This document covers the important information about the various Smrtis in general and about Yajnavalkya Smrti in particular. The portion in KSOU MA are the 6 Prakaranas from the Vyaavahaara Adhyaaya of Yajnavalkya Smrti. This material has been consolidated from the various posts in the blogs on this topic which covered the sessions by Dr. Gururaj Rao, Prof. Vanitha Ramaswamy and Smt. Harini (MA Student). The coverage is limited to the important aspects, based on the earlier KSOU MA exam question papers. The phrases asked in KSOU MA exam सन्दर्भ questions have been provided in a separate section under each prakarana. Some additional information mentioned by the speakers during the class room sessions have been marked as “Side notes”. They may not be important from the exam point of view. They have been included either to understand the context or just for information. Here is a downloadable file which includes a table of contents. Click here. yajnavalkya-smrti
स्मृतिः श्रुतिः हरेः आज्ञा says ऋषि: वाधूल: pointing out that the Smrti and Srthi are created by the command of Hari or Sriman Narayana. श्रूयते अनेन इति श्रुतिः i.e., That which is heard is Shruti. स्मर्यते अनेन इति स्मृतिः i.e., That which is remembered is Smrti. It recollects the important points of the Vedas and provides us in a concise manner.
Vedas contain विधि and निषेध i.e., ordained actions and prohibited actions. The Smrtis are the commentaries by the Rishis on the Vedic injunctions. श्रुतिस्तु वेदो विज्ञेयो धर्मशास्त्रं तु वै स्मृतिः | Manu Smrti states that it is to be known that Veda is Shruti and Dharma Shastras are Smrtis. Gautama refers to Smrti as the essence of Dharma. These scriptures explain how to practice Dharma, the importance of adhering to it, and the ill-effects of not following the principles of Dharma.
The Vedas are the Srthi. They are the most authoritative of all the scriptures. While the Vedas are अपौरुषेय – not written by man, the Smrtis are written by Rishis. This being the case, it is very important to understand the need for creating these Smrtis. The roles and responsibilities of the different members of the society of that particular time are explained in the Smrtis. It provides for some changes in the actions to be performed, according to the requirement of times, without contradicting the Vedic injunctions. So Smrti text can be written any number of times, depending on the need of the times. But it should not be against the dicta of the Shruti, which elaborate the fundamental Dharma of the mankind.
Vedas are स्वतः सिद्धप्रमाण – these propositions are self-evident and they do not require any external proof for their correctness. Though Smrtis are written by individuals, it is also accepted to be correct since it is based on the Vedas. आप्तवाक्यप्रमाण – It is considered to be correct because it is the words of those Rishis who are concerned with our welfare. आप्तवाक्यं शब्दः। The words of our well-wishers is to be taken as the truth as per Shabda Pramaana. When there is वक्त्रानुकूल्य, श्रोतानुकूल्य and प्रसङ्गानुकूल्य i.e., when the disposition of speaker, the disposition of the listener and the atmosphere are conducive, whatever is being said has to be taken as आप्त वाक्यम् – the well-wisher’s advice and they ought to be followed.
- Four Vedase Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Athrvaveda
- चतुर्विभागाः – 4 Parts of each Veda –Samhita, Brahmana, Aranyaka, Upanishad
- Samhitas are the Mantras. मन्त्र = संहिता
- Brahmanaas were created while putting the Samhita to use.
- Aranyakasare the philosophy behind ritual sacrifice part of the ancient Indian texts, the Vedas.
- Upanishads are the Vedanta part and they include the knowledge about the self.
- The Smrti literature is a vast corpus of derivative work. AllSmrti texts are regarded to ultimately be rooted in or inspired by Shruti. Major Smriti literatures are: Vedanga (वेदाङ्ग), Upaveda (उपवेद), Upanga (उपांग), and Dharsanas
- Vedangas are the auxiliary disciplines or subjects that one must learn to fully comprehend the meaning of the text contained in the Vedas.- Nirukta, Chandas, Vyakarana, Shikshaa, Kalpa, Jyotisha
- Nirukta is the science of etymologies. It explains the word-roots and derivation of meanings of words in different contexts. Text: Yaska’s Nirukta.
- Vyakarana is Grammar. Panini’s Astadhyayi is the authority on Sanskrit Grammar. It was not written in Sanskrit but Panini used a meta-language called Upadesa to define the grammar of Sanskrit in about 8000 sutras/rules. Text: Panini’s Astadhyayi.
- Siksha deals with phonetics, the pronunciation and accent. It explains how each syllable should be pronounced in which context and the psychic effects of those. There are two variations to plain pronunciation, called Udatta and Anudatta. Altering the pronunciation alters the meaning of what is being chanted and the results of chanting. Text: Panini’s Siksha.
- Chandas is the science of metres. Syllables are classified into two categories, Guru and Laghu. A string of Guru-Laghu sequence of a particular length is called a metre. There are various metres in which the Vedic mantras are composed, such as Gayatri, Anusthup, Trishtup and Jagati. The chandas of a mantra determines its usage, such as its purpose and context. But it acts more as an error-correcting mechanism. Since the Veda is an oral tradition, any aberration in the chandas because of error in text or the swara, can be easily identified and corrected. Text: Pingala’s Chandassastra.
- Jyotisha is the science of shining objects – astronomy. Text: Lagadha’s Vedanga Jyotisha.
