"Smartism" (or Smarta
Sampradaya, "Smarta Tradition", as termed in Sanskrit) is a denomination of the Hindu religion. The term Smarta refers to adherents who follow the Vedasand Shastras. They mainly follow the Advaita Vedantaphilosophy of Adi Shankara. But there have been instances when they have advocated or followed other philosophies.
Sanskrit, "Smārta" means "relating to memory, recorded in or based on the " Smrti", based on tradition, prescribed or sanctioned by traditional law or usage, (etc)", from the root "smr" ("remember"). "Smārta" is a vriddhiderivation of Smritijust as " Śrauta" is a "vriddhi" derivation of Śruti.
alient features of Smartism
Smartas are followers and propagators of "
Smriti" or religious texts derived from Vedic scriptures. It is from this that the name "smarta" is derived. This term is used with respect to a certain specialized category of Brahmins. Propagating texts derived directly from the Vedas, they are followers of ApastambaSutra (as opposed to others following Manu Smriti).It was Adi Shankaracharya who brought all the Vedic communities together. He removed the un-Vedic aspects that had crept into them. He said that any of the different Hindu gods could be worshipped, according to the prescriptions given in the smriti texts. He established that worship of various deities are compatible with Vedas and is not contradictory, since all are different manifestations of "Brahman". His ideas were accepted as he succeeded in convincing brahmins of his day, that this is exactly what was indicated by the Vedas.
God, according to Smartas who happen to follow Advaita philosophy, is both
Sagunaand Nirguna. As a Nirguna he is pure consciousness dissociated from matter. He (the gender itself is meaningless here) has no attributes, and has no form. As a Saguna, there is quality that can be attributed. He is infinite and thus can have a multitude of attributes. Accordingly, the scriptures hold that Vishnuand Shivaare ultimately the same. The Smarta theologians have cited many references to support this point. For example, they interpret verses in both the Shri Rudram, the most sacred mantra in Shaivism, and the Vishnu Sahasranama, one of the most sacred prayers in Vaishnavism, to show this unity. Vishnu Puranacarries a story about how Maha Vishnubecomes Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. In other words, these forms and names are just different manifestations of Nirguna Brahman — the Ultimate Reality.
One of the previous Shankaracharya of Sringeri Math,
Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati(1892 - 1954), commentating on this, said. "you cannot see the feet of the Lord, why do you waste your time debating about the nature of His face?" [ [http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/avhp/ad_faq.html#8 Advaita Vedanta FAQ] ]
It is most essential for Smarta Brahmins to specialize in the
Karma Kandaof the Vedasand associated rituals diligently, and to teach the subsequent generations. This is the only reason that these families continue to be called Smartas.
hanmata and influence on contemporary Hinduism
Adi Shankarapropagated the tradition of " Shanmata" ( Sanskrit, meaning Six Opinions). In this six major deities are worshipped. This is based on the belief in the essential sameness of all deities, the unity of Godhead, and their conceptualization of the myriad deities of Indiaas various manifestations of the one divine power, Brahman. Smartas accept and worship the six manifestations of God, ( Ganesha, Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, Suryaand Skanda) and the choice of the nature of God is up to the individual worshipper since different manifestations of God are held to be equivalent.Many Hindus, who may not understand or follow Advaita philosophy, in contemporary Hinduism, invariably follow the Shanmata belief worshiping many forms of God. One commentator, noting the influence of the Smarta tradition, remarked that although many Hindus may not strictly identify themselves as Smartas but, by adhering to Advaita Vedantaas a foundation for non-sectarianism, are indirect followers. [ [http://hinduism.iskcon.com/tradition/1204.htm Heart of Hinduism: The Smarta Tradition ] ] Additionally, many of the Hindu teachers of the modern era such as Ramakrishna, with the notable exception of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Vaishnava founder of the Hare Krishna movement, all had teachings that were in accord with this tradition. The Smarta view dominates the view of Hinduismin the West. Smartas believe that Brahmanis essentially attribute-less ( nirguna), all attributes ( gunas) equally belong to It, within empirical reality [ [http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/avhp/ad_faq.html#8 Advaita Vedanta FAQ] ] .
