Smriti

Smriti (Sanskrit: स्मृति, IAST: Smṛti), literally "that which is remembered" are a body of Hindu texts usually attributed to an author, traditionally written down, in contrast to Śrutis (the Vedic literature) considered authorless, that were transmitted verbally across the generations and fixed.[1] Smriti is a derivative secondary work and is considered less authoritative than Sruti in Hinduism, except in the Mimamsa school of Hindu philosophy.[2][3][4] The authority of smriti accepted by orthodox schools, is derived from that of shruti, on which it is based.[5][6]

The Smrti literature is a corpus of diverse varied texts.[2] This corpus includes, but is not limited to the six Vedāngas (the auxiliary sciences in the Vedas), the epics (the Mahābhārata and Rāmāyana), the Dharmasūtras and Dharmaśāstras (or Smritiśāstras), the Arthasaśāstras, the Purānas, the Kāvya or poetical literature, extensive Bhasyas (reviews and commentaries on Shrutis and non-Shruti texts), and numerous Nibandhas (digests) covering politics, ethics (Nitisastras),[7] culture, arts and society.[8][9]

Each Smriti text exists in many versions, with many different readings.[1] Smritis were considered fluid and freely rewritten by anyone in ancient and medieval Hindu tradition.[1][3]

Etymology

Smrti is a Sanskrit word, from the root Smara (स्मर), which means "remembrance, reminiscence, thinking of or upon, calling to mind", or simply "memory".[7] 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".[7][10] David Brick states that the original meaning of smriti was simply tradition, and not texts.[11]

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).[7] In linguistic traditions, Smrti is the name of a type of verse meter. In Hindu mythology,[12] Smriti is the name of the daughter of Dharma[13] and Medha.[14]

In scholarly literature, Smriti is also spelled as Smṛti.[15]