Vishnu Smriti

Vishnu Smriti is one of the latest books of the Dharmasastras tradition in Hinduism and the only one which does not deal directly with the means of knowing dharma. The text has a strong Bhakti orientation, requiring daily puja to the god Vishnu. The Vishnu Smriti is divided into one hundred chapters, consisting mostly of prose text but including one or more verses at the end of each chapter. The premise of the narration is a frame story dialogue between the god Vishnu and the goddess Earth (Prithvi). The text begins when Vishnu realizes that Earth is submerged underwater. He dives in to rescue her, lifting her up out of the water and exposing her surface. Earth is grateful but worries who will continue to support her in the future. Vishnu then assures her that she should not worry because, “Good people who take delight in the conduct of the social classes and the orders of life who are totally devoted to the śāstras, O Earth, will support you. The task of caring for you is entrusted to them.” (1.47). Having been comforted, the Earth continues, asking, “Tell me, O Eternal One, the Laws of the social classes and orders of life.” (1.48-1.49). From this question, Vishnu then launches into his teachings of dharma.


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