Highlights of the different Smritis #2
Contact Class for MA KSOU Final Year students in 2015 by Dr. Gururaja Rao
This is the third session, following the first session on the importance of Smritis and the second session covering the highlights of 16 Smritis.
- Kanva Smriti
He is the drushtaa of the eight mandal of Rig Veda. There is branch called Kanva Shakhaa comprising of the followers of this eight mandal of Rig Veda. He gives a lot of importance for the Grihasta Dharma. He elaborates on the duties of the householder. कुरु कृष्णार्पणं नित्यम् | The good actions that were performed should be offered to Krishna on a daily basis. There are two ways of offering possible – one is dedicating the fruits of all the actions and the other one is to offer only the fruits of the good actions. There is a belief that Krishna multiples the offering hundred times and returns it back. So, in order to avoid the negative impact, Kanva do not recommend offering the fruits of all actions which could have some faults. The other non-saatvik nishidda actions are also to be offered with a prayer to free us from the impact of these actions.
- Brajaapati Smriti
This Smriti is based on the instructions of Ruchi Maharshi given to Brajaapati. It is mentioned that Lord Brahma had instructed Ruchi Maharshi. The Source of all knowledge is Hyagriva. He instructed all the knowledge to Brahma. The Knowledge spread from Brahma to various Rishis. Hence this is not a specific feature of this Smriti.
Here he mentions about the various aspects of Pitru Yagna like how to offer Pindaa, its quantity, etc.
- Kapila Smriti
He is the moola pravarthaka of Shankya Shastra or the Shankya school of Philosophy. He has also written Kapila Gita. He has also written a work called Kapila Paancharaatra which is related to the Aagama Shaastra, which is the science of performing the pooja and homa. In the Kapila Smriti there are 100 shlokas in the Anushtup Chandas. वेदो नारायणः साक्षात् तदर्थज्ञ स एव हि । (कपिल स्मृ ३७). Though the Vedas might have hymns of other gods like Sree Sukta, Agni Sukta, Varna Sukta, etc., Kapila says that only the external meaning of those words will indicate the respective deities. The internal meaning will always be addressed towards Narayana only. तदर्थज्ञ स एव हि – one who understands the Vedas is also Narayana. No one other than Narayana, in the form of Hyagriva, can have the complete understanding of the Vedas. By Narayana it was instructed to Brahma and he in turn instructed the Rishis.
He explains how Vedas are to be studied, the presiding deities in each letter present in the Vedic hymns, and the need for worshipping Narayana who is the Antaryaami of these presiding deities. He mentions a term called गोलकत्रय. If we are worshipping a god, say Ganesha, then the first covering or Aavarana is that of Ganesha. Ganesh is controlled by the Rudra Devatha who in turn is controlled by Narayana. So these three layers have to be remembered while performing the worship. While elaborating on the way to study Vedas, he mentions about the swaras like udatta, anudatta, svaritha and pluta. He also talks about नाद, बिन्दु, घोष. He specifies about the people who qualify to learn Vedas. He talks about अनाध्ययनत्रय. स्त्रीशूद्रब्रह्मबन्दूना त्रयेन स्मृति गोचरा – Women, Sudras and Brahmabandus (unworthy name-sake Brahmin as he happens to be related to a Brahmin) are prohibited from even listening to the Smrutis. He clarifies on the restrictions related to who can access the Smrutis. He stresses the point about the apaurushatva of Vedas that it was created without the influence of any human.
- Yaknavalkya Smriti
<To be elaborated separately>
- Budha Smriti
It is in the form of Sutras or aphorisms. Only 40 sutras are available from this work. He states that Dharma is the main cause for a person to attain higher goals. श्रेयो अभ्युदयसाधनः धर्मः | The extent to which one adheres to Dharma, to that extent he would be able to progress in life. In Kathopanishad, the concepts of Shreyas and Preyas is explained which deal with laukika or worldly achievements and Paaramaarthika or the spiritual achievements. In this Smriti also it has been clarified about which are to be considered as Shreyas and which are taken to be Preyas. Kaamya Karma, the actions performed with a specific desire in mind is considered as Preyas. The actions performed without any attachment in a sense of Nishkaama Karma are Shreyas. There are certain Kaamya Karma are considered to be worthy of carrying out.
