Vaidika Vangmaya (वैदिकवाङ्मयम्)

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Vaidika Vangmaya (Samskrit : वैदिकवाङ्मयम्) means that literature which is "associated with the Vedas". Vaidika literature includes the ancillary and subsidiary texts associated with the Vedas which have come into existence to clarify and understand the Vedas. Thus over a period of time, different explanatory shastras evolved to explain the subtle concepts presented in Vedas and they are included in under the Smrti literature.[1][2]

परिचयः ॥ Introduction

Vedas are a storehouse of knowledge needed for mankind, not merely adhyatmik but also secular or temporal. They are not compositions made in any one particular period. They are spread over a period of time; one group separated from the other probably by centuries and handed down from one generation to the other through word of mouth. Understanding vaidika literature itself developed into many branches covering different aspects of the subject. While some have developed independently (such as Jyotisha - to explain muhurtas in vaidika kriyas), others summarize (such as Kalpa which is a manual of procedures of yajnas from different vedas) and a few others are simplified summaries of codes of social existence (like the Puranas in story format, Dharmashastras in a stern format) for a comparatively easier understanding (including the Mahabharata) than the Veda itself. The following headings cover the topics discussed under Vaidika Vangmaya

  1. वेदाङ्गानि || Vedangas (6)
  2. उपवेदाः || Upa-Vedas (4)
  3. वेद-उपाङ्गानि || Veda-Upangas (4) which are broadly covered under the following three divisions as discussed in the section below
    1. पुराणानि || Puranas (18), उपपुराणानि || Upa-Puranas (18), इतिहासः || Itihasa (2)
    2. दर्शनानि ॥ Darshana Shastras (6)
    3. स्मृतिग्रन्थाः || Smrti Granthas or Dharmashastras (18)
  4. अन्यग्रन्थाः || Other Smrtigranthas (Anukramanikas, Pratisakhyas, Parishistas)

Thus we see that the above literature is a vast body of knowledge which was imparted by the Guru (Acharyas, Preceptors) to his Shishyas (disciples) in the Gurukula System of education which was in practice in ancient days. The disciples of a Guru (belonging to a particular shaka of one of the Four Vedas) were taught a particular shaka of the Veda along with the study of 14 ancillary Vaidika Vangmaya (or Veda associated subject matter) called as Chaturdasha Vidyasthanani and some went further to study 18 ancillary subjects called as Astadasha Vidyasthanani. Vidyasthanas are so called because they formed the core subject matter of Vidya (विद्या) equated to Education in present day parlance.

विद्यास्थानानि ॥ Vidyasthanas

Chaturdasha vidyas (चतुर्दशविद्याः) are called the Vidyasthanas (विद्यास्थानानि)[3] for they contain the foundational comprehensive knowledge base of the four Purusharthas (Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha) the four pillars of Sanatana Dharma. Chaturdasha Vidyas include the Chaturvedas (Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvanaveda), Shad(ved)angas (Shiksha, Kalpa, Vyakarana, Nirukta, Chandas and Jyotish), and 4 Upangas (Puranas, Nyaya shastra (and Vaiseshika), Mimamsa and Dharmashastra) of Vedas.[4] File:Chaturdasha and Ashtadasha Vidyas.pdf

वेदाङ्गानि || Vedangas

The word Anga (अङ्ग) is used in the sense of Upakaraka (उपकारक | useful tool)[1][5] with reference to understanding vedajnana or the knowledge of vedas, these six shastras are extremely useful, hence they are called Vedangas. The oldest reference to what constitute the Vedangas is given in Mundakopanishad

तत्रापरा ऋग्वेदो यजुर्वेदः सामवेदोऽथर्ववेदः शिक्षा कल्पो व्याकरणं निरुक्तं छन्दो ज्योतिषमिति । (Mund. Upan. 1.1.5)[6]

tatrāparā r̥gvēdō yajurvēdaḥ sāmavēdō'tharvavēdaḥ śikṣā kalpō vyākaraṇaṁ niruktaṁ chandō jyōtiṣamiti । (Mund. Upan. 1.1.5)

Meaning : Aparavidya include the rigveda, yajurveda, samaveda, atharvaveda (four vedas), siksha, kalpa, vyakaranam, niruktam, chandas, jyothisha (6 angas of vedas).

शिक्षा कल्पो व्याकरणं निरुक्तं छन्दसां चयः । ज्योतिषामयनं चैव वेदाङ्गानि षडेव तु ॥

śikṣā kalpo vyākaraṇaṃ niruktaṃ chandasāṃ cayaḥ । jyotiṣāmayanaṃ caiva vedāṅgāni ṣaḍeva tu ॥

According to the above shloka, Vedangas are six in number namely Shiksha, Kalpa, Vyakarana, Nirukta, Chandas, Jyotish.[7]

 Title  Subject Dealt With
1.शिक्षा || Shiksha  Science of phonetics or pronunciation and intonation.
2.व्याकरणम् || Vyakarana  Science of the grammar of language
3.निरुक्तम् || Nirukta  Etymology or the science of origin, meaning and explanation of the Vedic words.
4.छन्दस् || Chandas  Prosody or science of composition of the hymns like meter, rhyme, पाद (quarter) etc. of the mantras
5.ज्योतिष् || Jyotisha  Astronomy and astrology mainly directed towards fixing up of auspicious moments for the performance of the Vedic sacrifices 
6.कल्पः || Kalpa  Science or manual of yagna kriyas or rituals, both Vedic and domestic