- Kalpa speaks of the ritual portion, how and when sacrifice is to be conducted. Texts: Kalpa Sutras, consisting of Sulba Sutras and Srauta Sutras. Sulba Sutras contain the geometry of altars along with mathematical deductions for the geometry. Srauta Sutras contain guidelines for conducting sacrifices.
- The Upavedas are the practical or applied knowledge. They deal with various arts and sciences. They are Ayurveda – Health, Dhanur Veda – War, Gandharva Veda – Music, and (स्थापत्य) Sthaapatya Veda– Architecture.
- There are four Upangas: Nyaya, Mimamsa, Itihasa-Purana and Dharma Sastra
- Dharma Shastras include smriti grantas and the four sutras – Dharma sutra, Grhya Sutra, Sulba Sutra and Srauta Sutra. The sutras are laid down for each Vedic sakha/branch.
- Dharma sutras contain the guidelines to live a Dharmic life. Examples are Aapasthamba, Baudayana, Gautama, Vashishta – written in Sutra form. They deal with customs, duties, law.
- Smrti Grantas — After Dharma Sutras, the Dharma Shaastras were written in shloka or verse form. The Dharma-shastras expanded and remodeled in verse form the Dharmasutras. Examples – Manu Smriti, Yajnavalkya Smriti, Paraasara Smriti, Naarada Smriti, Vishnu Smriti.
- Grhya sutras contain specific guidelines to Grhasthas on the domestic rituals. गृह्य सूत्रस – Mainly deal with चत्वारिंशत् संस्काराः (among which षोडश-संस्काराः are important)
- Srauta sutras contain guidelines for performing Vedic rituals.
- Shulba sutras contain the mathematical principles for construction of various the sacrificial altar (यज्ञस्तूपः Geometry).
- Shad-Darshan Shastra (Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Vedanta)
- Nyaaya – Praacheena Nyaaya and Navya Nyaaya
- Vaisheshika – every object has an atom. Deals with Atomic theory.
- In the modern system of system, they have been merged into one system called the Nyaya system. Tarka Shashtra also refers to this Nyaaya System. तर्कयन्ते प्रतिपाद्यन्ते इति तर्कः This is the science of logic.
- Samkya deals with the soul by means of the 25 principles based on which the nature of the soul is proved.
- Yoga means yolk. Yoga deals with the connection with the supreme. It tells the methods to connect with the supreme.
- Poorva Meemaamsa or meemaamsa deals with the sacrificial rituals. Purification of the person after which he becomes ready to receive the ultimate knowledge.
- Uttara Meemaamsa or Vedanta deals with gnaana – a system which tries to explain Jeevatma, paramaatma and the Jagat.
- Vedanta has different schools of thought – Advaita, Dvaita, Vishishtaadvaita, Shakti Vishishtaadvaita, etc. The first 3 are very important ones.
- Dharma Shastras include smriti grantas and the four sutras – Dharma sutra, Grhya Sutra, Sulba Sutra and Srauta Sutra. The sutras are laid down for each Vedic sakha/branch.
- Vedangas are the auxiliary disciplines or subjects that one must learn to fully comprehend the meaning of the text contained in the Vedas.- Nirukta, Chandas, Vyakarana, Shikshaa, Kalpa, Jyotisha
- The Smrti literature is a vast corpus of derivative work. AllSmrti texts are regarded to ultimately be rooted in or inspired by Shruti. Major Smriti literatures are: Vedanga (वेदाङ्ग), Upaveda (उपवेद), Upanga (उपांग), and Dharsanas
The Smrti authors explain the Vedic ideals without any misinterpretations. The Smrtikaaras had the intention to lead their disciples in the right path and elevate them to higher levels. आचिनोति आचरत्यपि आचार्यः – An Aacharya acquires knowledge and carries out his actions based on the acquired knowledge. He has unity in thoughts, words and action. ऋषिः is a gnaani. He sees oneness in humanity – सर्वंखल्विदं ब्रह्म | He shows the direction to all the human beings. मार्गदर्शी महर्षिः | There is no selfish interest in him. He is concerned about everyone. Since each person’s life is unique, the Rishi considers the good for everyone and provides the appropriate guidance.
The Smrtis contain the advice of a guru to his disciples. So these are considered as शासन – the rules that need to be adhered to. Among the three types of classification of the scriptures as Prabhu Sammita (stated with an authority), Mitra Sammita (stated in a friendly manner) and Kaantaa Sammita (stated in a loving way), the Smrtis come under Prabhu Sammita as these are like the orders of the master that need to be obeyed, failing which there would be punishment. So, whether one likes or not, the injunctions stated in the Smrtis are to be carried out, at least due to the fear of the punishment. भयादिन्द्रश्च वायुश्च मृत्युर्धावति पंचमः | Things are happening in a specific order in the world because of the fear of the consequences.
Usually the Smrtis are in Gadya or Prose form. There are a few which are in Padya or Poetry form set to specific Chandas. There are also Smrtis which are in Champu style – i.e., a combination of Gadya and Padya.
There are 37 important Smrtis. Some of the popular Smrtis are: Manu Smrti, Yagnavalkya Smrti, Narada Smrti, Parashara Smrti, Brihaspati Smrti and Katyayana Smrti. There are also many other Smrtis like Daksa Smrti, Angirasa Smrti, etc. The Smrtis are mostly named after the authors or writers – the one who collates and documents the work.