There are certain descriptions related to the administration of the Kingdom, i.e., Raajya Shaastra. Stressing on the importance of Dharma, the Smritikaara says that Dharma should be considered as our friend, rather than saying that there should be faith or devotion towards Dharma. In spite of all difficulties we will not give up our friendship. In the same way, Dharma has to be carried out with a sense of friendship towards it. जानामि धर्मं न च मे प्रवृत्तिः | जानामि अधर्मं न च मे निवृत्तिः | One should not have this weakness where he says that he knows the Dharma and he is yet unable to follow it and in the same way, he knows the Adharma and he is unable to give it up. Once you know that it is Adharma, at least an attempt has to be made to give it up. There is no forgiveness for knowingly committing a mistake. He also speaks about the Shodasha (16) samskaaras.
He talks about the eight types of marriages, on who can do it, under what circumstances these are to be done, etc. These 8 types of marriages are covered in 4 or 5 Smritis. The different types are Brahma Vivaaha, Daiva Vivaaha, Aarsha Vivaaha, Praajapatya Vivaaha, Gandharva Vivaaha, Aasura Vivaaha, Paishaacha Vivaaha and Raakshasa Vivaaha. The present day marriage procedure is considered to be Aarsha Vivaaha or Maanushya Vivaaha. The other forms of marriage do not apply to the present times. For example, if the couple looks at each other, that is considered as Gandharva marriage. If one person’s hand touches the other person, then it is considered as a marriage. (With the present day culture of shaking hands, this rule will lead to ananta-patnitvaa or having unlimited wives J ).
- Bruhaspati Smriti
Bruhaspati, the guru of the devas gave this instructions to Lord Indra. Only 81 shlokas are available now. There is an elaborate description of the duties and responsibilities of the Devataas, their 32 characteristics, the relevance of these characteristics, etc. It is believed that only the portion that is required for mankind is available with us. The portions that are meant for the Devataas have been retained in the Deva loka where they are adored and followed.
He mentions about Go-Daana, Bhu-daana and Vidhyaa-daana. Without any compulsion, when one of this Daana-tray is done, it is called Atidaana. Even if you are not able to any other daana, this Atidaana has to be made. त्रीणि आहुः अतिदानानि गावः पृथ्वी सरस्वती | The benefit of this daana is stated as सर्वपाप-तारयन्ति दातारः सर्वात् पापात् अशंषयम् | The giver of this daana will definitely cross over all the sins.
- Shaataatapa Smriti
There are 3 Smritis namely Laghu Shaataatapa, Vruddha Shaataatapa, and Shaataatapa Smriti with 183 shlokas, 68 shlokas, and 240 shlokas respectively. This Shaataatapa Smriti with 240 shlokas is also called as Karma Vipaakaa. षातातपीय कर्म-विपाका |
In this Smriti, the greatness of Kurcha is explained. Kurcha is the collection of 5 or 7 dharbha tied together and used like a stick while performing rituals like Yagna and Shaardha. He also mentions about the consequences of eating what should not be eaten – अभक्ष-भक्षणम् and also states the praayaschitta and parihaara for the same. पलाण्डं न भक्षयेत् – don’t eat onions. He lists 21 diseases that could come if such forbidden food is consumed. The remedy for that is to consume Pancha-gavya and to observe fasting on Ekadhasi day. Fasting on Ekaadhasi day is the remedy for consuming the abhakshya-bhakshana in those 14 days. It is to be noted that this parihara is for the mistakes done without one’s knowledge.