छन्दः पादौ तु वेदस्य हस्तौ कल्पोऽथ उच्यते । ज्योतिषामयनं चक्षुर्निरुक्तं श्रोत्रमुच्यते ॥ (Pani. Siks. 41)

शिक्षा घ्राणं तु वेदस्य मुखं व्याकरणं स्मृतम् । तस्मात् साङ्गमधीत्यैव ब्रह्मलोके महीयते ॥ (Pani. Siks. 42)

chandaḥ pādau tu vedasya hastau kalpo'tha ucyate । jyotiṣāmayanaṃ cakṣurniruktaṃ śrotramucyate ॥

śikṣā ghrāṇaṃ tu vedasya mukhaṃ vyākaraṇaṃ smṛtam । tasmāt sāṅgamadhītyaiva brahmaloke mahīyate ॥

In Paniniya Shiksha (पाणिनीयशिक्षा), these six vedangas are described in the above shloka which means - "Chandas forms the feet of the Vedapurusha, while Kalpas are the hands, Jyotish is the eye, Nirukta forms the ears, Shiksha is the nose, while the face (speech) is formed by Vyakarana. Only by studying vedas (Vedapurusha) along with vedangas (different parts) will one attain the brahmaloka".[8][9]

Vedangas are thus, special shastras to understand the vedic language, meaning and their usage and the karmakanda (कर्मकाण्डः) expounded in Vedas. To discourage digressing distorted interpretations these shastras have been given by the great rishis to streamline the understanding of correct intent of the Vedas.[1]

उपवेदाः || Upavedas

They are called the subsidiary Vedas. They are four in number one attached to each Veda[10][11] viz.

आयुर्वेदो धनुर्वेदो गान्धर्वश्चैव ते त्रयः । अर्थशास्त्रं चतुर्थं तु विद्या ह्यष्टादशैव ताः ।। २९ ।। (Vish. Pura. 3.6.29)

āyurvēdō dhanurvēdō gāndharvaścaiva tē trayaḥ । arthaśāstraṁ caturthaṁ tu vidyā hyaṣṭādaśaiva tāḥ ।। 29 ।। (Vish. Pura. 3.6.29)

Upaveda Name  Subject Dealt with  Associated with
Ayurveda (आयुर्वेदः) Science of healthy living including the prevention and cure of diseases  Rigveda
Dhanurveda (धनुर्वेदः) Science of archery, martial arts and warfare  Yajurveda
Gandharvaveda (गन्धर्ववेदः) Forms of fine arts like music and dance.  Samaveda
Arthashastra (अर्थशास्त्रम्) Shastra dealing with finance, economics, politics, statesmanship, public administration  Atharvaveda

Some schools hold Sthapatyaveda (स्थापत्यवेदः | architecture) as the fourth Upaveda instead of Arthashastra. Sthapatyaveda relates with engineering and architecture.[12][13]

वेद-उपाङ्गानि || Veda-Upangas

Upangas of Vedas include the following four bodies of knowledge namely[14][15][10][16].

  1. Puranas
  2. Mimamsa
  3. Nyaya shastra
  4. Dharmashastra or Smrti-granthas

According to some scholars,[12] the Shad-Darshanas may be classified as Upangas of Vedas. According to Shri. Kishore Mishraji[13] Pratipadasutra, Anupada, Chandobhasha (Pratisakhya) Dharmashastra, Nyaya and Vaiseshika constitute the six Upangas of Vedas.

पुराणानि ॥ Puranas

अष्टादश महापुराणानि.jpg

The Puranas are a vast genre of encyclopedic Indian texts about a wide range of topics particularly legends and traditional lore. Several of these texts are named after major devatas such as Vishnu, Shiva and Devi. There are 18 Mahapuranas (Great Puranas) and 18 Upapuranas (Minor Puranas), containing over 400,000 verses.[1][17] The list of Puranas is given in Padmapurana (6.236.14-17)[18], Vishnupurana (3.6), Skanda purana (4.7.1), Agni Purana (10.8.3)[17]

The 18 Mahapuranas listed in Vishnu puranam[10] are as follows

अष्टादश पुराणानि पुराणज्ञाः प्रचक्षते। ब्राह्मं पाद्मं वैष्णवञ्च शैवं भागवतं तथा। (Vish. Pura. 3.6.20)

aṣṭādaśa purāṇāni purāṇajñāḥ pracakṣatē। brāhmaṁ pādmaṁ vaiṣṇavañca śaivaṁ bhāgavataṁ tathā। (Vish. Pura. 3.6.20)

अथान्यन्नारदीयञ्च मार्कण्डेयञ्च सप्तमम् । आग्नेयमष्टमञ्चैव भविष्यं नवमं तथा ।(Vish. Pura. 3.6.21)

athānyannāradīyañca mārkaṇḍēyañca saptamam । āgnēyamaṣṭamañcaiva bhaviṣyaṁ navamaṁ tathā ।(Vish. Pura. 3.6.21) 

