Saturday, September 19, 2015

Shruti and Smriti

The entire scriptures and religious texts in all religions in the world can be traced as a mixture or amalgamation of ideas coming from two sources viz. Shruti and Smriti. The former refers to what is termed as eternal truth and the latter refers to their application or adaptation in a contemporary context. In fact all the conflicts between the various religious ideologies will go away if their respective scholars realise this simple truth and not waste theirs’ and others’ time by harping on Only My God (OMG) and Only My Scripture (OMS) theories. Many of the so-called experts in comparative religious studies are highly skewed towards their own religion and display complete ignorance when it comes to the fundamentals of other religions. They lack the basic understanding of Shruti and Smriti, and display absolute hatred towards other faiths.

As the word Shruti itself means, it is what has come to us by word of mouth and is seen spread all over the religious texts. The Shruti elements are easily identifiable to the impartial seekers. Shruti always refers to the eternally sustainable aspects of existence. It will have no connection whatsoever to the contemporary and will have no reference to contemporary characters or incidents in history. In stark contrast, Smriti elements will always be contextual and will have to be understood in the context. If taken out of context and applied as such, Smriti will spell disaster for mankind. I am afraid this is happening very much in our present day world. The root causes of many of our current conflicts is due to this wrong interpretation of Smriti elements from the sacred texts. What was perfectly logical in a tribal society centuries back (Smriti) is definitely illogical and out of place at present.

The best way to understand Shruti is by putting it to a simple test. All Shruti elements must necessarily relate to sustainability of mankind. For example, if some God had said Satyameva Jayathe (Truth alone triumphs), it is quite possible that we take it as Shruti. But that is the mistake we make. The Shruti element must be something like “Dharma shall always triumph” because we know very well that Truth is not always the one that will sustain us. The best example of Smriti is nothing but Manusmriti. The text also contains Shruti elements, but most of it is acknowledged to be Smriti. And we all know the debate and confusion it creates when some of the fanatics interpret it as Shruti. The same problem persists for many of the texts in the Semitic religions and the world is paying a heavy price for the human fallacy.