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Post Vedic Literature for UPSC, PPSC, SSC

Smriti Literature includes the following:
I. The Vedangas
II. The Epics
III. The Puranas
IV. The Dharmashastras


➢ Meaning of the word Vedangas: Limbs of the Vedas
➢ Vedangas are six auxiliary disciplines associated with the study and understanding of the Vedas.
➢ Shiksha (Phonetics):
○ Its aim is the teaching of the correct pronunciation of the Vedic hymns and mantras. Siksha is tongue of Vedas.
○ Oldest surviving phonetic textbooks are the Pratishakyas.
➢ Chandas (Metrics):
○ Pingala was the 1st person in ancient Indian to write on Chhandas (Chhanda Sutra)
➢ Vyakarana (Grammar):
○ Panini is the 1st known grammarian of India.
○ Panini wrote Ashtadhyayi (8 chapters): 1st book on grammar.
➢ Nirukta (Etymology):
○ Deals with the origin and meaning of the word.
○ Yaksha of 5th C. B.C. was the first scholar to deal with etymology.
○ It is the oldest dictionary of the world.
➢ Jyotish (Astrology):
○ science of tracking and predicting the movements of astronomical bodies in order to keep time.
○ Vedanga Jyotisha by Lagadh Muni is the oldest text on Jyotisha.
➢ Kalpa (rituals):
○ Deals with rituals.
○ Kalpa has four sub parts called Kalpasuthras:
Griha Sutras (Smartha suthras): deals with family ceremonies
■Shrautha sutra: deals with correct performance of these rituals
Sulva sutra: deal with the mathematical methodology to construct altar geometries for the Vedic rituals.
Baudhayana Shulba Sutra: oldest surviving Sulva suthra
■ Dharma Sutra: deals with varnas, ashramas etc.

The Epics

➢ By Maharishi Valmiki. He is also regarded as India’s First Poet.
➢ Initially it had 6000 verses, then 12000 and now it consists of 24,000 verses in seven books (Kandas).
➢ It is also called Adikavya.
➢ It inspired Tulsikrita Ramayan “Ram Charit Manas” in 1576 by Tulsi Das.

➢ It is the largest Epic.
➢ It is written by Ved Vyas.
➢ It has 100,000 verses.
➢ It has many names:
○ Jai Samhita
○ Shat Shastra Samhita (as it has 100,000 verses)
○ Pancham veda/ Fifth veda
➢ Mahabharata is divided into “Parvans”
➢ Bhagvat Gita is taken from “Bhism Parvan”
➢ “Shanti Parvan” is the largest Paravan

The Puranas

➢ Consist of history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography.
➢ Vyasa, the narrator of the Mahabharata, is traditionally considered the compiler of the Puranas
➢ There are 18 Puranas in number
➢ Important Puranas are:
○ Oldest Puranas: Matsya Purana
○ Other Puranas are Vishnu Purana, Garud Purana, Brāhma Purana, Skanda Puarana, Shiva Puranas, Bhagavata Purana

The Dharmashastras

Important Dharmashastra texts are:
➢ The Manusmriti: the most important and earliest metrical work of the Dharmasastra textual tradition.
➢ The Yajnavalkya Smriti: "best composed" and "most homogeneous" text of the Dharmaśāstra tradition, with its superior vocabulary and level of sophistication.
➢ The Naradasmriti:“juridical text par excellence” and deals solely with juridical matters and ignoring those of righteous conduct and penance.
➢ The Visnusmrti: one of the latest books of the Dharmasastra and also the only one which does not deal directly with the means of knowing dharma, focusing instead on the bhakti tradition.

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