दशमं ब्रह्मवैवर्तं लैङ्गमेकादशं स्मृतम्। वाराहं द्वादशञ्चैव स्कान्दञ्चैव त्रयोदशम्। (Vish. Pura. 3.6.22)

daśamaṁ brahmavaivartaṁ laiṅgamēkādaśaṁ smr̥tam। vārāhaṁ dvādaśañcaiva skāndañcaiva trayōdaśam। (Vish. Pura. 3.6.22) 

चतुर्दशं वामनञ्च कौर्मं पञ्चदशं स्मृतम्। मात्स्यञ्च गारुडञ्चैव ब्रह्माण्डञ्च ततःपरम्। (Vish. Pura. 3.6.23)

caturdaśaṁ vāmanañca kaurmaṁ pañcadaśaṁ smr̥tam। mātsyañca gāruḍañcaiva brahmāṇḍañca tataḥparam। (Vish. Pura. 3.6.23)

तथा चोपपुराणानि मुनिभिः कथितानि च । महापुराणान्येतानि ह्यष्टादश महामुने ।। (Vish. Pura. 3.6.24)

tathā cōpapurāṇāni munibhiḥ kathitāni ca । mahāpurāṇānyētāni hyaṣṭādaśa mahāmunē ।। (Vish. Pura. 3.6.24)

Meaning : 18 Puranas have been seen (given). They include Brahma Purana, Padma purana, Vishnu Purana, Shiva Purana, Bhagavata Purana. And the others are Narada Purana, Markandeya Purana is the seventh, Agni Purana is the eighth, Bhavishya purana being the ninth. the tenth is Brahma vaivarta Purana, the eleventh is termed Linga Purana. Varaha Purana is the twelfth and Skanda Purana the thirteenth, fourteenth is Vamana Purana, Kurma Purana is termed the fifteenth. Matsya Purana, Garuda Purana and Brahmanda Purana come after these. And (eighteen) Upapuranas have been given by rishis along with these Mahapuranas.

उपपुराणानि ॥ Upapuranas

The Upapuranas are variously given in different texts. However a few are common in all these versions. Upapuranas also describe the legends, vratas and discuss a vast number of topics (such as creation, Kala, Dana, information on subjects like Dharma and Polity etc) similar to the Puranas.

अष्टादश उपपुराणानि
S. No. स्कन्दपुराणम् ॥ Skanda purana (4.7.1)[17] गरुडपुराणम् ॥ Garuda Purana[19] देवीभागवतम् ॥ Devibhagavata[1] कूर्मपुराणम् ॥ Kurma Purana[20][21]
1 सनत्कुमारपुराणम् ॥ Sanatkumara Purana सनत्कुमारपुराणम् ॥ Sanathkumara Purana सनत्कुमारपुराणम् ॥ Sanathkumara Purana सनत्कुमारपुराणम् ॥ Sanatkumara Purana
2 नरसिंहपुराणम् ॥ Narsimha Purana नरसिंहपुराणम् ॥ Narsimha Purana आश्चर्यपुराणम् ॥ Ashcharya Purana नरसिंहम्पुराणम् ॥ Narasimha Purana
3 स्कन्दपुराणम् ॥ Skanda Purana स्कन्दपुराणम् ॥ Skanda Purana शिवपुराणम् ॥ Shiva Purana स्कन्दपुराणम् || Skanda Purana
4 शिवधर्मपुराणम् ॥ Shiva Dharma Purana शिवधर्मपुराणम् ॥ Shivadharma Purana शिवधर्मपुराणम् ॥ Shivadharma Purana शिवधर्मपुराणम् ॥ Shivadharma Purana
5 दुर्वासपुराणाम् ॥ Durvasa Purana नन्दीश्वर ॥ Nandiswara Purana मानवपुराणम् ॥ Manava Purana दूर्वासपुराणम् ॥ Durvasa Purana
6 नारदपुराणम् ॥ Narada Purana नारदपुराणम् ॥ Narada Purana नारदपुराणम् ॥ Narada Purana नारदीयपुराणम् ॥ Naradeeya Purana
7 कपिलपुराणम् ॥ Kapila Purana आश्चर्यपुराणम् ॥ Ashcharya Purana कपिलपुराणम् ॥ Kapila Purana कपिलपुराणम् ॥ Kapila Purana
8 मनुपुराणम् ॥ Manu Purana वामनपुराणम् ॥ Vamana Purana वामनपुराणम् ॥ Vamana Purana
9 उशनपुराणम् ॥ Ushana Purana उशनपुराणम् ॥ Ushana Purana औषसनपुराणम् ॥ Aushasana Purana औषसनपुराणम् ॥ Aushasana Purana
10 ब्रह्माण्डपुराणम् ॥ Brahmanda Purana ब्रह्माण्डपुराणम् ॥ Brahmanda Purana आदित्यपुराणम् ॥ Aditya Purana ब्रह्माण्डपुराणम् || Brahmanda Purana
11 वरुणपुराणम् ॥ Varuna Purana वरुणपुराणम् ॥ Varuna Purana वरुणपुराणम् ॥ Varuna Purana वरुणपुराणम् ॥ Varuna Purana
12 कालिकापुराणम् ॥ Kalika Purana कालिकापुराणम् ॥ Kalika Purana कालिकापुराणम् ॥ Kalika Purana कल्की / कालिकापुराणम्॥ Kalki / Kalika Purana
13 महेश्वरपुराणम् ॥ Maheshwara Purana महेश्वरपुराणम् ॥ Maheswara Purana महेश्वरपुराणम् ॥ Maheswara Purana महेश्वरपुराणम् || Maheshwara Purana
14 साम्बपुराणम् ॥ Samba Purana साम्बपुराणम् ॥ Samba Purana साम्बपुराणम् ॥ Samba Purana साम्बपुराणम् ॥ Samba Purana
15 सौरपुराणम् ॥ Saura Purana कपिलपुराणम् ॥ Kapila Purana सौरपुराणम् ॥ Saura Purana सौरपुराणम् ॥ Saura Purana
16 पराशरपुराणम् ॥ Parashara Purana पराशरपुराणम् ॥ Parashara Purana पराशरपुराणम् ॥ Parashara Purana पराशरपुराणम् ॥ Parashara Purana
17 मरीचपुराणम् ॥ Maricha Purana मरीचपुराणम् ॥ Maricha Purana भागवतपुराणम् ॥ Bhagavata Purana मारीचपुराणम् ॥ Maricha Purana
18 भार्गवपुराणम् ॥ Bhargava Purana भार्गवपुरानम् ॥ Bhargava Purana वसिष्ठपुराणम् ॥ Vasishta Purana भार्गवपुराणम् ॥ Bhargava Purana