- Yama Smriti
There are different avatars of Yama. This Smriti is written by the Yama named Vivasvan, the son of one of the 20 Suryas. This Smriti says that Dharma has to be adhered to for the welfare of the humanity, while the other smritis recommend it for one’s own upliftment. There are three works namely Lagu Yama Smriti, Yama Smriti and Bruhat Yama Smriti having 99 shlokas, 78 shlokas and 182 shlokas respectively. The speciality of this Smriti is the relaxation given for children. He says that the activities performed between 8 and 80 only count for accumulating the paapa or punya. Before 8 years, whatever the child does, he/she is freed of the result of those actions and it actually impacts their parents only. After 80 years of age, the duties are relaxed considering the health conditions.
There is a story told in our epics that once Narada decided to visit all the lokas. When he entered the hell ruled by Yama, the people were undergoing different kinds of punishments like being fried in oil, continuous cutting of the limbs which get attached back again to the Yaatana Shaarira, etc. But, they felt extreme happiness due to the power of his chanting of Narayana naama.
नारायणेति मन्त्रोस्ति जिह्वापि वशवर्तिनी |
तथापी नरके घोरे पतत्येतत् अहो विधिः ||
Narada says this with surprise – There is this powerful mantra called Narayana. There is also this tongue which is well within our control. Yet, people fall into this hell. Oh! Fate is powerful.
Yama tells Narada that it is true. But if he does his preaching here in the hell, Yama would not be able to discharge his duties. So he recommends Narada to go to the earth and preach there. Narada in turn tells Yama that Yama would also have to take a birth in the world since he committed the sin of stopping the in-dwellers of hell from hearing the Narayana Naama.
Narada takes birth as Purandara Daasa and wrote 7,25,000 devar-naamaas or songs to enable people to remember Narayana and attain better worlds. Yama takes birth as this Vivasvan and wrote this Smriti.
There is a ritual called Vrishotsarga that is done on the eleventh day as part of the Sraddha using a Vrishaba or a bull. This Smriti explains about the significance of that ritual. He mentions that the intake of the Pitru jala or the water that is given after doing the yearly Pitru kaarya causes the progeny to be born. It becomes the cause of Vamshaa Abhivridhi.
- Devala Smriti
He is the mantra drushtaa for Rig Veda’s ninth Mandala and the Pavamaana Sukta. There are 90 shlokas in this Smriti. He elaborates on the greatness of Panchagavya and mentions the proportion in which the items have to be mixed while preparing the Panchagavya, etc. Here he mentions specific aspects like the cow’s urine should be that of a cow in the color of Tamra or copper, the cow dung should be that of a white (shveta) colored cow, the milk should be from yellow (suvarna) colored cow, the curd should be from cow the mix of brown and black (neela) colored cow, and the ghee should be obtained from the black colored cow.
- Vishvaamitra Smriti
He is the mantra drushtaa for Rig Veda’s third Mandala. He is the mantra drushtaa for Gayatri Mantra also. There are three works – Vishvamitra Smriti, Vishvamitra Samhita, and Vishvamitra Kalpa. The Smriti has 475 shlokas. He elaborates about the greatness of Gayatri. Usually Gayatri Mantra is considered to be having 3 parts – tripadaa Gayatri matching the Gayatri Chandas. But he shows Gayatri to be having 4 parts – chatuspaada-Gayatri.
[Additional Info: This Turiya Gayatri is of 32 letters with 1st pada with 8 letters being included. It is the highly secret and is even hidden from the Gods. This vidya is imparted only to Yatis].
He mentions about Kojaagara vrata. During Sharad ritu, i.e., during the time of navaraatri, on one specific day, the devotees should stay awake during the night time as on that day and worship Lashmi. It is believed that Lakshmi Devi will be checking “को जागरति” – who is awake? and bless those who are worshipping her that night. He also explains the five types of Achamana.
- Daksha Smriti
Daksha Prajaapati is a maanasa putra of Brahma Deva. Seven chapters are available from this Smriti. He splits the day and night comprising of 24 hours into 8 parts, with each having 3 hours. Each unit of 3 hours is called a Jaama. In this Smriti, the activities to be performed in each Jaama are explained.