Dharma is the theme and soul of smritis. It is difficult to define dharma. It can be understood as the privileges, duties and obligations of a man, standard of conduct as a member of the Aryan community, as a member of a particular varna and stage of life. It can be understood as a synonym of law in modern terms. It includes one’s duties and social, religious, legal, political and ethical obligations of a man.
Dharma is King of kings and far more rigid than the king. It guides the individuals as well as the communities. A king is primarily expected to uphold the dharma. King is never the Law-maker but and authority to enforce law.
Subject matter of smritis is divided into 3 namely, achaara, vyavahaara and prayaschitta. Achaara and prayaschitta deal with religious observances and the expiation rites. Vyavahaara deals with civil law.
The increase in the number of smrti texts show the importance of subject matter and also the willingness to accommodate changes required by the contemporary society.
There are many topics that have been repeatedly covered in many Smrtis or even multiple times within the same Smrti due to the significance of the matter of consideration. Some of them are discussed below.
One such aspect which has gained the prominence among the subjects dealt with in the Smrtis is Varnaashramadharma. The duties to be carried out by the people belonging to different Varnaas are the Varna Dharma. Similarly, the duties to be carried out by the people considering their present phase of life are the Ashrama Dharma. The four Ashramas are Brahmacharyaashrama (Student), Grhastaasharama (householder), Vaanaprastaashrama (where one retires to forest), and Sannyaasaashrama (Sannyasi).
According to our scriptures, everyone is a Shudra at birth – जन्मना जायते शूद्रः | Only when the person gets initiation into studies, by the Upanayana Karma, he takes his second birth as a Brahmin. Sri Krishna mentions in the Gita (4.13) – “चातुर्वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टं गुणकर्मविभागशः”. The Varna is determined based on the predominant quality namely Sattva, Rajas or Tamas; and the nature of work undertaken by the person for his livelihood. This is not to be confused with the present day caste system that is based on heredity.
Different Smrtis elaborate about the Panch-Maha-Yagnas. Though there might be slight variations, those five are mostly taken to be Deva Yagna (worship of Gods and demi-gods), Pitr Yagna (worship of one’s forefathers), Manushya Yagna (worship of fellow humans), Bhuta Yagna (worship of other beings), and Brahma Yagna (worship of knowledge).
The three debts or ऋणत्रयम् are पितृ-ऋण, देव-ऋण and गुरु-ऋण | The Smrtis elaborate on these types of debts, how they are to be repaid, what is the parihaara or remedy in the event of not fulfilling the debts. In काश्यपस्मृति, condensing the information that is present in the other Smrtis, Kashyapa says – देवपितृमनुष्यभूतब्रह्मयज्ञानुपसेवमानः | According to him, Smrtis mainly deals with these topics – the types of the Yagnas (to the god, parents, human beings, other beings and towards knowledge) and the way to do upaseva of these Yagna.
The Smrtis also deal with some dual concepts or Dvandvas which are extremely important like the two eyes. Some of them are
- सत्य – धर्म or सत्य – निष्ठा Truth & Righteousness
- न्याय – दण्ड Honesty and punishment.
- यजन – याजन Doing Yagna and getting others to do it.
- अध्ययन – अध्यापन Studying and teaching.
- दान-परिग्रह Giving and receiving charity.
अवश्यं अनुभोक्तव्यं कृतं कर्म शुभाशुभम् | Whether it is the good fortune or the bad fortune, it has to be experienced. The karmas are classified as Sanchita Karmas (accumulated works), Prarabdha Karmas (ripe or fructuous actions), and Kriyamaana or Aagami Karmas (current works).
The actions to be undertaken are stated as Dharma. The different types of Dharma and Karmas are सामान्यधर्म (General), विशेषधर्म (Specific to the person), आपद्धर्म (when in distress), नित्यकर्म (Daily), नैमित्तिककर्म (occasional), काम्यकर्म (with a specific objective) and मोक्षधर्म (for self-realisation). Aapad Dharma are the actions that can be performed in case of a distress. The Smrtis deal with this in detail. The Smrtis clarify which situation can be considered as Aapad or being in distress to ensure that people do not abuse the liberty given only for exceptional situations. When carrying out all the actions, the person should always keep in mind that the ultimate goal is the Moksha Dharma and progress towards this highest goal of self realization.
General laws that govern humanity are covered in these Smrti literatures. It is based on the Vedas, and these were written by recollecting the Vedic literature. The duties and responsibilities to be carried out at different phases of life and in different circumstances are covered in the Smrtis. It elaborates the activities to be performed as per the phases of life or the four Ashramas. If we want to have an integrated society and work in a united manner, a set of common principles that are respected by all people is required. These literatures were not written for a specific community. These were called as Maanava Dharma and are applicable to the entire humanity.
If Vedas are the solid gold, the Smrti texts are the golden jewels minted at different times to suit the trend of the present times. This flexibility in undergoing change according to the changing times is the beauty of the Vedic literature. This is the reason that Vedas and the Sanaatana dharma have stood the test of time. It would have been a dead literature if it had been rigid. There is scope of change in the Smrtis according to the current needs of the people. Thus the greatness of Smrtis is that they are important for the protection of the human race. The adherence to Smrti is a wonderful concept that has to be preserved and practiced in the society for the sake of humanity. As suggested by Vivekananda we need a new Smrti for the present century. “As time rolls on, more and more of the Smrtis will go, sages will come, and they will change and direct society into better channels, into duties and into paths which accord with the necessity of the age, and without which it is impossible that society can live.” Swami Sivananda also conveys the same point when he says, “Our present society has considerably changed. A new Smriti to suit the requirements of this age is very necessary. Another sage will place before the Hindus of our days a new suitable code of laws. Time is ripe for a new Smriti. Cordial greetings to this age”.
