Hinduism - Who Are The Smarta Among Hindu Brahmins?


The name for a group of brahmins who are identified not by geography or family, but by the theological scriptures that they regard as the most authoritative.

The smrtis—either the writings themselves or comments and com pilations based on them—are the most authoritative texts for the Smartas.

The smrtis, or "remembered" texts, were a subset of the shrutis, or "heard" scriptures, and although essential, were regarded as less authoritative.

In a nutshell, the shrutis referred to the Vedas, which are the oldest and most authoritative Hindu religious books, and the smrtis referred to dharma literature, such as the Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, and Ramayana, as well as the puranas, a collection of Hindu religious works.

As a result, the Smartas stand in stark contrast to sectarian brahmins, whether Shaiva (devotees of Shiva) or Vaishnava (devotees of Vishnu), for whom their particular sectarian texts hold supreme religious authority.

Smarta brahmins may therefore claim to be the most orthodox since they follow the oldest and most well-established religious teachings.

Individual Smartas may worship multiple Hindu deities, and many do, since they are distinguished by their authoritative writings and practices rather than by the god they worship.

However, many Smartas, especially in southern India, do the pan chayatana puja to the five divine forms—Vishnu, Shiva, Surya, Ganesh, and the Goddess—in order to demonstrate the ultimate oneness underlying the many manifestations of divinity.

~Kiran Atma

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