SMARTA tradition is a movement in
Hinduism that developed and
expanded with the
Puranas genre of literature.
This Puranic religion is notable for the domestic worship of five
shrines with five deities, all treated as equals:
Shakti (the mother goddess),
Ganesha (the lord of
Vishnu (the preserver) and
Surya (the god of the sun).
The Smarta tradition contrasted with the older
which was based on elaborate rituals and rites. There has been
considerable overlap in the ideas and practices of the Smarta
tradition with other significant historic movements within Hinduism,
Vaishnavism , and
The Smarta tradition developed during (early) Classical Period of
Hinduism around the beginning of the Common Era, when
from the interaction between Brahmanism and local traditions. The
Smarta tradition is aligned with
Advaita Vedanta , and regards Adi
Shankara as its founder or reformer. Shankara championed the ultimate
reality is impersonal and Nirguna (attributeless) and any symbolic god
serves the same equivalent purpose. Inspired by this belief, the
Smarta tradition followers, along with the five
Hindu gods include a
sixth impersonal god in their practice. The tradition has been called
by William Jackson as "advaitin, monistic in its outlook".
The term also refers to Brahmins who specialize in the
of texts named the Grihya Sutras, in contrast to
Smarta Brahmins with their focus on the
Smriti corpus, contrast from
Srauta Brahmins who specialize in the
Sruti corpus, that is rituals
and ceremonies that follow the
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 2.1 The Synthesis
* 2.2 Recognition of Smarta as a tradition
* 2.3 Smarta Brahmins
* 3 Philosophy and practices
* 3.1 Saguna and Nirguna
* 3.2 Panchayatana Puja
* 3.3 Shankara and
* 4 Texts
* 5 Institutions
* 5.1 Monasteries
* 5.2 Prominent Smarta teachers
* 6 Influence
* 7 See also
* 8 Notes
* 9 References
* 9.1 Bibliography
* 9.2 Web sources
* 10 External links
Smarta is an adjective derived from
स्मृति, Smṛti, IPA : ? ). The smriti are a specific
Hindu texts usually attributed to an author, traditionally
written down but constantly revised, in contrast to Śrutis (the Vedic
literature) considered authorless, that were transmitted verbally
across the generations and fixed.
Smarta has several meanings:
* Relating to memory
* Recorded in or based on the
* Based on tradition, prescribed or sanctioned by traditional law
Brahmin versed in or guided by traditional law and
In Smarta tradition context, the term Smarta means "follower of
Smriti". Smarta is specially associated with a "sect founded by
Shankaracharya ", states Monier Williams.
Part of a series on
Concepts GOD / HIGHEST REALITY
* God in
* God and gender
* Niti shastra
Schools SIX ASTIKA SCHOOLS
OTHER MAJOR DEVIS / DEVAS
Texts SCRIPTURES VEDAS
OTHER TEXTS VEDANGAS
* BHAGAVATA PURANA
SHASTRAS AND SUTRAS
* Swara yoga
* TIMELINE OF HINDU TEXTS
MEDITATION AND CHARITY
RITES OF PASSAGE
* Ashrama :
* Ratha Yatra
Gurus, saints, philosophers ANCIENT
* Kumarila Bhatta
* Śyāma Śastri
* Mahesh Yogi
U. G. Krishnamurti
* Sai Baba
Ramachandra Dattatrya Ranade
* Nationalism (
* Pilgrimage sites
Hinduism and Jainism / and Judaism
Hinduism by country
* Glossary of
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See also Late Middle Kingdoms - The Late-Classical Age and Classical
Hinduism (c. 200 BC - AD 1100)
Vedanga texts, states
Alf Hiltebeitel , are
Smriti texts that
were composed in the second half of the Vedic period that ended around
500 BCE. The
Vedanga texts include the
Kalpa (Vedanga) texts
consisting of the Srautasutras, Grihyasutras and Dharmasutras, many of
which were revised well past the Vedic period. The Grihyasutras and
Dharmasutras, states Hiltebeitel, were composed between 600 BCE and
400 CE, and these are sometimes called the Smartasutras, the roots of
Smriti tradition. The
Smriti texts accept the knowledge in the
Sruti (Vedas), but they interpret it in a number of ways, which gave
rise to six darsanas (orthodox schools) of
Hindu philosophy . Of
these, states Hiltebeitel, the
Vedanta have sometimes been
called the Smarta schools which emphasize the
Vedas with reason and
other pramanas , in contrast to Haituka schools which emphasize hetu
(cause, reason) independent of the
Vedas while accepting the authority
of the Vedas. Of the two Smarta traditions,
Mimamsa focussed on
Vedic ritual traditions, while
Vedanta focussed on Upanishadic
Around the start of the common era, and thereafter, a syncretism of
Haituka schools (Nyaya, Vaisheshika,
Samkhya and Yoga), the Smarta
schools (Mimamsa, Vedanta) with ancient theistic ideas (bhakti,
tantric) gave rise to a growth in traditions such as
Shaktism . Hiltebeitel and Flood locate the origins
of a revived orthodox
Smarta Tradition in the (early) Classical Period
of Hinduism, particularly with nondualist (Advaita) interpretation of
Vedanta, around the time when different
Hindu traditions emerged from
the interaction between Brahmanism and local traditions.