Rishi Yajnavalkya (याज्ञवल्क्य) was a great yogi and mahatma. It is mentioned in the Vaayu puraana that he was the maanasa-putra of the Brahma. Brahmaratha was the name of his father. Vaishampaayana was his Guru. He was one of the most favorite disciples of Vaishampaayana and so he got to learn certain special Veda mantras from his guru. Once Yajnavalkya showed disrespect towards his fellow-student. This was noticed by his guru, Vaisampayana. The guru got angry and asked Yajnavalkya to return back all the knowledge that he had taught. गुरोरधीतं गुरवे निवेदितम् | (Side note: Karna’s guru cursed him that he would forget it at the most needy moment). Whatever we learn stays in our intellect and also becomes a part of our samskaara due to which we notice child-prodigies carrying the knowledge from the earlier births. Yajnavalkya readily gave it back, hoping to gain the knowledge again from other teachers. गुरवो बहवः सन्ति | He removes the knowledge from his samskaara itself and spits it out as vomit. We cannot explain this scientifically. But the Rishis were capable of performing any feat due to their sakthi. When he spits out the knowledge this way, the other shishyaas of the guru, realizing the worth of that knowledge, took the form of the tittiri birds and consumed the vomited knowledge. It is forbidden to get the remains of the food consumed by anyone. This rule does not apply to the birds and hence they took the form of a bird. They took the form of a bird or Dvija – that which has two births. The significance for the disciples to take the form of a dvija is that this changing to a bird became their second birth and they did not have to wait for the next birth. They got Dvijatva by taking the form of the dvija or bird. These learning which were got from the Tittiri birds became the Taitireeya Upanishad.
Then, Yajnavalkya approaches his guru and apologizes. The Guru also forgives him. Before starting to learn from the beginning, he does tapas and prays to the Lord Savitra Surya Naaraayana. He prays that he should get the knowledge which no one had got until now. Thus he gains the ultimate superior knowledge from Surya Naaraayana. The story continues further in the puranas. Yajnavalkya, after gaining the knowledge from Surya, prays to Brahma for extended life. Thus he gets 5000 years of life due to Brahma’s blessings. Again and again he performs penance and gets extensions of 5000 years. When he does his penance for the fourth time, Brahma questions him the need for this extension pointing out the impermanence of life. It is said – जातस्य मरणं ध्रुवं, ध्रुवं जन्म मृतस्य च | Yajnavalkya mentions that he wants to gain more and more knowledge. When Brahma asks Yajnavalkya as to what he had gained so far by studying day and night in the earlier years, Yajnavalkya shows three mountains and says that he had gained a handful of sand from the three mountains. By saying this, Yajnavalkya indicated the limitlessness of the knowledge where the three mountains are the three Vedas – Rig, Yajur and Saama.
Yajnavalkya learnt from his father Brahmaratha rishi and became a great rishi. He adhered to Dharma. He was considered as a परमज्ञानी | Since Sun god came in the form of a White horse and taught him the knowledge, it is called Sukhla Yajur Veda. The works authored by Yajnavalkya are Vaajasaneyi Samhita, Yajnavalkya Smriti, Yajnavalkya Gita, Yajnavalkya Upanishad, Yajnavalkya Shikshaa, Yajnavalkya bhashyaa, and गायत्री-गूढार्थ-चन्द्रिका, explaining the secret meaning of Gaayatri mantra, about the devataa associated with each letter of the mantra, about the form of Vishnu, that is present as the antaryaami in the letters of the mantra, which are to be meditated upon. Madhyandina Shakha, which is also called as Vajasaneyi Madhyandiniya shakha is a branch of Shukla Yajurveda. The name Vajasaneyi is derived from Vajasaneya, patronymic (i.e., belonging to the clan) of sage Yajnavalkya, who was an authority and according to tradition, founder of the Vajasaneyi branch.
Once there was a debate and discussion on the aspects related to Dharma conducted at the city of Mithilaa. The proceedings were recorded in the Yajnavalkya Smriti.
- Yajnavalkya is credited to having promulgated the Shukla Yajurveda.
- He is also credited with a work on yogashastra called Yoga Yajnavalkya.
- He is credited with the authorship of an Aranyaka but the popular opinion is that they are not by the same person.
- Main commentators of Yajnavalkya Smrti are Visvarupa [Balakrida], Vignaneshwara [Mitaaksharaa] and Aparaaditya [Apararka].
- Viswarupa, one of the main commentators on YS, belongs to 9th century AD.
- Narada and Brihaspathi who lived during 500 AD have recorded more advanced ideas in their work. So YS must have been before that.
- Similarities can be found with Manusmriti and Kautilya’s Arthashastra. So YS believed to have been composed between 1st century BC and 2nd century AD.
- YS and MS share the phraseology.
- Style is flowing, direct and hardly obscure.
- Entire text is in Anustubh metre.
- Certain thoughts are more advanced than Manu.
- Manu condemns Niyoga while YS allows it.
- Manu finds fault with gambling but the latter does not.
- But Manu allows a Brahmin to marry a shudra girl but YS does not do so.
