Next in importance to the Sruti are the Smritis or secondary scriptures. These are the ancient
sacred law-codes of the Hindus dealing with the Sanatana-Varnasrama-Dharma. They supplement
and explain the ritualistic injunctions called Vidhisin the Vedas. The Smriti Sastra is founded on the
Sruti. The Smritis are based on the teachings of the Vedas. The Smriti stands next in authority to the
Sruti. It explains and develops Dharma. It lays down the laws which regulate Hindu national, social,
family and individual obligations.
The works which are expressly called Smritis are the law books, Dharma Sastras. Smriti, in
a broader sense, covers all Hindu Sastras save the Vedas.
The laws for regulating Hindu society from time to time are codified in the Smritis. The
Smritis have laid down definite rules and laws to guide the individuals and communities in their
daily conduct and to regulate their manners and customs. The Smritis have given detailed
instructions, according to the conditions of the time, to all classes of men regarding their duties in
The Hindu learns how he has to spend his whole life from these Smritis. The duties of
Varnasrama and all ceremonies are clearly given in these books. The Smritis prescribe certain acts
and prohibit some others for a Hindu, according to his birth and stage of life. The object of the
Smritis is to purify the heart of man and take him gradually to the supreme abode of immortality and
make him 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 sages of
different ages and different parts of India.