Differences with other Hindu denominations
Smartas believe that the worshipper is free to chose a particular aspect of God to worship. By contrast, a Vaishnavite considers
Vishnuor Krishnato be the true God who is worthy of worship and other forms as his subordinates. Accordingly, Vaishnavites, for example, believe that only Vishnu or Krishna can grant the ultimate salvation for mankind, moksha. Similarly, many Shaivites also hold similar beliefs about Shiva. Notably, many Shaivites believe that Shaktiis worshipped to reach Shiva, whom for Shaktas is the impersonal Absolute. In Shaktism, emphasis is given to the feminine manifest through which the male unmanifested, Lord Shiva, is realized.
Smartas, like many Shaivites and Vaishnavites, consider
Suryato be an aspect of God. Many Shaivites and Vaishnavites, for example, differ from Smartas, in that they regard Surya as an aspect of Shiva and Vishnu, respectively. For example, the sun is called Surya Narayanaby Vaishnavites. In Saivite theology, the sun is said to be one of eight forms of Shiva, the Astamurti. Additionally, Ganesh and Skanda, for many Shaivites, would be aspects of Shakti and Shiva, respectively.
The Smartas hold practice of
Dharmamore important than beliefs. This is a distinct feature of the Dharmic religions. The practices include mainly Yajnas. The daily routine [ [http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part19/chap10.htm A day in the life of a Brahmin] ] includes performing
Puja(see Panchayatana Puja, below)
The last two named
Yajnasare performed in only a few households today. Brahmacharisperform:
Agnikaryaminstead of Agnihotraor Aupasana.
The other rituals followed include Amavasya tarpanam and
Most Smartas worship at least one of the following Gods:
Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesha, Surya, Devi(e.g.- Lakshmi, Saraswati, Durga, Kali), and/or Skanda.
Adi Shankaracharya recommended the Smartas to follow
Panchayatanaworship. This pujaor worship includes the worship of the first five deities mentioned above. (In Tamil Nadu Skanda is also worshipped). In this form of worship, the favorite family deity is placed in the center. All other Gods were placed around this central God and worshipped.
There are different sets of rules for each stage of an individual's life. The stages of life prescribed in the Vedic scriptures are
BrahmacharyaAshrama, GrihasthaAshrama, VanaprasthaAshrama and SannyasaAshrama.
All Smartas who take up the
Brahmacharya Ashramaby undergoing Upanayana, are expected to learn the Vedasand Shastrasbesides leading a celibate Life. They are expected to adhere to a sattvic dietand adhere to other rules of the Smrititradition of their respective families.
Smartas are recommended to follow the "Brahma" form of Vedic marriage (a type of arranged marriage). The marriage ceremony is based on Vedic prescriptions. Women acquire the traditions of her husband's family.
The Shrauta Tradition
Traditionally the Smartas also follow the
Shrautatradition. The Shrauta tradition emphasises on performance of Yajnaswhich are described in the Vedas. Today there are not many Smartas who follow Shrauta tradition. However in the southern states the Shrauta tradition is believed to be strong.Fact|date=April 2008
Hindumissions that can be said to follow Smarta tradition are:
Divine Life Society
The Smarta worldview is influenced by Advaita philosophy.
Adi Shankaracharya, who founded the Advaita Mathasin Sringeri(Sharada Pītha), Dvaraka( Dwaraka Pītha), Puri(Govardhana Pītha) and Badrinath(Jyotirmaţha Pītha)kama, is considered to be the fountainhead of the Smarta tradition as it stands today. All the " Jagadgurus" (heads) of the Advaita Mathas(also known as "Shankara Mathas") are Smartas.
Some of the prominent Smarta Advaitins are:
Adi Shankaracharya and his four disciples,
Some of the later advaitins include:
Chandrashekarendra Saraswati, Jagadguru of kanchi kamakotimutt
The Music Trinity ("Sangeetha Mummoorthigal", in Tamil) in Smartism are Sri
Muthuswamy Dikshitar, Sri Shyama Shastry, Sri Tyagaraja. The famous song on Krishna, "alaipayude" is by Utthukadu Sri Venkatasubba Iyer, a Smarta. Many major carnatic musicians including Chembai, Semmangudi Srinivassa Iyer, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Violinmaestro Kunnakudi Vaidiyanathan, Veena Balachandar, Balamuralikrishna, Maharajapuram Santhanam, D.K Pattamaland MandolinSrinivas are all Smartas.
*Sreekanta was the founder of Siva Advaita.