- Yajnavalkya Smrti consists of 1010 verses with 55 chapters, divided into 3 parts, Achaaraadhyaya, vyavahaaraadhyaya and prayaschittaadhyaya.
- Achaaraadhyaya deals with customs. It has 13 chapters dealing with the 14 vidyas, samskaras from garbhadana to marriage, 4 classification of the society, their avocations and duties, rules about prohibited and allowed food and drinks, purification of various materials, varieties of shraaddhas and its elaborate procedure, propitiatory ceremonies for vinayaka and the nava grahas and finally Rajadharma.
- Vyavahaaraadhyaya has 21 chapters. It deals with civic laws. How to run a judicial system, to hear a case, the witness, loan, partition, boundary disputes, disputes between master and the herdsmen, sale without ownership, non-payment of wages, gambling, betting, abuse, defamation, slander, assault, theft, adultery, review of judgement etc.
- Prayaschittaadhyaya has 21 prakarana and deals with nature and varieties of ashaucha, rules of conduct and livelihood in distress, rules for forest hermit, yati, nature of atman, immortality, heaven and hell, various diseases that are caused due to sin, purpose of prayaschitta, 5 mortal sins, 21 hells, expiation for murdering a Brahmin and cows, drinking wine, for stealing gold, for being associated with sinners, 10 yamas, niyamas, vratas, mahaasantarpanacaandrayana and reward for reading the smriti.
On the Aachaara, after gaining the knowledge by means of the gnaana saadhana, one should follow them. It should be done with a spirit of Sarva Samarpana bhaava. This concept is commonly seen in our culture. कुरु कृष्णार्पणं तत् | There are some scriptures which says that only the good actions should be offered to God. Yajnavalkya says that all the actions have to be offered including Nishiddha karma and the fruits of Nishiddha karma, which will be done with a sense of repentance and in an apologetic manner with a prayer to prevent one from doing such actions in future.
The other aspect dealt by him is Ahimsa. परोपकाराय पुण्याय पापाय परपीड़नम् । Helping others is a good deed and harming others is a sinful act. He stresses on the need for non-violence towards all the beings however insignificant they are. He says अहिंसा सत्यं अस्तेयं शौचं इन्द्रियनिग्रहः । दानं दमो दया क्षान्तिः सर्वेषां धर्मसाधनम् || १.१२२ || (आचाराध्यायः/गृहस्थधर्मप्रकरणम्) Non violence, truth, refraining from any stealing, cleanliness (morally as well as physically), control over senses, charity, self restraint, compassion, patience (and forgiveness) are the ways one can adopt, to follow Dharma.
As part of explaining the aachaaras or the practices to be adhered to, he mentions about the food that can be consumed and those that should be avoided. Later in the Prayaschitta Adhyaaya, he mentions about the remedial action if the person happens to consume the forbidden food under unavoidable circumstances.
दानं ध्रुवं फलति पात्रगुणानुकूल्यात् | Alms given give fruit according to the qualities of the person accepting them. Daana is another important Aachaara or practices. Even if a person is not able to perform the austerities, if he gives daana and supports the austerities performed by another person, he would also reap a part of the fruits of those austerities. Hence Daana is very important for every one even if they are not able to follow the other practices.
The commonly mentioned three types of Daanaa are गो दान, हिरण्य-दान (or भूदान) and अन्नदान | There are different definitions of Annam. अत्ति इति अन्नम् | That which is eaten. The mind is relaxed when one eats. So the knowledge which helps in calming the mind is also considered as Annam. So Annadaana also means ज्ञान-दान.
The details about the pitrus are described in this chapter. The pinda is kept in the floor to satisfy the hunger of the pitrus, saying ते सर्वे तृप्तिमायान्तु मया दत्तेन भूतले | He insists on the importance of performing these rites. कुर्य्यात् + आचार्यपूजार्थम् + वित्तशाठ्यम् + विवर्जयेत् agnipuraana | न विस्तरेत् श्राद्धकार्यम् – don’t make shraarddha to be a big event – Only the people who are eligible to receive the pitru-shesha should be invited for the shraarddha ceremony done for the dead relatives. वित्तशाठ्यम् न कारयेत् | The ceremony has to be done with devotion and sincerity. This is so because the curse of the departed elders can cause Vamsha naasha – the destruction of the clan. आयुः प्रजां धनं विद्यां स्वर्गं मोक्षं सुखानि च । प्रयच्छन्ति तथा राज्यंप्रीता नॄणां पितामहाः || १.२७० || (आचाराध्यायः – श्राद्धप्रकरणम्) The pleased (preetaah) fathers and grandfathers will give long life, wealth, knowledge, svarga, moksha, happiness, and kingdom.
The worship of five deities is described. The commonly worshipped deities are Surya, Ganapati, Subramanya, and Shiva. Yajnavalkya include Lakshmi. He highlights the importance of worshipping and says about three rituals namely Ganapati kalpa, Lakshmi kalpa and Graha Shanti. Wealth is required for all tasks. Ganapati is to be worshipped to remove the obstacles. Graha Shanti is to avoid the influence of Adhyaatmika, aadhibhautika and aadhidaivika obstacles.
