Highlights of different Smritis #1 – Dr. Gururaja Rao, KSOU

Contact Class for MA KSOU Final Year students in 2015 by Dr. Gururaja Rao

This is the second session, following the session on the importance of Smritis. This session covers the highlights of 16 Smritis.

The Smrutis were written by great rishis who were very knowledgeable and they also practiced the dharma. They gained this status of Rishi through their righteous conduct while carrying out the worldly actions. Most of the Smrutis are named after its Author like Yajnavalkya Smruti or Vaadula Smruti. They have realized the ultimate truth and they wrote these works to share their knowledge with others.

  1. Vaadula Smruti

In Vaadula Smruti, Rishi Vaadula mentions in details the duties of a person that has to be carried out right from dawn to dusk.  प्रात: प्रभूति सायन्तं सायादिप्रातरं तथा | He splits the activities into two groups namely Nitya Karma and Naimittika Karma. The daily activities like Sandyaavandana are stated under Nitya Karma. The occasional activities that are to be performed at specific times like the Pitru Karma are stated under Naimittika Karma. The activities like giving Dhaana or performing Yagna would also come under this classification. Irrespective of caste or community, the general instruction to one and all is that they should wake up in Brahmi-muhurta i.e., before sun-rise (ब्राह्मीमुहूर्ते च उत्ताय…) | The varna specific karmas are stated by Yajnavalkya in the vyaavahaara portion. But this instruction is applicable to all. Then he says about शौचाचारपरायणः relating to the tasks of keeping oneself clean. Stressing on the importance of the शौचाचार विहीनस्य समस्ता: निष्फला: क्रिया: | The mental cleanliness is also given importance along with the physical hygiene. A person devoid of this will not be successful in all of his endeavors. There is a saying — आचार प्रथमो धर्मः | The customs and practices form the first Dharma that one should adhere to. In this Smriti, there is a special importance given to Guru. गुरुद्वाराप्रसादकृतः – that the God will appear through the form of the Guru only. To achieve salvation, it is important to seek refuge in a Guru.

  1. Narayana Smriti

It is also called Durvaasasmriti. दुर्वाशः is called so since his clothes used to be dirty and he would not bother about it as he used to be revealing in higher levels of consciousness. This Smriti is the instruction given by Durvaasa to Narayana Muni. The work is collated by Narayana muni. So it is popularly known as Narayana Smriti. In this, the nine crore sins that could be committed by one person in one life is listed out. He also mentions about the remedial actions. Even if a person resolves to perform only good actions in his life both physical and mental, within a moment, he could still commit sins that would require thirty two births to redeem. Even the thought of hurting someone is considered as a sin even though the actual action is not performed. So sins are not to be done – तस्मात् पापं न कर्तव्यम् नरैः नरकभेरुभिः | So he tells the people, who are scared of hell, to refrain from committing sins and to do actions that will lead them to better states. They would have to go to hell if they commit paapa. They could go to heaven if they do punya activities. But again, क्षीणे पुण्ये मर्त्यलोकं विशन्ति | When the punyas are exhausted, they would take birth again in this world and get into the cycle of birth and death. Instead each person should strive to attain Moksha.

Different Smritis give different definitions for the five great sins or the pancha mahaa paatakas. According to this Narayana Smriti they are brahma-hatya (killing a Brahma), suraa-paana (consuming alcohol), svarna-steya (stealing gold), guru-talpa-gamana (going to the guru’s bed i.e., approaching Guru Patni with wrong intentions), and go-vadha (killing a cow). Usually the sins for which there is no redemption from undergoing the consequences are considered as Mahaa Paatakas. But in this Smriti, there is prayaschita told even for these pancha maha patakas. Three actions are suggested as the remedial action. First one is the recitation of Adhamarshana Sutra. Adha indicates the sin. Marshana means – to forgive. The second prayaschita is the recitation of Hari’s Pavamaana Sutra. For the physical cleansing, the consumption of pacha-gavya is recommended.