Many other Upapuranas are also available such as Ganapatya / Mudgala ( गाणपत्यम् / मुद्गलम्), Vasishta (वासिष्ठम्), Hamsa from other different sources and a total of upto 30 Upapuranas are mentioned, though their availability is not known.[1] Thus, we see from the two lists that the names of a few Puranas are the same in both Puranas and Upapuranas (ex: Skanda purana, Vamana purana)

According to a few scholars, "Bhagavata" in Puranas refers to Devibhagavata and not Shrimad Bhagavata containing the stories of SriKrishna.(Page 174 of Sanskrita Sahitya Charitra[1]). However, it is certain that both are equally valuable and instructive. Devi Bhagavata is specially fitted for those inclined to metaphysics while the Vaishnava Bhagavata endears one with Bhakti.[22]

The Puranas have been highly influential in the development of Bharatiya samskriti. They are considered Vaidika (congruent with Vedic literature) or pertaining to vedas with easy understanding as mentioned by Shivamahapurana [17].

इतिहासः ॥ Itihasas

The two well-known Itihasas (histories) are the epics (Mahakavyas), Ramayana and Mahabharata They are two very popular and useful epics of the Hindus. The Ramayana was written by the Maharshi Valmiki, and the Mahabharata by Maharshi Vyasa. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata speak to us clearly about the ancient India, about her people, her customs, her ways of living, her arts, her civilization and culture, her manufactures etc.

Some facts about Ramayana and Mahabharata[23]
Ramayana Mahabharata
It is called the Adikavya It is called Panchamaveda
Contains the story of a single hero: Sri Rama Contains many heroes : Kurus and Pandavas
Belongs to Parikriya (परिक्रिया) kind of Itihasa Belongs to Purakalpa (पुराकल्पा) kind of Itihasa
Happened in the Tretayuga Happened in the end of Dvaparayuga
Story of Avatara purusha - Sri Rama Story of Avatara purusha - Sri Krishna
Story connected with 4 of Saptarishis - Atri, Bharadwaja, Vasishta and Visvamitra No connection at all with any of the ancient rishis
Sri Rama's actions exemplified Dharma Yudhisthira and Sri Krishna though followed Dharma were more routed in Rajaneeti
Filled with vivid descriptions Such descriptions of natural beauty are less.
Rama's army included Vanaras or monkeys Kurupandavas armies were vast and included mankind.

The Ramayana

The Ramayana, the Adi-Kavya or the first epic poem, relates the story of Sri Rama, the ideal man. It is the history of the family of the solar race descended from Ishvaku, in which was born Sri Ramachandra, the Avatara of Lord Vishnu, and his three brothers. The ideal characters such as Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata and Sri Hanuman that we find in Ramayana firmly establish Hindu Dharma in our minds. The story of the birth of Rama and his brothers, their education and marriages, the exile of Sri Rama, the carrying off and recovery of Sita, his wife, the destruction of Ravana, the Rakshasa King of Lanka, and the reign of Sri Rama, are described in detail in Ramayana. How a man should behave towards his superiors, equals and inferiors, how a king ought to rule his kingdom, how a man should lead his life in this world, how he can obtain his release, freedom and perfection, may be learnt from this epic. The Ramayana gives a vivid picture of Indian Dharmik life. The lives of Rama, Bharata and Lakshmana provide a model of fraternal affection and mutual service. Sri Hanuman stands as an ideal unique Karma Yogin. The life of Sita is regarded as the most perfect example of womanly fidelity, chastity and affection. The Ramayana is written in twenty-four thousand slokas by Sri Valmiki Maharshi.[17] A few instances of topics of dharma dwelt on by Ramayana include : Rajadharma in Balakanda, Adhyaya 7, Ayodhyakanda, Adhyaya 100, Aranyakanda, Adhyaya 6, 9 and 33, 40, 41. Shraddha in Ayodhyakanda, Adhyaya 77, 103 and 111. Stridharma in Ayodhyakanda, Adhyaya 24, 26-27, 29, 39 etc. Ramayana forms the basis for the creation of volumes of Laukika Sahitya of future ages.(Page no 158 to 160 of Reference [24])

