Smruti & Srushti

The proverbial chicken and egg of philosophy. What came first? The image/concept /thought : Smruti. Or was it the creation, nature, the substantive form : Shrusti.

Let us explore this a little further. It is said that before a chair (or any object for that matter) is made, there must be a design, a form, an outline in the mind of the carpenter. Then only can he set out to make the physical chair, guided by his “Smruti”. To the proponents of Smruti, the mind/the inner eye/the visualization is all powerful. Indeed it is where it all begins: as without a concept in the mind what will you create in the physical sense? This is an argument forwarded by the Believers to prove the very existence of God. How could the world have come into existence unless God/Jehovah/Allah/Bhagwan first thought of it. And then made it: brought it into existence. So Smruti first.

The professors of Shrusti would ask: from where does the dream, the concept,the thought come? The thought must come from something substantial, concrete and solid: an outcome of Shrusti. Smruti happens within Srusti, to Adam or the Purusha who has to precede the conceptualization. So without creation, Smruti does not exist. After all Smruti of what? it is the dream or abstraction of Shrusti. An interesting argument put forth by this group is : if I were standing within touching distance of a tree and suppose I close my eyes: what happens to the tree? Does the tree still exist when I close my eyes? It is in my memory. But that is because I have seen the actual tree before. In the absence of Shrusti can Smruti exist?

Like most conundrums this one not have a definitive answer. Nevertheless we should be aware of the interplay of Smruti and Srushti (or Srushti and Smruti,if you will )as that is what creates the world around us as well as the world within us. (This I believe is the best way to understand the Hindu philosophical concept of “Maya”) Perception plays a substantial role in shaping the reality around us and within us. Blissfully sometimes we carry on unaware of the dynamic interplay and thus end up taking strong positions because we believe our worldview. What I am cautioning is that this could very well be only one side of the argument. And we need to pause and appreciate the other world view, even if it is not in support of our own.

The strident espousal of one approach, one way of thinking, one point of view is really putting all of us at risk. And at loggerheads. We must openly accept that your world view,your smruti and your shrusti can very well be different from mine.
That does not make mine weaker or less believable. Nor does it give an automatic superiority to yours. We need to dialogue to understand each others’ point of view. And chart out a way forward based on mutual discussions and understanding,rather than believing my point of view prevails above all.

Since we began with the simile of chicken and egg, let me end with a facile joke which answers this question of what comes first. When Pandu the simpleton in our village Sawantwadi was asked this moot question: what comes first the chicken of the egg? He pondered over the question for a while and then gave his famous pronouncement : “I am sure whatever you order first in the hotel will come first. So it could be chicken if ordered first: or the egg”!!!! So also in the Hotel “Maya” run by that Power you will get Shrusti or Smruti depending on what you have ordered!!! So relax and enjoy the experience….

This is my Shrusti and my Smruti.
May you discover yours: vikas