This Smriti highlights the influence of the Kali Yuga. It states the places where the Kali Purusha resides. The primary place is the place of kalaha or commotion or fight – कलिस्तु कलहप्रियः | It is essential to know the residing place of Kali like gold; and try our best to avoid coming under its influence. This Smriti also recommends the places that are ideal to avoid Kali’s influence. People should avoid the Papa karma and stay in the Kali Nigraha Sthaanaas.

(This is important from exam point of view).

  1. Vyaagrapaada Smriti

Rishi Vyaagrapaada is a Mantra Drushtaa for some Rik Veda Mantras. There is a mandal in Rig Veda attributed to this Rishi. He is also a Gotra Pravartaka meaning there is a Gotra or clan in his name. Bhima in Mahabharata belongs to this Gotra. Vyaagrapaada is the deeksha guru of Upamanyu who is the guru of Sri Krishna. Thus he becomes Krishna’s parama guru.

There are around 400 shlokas in this Smriti. The specialty about this Smriti is that the recitation of this Smriti itself serves as a parihara, whereas the Smritis give instructions on the ways to do parihara.  सर्व-पाप-हरं दिव्यं सर्व-शंशय-नाशनं चतुर्णां अपि वर्णानां व्याग्रः शास्त्रम् अकल्पयत् | Vyaagraha created this divine Shaastra for the people in all the four Varnaas for the eradication of all their doubts and for the destruction of all their sins.

Dhaana Mahimaa is elaborately explained in this Smriti. दानं दात्रुवशं प्रोक्तम् | It is said that the charity is to be given based on the wish of the giver. This means that a person should not be instructed to give specific charity to specific individuals. Whatever the person feels like giving and to whomever she/he feels like giving, it could be given. The factors to be considered while giving Dhaana are Desha, Kaala and Paatra – place, time and the receiving person. The significance of the place is that if a dhaana is made in the right place, say a pilgrim spot, the result of the dhaana will be many times more than the result obtained by doing in it one’s house. Similarly on special occasions like during an eclipse or during the specific parva kaalas, there will be additional benefits. The dhaana made to a learned Brahmin would yield more punya than the dhaana given to others. This Smriti also says नापुत्राय दातव्यम् – daana should not be made to a person without Putra – which could be taken as progeny or knowledge.

  1. Gautama Smriti

Rishi Gautama is the maanasa putra of Brahma. He is one of the sapta rishis. He is the husband of Ahalyaa. There are 22 adhyaaya or chapters in this Smriti. He specially elaborates on the activities associated with each month. He mentions about the specific Tirthas and Kshetras, the holy pilgrim places meant for giving Daana and for performing Pitru Shraardha.  The superior and the inferior paths that the soul takes after death has been mentioned as Garuda Maarga and Shesha Maarga or Surya Maarga and Chandra Maarga. Rishi Gautama mentions about the value of Bhakti towards Paramaatma Vishna and also towards one’s guru. मुक्ति: नैजसुखानुभूति: अमला भक्तिश्च तत् साधनम् – pure bhakti is the means of attaining mukti. Only when Draupadi had complete surrender, she got the akshaya ambara.

