The basics of the Hindu way of life have been stated in the Vedas, but its details have been worked out in the Smritis. The works like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Puranas and the Dharma Shastras all are Smritis. The word ‘Shastra’ means to ‘to govern’ and is applied to a scripture if it teaches the ways and means to attain righteous way of life.
There is a very precise and clear philosophy of life, both individual and social, behind the theme of the Smritis. According to Smritis, the manifestation of life is not same everywhere: it sleeps in dead matter, is awake in plants, moves in animals, and is self-conscious in humans. The human being is considered to be the highest expression of life, but it has to be evolved culturally and spiritually.
Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda