Definition - What does Smriti mean?

Smriti is one of two types of Vedic literature. The other is shruti. Smriti is considered less authoritative than shruti. The Sanskrit root for smriti comes from the verb, smr, which means "to remember." Shruti comes from the verb, shru, which means "to hear."

Vedic texts that are considered smriti come from remembered teachings versus texts that are shruti which were compiled from teachings that were heard. Lessons that are heard are thought to be more reliable then those that are merely remembered; This is the reason why shruti literature is held in higher esteem.

Yogapedia explains Smriti

According to Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, smriti is one of the five vritti, which are the thoughts or fluctuations of the mind that affects one's consciousness. The other four vritti are pramana, viparyaya, vikalpa and nidra.

Smriti literature can be classified as follows:

  • Vedangas: essential to understanding the essence of the Vedas
  • Upavedas: the arts and sciences
  • Upangas: knowledge
  • Darsanas: windows to truth and the path to liberation

The famous Hindu epics, "Ramayana," "Mahabharata" and the Bhagavad Gita, all belong to smriti literature.

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