The Mahabharata

The Mahabharata is the history of the Pandavas and the Kauravas. It gives a description of the great war, the Battle of Kurukshetra, which broke out between the Kauravas and the Pandavas who were cousins and descendants of the lunar race. The Mahabharata is an encyclopaedia of Hindu Dharma. It is also called the fifth Veda. There is really no theme in religion, philosophy, mysticism and polity which this great epic does not touch and expound. It contains very noble moral teachings, useful lessons of all kinds, many beautiful stories and episodes, discourses, sermons, parables and dialogues which set forth the principles of morals and metaphysics. The Mahabharata contains also the immortal discourse of Bhishma on Dharma, which he gave to Yudhishthira, when he was lying on the bed of arrows. The whole Mahabharata forms an encyclopedia of history, morals and religion unsurpassed by any other epic in the world. The Pandavas obtained victory through the grace of Sri Krishna. The Mahabharata is written in one hundred thousand slokas by Sri Krishnadvaipayana Vyasa. Mahabharata draws extensively on the dharmashastras and a few instances are as follows,(Page no 158 to 160 of Reference [24])

  • Arachaka (evils of anarchy) - Shantiparva, 40
  • Ashrama dharmas - Shanti parva, 61, 243 to 246
  • Achara - Anushasana parva, 104, and Asvamedhika parva, 45
  • Dana - Vanaparva 186, Shanti parva 235, Anushasana parva 57-99
  • Prayaschitta - Shanti 34-35, 165
  • Rajaniti - Sabhaparva 5, Vanaparva 150, Udyogaparva 33 and 34, Shantiparva 65 and 297, Anushasana parva 48 and 49
  • Varnadharma - Shantiparva 60 and 297
  • Shraddha - Striparva 26 and 27, Anushasana parva 87 to 95

दर्शनानि ॥ Darshana Shastras

The chaturdasha vidyas mention Nyaya and Mimamsa shastras as part of the the Veda Upangas. In the present context, considering all the Shad darshanas to be part of the veda Upangas, they have been discussed completely in this project.

Purva Mimamsa is commonly called as Mimamsa, while Uttara Mimamsa is called Vedanta. Each Darshana is associated with a rishi, a preceptor, who gives its principles in the form of Sutras or short terse sentences embedded with a great meaning in them. Thus the shastra rachana paddhati or the writing format of shastras primarily involve the Sutras for which Bhashyam, a commentary and further on Vritti or Vartikas which are also explanatory notes are written by various authors. The object of all the darshanas is the same - to rescue men from sufferings of three kinds - Adibhoutika, Adhyatmika, Adidaivika.

The way to rescue propounded by these darshanas is also the same - removal of Avidya, which creates bandhana or bondage to Samsara, consequently union with the Supreme. The names used for Avidya, Ignorance, by different shastras are different but in essence all of them spell out the same situation of the mind. For example

  • Nyaya calls it as Mithyajnana (मिथ्याज्ञानम्), false knowledge
  • Sankhya calls it Aviveka (अविवेकः), non-discrimination between Self and Real.
  • Yoga and Vedanta call it (अविद्या), incorrect knowledge

Each darshana aims at the removal of Ignorance by acquiring and internalizing or experiencing the Jnana, whereupon Ananda (आनन्दः) is enjoyed in the state termed as Moksha. Each of these darshanas establish their concepts by providing pramanas or proofs. Although, there are about ten kinds of pramanas primarily six kinds of them are accepted by the six darshana shastras, called as Shad Pramanas. Brief introduction of the six darshana shastras is given below[22][25]

Brief Information on the Shad Darshanas
Darshana Deals with Rishi Authoritative Bhashyam Pramanas Accepted Important Points
Nyaya Darshana System of Logic Gautama Vatsyayana Pratyaksha, Anumana, Upamana, Shabda Sutras divided in five books.

Knowledge is divided into 16 Padarthas


Vaiseshika Darshana System of Particulars Kanada Prashastapada Pratyaksha, Anumana Knowledge is divided into 6 Padarthas


Samkhya Darshana System of Numbers Kapila Samkhya Karika of Ishvara Krishna

Aniruddha Vijnanabhikshu

Pratyaksha, Anumana


Dvaita siddhanta of Prakrti and Purusha and Viveka

Origin of the 25 principles - Mahat, Ahamkara, the Tanmatras and Purusha.



Yoga Darshana System of Effort or of Union Patanjali Vyasa bhashyam Pratyaksha, Anumana, Shabda Sutras are 198 arranged in 4 padas. Aim is chittavrtti virodha (stop the movements of Chitta or manas)

Sa-Ishvara Samkhya siddhantam

Mimamsa Darshana System of Interpreting the Vedic texts Jaimini Shabara bhashyam Prabhakara school : Pratyaksha, Anumana, Shabda, Upamana, Arthapatti

Kumarila school : 5 above and Abhava (totally 6)

Concerned with karmakanda of the Veda. Mimamsa Sutras are divided into 12 books.
Vedanta System of Interpreting the Vedic texts Vyasa 3 Schools : Advaita : Sri Shankaracharya Vishishtadvaita : Sri Ramanujam

Dvaita : Madhavacharya

Advaita : 6 Pramanas

Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita : 3 pramanas (pratyaksha, anumana and shabda)

Concerned with the jnanakanda of the Veda and Ishvara. Brahmasutras are important texts.

