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How many Smritis are there ?

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i1 - How many Smritis are there ?

Smriti literally “that which is remembered,” refers to a specific body of Hindu religious scripture, and is a codified component of Hindu customary law. Smriti also denotes non-Sruti texts and is generally seen as secondary in authority to Sruti— the Vedas or Revelations. Smriti also denotes tradition in the sense that it portrays the traditions of the rules on dharma, especially those of lawful virtuous persons.

With regards to Hindu law, scholars have commonly translated Smriti as “tradition”. Although Smriti is also considered a written source; it differs from Sruti in that Smriti does not have divine origins. In a sense, Smriti consists of the memories of wisdom that sages have passed on to their disciples. These memories consist of traditions. It is these memories that make up the second source of dharma and consequently have been recorded to become a written source; commentaries such as Laws of Manu, for example. The Smriti texts have become a binding of “sacred literature” which includes the six Vedangas, the Ithihasas: the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, as well as, the Puranas. It is within all of these works that the rules of dharma remain and are passed down. However, Smriti is still only considered a second authority after Sruti and becomes relevant only when Sruti provides no answer.

There are two important sides of SmritiSmriti as Tradition and Smriti as Texts. Smriti as Tradition consists of Smriti as memories. It is from these memories that the rules of dharma are preserved and passed down. Conversely, Smriti as Texts refers to the notion of Traditional Texts. These consist of mostly the dharmasastras and are described as literature which has been “inspired by the smriti”.

Smriti speaks of secular matters – science, law, history, agriculture, etc. – as well as spiritual lore, ranging from day-to-day rules and regulations to super conscious outpourings. The smritis were a system of oral teaching, passing from one generation of recipients to the succeeding generation.

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