shruti versus smriti (was Re: Some Vedic sacrifices...)

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 20 16:19:23 CST 2000

On Thu, 20 Jan 2000 12:33:31 -0600, Sankaran Jayanarayanan
<kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU> wrote:

>> >> And each of these is more
>> >>  powerful than the succeeding one. When there is a conflict between
>> >>  factor i, 1 <= i <= 3, and factor (i+1) on any issue, factor i is
>> >>  declared the winner and its dictates must be followed. It also
>> >>  that whatever the shruti says overrides whatever any other source of
>> >>  dharma may say to the contrary.
>> >>
>> >
>> >Therefore, smR^iti comes in handy while interpreting shruti, and is
>> >complementary to it.
>> >
>> >I'm only saying that one must consider smR^iti as an aid to
>> >the import of shruti statements, and not take shruti at face value when
>> >smR^iti *seems to* contradict shruti. Rather, one should reconcile the
>> >so-called contradictions.
>>  Not so. There is absolutely no question of reconciling shruti with
>>  smR^iti. Reconciliation is possible ONLY when two or more texts
>>  at the SAME level of authority seemingly contradict each other.
>>  Reconciliation cannot be done when one text is at a higher level of
>>  authority than the others under consideration. In such cases, the
>>  text at the higher level wins, hands down!
>The kAnchi paramAchArya does not subscribe to this view. In his book
>"Hindu dharma," he says more than once that shruti, smR^iti and puraNas
>are all at the same level among the shabda pramANas.
>Chapter on "shruti-smR^iti shrauta-smArta," p.503:
>"It is not proper to think that the smR^itis are inferior to the Vedas or
>that the purANas are inferior to the smR^itis. We must learn to take an
>integrated view of all of them. In the purANa the Vedic truths are
>illustrated in the form of stories. The smR^itis bring the Vedic dharmas
>and karmas in the form of instruction and injunctions and tell us how the
>rites are to be performed."
>p.504:"We use the terms "shruti pramaaNa" and "smR^iti pramANa" (the
>authority of the Vedas and the authority of the smR^itis), but making such
>a distinction does not mean that we should treat shruti and smR^iti as
>different or that we should think that the one is inferior to the other."
>Again in the chapter on "Sacrifices," p.625:
>"I told you, do you remember, that there was no question of shruti being
>superior to smR^iti or vice versa?"

 Perhaps, the ParamAchArya is being misinterpreted here. Can you show
 me where he says that it is OK to reconcile the shruti with a smR^iti
 when the latter  contradicts the former? The question of superiority
 of shruti only arises when there is some contradiction between
  the shruti and a non-shruti source. But that is not being discussed
 in the sayings of ParamAchArya that you have quoted above.

 Of course, on points of agreement between the shruti and other non-shruti
 sources such as smR^iti's and purANas, it becomes unnecessary to assert
 the superiority of the shruti.

 But still it is correct to say that the smR^itis and other non-shruti
 sources of dharma derive their strength precisely as long as they do
 NOT contradict shruti. In  cases where  they don't,  they have equal
 validity as the shruti. But in cases where they do contradict the
 shruti, we should ignore the directives of such non-shruti sources or
 perhaps interpret the *non-shruti* so as to be consistent with what
 the shruti is saying. The shruti cannot be *forced* or tortured to
 be consistent with the non-shruti.


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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