Śruti

Shruti or Shruthi (Sanskrit: श्रुति, IAST: Śruti, IPA: [ɕɽʊtɪ]) in Sanskrit means "that which is heard" and refers to the body of most authoritative, ancient religious texts comprising the central canon of Hinduism.[1] It includes the four Vedas including its four types of embedded texts—the Samhitas, the early Upanishads.[2]

Śrutis have been variously described as a revelation through anubhava (direct experience),[3] or of primordial origins realized by ancient Rishis.[1] In Hindu tradition, they have been referred to as apauruṣeya (authorless).[4] The Śruti texts themselves assert that they were skillfully created by Rishis (sages), after inspired creativity, just as a carpenter builds a chariot.[5]

All six orthodox schools of Hinduism accept the authority of śruti,[6][note 1] but many scholars in these schools denied that the śrutis are divine.[8][9] Nāstika (heterodox) philosophies such as the Cārvākas did not accept the authority of the śrutis and considered them to be flawed human works.[10][11]

Shruti (Śruti) differs from other sources of Hindu philosophy, particularly smṛti "which is remembered" or textual material. These works span much of the history of Hinduism, beginning with the earliest known texts and ending in the early historical period with the later Upanishads.[12] Of the śrutis, the Upanishads alone are widely known, and the central ideas of the Upanishadic śrutis are at the spiritual core of Hindus.[13][14]

Etymology

The Sanskrit word "श्रुति" (IAST: Śruti, IPA: [ɕɽʊt̪ɪ]) has multiple meanings depending on context. It means "hearing, listening", a call to "listen to a speech", any form of communication that is aggregate of sounds (news, report, rumor, noise, hearsay).[15] The word is also found in ancient geometry texts of India, where it means "the diagonal of a tetragon or hypotenuse of a triangle",[15] and is a synonym of karna.[16] The word śruti is also found in ancient Indian music literature, where it means "a particular division of the octave, a quarter tone or interval" out of twenty-two enumerated major tones, minor tones, and semitones.[15] In music, it refers the smallest measure of sound a human being can detect, and the set of twenty-two śruti and forty four half Shruti, stretching from about 250 Hz to 500 Hz, is called the Shruti octave.[17]

In scholarly works on Hinduism, śruti refers to ancient Vedic texts from India. Monier-Williams[15] traces the contextual history of this meaning of śruti as, "which has been heard or communicated from the beginning, sacred knowledge that was only heard and verbally transmitted from generation to generation, the Veda, from earliest Rishis (sages) in Vedic tradition.[1] In scholarly literature, Śruti is also spelled as Shruti.[18][19][20]