वेदाभ्यासो हि पञ्चधा | He mentions about 5 types of Vidhyaabhyaasa. (1) Doing service to the guru. In those days, when the child is five or six years old, he will be left in the gurukula. Guru and Gurupatni will then take care. Based on the individual capacity, the guru will choose to teach the student whatever he wants to teach. There are cases where the guru did not teach anything for years together. After 10 or 12 years, when the guru feels that the student is ready for the gnana, he might touch the head of the disciple and bless him saying चिरञ्जीव-सुखी भव – may you have eternal happiness with Gnaana. (chiranjeeva also indicates knowledge). This was one way of transferring the knowledge. The Rishis that the capacity to do so. Like this the four ways of teaching is mentioned in this Smriti.
In this Smriti, there is mention about nine nines नवनवक. They are nine types of Snaana, nine types of Bhakti, daana, aachamana, archana, shraadda, tapas, bhojana, and aarjana.
He prohibits eating the food that remains after someone has eaten. He also mentions the parihaara for such a mistake committed.
- Aapastamba Smriti
There are 10 chapters and 200 shlokas. Aapastamba shrauta Sutra, Aapastamba gruhya sutra, Aapastamba Dharma Sutra, Aapastamba Shulba Sutra, Yagna paribhaashaa sutra, and Aapastamba Smriti were written by Aapastamba. He states the importance of Gnana for salvation. ज्ञानेनैव परं पदम् | Brahmasutra tells about the loka from where there is no return न च पुनरावर्तते | Such a loka can be obtained only by knowledge. The other good deeds will enable one to attain only svarga loka from which they would have to come back once the acquired punya is over – क्षीणे पुण्ये मर्त्यलोकं विशन्ति | When gnaana is gained, then Moksha is obtained and there is no coming-back.
- Paraasara Smriti
This Smriti has 12 chapters. The greatness of the four yugas has been mentioned – चतुर्युग माहात्म्यम् | The four yugas are kruta yuga, kretaayuga, dwaapara yuga, and kali yuga. The dharma to be observed in each yuga is explained. The cause for the reduction in the size of man from one yuga to another has been explained. The height of men is supposed to be 16 feet, 9 feet, 7 feet, and 6 feet respectively in the four yugas. आकार सदृशः प्रज्ञः | प्रज्ञया सदृशः आकारः | says Kalidasa. Based on the size of the body, they possessed the physical strength, they did their austerities and gained greater amount of gnaana. With the passage of yuga, as the Dharma and Shraddha keep reducing, even the life span has been reducing. कलौ कलुषचित्तानां – In the kali yuga, the people have impure thinking.
- Maarkandeya Smriti
This is also called as Baalaka Smriti. Mrukandoh apatyam pumaan maarkandeyah. He comes in the clan of Brughu Muni. He is the son Mrukandu Maharishi. He has written four works – Mrutyunjaya stootra, Maarkandeya Upadesha, Maarkandeya Samasyaa parva, and Maarkandeya Smriti. The Maarkadeya Puranam was written by Veda Vyasa. The Smriti captures the outcome of the discussions between Shaunaka Maharishi and Maarkandeya. It describes the way to bring up children. It stresses the importance of teaching them the proper samskaaras right from the young age and bringing them up in a disciplined environment. This Smriti also gives some instructions to the married couple for begetting good children.
- Shankalikhita Smriti
Shanka and Likhita were brothers. They discussed about the aspects of Dharma and documented the conclusion and the summary in this Smriti. There are other Smritis that these two rishis wrote on their own. In Shanka Smriti, Laghu Shanka Smriti, Likhita Smriti and Shankalikhita Smriti there are 350 shlokas, 71 shlokas, 93 shlokas, and 32 shlokas respectively. This Smriti deals specially with the Yati Dharma, the duties and responsibilities of a Sanyaasi. काषाय-दण्ड-मात्रेण यतिः पूज्यो भविष्यति | The Sanyaasi is to be respected once they take the ocher robes and the sacred stick. Others do not have the rights to question the yati. Only Yama can comment on their actions. The pooja to be performed by the Sanyaasis are mentioned in this Smriti. If a sanyaasi happens to think about the beauty of any lady, the prayaschchita is given as giving up one’s life by rolling on the hot sands.