स्मृतिग्रन्थयः || Smrti Granthas or Dharmashastras

The Smritis prescribe certain acts and prohibit some others for a Hindu, according to one's birth and stage of life. The object of the Smritis is to purify the heart of a person and take him/her gradually to the supreme abode of immortality and make him/her perfect and free. These Smritis have varied from time to time. The injunctions and prohibitions of the Smritis are related to the particular social surroundings. As these surroundings and essential conditions of the Hindu society changed from time to time, new Smritis had to be compiled by the seers of different ages and different parts of India.[26]

वर्णादिधर्मस्मरणं यत्र वेदाविरोधकम् । कीर्तनं चार्थशास्त्राणां स्मृतिः सा च प्रकीर्तिता । (Shuk. Niti. 4.3.54)

varṇādidharmasmaraṇaṁ yatra vedāvirodhakam । kīrtanaṁ cārthaśāstrāṇāṁ smr̥tiḥ sā ca prakīrtitā । (Shuk. Niti. 4.3.54)

आर्षं धर्मोपदेशं च वेदशास्त्राविरोधिना । यस्तर्केणानुसंधत्ते स धर्मं वेद नेतरः || १२.१०६ || (Manu. Smrt. 12.106)[27]

ārṣaṁ dharmopadeśaṁ ca vedaśāstrāvirodhinā । yastarkeṇānusaṁdhatte sa dharmaṁ veda netaraḥ || 12.106 || (Manu. Smrt. 12.106)

Dharmasutras Vs Dharmashastras (Smrtis)

Smrtis, the codified law books, otherwise known as Dharmashastras, are different texts as against the Dharmasutra works (Shrauta Sutras and Dharma Sutras) given in the Kalpas. Smrti texts have laid emphasis on the karmaushtana on the social front as compared to karmanushtana of an individual. These granthas contain information on the aspects of administration and governance, it may be said that as the number of kingdoms grew, so also the number of Smrti granthas.

Dharmasutras are the basis of composing Dharmashastra granthas. Dharmasutra granthas are cryptic, abbreviated with short explanations of the sutras, hence they required bhashyas or commentaries and tikas for understanding them.

Dharmasutras and Dharmashastras Contrasted[28]
Dharmasutras Dharmashastras
Texts Are a part of Kalpa : Ex - Apastamba, Hiranyakesin, Baudhayana Include Smrtigranthas - Manusmrti, Yajnavalkya smrti
Form Composed in prose intermixed with slokas, some completely free of slokas Composed as slokas (metrical form) exclusively
Style of Writing Sutra format of writing terse short aphorisms applies to the prose form of presentation No brevity of writing in Sutra format is seen.
Language Language is प्राचीन (archaic ) Language is अर्वाचीन (modern)
Origin Do not claim divine origin A few of them claim divine origin (Ex: Brahma)
Arrangement of topics No arrangement into topics is seen though presented in an orderly manner Topics are given under distinct heads namely Aachara, Vyavahara and Prayaschitta.
Affiliation to Vedas Quotations presented in Dharmasutras show a predilection for certain Vedas or associated shakas Topics are far more uniform without any predilection towards any Veda.
Relationship with other Sutragranthas Typically dharmasutras closely resemble other Sutragranthas namely Grhyasutras of a particular Veda No resemblance to other granthas.

Manava Dharmashastra

Another point of debate among the scholars is whether the book named Manava-dharmashastra (मनव-धर्मशास्त्रम्) and Manusmrti are one and the same. Both these texts have been authored by Manu, who is considered as the Adipurusha (first in the human race), as per Samhita and Brahmanas. However, the aspects found in Manava-dharmashastra, which are found in other ancient texts, are not to be seen in Manusmrti. Hence is believed by scholars that Manava-dharmashastra and Manusmrti are two different texts and that Manusmrti is founded on the principles given in Manava-dharmashastra.[1]

Number of Smritis

Of such law-givers Manu, Yajnavalkya and Parasara are the most celebrated. Hindu society is founded on, and governed by the laws made by these three great seers. Of the Manu Smrti, Yajnavalkya Smrti (याज्ञवल्क्यस्मृतिः) and Parasara Smrti, Manu is the oldest law-giver. The Yajnavalkya Smriti follows the same general lines as the Manu Smriti and is next in importance to it. Manu Smriti and Yajnavalkya Smriti are universally accepted at the present time as authoritative works all over India. Yajnavalkya Smriti is chiefly consulted in all matters of Hindu Law and finds application in the Judicial System of the Government of India.

In ancient times the number of Smrtis must have been small.[24]

  • Gautama mentions only Manu, although he speaks of dharmashastras (9.19).
  • Vashishta names 5 smrtikaras - Gautama, Prajapati, Manu, Yama and Harita.
  • Manu speaks of six authors besides himself namely - Atri, son of Utathya, Bhrugu, Vashishta, Vaikhanasa and Saunaka.
  • Baudhayana names seven besides himself, as the authors of dharma.
  • Apastamba mentions 10 smritikaras, some of whom are mere names their works are not available.

There are eighteen main Smritis or Dharma Shastras, accepted by many scholars, however, as seen in the case of many other texts there are different versions of Smrti granthas. Yajnavalkya Smrti is probably one of the earliest Smrti which enumerated twenty expounders of dharma (including himself and counting Shanka and Likhita as two distinct persons) as seen in the following list[24]

मन्वत्रिविष्णुहारीत याज्ञवल्क्योशनोऽङ्गिराः । यमापस्तम्बसंवर्ताः कात्यायनबृहस्पती । । १.४ । । (Yajn. Smrt. 1.4)[29]

manvatriviṣṇuhārīta yājñavalkyośano'ṅgirāḥ । yamāpastambasaṁvartāḥ kātyāyanabr̥haspatī । । 1.4 । ।

पराशरव्यासशङ्ख लिखिता दक्षगौतमौ । शातातपो वसिष्ठश्च धर्मशास्त्रप्रयोजकाः । । १.५ । । (Yajn. Smrt. 1.5)

parāśaravyāsaśaṅkha likhitā dakṣagautamau । śātātapo vasiṣṭhaśca dharmaśāstraprayojakāḥ । । 1.5 । ।

  • Manu Smrti
  • Atri Smrti
  • Vishnu Smrti
  • Harita Smrti
  • Yajnavalkya Smrti
  • Ushanas Smrti
  • Angira Smrti
  • Yama Smrti
  • Apastamba Smrti
  • Samvarta Smrti
  • Katyayana Smrti
  • Brhaspati Smrti
  • Parashara Smrti
  • Vyasa Smrti
  • Shanka-Likhita Smrti
  • Daksha Smrti
  • Gautama Smrti
  • Shatatapa Smrti
  • Vasishta Smrti

According to Sri. Chandrasekharendra Mahaswamiji,[16] there are 18 Smrtis given by - Manu, Parasara, Yajnavalkya, Gautama, Harita, Yama, Visnu, Sankha, Likhita, Brhaspati, Daksa, Angiras, Pracetas, Samvarta, Acanas, Atri, Apastamba and Satatapa are the eighteen sages who mastered the Vedas with their superhuman power and derived the Smrtis from them.

According to Dr. Gopal Reddy[1], the eighteen Smrtikartas are Manu, Yajnavalkya, Atri, Vishnu, Harita, Ushanas, Angira, Yama, Katyayana, Brhaspati, Parasara, Vyasa, Daksha, Gautama, Vasishta, Narada, Bhrgu, and Angirasa.

Swami Sivananda[26], mentions that the eighteen Smrtis are those of Manu, Yajnavalkya, Parasara, Vishnu, Daksha, Samvarta, Vyasa, Harita, Satatapa, Vasishtha, Yama, Apastamba, Gautama, Devala, Sankha-Likhita, Usana, Atri and Saunaka.

The laws of Manu are intended for the Satya Yuga, those of Yajnavalkya are for the Treta Yuga; those of Sankha and Likhita are for the Dvapara Yuga; and those of Parasara are for the Kali Yuga. The laws and rules which are based entirely upon our social positions, time and clime, must change with the changes in society and changing conditions of time and clime. Then only the progress of the Hindu society can be ensured.[26]

Other Smrti Works

Apart from these major texts, other works like Anukramanikas, Pratisakhyas, Dharmashastra Nibandhas like Nirnayasindhu, Dharmasindhu etc, Tamil vedas among other texts have expanded largely for the guidance of people to interpret the various aspects given in above discussed Smrti texts.

अनुक्रमणिकाः || Anukramanikas

For the protection of Veda mantras Anukramanika granthas (अनुक्रमणिकाग्रन्था-s) have been compiled. These Anukramanikas are lists that contain concise information about the Veda mantra's rishi, chandas and devatas. The most important rishis who contributed to creation of these lists include - Shaunaka (शौनकः), Katyayana (कात्यायनः). Though these Anukramanikas are not included Vedangas, these play an important role in the protection of vedas.

In Rigveda, the rishi, chandas, devata, anuvaka (अनुवाकः), sukta (अनुवाकः) number, the name and important features are compiled in structured manner, in Anustup chandas (अनुष्टुप् छन्दस्). The phalasiddhi (फलसिद्धिः | benefits) of chanting particular mantras is also explained in detail. Such texts are available for other vedas also (Page 94 and 95 of Reference [1]).


Kanchi Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Paramacharya, explains that some Smrtis do not contain instructions with regard to all observances. The matters explained in one Smrti may not be found in an other, thus giving rise to doubts in acharas which are to be cleared by using the works called "Dharmashastra Nibandhanas". These nibandhanas do not leave out any rite or dharma. Nirnayasindhu (by Kamalakara Bhatta), Vaidyanatha Dikshitiyam, Dharmasindhu are accepted and referred to authoritative texts in the present day.[16]

संवादः || Discussion

Traditionally, the Chaturdasha vidyas consider Puranas, Nyaya, Mimamsa and Dharmashastras as Veda Upangas.[14][16] However, due to similarity of names a few questions arise here

  1. Nyaya and Mimamsa shastras are mentioned under the classification of Shad Darsanas and as those among the Veda Upangas.
  2. Dharmasutras are given in Kalpas (as Vedangas) and Dharmashastras are mentioned as one among the Veda Upangas.

What are included in these texts?

Dr. N. Sivasenani of University of Hyderabad, presents a few thoughts about these questions

"Nyaya" should be taken to mean Nyaya-Vaiseshika-Sankhya and Yoga​; and Mimamsa covers both Purva- and Uttara-mimamsas. Why should it be so? Based on the context. Further, Puranas include Mahabharata and Ramayana."