In this Smriti, he also elaborates on the duties of the King and the Sanyaasins. In the first chapter on Aachaarana, he also describes the duties of the different varnas like Brahmana, Vaishya, Kshatriya and Shudhra. He also describes the role of woman. यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवता | The blessings of devatas are present in the house which upholds the women. He gives importance to the opinion of women. Ultimately, everything happens by the Divine Will – सर्वं भगवदधीनम् |
There are 25 prakarana-s in the second adhyaayaa on vyavahaara. Based on the Aachaara, the vyavahaara has to be conducted. Vyavahaara relates to the legal transactions and also to the court cases. The rules related to law, the contribution of the king, how punishments are to be given (danda neeti), how the court should be conducted, how the judge should be conduct himself, how the vaadi and the prativaadi-s are to be cross-examined, the importance of witness or Saakshi, etc. are covered. He stresses the importance of the conduct of the King as that will reflect on his people and in turn, impact the court cases that come up. Once the king is good, the people will be good as they will seem him as their ideal – राजा प्रत्यक्षदेवता | धर्म is not fixed. It changes based on the person and the situation. Considering these, the dandaa also changes on a case to case basis. There is a story where a sage protects a person from the solider by saying that he is not present. In this, the sage has adhered to his dharma of protecting the person who sought his protection.
One aspect that is not generally covered in the other Smritis, which is specifically covered in this Smriti, is regarding the wealth of the women. This Smriti has been the basis for the Indian laws in this matter. This comes under the asaadhaarana prakarana. न स्त्री स्वातन्त्रमर्हति – At no stage in life should a woman be independent (i.e., being left alone as a destitute) . During marriage, the couple promises each other – धर्मेच अर्थेच कामेच इमां नातिचरामि । धर्मेच अर्थेच कामेच इमं नातिचरामि ॥ In my duty, in my financial commitments, in my needs, I will not violate this lady or this man.
A man should never use his wife’s wealth. From his own earnings, he should keep a part as Aapad Dana – i.e., for emergency expenses, one part for charity, one part has to be kept aside as Stree Dana as a security for his wife and daughters, and only the remaining part could be spent for the other expenses. This Stree Dana is to be kept by the lady for her use when she faces a crisis and it is not meant for use by her husband when he requires it for any family expenses. She should give only if it a life-threatening situation for the husband. Once the money is given to the wife or the daughter, the man loses the right over that Stree Dana, while he could take back the money given to his son.
Even after the wife dies, the husband cannot claim right over the money. If their child or children are minor, then 50% of the amount goes to them and the remaining goes to the king’s treasury. If there is no minor child, then 50% of the amount goes towards charity (the fruits of which are expected to protect the children) and the remaining goes to the king’s treasury. These are to be understood in the context of the situation at those days.
There are 5 prakarana-s in the third Adhyaaya on Praayashchitta. Praayaschitta is the remedial action performed to nullify the effects of the bad actions performed by a person. जाताशौच – impurity contracted due to a birth in the family and मृताशौच – impurity contracted due to a death. Here he explains that 10 days of impurity is to be observed by the paternal relatives and 3 days by certain other relatives.
There are certain non-conformities permitted during times of crisis. It may not be possible to adhere to certain injunctions during a crisis. To avoid misuse of this relaxation, he clarifies what is to be considered as a crisis. When one’s life is at stake, it is ok to have some non-conformity to dharma. For example, eating outside is not permitted. But if a person is unable to bear the hunger and is suffering, it is ok for him to eat outside. In that case also, he can consume only to the minimum extent that is required. The reason for mentioning the Aapad dharma here is that separate prayachchitta has to be done for the non-conformance made during times of crisis.
As mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: “योगः चित्त वृत्ति निरोधः” meaning “Yoga is the silencing of the modifications of the mind”, Yajnavalkya stresses the importance of controlling the modifications of the mind. Only a person who has control over his mind will be able to practice Dharma. He mentions that Yoga will help in controlling the mind, which in turn will help in the adherence to Dharma. He suggests doing meditation every day. प्रातः प्रभृति सायान्तं सायादि प्रातरन्ततः यत् करोमि जगन्नाथ तदस्तु तव पूजनम् | From dawn to dusk and from dusk to dawn, whatever I do, o Lord of the world, may it be an offering to you. One should pray in the morning and night.
Finally while concluding the Praayaschitta adhyaaya, he mentions about Rahasya or secret Praayaschitta. Yajnavalkya classifies the mistakes into two categories, one which can be shared with others and the second type which cannot be told to others. In this second type, the person is not in a position to tell another knowledgeable person the mistake done and try to know the right parihaara for it. Yajnavalkya clarifies how to do the praayaschitta in that case. When a mistake is done unintentionally, repenting and seeking forgiveness from God will be the parihaara. Based on the severity of the committed mistake, Yajnavalkya suggests appropriate remedial actions. Yajnavalkya stresses the importance of carrying out the remedial action to avoid any bad consequences in the future in the same birth or in the future births.
Prakarana summary from Vaishali K. Shah for those Prakarans that are there in KSOU MA syllabus.
- Sadharana Vyavahara Matruka Prakarana – The section involves administrative things such as, qualities of official, court members, ways of dealings, types of reacting.
- Asadharana Vyavahara Matruka Prakarana – It talks about the special case such as conflicts over the territories. It states how judicial authority should tackle the case.
- Runadana Prakarana – Word Runadana is the repayment of loan. The Prakaran is about the ethics regarding the loan and repayment of loan.
- Upanidhi Prakarana – Upanidhi refers to accessories such as various gems, ornaments safety, robbery and invalid encroachment related to them is discussed in this chapter.