  1. Bharadwaaja Smriti

Bharadwaaja Smriti or Vaajapeya Smriti is written by Bharadwaaja, also called as Vaajapeya. He is also a Drushtaa of the Rig Veda’s sixth Mandala. So this mandala is referred Bharadwaaja Mandala. He was authored six works – Bharadwaaja Shrota Sutra, Bharadwaaja Gruhya Sutra, Yantra Sarvasva (dealing with aeroplane – only some part is available now), Aamshuma Tantra (also dealing with Aeroplane), Aakaasha Shaastra and Bharadwaaja Smriti.  In Bharadwaaja Smriti, there are 25 adhyaayas or chapters out of which only 19 adhyaayas comprising of 114 shlokas are available now. Bharadwaaja elaborates on the importance of Gayatri Mantra, along with the significance and the procedure for conducting the Upanayana Dhaarana Karma. गायत्री वेदमातासि सुत्ररूपेण तिष्ठति | He mentions that the Gayatri Devi resides in the form of the sacred thread of Yagnopaveeta. He also mentions about the greatness of the Dharba Grass which is used in the auspicious festivities and pitru karmas. We use a piece of Dharba during Eclipse to remove the bad effects and to retain the purity of the food items as it is natural disinfectant and a natural food preservative. He says how Dharba got its greatness. According to him, Dharba has Amrita in it. He elaborately describes about the nature of the flowers that are fit to be used in the pooja like those that have not fallen down, those without fragrance, etc. He goes to the extent of instructing how to pluck the flower without hurting the plant.

  1. Dalabya Smriti

This is also called as Vaishnava Smriti. Its author is Chiraadalabhya or Dalabhya. All the time, he used to be in deep meditation. चिरात् अलभ्यः = Difficult to obtain for a long time. He has authored Daalabhya Sutra also which is related to Ayurveda. In the Daalabhya Smriti, there are 167 shlokas. He has coallated the information provided by the Rishi Shankalikhita, which is also a Smritikaara. He elaborates on the importance of Go-Seva, and explains how to take care of the cow and how to milk it, how much to milk, how the calf has to be allowed to consume before we milk the cow, how much water is to be mixed with the milk, to whom the milk has to be sold, when it has to be sold, the greatness of pancha gavya, how to take care of cows that have stopped giving milk and the sin of Go-Vadha.

  1. Haarita Smriti

He is the son of Rishi Jabali. He has authored three works – Lagu Haarita Smriti, Haarita Smriti, and Vrudda Haarita Smriti with 117 shlokas, 200 shlokas, and 3500 shlokas respectively. He explains how Lord Vishnu is to be worshipped and stress on the importance of Bhakti. Since Vishnu has the quality of Bhakta-vatsalya, he is easily blessed by the devotion of the devotees. He cites some examples for how Vishnu has blessed his disciples. He states the greatness of the Ekaakshara mantras – for example, “Gam” for Ganesha. While explaining this, he gives special importance to the mantra for Narasimha. नरसिंहः क्षस्य देवता |  Narasimhan is the god of “Ksha”.

  1. Aushanas Smriti

This is also called Sukra Smriti. Sukraacharya is the son of Brughu Maharshi. He is also called as Ushana / Ushanas. The Smriti is so named because Ushanasya ayam aushanas. This smriti has 9 chapters and 600 shlokas.  The need for the Upanayana karma, those who are eligible for Upanayana, and its greatness are explained in this Smriti. The father becomes the eligibility to initiate the son into Gayatri only after he himself chants it 10,000 times. The 24 letters in Gayatri have their own specific gods and mantras. To be performed when the boy is 7 years old and initiation is to be done while seated in a Dharbhaasana. अहरहस्सन्द्यां उपासीत | Perform Sandhya three times in a day, else the person will lose his Brahminhood. (Side note: Earlier women were also initiated. Later on, considering the additional effort required to retain the sanctity, women were exempted from this. This ban on women to get initiated this way, is only based on practice and it was not mentioned in the ancient scriptures). In this Smriti, the importance of Gurukula education and the significance of the service done to the Guru are explained. गुरूशुश्रूषया विद्या पुष्कलेन धनेन वा ।

  1. Kashyapa Smriti

This is also called Kashyapa Dharma Shashtra as he has put all the Dharmas in an authoritative manner in this Smriti. Some of the initial verses are in the Gadya / prose format, while the rest are in Padya / poetry format. In the initial Gadya portion along with only 20 shlokas in Padya portion which are in Anushtub Chandas are available now. He elaborates on the duties of the Grihasta. How the husband should protect his wife, what are the responsibilities of the wife, etc. यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवता:। There will be all prosperity and the divine presence where the women are kept happy. He gives importance to the guidance of the woman and mentions that the advice of the elderly woman is to be taken while taking decisions related to the household dilemmas.