Tyagaraja, a Smarta, was a Bhakti Saint and musical genius who inspired Hindus of many different sects. Deeply immersed in Bhakti, this devotee of Lord Rama, was acceptable to even non Smartas. In his compositions, the Saint is a simple and humble Bhakta. In one of his compositions he asks which one is better " Dvaitaor Advaita?". He leaves the question open. He belonged to that category of saints who believe in Bhakti as the path to God. In this sense his teachings were suitable to people of all the three major south Indian sects- Smartas, Sri Vaishanavas and Madhvas. His music was said to be so enchanting that even people of all sects, castes and creeds flocked to listen to him.
*The modern philosopher
Jiddu Krishnamurti, who was born in a Smarta Niyogifamily, refused to be tied down by his own tradition. Initially influenced by theosophy, he later moved away from even this. He believed in independently evaluating all spiritual questions and refusing to be tied down by any sect or tradition.
*Besides these there were a number of other Non Advaitic Scholars among Smartas prior to Shankaracharya.
Ramanujacharya, Madhavacharya, Vallabhacharyawere only some of the Smartas who broke away from the parent group and founded their own sects. The philosophy of the new sects was directed against the teachings of Advaita philosophy. The new sects distinguished themselves and separated from Smartas. These new groups followed different philosophies like Dvaita(dualism) and Vishishtadvaita(qualified monism) and also changed their rituals. Appaiah Deekshita, a Smarta Iyer, followed Sreekanta's Sivadvaitaphilosophy in his early days. This philosophy was similar to Vishishtadvaitaof the Sri Vaishnavas. Siva Advaita, however, considers Shiva to be the supreme God. Communities like the "Sri Vaishnavas", "Madhvas" and "Veera Saivas" are some of the other Hindu sects which have branched/broken away from the Smarta stream. A distinctive feature of these communities is the fact that none of them subscribe to Advaita. Some of these sects have also accepted people who came from outside the Smarta Brahmin fold; indeed, the Veera Saiva community includes non-Brahmins. Another feature of these sects is that they follow rituals recommended by their lineage of Gurus, which are different from the rituals of the Smartas.
Smartas follow the
Hindu scriptures. These include:
Vedas( Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Vedaand Atharva Veda). These are considered primary spiritual resources; every Brahminfamily is affiliated to one or more of the Vedas. The Upanishads, which are part of the Vedas, are often mentioned separately, given their especial importance as products of past intellectual ferment.The "Smritis" are religious books based on Vedas and are written by important Sages/ Rishis of the past. Each of them contains recommendations and practices unique to itself. The Book an individual followed depended on his family. Thus, ritual practices sometimes varied from family to family, depending on family tradition. Some of the more common religious law books were the Manu Smriti, the Apastamba Smritiand the Bodhyayana Smriti.The Puranascontain the lore and explanations of the theology of the Vedas. They are basically a collection of sacred historical events that were passed from one generation to the next in the form of mythological stories. Smarta philosophers use the puranas to get a better understanding of Vedas, but do not consider them as completely authentic texts. However, the eighteen Puranas are revered by Smartas, just like any other Hindus. Today the Puranas are the main inspiration for many Smartas.
Smartas also recite
Shlokas or Stotras (devotional hymns) composed by various Hindusaints and poets.
Smarta communities of South India are:
**Sankethi [ [http://www.sankethi.com/ Sankethis.com] ]
Moogooru Karnataka:"See: Kannada brahmins"
Namboothiris [ [http://www.namboothiri.com/ Namboothiri Websites Trust] ] ,
Chitrapur Saraswatsof Shirali, Karnataka.
*Gaud Saraswats of Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra, and Karnataka
Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins
* [http://www.sankaracharya.org Adi Sankaracharya and Advaita Vedanta Library]
* [http://www.advaita-vedanta.org Advaita Vedanta Homepage]
* [http://www.sringeri.net/ Jagadguru Mahasamsthanam, Sringeri Sharada Peetam]
* [http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/series/shankara_sampradaya/sankara_sampradayam_top.htm Shankara Sampradayam]
* [http://www.hinduism-today.com/archives/2003/10-12/44-49_four_sects.shtml Hinduism Today - Description of Smartism among the four major divisions of Hinduism.]
* [http://www.ikashmir.org/hindudharma/7.html Overview of the three major divisions, from the book, "Hindu Dharma",
Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and the three other schools devoted to Ganesh, Skandaand Surya.]
* [http://www.geocities.com/srigant/sitemap.html Six schools of smarta hinduism]
* [http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part14/chap9.htm Oneness of God]
* [http://hinduism.iskcon.com/tradition/1204.htm Description of smarta tradition.]
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