- Sakshi Prakarana – Sakshi is interpreted as witness and this chapter deals with that.
- Lekha Prakarana – This sub chapter is a broad characterization of various documents for administration as well as of personal purposes. It describes how those should be written or documented.
Yajnavalkya has split the vyavahaara prakarana into Saadaarana (general) and Asaadaarana (specific) vyavahaara prakarana. The regular activities performed by the citizens, the problems that could be faced, the precautions to be taken, the loss that could be incurred, how they could approach the court for justice, and the justice that they are expected to get – all these have been explained in the Saadaarana Vyavahaara Prakarana. Asaadaarana vyavahaara deals with the conflict resolution for special cases where there are some additional complications in the case put forth by the Vaadi and prativaadi. The king has the supreme power to give the verdict on the general conflicts. व्यवहारान्नृपः पश्येत् | For resolving the conflict, the king would appoint a sabhaa comprising of the chief preceptor of dharma, the chief of the army, and the elderly advisors. व्यवहारान्नृपः पश्येद्विद्वद्भिर्ब्राह्मणैः सह । धर्मशास्त्रानुसारेण क्रोधलोभविवर्जितः ||२.१|| The members of the sabha should be Shotreeya Brahmanas or the Kshatreeyas who are Shotreeyas. Shotreeya is one who has the knowledge of Shruti and Smriti. The person should be a Dharma Nishta adhering to the dharmic principles. In that gathering, the arguments and the counter-arguments would be heard, and after taking into consideration the witness’ account, the verdict has to be given based on the Dharmic principles धर्मशास्त्रानुसारेण | The king and the members should be devoid of anger and greed. क्रोधलोभविवर्जितः |
श्रुताध्ययनसंपन्ना धर्मज्ञाः सत्यवादिनः । राज्ञा सभासदः कार्या रिपौ मित्रे च ये समाः ॥ २.२ ॥ The members of the sabha should be well-educated on the Vedas and be interested to learn more, be born in noble families known for the good qualities, be truthful and impartial towards enemies and friends. [Side note: ज्ञानिनोऽपि मौनिनः – The gnaanis keep quite to avoid saying any untruth even by slip of tongue]. Even the close relatives or the friends should be considered impartial by the jury. यज्ञसदृशी सभा | The Sabha is considered equivalent to the Yagna-shaala. Like the poornaahuti offered in the Yagna, the important part is the verdict by the King.
सभ्यैः सह नियोक्तव्यो ब्राह्मणः सर्वधर्मवित् || २.३ || The members of the sabha should know all the dharmas that apply to the four varnas and four ashrams. The members should not have their own preferences and aversions. Those who have their own family conflicts do not qualify to be members of the sabha as their opinion could be influenced by their experiences. They should not get excited instantly and they should know to control their emotions. One whose profession is not accepted by the shaastras (like selling food) should not be a member. [Side note: Selling of food and vidhya are prohibited]. The Sanyasins are exempt from being called to be present in the court.
[Side note: गतानुगतिको लोकः न लोक़ः पारमार्थिकः । Everyone is going towards worldly pleasures only. It would be like changing the course of the flow to make them turn towards the supreme].
[Side note: पञ्चेन्द्रिय देहस्य बुद्धेश्च मनसस्तथा | द्रव्यदेशक्रियाणां च शुद्धिराचार इष्यते || ( वाधूलस्मृति )These jury members should have purity in their five senses, in their body, in their intellect, in their mind, in their things, in their place, and in their actions. They should take an oath to remain impartial while providing justice. ]
The importance has to be given to the disputant (वादि) who gives the compliant. When a person takes an oath then his words are to be given importance. Those who challenge by bidding money that if they are found to be at fault, they agree to pay a certain amount, are to be given importance. Due to the confidence that he is right, the person comes forward to pay this amount.
When the disputant (वादि) provides his argument, the counter-argument provided by the opponent (प्रतिवादि) is called Sampratipatti – सम्प्रतिपत्ति, if the opponent agrees to the accuser. Alternatively if the opponent denies it and says that the accusations are false, it is called Mitya – मित्या. If the opponent accuses the accuser himself for committing the crime then it is called प्रत्यवस्कन्दन. This is also called प्रत्यवस्यन्दन. It is अपूर्वन्याय when the disputant himself changes his own version of the story. In such cases, he loses the credibility and the sabha will consider this while providing the verdict.
- Dustanigraha [punishing the wicked] and Sistarakshana [protection of the noble] are the highest duties of a king.
- Not only for the kings but for anyone who is at the helm of affairs of administration.
- So the king attends to administration of justice everyday along with his councillors.
- Manu says that the wrong person should never be punished and a great infamy gets accrued by this. Hence the king has to follow the tenets of Dharmashastras.
- Appointed councilors should have the required qualification and proficiency in Dharmashastras.
- If the king is absent then the Brahmana presides over.
- The chief judge is called Praadvivaka प्राड्विवाक as he differentiates the inconsistent and consistent statements. Prat is the defender [the accused] who questions the plaintiff [one who files the complaint].
- If the verdict is not in line with Dharmashastras then the judge and councilors are liable for punishment with a fine.
- A judicial proceeding or a Vyavahaara has the following component parts. pratijna [plaint], uttara [reply], samshaya [doubt], hetu [reason], paraamarsha [deductions], pramaana [evidence], nirnaya [decision] and prayojana [purpose/ motive].
