratirahasya, Jayamangala, Smaradipika, Ratimanjari, Ratiratnapradipika, Ananga Ranga among others.
Moksha: These develop and debate the nature and process of liberation, freedom and spiritual release. Major treatises on the pursuit of moksa include the later Upanishads (early Upanishads are considered Sruti literature), Vivekachudamani, and the sastras on Yoga.
The numerous Nibandhas (digests) covering politics, medicine (Caraka Samhita), ethics (Nitisastras), culture, arts and society.
The structure of Smriti texts
The Smrti texts structurally branched, over time, from so-called the "limbs of the Vedas", or auxiliary sciences for perfecting grammar and pronunciation (part of Ved?ngas). For example, the attempt to perfect the art of rituals led to the science of Kalpa, which branched into three Kalpa-s?tras: Srauta-s?tras, Grhya-s?tras, and Dharma-s?tras (estimated to have been composed between 600-200 BCE). The Srauta-sutras became texts describing the perfect performance of public ceremonies (solemn community yajnas), the Grhya-sutras described perfect performance of home ceremonies and domestic rites of passage, and Dharma-sutras described jurisprudence, rights and duties of individuals in four Ashrama stages of life, and social ethics. The Dharma-s?tras themselves became the foundations for a large canon of texts, and branched off as numerous Dharma-sastra texts.
Jan Gonda states that the initial stages of Smriti texts structurally developed in the form of a new prose genre named S?tras, that is "aphorism, highly compact precise expression that captured the essence of a fact, principle, instruction or idea". This brevity in expression, states Gonda, was likely necessitated by the fact that writing technology had not developed yet or was not in vogue, in order to store a growing mass of knowledge, and all sorts of knowledge was transferred from one generation to the next through the process of memorization, verbal recitation and listening in the 1st millennium BCE. Compressed content allowed more essential, densely structured knowledge to be memorized and verbally transferred to the next generation in ancient India.
Role of Smrti in Hindu Law
Smrtis contribute to exposition of the Hindu Dharma but are considered less authoritative than ?rutis (the Vedic corpus that includes early Upanishads).
Earliest Smriti on Hindu Law: Dharma-s?tras
The root texts of ancient Hindu jurisprudence and law are the Dharma-s?tras. These express that Shruti, Smriti and Acara are sources of jurisprudence and law. The precedence of these sources is declared in the opening verses of each of the known, surviving Dharma-s?tras. For example,
The source of Dharma is the Veda, as well as the tradition [Smriti], and practice of those who know the Veda. - Gautama Dharma-s?tra 1.1-1.2
The Dharma is taught in each Veda, in accordance with which we will explain it. What is given in the tradition [Smriti] is the second, and the conventions of cultured people are the third. - Baudhayana Dharma-s?tra 1.1.1-1.1.4
The Dharma is set forth in the vedas and the Traditional Texts [Smriti]. When these do not address an issue, the practice of cultured people becomes authoritative. - V?siha Dharma-s?tra 1.4-1.5
-- Translated by Donald Davis, The Spirit of Hindu Law
Later Smriti on Hindu Law: Dharma-smriti
The Smritis, such as Manusmriti, Naradasmriti, Yajnavalkya Smrti and Parashara Smriti, expanded this definition, as follows,
? ? ? ? ?
Translation 1: The whole Veda is the (first) source of the sacred law, next the tradition and the virtuous conduct of those who know the (Veda further), also the customs of holy men, and (finally) self-satisfaction (Atmanastushti).
Translation 2: The root of the religion is the entire Veda, and (then) the tradition and customs of those who know (the Veda), and the conduct of virtuous people, and what is satisfactory to oneself.
-- Manusmriti 2.6
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Translation 1: The Veda, the sacred tradition, the customs of virtuous men, and one's own pleasure, they declare to be the fourfold means of defining the sacred law.
Translation 2: The Veda, tradition, the conduct of good people, and what is pleasing to oneself - they say that is four fold mark of religion.
-- Manusmriti 2.12
The Yajnavalkya Smriti includes four Vedas, six Vedangas, Purana, Nyaya, Mimamsa and other sastras, in addition to the ethical conduct of the wise, as sources of knowledge and through which sacred law can be known. It explains the scope of the Dharma as follows,
Rites, proper conduct, Dama (self-restraint), Ahimsa (non-violence), charity, self-study, work, realisation of Atman (Self, Soul) through Yoga - all these are Dharma.
-- Yajnavalkya Smriti 1.8
Levinson states that the role of Shruti and Smriti in Hindu law is as a source of guidance, and its tradition cultivates the principle that "the facts and circumstances of any particular case determine what is good or bad". The later Hindu texts include fourfold sources of Dharma, states Levinson, which include Atmanastushti (satisfaction of one's conscience), Sadacara (local norms of virtuous individuals), Smriti and Sruti.
Bhasya on Dharma-smriti
Medhatithi's philosophical analysis of and commentary on criminal, civil and family law in Dharmasastras, particularly of Manusmriti, using Nyaya and Mimamsa theories, is the oldest and the most widely studied tertiary Smriti.
^Pollock, Sheldon. "The Revelation of Traditionruti, smrti, and the Sanskrit Discourse of Power". In Squarcini, Federico. Boundaries, Dynamics And Construction Of Traditions In South Asia. London: Anthem Press. pp. 41-62. doi:10.7135/upo9781843313977.003. ISBN978-1-84331-397-7.
^ abcdesmRti Monier-Williams' Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon, Germany
^ abcdefghiPurushottama Bilimoria (2011), The idea of Hindu law, Journal of Oriental Society of Australia, Vol. 43, pages 103-130
^ abRoy Perrett (1998), Hindu Ethics: A Philosophical Study, University of Hawaii Press, ISBN978-0824820855, pages 16-18
^M Winternitz, History of Indian Literature, Volume 1-3, Motilal Barnarsidass, Delhi, Reprinted in 2010, ISBN978-8120802643
^Tadeusz Skorupski (1988), Review: Manu Swajambhuwa, Manusmryti, Czyli Traktat o Zacno?ci; Watsjajana Mallanga, Kamasutra, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland (New Series), Volume 120, Issue 1, pages 208-209
^Sukra Niti Bk Sarkar (Translator); Chapter 1 verse 43 onwards - Rules of State and Duties of Rulers; Chapter 1 verse 424 onwards - Guidelines on infrastructure for economy; Chapter 1 verse 550 onwards - Guidelines on treasury management, law and military; Chapter 2 - Functions of state officials, etc
^Patrick Olivelle (2011), Language, Texts, and Society: Explorations in Ancient Indian Culture and Religion, Anthem Press, ISBN978-0857284310, page 174
Lingat, Robert. 1973. The Classical Law of India. Trans. J. Duncan M. Derrett. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Rocher, Ludo. "Hindu Conceptions of Law." ''Hastings Law Journal'' 29.6 (1978): 1284-1305.
Staal, Frits (1986), The Fidelity of Oral Tradition and the Origins of Science, Mededelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie von Wetenschappen, Afd. Letterkunde, NS 49, 8. Amsterdam: North Holland Publishing Company, 40 pages