  1. Shandilya Smriti

Shandilya Bhakti Sutra and Shandilya Smriti have been written by Shandila.  The Smriti has 5 chapters and 700 shlokas. Starting with the Praatarvidhi or the morning activities, he explains how the worship of the god is to be performed. He mentions about the Krutya – the practices of Seducing people. He warns about the reverse effect if it is used on great people. How to redeem from its effects, etc. are explained.

  1. Lohita Smriti

He is a Gotra Pravattakara. There is a clan called Lohita Gotra. This Smriti has 721 shlokas. This is also called as Dattaka Smriti, since it deals in detail about adoption explaining the who can be adopted, the rights of the adopted child, when adoption can be done, the adopted child’s duties and responsibilities towards his adopted parents and biological parents, etc.

  1. Aruna Smriti

Aruna is the son of Kashyapa. There are 148 shlokas in this smriti. The daily routine of a Brahmin, his actions, his thoughts, the unique duties of the Brahmin are all explained in this. He mentions the greatness of a Brahmin. He explains about giving and receiving dhaana. On receiving dhaana, (so that the giver can obtain the punya of giving), it is mentioned about the person from who dhaana can be received, what items can be accepted, etc. Other topics related to the duties of the Brahmin are also covered like यज्ञ – यज्ञापन Conducting and making others conduct yagna, अध्ययन – अध्यापन studying and teaching others, hospitality towards invited and uninvited guests, etc.

  1. Laugaakshi Smriti

This Smriti mainly deals with the 16 (shodash) samskaaraas. The 24 letters, the 24 mudras and the 24 tattvas related to the Gayatri mantra are explained here. He describes in detail the Panchaayata Pooja, i.e., the worship of the five popular deities namely Surya, Vinayaka, Durga, Shiva and Vishnu. He deals with the food explaining which items can be consumed, how the food has to be prepared, that it should not be consumed before offering to god, etc. At the end, he also mentions about the Stree Dharma.

  1. Kulasya Smriti

Though there is mention that this is a very long Smriti, currently only 30 shlokas are available. Raja Dharma, Varnashrama Dharma, Nitya-Naimittika Karma, etc. are mentioned in this Smriti. Like how Krishna states in the Gita, स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेयः, this Smriti recommends the adherence to one’s own dharma. This Smriti concludes stating that one’s own Dharma is the greatest Dharma for the person.

  1. Aangirasa Smriti

Aangirasa is the pravarthaka of Atharva Veda. He is one of the Sapta Rishi (There are more rishis in the maharishi rishi) . He is a Gotra Pravarthaka. He has written a number of Smritis. The most important among them are three – Poorva Aangirasa Smriti, Aangirasa Smriti, and Uttara Aangirasa Smriti with 1132 shlokas,  82 shlokas, and 175 shlokas respectively. He elaborates about the food offered to god and mentions that there should be द्रव्यशुद्धिः, क्रियाशुद्धिः and भावशुद्धिः by using the right ingredients, by performing the right actions and with the right attitude. The greatness of Annadaana of the food that has been prepared and offered to god as mentioned earlier, is mentioned in this smriti.

  1. Samvarta Smriti

Samvarta is a great devotee of Shiva. The Smriti itself mentions the greatness of the spiritual knowledge possessed by Rishi Samvarta. There are 227 shlokas in this Smriti. He mentions about the power of Kali which none can escape, Kali’s residing place, Places which Kali avoids – Nigraha Sthaana, etc. He explains about the panch daana – Abhaya daana (Ramaa to Vibhishana), Suvarna daana (gold), Go-daana (cow), bhu daana (land) and Anna daana (that which gives life is Anna and hence it indicates both food and knowledge).

https://sa.wikibooks.org/s/l8   याज्ञवल्क्यस्मृतिः



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