Smarta Tradition attempted to integrate varied and
conflicting devotional practices, with its ideas of nondual experience
of Atman (self, soul) as
Brahman . The rapprochement included the
practice of pancayatana-puja (five shrine worship), wherein a Hindu
could focus on any saguna deity of choice (istadevata) such as Vishnu,
Surya or Ganesha, as an interim step towards realizing
the nirguna Brahman. The growth of this
Smarta Tradition began in the
Gupta period (4th-5th century CE), and likely was dominated by Dvija
classes, in particular the Brahmins , of the early medieval Indian
Smarta Tradition competed with other major traditions
Hinduism such as Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism. The ideas of
Smarta Tradition were historically influential, creative with concepts
such as of
Harihara (half Shiva, half
Vishnu deity) and
Ardhanarishvara (half woman, half man deity), and many of the major
scholars of Shaivism, Vaishnavism,
Bhakti movement came
out of the Smarta Tradition.
RECOGNITION OF SMARTA AS A TRADITION
Medieval era scholars such as
Vedanta Desika and Vallabhacharya
Smarta Tradition as competing with
Vaishnavism and other
traditions. According to Jeffrey Timm, for example, in verse 10 of the
Vallabhacharya states that, "Mutually
contradictory conclusions are non-contradictory when they are
considered from their respective contexts, like Vaishnava, Smarta,
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The adjective Smārta is also used to classify a
Brahmin who adheres
Smriti corpus of texts.
Smarta Brahmins specialize in the
Smriti corpus of texts, are
differentiated from Srauta Brahmins who specialize in the
of texts such as the Brahmanas layer embedded inside the
Smarta Brahmins are also differentiated from Brahmins who specialize
in the Agamic (non-Vedic,
Tantra ) literature such as the Adi Shaiva
Brahmins, Sri Vaishnava Brahmins and Shaiva
Kashmiri Pandits .
However, these identities are not clearly defined, and active groups
such as "Agamic Smarta Saiva Brahmins" have thrived.They are also
called as Sthaneeka brahmins or Sthanika tulu brahmins.
PHILOSOPHY AND PRACTICES
SAGUNA AND NIRGUNA BRAHMAN
According to Smartism, supreme reality, Brahman, transcends all of
the various forms of personal deity. The Smartas follow an orthodox
Hindu philosophy, which means they accept the Vedas, and the
ontological concepts of Atman and
Smarta Tradition accepts two concepts of Brahman, which are the
Brahman – the
Brahman with attributes, and nirguna Brahman
Brahman without attributes. The nirguna
Brahman is the
unchanging Reality, however, the saguna
Brahman is posited as a means
to realizing this nirguna Brahman. The concept of the saguna Brahman
is considered in this tradition to be a useful symbolism and means for
those who are still on their spiritual journey, but the saguna concept
is abandoned by the fully enlightened once he or she realizes the
identity of their own soul with that of the nirguna Brahman. A Smarta
may choose any saguna deity (istadevata) such as Vishnu, Shiva, Durga,
Ganesha or any other, and this is viewed in
Smarta Tradition as
an interim step towards realizing the nirguna
Brahman and its
equivalence to one's own Atman.
The Smartas evolved a kind of worship which is known as Panchayatana
puja . In this Puja, one or more of the five
Hindu Deities (
Devi or Shakti) are the objects of
veneration. The five symbols of the major Gods are placed on a round
open metal dish called Panchayatana, the symbol of the deity preferred
by the worshiper being in the center. A similar arrangement is also
seen in the medieval temples, in which the central shrine housing the
principal Deity is surrounded by four smaller shrines containing the
figures of the other deities. Some of the Smartas of South India add
a sixth god
Shanmata ). According to Basham , "any
upper-class Hindus still prefer the way of the Smartas to Saiva and
Vaisnava forms of worship".
SHANKARA AND ADVAITA VEDANTA
Adi Shankara and
Adi Shankaracharya (8th century) is regarded as
the greatest teacher and reformer of the Smarta.
According to Hiltebeitel,
Adi Shankara Acharya established the
nondualist interpretation of the
Upanishads as the touchstone of a
revived smarta tradition:
Adi Shankara Acharya fostered a rapprochement between
Advaita and smarta orthodoxy, which by his time had not only continued
to defend the varnasramadharma theory as defining the path of karman,
but had developed the practice of pancayatanapuja ("five-shrine
worship") as a solution to varied and conflicting devotional
practices. Thus one could worship any one of five deities (Vishnu,
Siva, Durga, Surya, Ganesa) as one's istadevata ("deity of choice").
Smartas follow the
Hindu scriptures . Like all traditions within
Hinduism, they accept as an epistemic premise that
literature) is a reliable source of knowledge. The
Vedas including its four layers of embedded texts - the
Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas and the early Upanishads. Of
Upanishads are the most referred to texts.