"​In the Vedanga Kalpas, there are four kinds of Sutras - Shrauta- (dealing with vedic rites), Grhya- (dealing with 16 samskaras)-, Dharma- (dealing with secular matters) and Shulba-​ sutras. However, of these, Dharmasutras got expanded tremendously. Firstly, there are the eighteen Smritis - like Manusmriti, Yajnavalkyasmriti and so on. Note that this enumeration is a Srmiti-work and not a Sutra-work such as Apastambasutras of Kalpas. Then these have further been expanded by huge commentaries. Further, omnibus volumes of "Nibandhas" came into existence which are a compilation of views of various Smritis and other authorities. Then since Nibandhas grew in volume, condensed manuals combining Srauta-, Grihya- and Dharma- sutra elements like Nirnayasindhu and Dharmasindhu came about. So much so that today, Dharmasindhu is usually the first and last reference when a question of Dharma arises (example: when is Sivaratri this year or who are sapindas). Since this part alone grew in volume, it is listed separately under Dharmashastras."

To summarize

  • It can be said that Nyaya and Mimamsa are Upangas (Chaturdasha Vidyas) and Darshana shastras (Shad Darsanas) and based on Vedas. The Dharmasutras of Kalpa Vedanga and the Dharmashastras of Upangas are the same texts. [12]
  • Dharmasutras given under Kalpa Vedanga, for example : Apasthamba sutras (आपस्तम्बसूत्र-s) refer mainly to sutra works of dharmas associated with specific shrauta yajnika kriyas (श्रौतयाज्ञिकक्रियाः). These have been hugely expanded into Dharma-shastras (Smritis works), for example : Manu smriti. These refer to dharmas applicable to man in general society.
  • While in Kalpas, Dharmasutras (classified under Vedanga) generally lay down the code of conduct to be followed by a person engaged in vaidika yagna kriyas, Dharmashastras (classified under Upangas) lay down the general moral code of conduct applicable to every human being. Also Dharmashastras include later day texts combining the different parts of Kalpas, codified into condensed versions as in Dharmasindhu and Nirnayasindhu (निर्णयसिन्धुः).
  • Mimamsa is divided into Purvamimamsa and Uttaramimamsa. Purva Mimamsa highlights the discriminating and decision making qualities of the Vedas by analysis. Here, Purva Mimamsa is generally what is considered for the term Mimamsa. Uttara Mimamsa is also called as Vedanta, which is classified under the Jnanakanda (ज्ञानकाण्डः).


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Gopal Reddy, Mudiganti and Sujata Reddy, Mudiganti (1997) Sanskrita Saahitya Charitra (Vaidika Vangmayam - Loukika Vangamayam, A critical approach) Hyderabad : P. S. Telugu University
  2. Swami Sivananda, All About Hinduism
  4. Venkateswara Rao. Potturi (2010) Paaramaathika Padakosam Hyderabad: Msko Books
  5. Upadhyaya, Baldev (1958) Vaidik Sahitya
  6. Mundakopanishad
  7. Introduction
  8. Panineeyasiksha (41 and 42)
  9. Dr. S. Yegnasubramanian, The Vedangas (Organs of the Vedas).
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Vishnupurana (Amsha 3 Adhyaya 6)
  11. Introduction to Upavedas
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Shri, Satya. (2017) Demystifying Brahminism and Reinventing Hinduism: Vol 1. Chennai: Notion Press
  13. 13.0 13.1 Shri. Kishore Mishra's Article : Vaidik Vangmay ka Shastriya Swaroop in Vedic Heritage Portal.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Venkateswara Rao. Potturi (2010) Paaramaathika Padakosam Hyderabad: Msko Books
  15. Vachaspatyam (Chaturdashavidyas)
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamiji, (2000) Hindu Dharma (Collection of Swamiji's Speeches between 1907 to 1994)Mumbai : Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 18 Puranas - English Translation by Dharmic Scriptures Team Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name ":022" defined multiple times with different content
  18. Padma Purana (Khanda 6 (Uttara Khanda) Adhyaya 236) in
  19. Garuda Purana (Acharakanda Adhyaya 223)
  20. Kurma Puranam (Purvabhaga, Adhyaya 1)
  21. Upapurana List from Shabdakalpadhurma
  22. 22.0 22.1 Sanatana Dharma : An Advanced Textbook of Hindu Religion and Ethics. (1903) Benares : The Board of Trustees, Central Hindu College
  23. Malladi, Sri. Suryanarayana Sastry (1982) Samskruta Vangmaya Charitra, Volume 2 Laukika Vangmayam Hyderabad : Andhra Sarasvata Parishad
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 Kane, Pandurang. Vaman. (1930) History of Dharmasastra, Volume One. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute
  25. Sinha, Nandalal (1915) The Sacred Books of the Hindus : The Samkhya Philosophy. (Volume XI). Allahabad : The Panini Office
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Swami Sivananda, All about Hinduism
  27. Manu Smrti (Adhyaya 12)
  28. Banerji, Sures Chandra. (1962) Dharmasutras, A Study in their Origin and Development. Calcutta : Punthi Pustak
  29. Yajnavalkya Smrti (Adhyaya 1 Acharaadhyaya)