What is Smarthism?

There are four main sects or practices Hinduism Shaivism, Saktism, Vaishnavism and Smarthism.

Smarthism is an ancient Brahminical tradition reformed by Sankara in the ninth century. The wordSmartas means those who follow the Smriti or dharma Sastras. Smartas follow the Smriti literature, particularly Dharma Shastra, Puranas and the Ithihasas. They worship five forms of God and also revere the Vedas and the Agamas. These are Shiva, Vishnu, Ganapathi, Surya and Shakti and this system is called Panchayatana.  Sankara reformed the sect and today the sect is synonymous with Adi Shankara’s monistic, meditative and philosophical theories. Kumara was further added by Shankara’s reform. The five-sect system of Smartas is that in which the deities can be chosen as one’s own personal and preferred deity (Ishta Devata). Smarta sect is the liberal branch of current day Hinduism that believes in attainment of salvation through mainly Jnana yoga. However other Yogas like Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga and Raja Yoga are also believed to bring enlightenment. Jnana Yoga involves the study of scriptures (shravana), reflection (manana) and sustained meditation (dhyana).

Most Smarta – liberal Hindus believe that moksha is achieved through Jnana yoga alone – defined as an intellectual and meditative but non-kundalini-yoga path. Jnana yoga’s progressive stages are scriptural study [sravana], reflection [manana] and sustained meditation [dhyana]. Guided by a realized guru and avowed to the unreality of the world, the initiate meditates on himself as Brahman to break through the illusion of Maya. Devotees may also choose from three other non-successive paths to cultivate devotion. accrue good karma and purify the mind. These are Bhakthi yogaKarma yoga andRaja yoga, which certain Smartas teach, can also bring enlightenment.

[Source : www.gsbkerala.com]

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