The identity of Atman and Brahman, and their unchanging, eternal
nature, are the basic truths in this tradition. The emphasis in Vedic
texts here is the jnana-kanda (knowledge, philosophical speculations)
in the Upanishadic part of the Vedas, not its karma-kanda (ritual
injunctions). Along with the Upanishads, the
Bhagavad Gita and Brahma
Sutras are the central texts of the
Advaita Vedanta tradition,
providing the truths about the identity of Atman and
Brahman and their
The Brahmasutra is considered as the
Nyaya Prasthana (canonical base
for reasoning). The
Bhagavad Gita is considered as the Smriti
Prasthana. The text relies on other Smritis, such as the
Puranas and others. Some of this smriti
literature incorporated shramanic and Buddhist influences of the
period from about 200 BC to about AD 300 and the emerging bhakti
tradition into the Brahmanical fold.
The Vidyashankara temple at
Sringeri Sharada Peetham,
Karnataka , a historic center of the Smarta Tradition.
Smarta Tradition includes temples and monasteries. More Smarta
temples are found in West and South India, than in North India.
Adi Shankara is one of the leading scholars of the Smarta Tradition,
and he founded some of the most famous monasteries in Hinduism. These
have hosted the Daśanāmi Sampradāya under four Maṭhas, with the
Dwarka in the West,
Jagannatha Puri in the East,
Sringeri in the South and
Badrinath in the North. Each math was
headed by one of his disciples, called Shankaracharya, who each
independently continued the
Advaita Vedanta Sampradaya. The ten
Shankara-linked Advaita monastic orders are distributed as follows:
Bharati, Puri and
Saraswati at Sringeri, Aranya and Vana at Puri,
Tirtha and Ashrama at Dwarka, and Giri, Parvata and Sagara at
The mathas which Shankara built exist until today, and continue the
teachings and influence of Shankara.
The table below gives an overview of the four largest Advaita Mathas
founded by Adi Shankara, and their details. However, evidence
suggests that Shankara established more mathas locally for Vedanta
studies and its propagation, states Hartmut Scharfe, such as the "four
mathas in the city of
Trichur alone, that were headed by Trotaka,
Sureshvara, Hastamalaka and Padmapada".
Sringeri Sharada monastery founded by Jagatguru Sri Adi
Karnataka is the centre of the Smarta sect.
Prajñānam brahma (Consciousness is Brahman)
Sringeri Śārada Pīṭhaṃ
Aham brahmāsmi (I am Brahman)
Tattvamasi (That thou art)
Ayamātmā brahma (This Atman is Brahman)
Advaita Vedanta mathas following
Smarta Tradition include:
Matha at Swarnavalli near
Sodhe , Sirsi,
Ramachandrapura Math at Haniya,
Hosanagara , Karnataka
Kanchi matha , at
Chitrapur Math ,
Shri Gaudapadacharya Math ,
Kavale , Ponda , Goa
* Sri Samsthan Dabholi Math , Dabholi , Goa
PROMINENT SMARTA TEACHERS
Some of the prominent Smarta teachers:
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Vaitheespara notes the adherence of the Smarta Brahmans to "the
pan-Indian Sanskrit-brahmanical tradition" and their influence on
The emerging pan-Indian nationalism was clearly founded upon a number
of cultural movements that, for the most part, reimagined an
'Aryo-centric', neo-brahmanical vision of India, which provided the
'ideology' for this hegemonic project. In the Tamil region, such a
vision and ideology was closely associated with the Tamil Brahmans
and, especially, the Smarta Brahmans who were considered the strongest
adherents of the pan-Indian Sanskrit-Brahmanical tradition.
* ^ By contrast, the dualistic Vaishnava traditions consider Vishnu
Krishna to be the supreme God who grants salvation. Similarly, the
dualistic subtradition of
Shaiva Siddhanta holds the same beliefs
Shiva . Other traditions of Shaivism, Vaishnavism,
a spectrum of beliefs between dualism and nondualism.
* ^ Shankara himself, and his influential predecessor
used Buddhist terminology and mention Buddhist doctrines in their
work, suggesting that they were influenced by Buddhism. Gaudapada,
states Raju took over the Buddhist doctrines that ultimate reality is
pure consciousness (vijñapti-mātra) and "that the nature of the
world is the four-cornered negation", then "wove into a philosophy of
the Mandukaya Upanisad, which was further developed by Shankara". In
Gaudapada's text, similarly, the Buddhist concept of "ajāta" from
Madhyamaka philosophy is found. In contrast, other
scholars such as Murti, assert that while there is borrowed
terminology, Gaudapada's doctrines are unlike Buddhism. Gaudapada's
influential text consists of four chapters; Chapter One, Two and Three
of which are entirely Vedantin and founded on the Upanishads, with
little Buddhist flavor. Chapter Four uses Buddhist terminology and
incorporates Buddhist doctrines, state both
Murti and Richard King,
Vedanta scholars who followed
Gaudapada through the 17th century
never referenced nor used Chapter Four, they only quote from the first
Gaudapada tradition is Vedantin with its foundation of
Atman and Brahman, and his doctrines fundamentally different from
Buddhism which deny these foundational concepts of Hinduism.
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