- Atri Smriti
This Smriti is also referred to as Atri Dharma Sutra. There 9 adhyaayas and 90 Shlokas. It is in the Champu format. Fourth and Seventh chapters are in sutra form. Explaining the ways to do Praanaayaama and its benefits, this smriti states that Praanaayaama is an important tool for man to conduct his life in the right manner. सन्ततं चिन्तयेऽनन्तं अन्त्यकाले विशेषतः | We should always think about God and in particular during the last days. Since it is important to have thoughts about God during the praana prayaana samaya, it is essential to have the practice of always remembering God.
- Vashishta Smriti
Vashishta is the Drushtaa for the seventh mandala of Rig Veda. This Smriti has 7 adhyaayas and 1150 shlokas. It is also called Vaishnava Smriti as it elaborates on the need to worship Vishnu and the procedure for the worship. It gives importance to the company of good people – महत्-जन-समागम | Good people are those who perform their duties in the right way. He mentions about the greatness of the Sudharshana Chakra and also about the greatness of getting the mudra of shanka and chakra on the arms. It demonstrates our bhakti towards God and symbolically indicates Vishnu. Three aspects of Ankana-bhajana-naamakarana namely adoring the symbols, chanting the names and naming the children after Vishnu are the ways to demonstrate our Bhakti towards him. He also mentions about the shodashsamskaara and the greatness of Shaligraama. Which types of Shaligraama can be kept in the house, what different shapes of Shaligraama indicates, how it is to be worshipped, and other aspects related to Shaaligraama.
- Vishnu Smriti
This is also called as the Vaishnava Dharma Shaastra. This is the instruction given by Lord Vishnu himself to Bhoo Devi. This has 100 Chapters. Bhoodevi questions Vishnu about the reduction in Bhakti towards him in the earth. Vishnu gives the reason and gives some remedial actions also. In this context, he specifically elaborates on the Sanyaasa Dharma, Raja Dharma and Vaishya Dharma. If these three classes of people are prefect, the rest of world will also practice dharma. While mentioning the Vaishya dharma, he describes about the weighing balance or tula and mentions that it should be check it and kept it set correctly. This smriti also mentions about the procedure to enquire the person considered to be guilty. It states 5 types of tests namely Agni Pareeksha, Visha, Jala, Abhimantrita jala (Sacred water which is made powerful through mantra shakti) pareeksha, and pratignaa (promise) pareeksha.
- Vedavyaasa Smriti
There are 4 chapters and 250 shlokas in this Smriti. He specially explains the Varanaashrama Dharma, the greatness of chastity, the characteristics of kanya and stree, and the duties of the woman. The need for Daampatya and the importance of Daampatya is explained in this Smriti. The significance of Eka-patni Vrata or Sa-patni Vrata is also mentioned in this Smriti.
- Manu Smriti
The most important of all the Smritis is Manu Smriti and the next one is Yagnavalkya Smriti. वेदार्थोपनिबन्धृत्वात् प्राधान्यं हि मनोः स्मृतम् | The Smriti by Manu has a prominence as in it, the meaning of the Vedas has been provided in a condensed manner. Manu mentions that he has collated the knowledge provided by Lord Brahma to his students. He states in the Smriti itself that he has mentioned about the earlier times, the present times, and how the things are going to happen in the future times. This smriti has 12 Chapters and 2684 shlokas. Each chapter primarily deals with a specific aspect. In the final chapter, he summaries everything and mentions about Moksha Dharma. The ultimate goal of man should be Moksha. All the actions of man is towards gaining the chaturvida-phala-purushaartha namely dharma, artha, kama, and moksha.
(From examination point of view, Yagnavalkya smriti and the related smritis like Narayana smriti are important, along with Manu Smriti).