- Vyavahara is of 18 types. Recovery of debts, deposits, sale without ownership, concerns of several partners, non-payment of wages, breach of contract, dispute between owner and servants, boundary disputes, assault, slander, theft, adultery, duties of husband and wife, gambling and betting.
- There should not be any harassment or other inconvenience while summoning the defendants.
- A person with disease, young person [bala] , old person [vrddha], one in difficulty, one in religious duty [kriyakula], one engaged in king’s duty [nripakaaryaatura], idiots [mattha, unmatta, pramatta], aggrieved [aarta], young and helpless women, recently delivered or high born woman, cannot be summoned.
- Arrest can be made if the defendant is trying to run away. Arrest is of 4 kinds, sthaanasedha – confinement in a place, kaalakrta – for a limited time, pravaasaat- movements are restricted and kaaryaat- prohibit a set of actions.
- Allegations and the reply must be documented in writing with particulars like names of both, year, month, fortnight, date, day amount, quality, place, time and other such details.
- Chatuspadavyavahaara – The 4 parts of a judicial procedure. First is pratigna – what is told by the plaintiff. Second is uttara – reply of the defendant. Third is the saadhana – evidence and lastly nirnaya – decision.
<*> व्यवहारान् नृपः पश्येद् विद्वद्भिर्ब्राह्मणैः सह ।
धर्मशास्त्रानुसारेण क्रोधलोभविवर्जितः ॥ यास्मृ२.१ ॥
विद्वद्भिः ब्राह्मणैः सह क्रोध-लोभ-विवर्जितः नृपः धर्मशास्त्रानुसारेण व्यवहारान् पश्येत् ।
The king, free from anger and greed, should administer justice, along with learned braahmanas, in conformity with dharmashaastra, the principles of legal sciences.
श्रुताध्ययनसंपन्ना धर्मज्ञाः सत्यवादिनः ।
<*>राज्ञा सभासदः कार्या रिपौ मित्रे च ये समाः ॥ यास्मृ२.२ ॥
ये रिपौ मित्रे च समाः, श्रुत+अध्ययन-संपन्नाः, धर्मज्ञाः, सत्यवादिनः, (ते) सभासदः राज्ञा कार्या |
A king should select as his councilors, those persons, who have accomplished by learning and study, who know the law, who speak always the truth, and who are equal to both friends and foes alike.
अपश्यता कार्यवशाद् व्यवहारान् नृपेण तु ।
<**> सभ्यैः सह नियोक्तव्यो ब्राह्मणः सर्वधर्मवित् ॥ यास्मृ२.३ ॥
कार्यवशात् व्यवहारान् अपश्यता नृपेण तु सभ्यैः सह सर्वधर्मवित् ब्राह्मणः नियोक्तव्यः |
By a King, who is unable to attend to the administration of justice on account of other engagements, a Brahmana, knowing all laws, should be appointed (in his place) to work along with the councilors.
<**> प्रत्यर्थिनोऽग्रतो लेख्यं यथावेदितम् अर्थिना ।
समामासतदर्धाहर्नामजात्यादिचिह्नितम् ॥ यास्मृ२.६ ॥
प्रत्यर्थिनः अग्रतः, यथा वेदितम्, अर्थिना, समा-मास-तदर्ध-अहः-नाम-जात्यादि-चिह्नितं लेख्यं (करणीयं भवति) |
Whatever is alleged by the plaintiff / applicant (अर्थिना) should be reduced to writing in the presence of the defendant (प्रत्यर्थिनः), and marked with the year (समा), the month (मास), the fortnight (तदर्ध), the day, the name, the caste and the like.
<*> श्रुतार्थस्योत्तरं लेख्यं पूर्वावेदकसंनिधौ ।
<*> ततोऽर्थी लेखयेत् सद्यः प्रतिज्ञातार्थसाधनम् ॥ यास्मृ२.७ ॥
पूर्वावेदक-संनिधौ, श्रुतार्थस्य उत्तरं, लेख्यं (भवति) । ततः सद्यः अर्थी प्रतिज्ञात+अर्थ-साधनं लेखयेत् |
The answer (refutation) (उत्तरम्) of the defendant, who has heard the complaint (श्रुतार्थस्य), should be taken down in writing, in the presence (संनिधौ) of the plaintiff or complainant (पूर्वावेदक). Next (ततः ), the plaintiff (अर्थी ) should immediately (सद्यः ) have written down (लेखयेत्) the evidence (अर्थ-साधन) by means of which the matter-in-dispute (प्रतिज्ञा) is to be established.
तत्सिद्धौ सिद्धिम् आप्नोति विपरीतम् अतोऽन्यथा ।
<*> चतुष्पाद् व्यवहारोऽयं विवादेषूपदर्शितः ॥ यास्मृ२.८ ॥
तत्सिद्धौ सिद्धिम् आप्नोति | अतः अन्यथा विपरीतम् (आप्नोति)। अयं व्यवहारः विवादेषु चतुष्पाद् उपदर्शितः |
If he (the plaintiff) succeeded in accomplishing the point of issue (तत्सिद्धौ), he obtains (आप्नोति ) success (सिद्धिम्); otherwise (in the non-accomplishment of the proof) (अन्यथा), next (अतः), it brings the reverse (i.e., defeat) (विपरीतम्). This legal procedure is declared to be of four-fold character in litigation (अयं व्यवहारः विवादेषु चतुष्पाद् उपदर्शितः ). Note: First part – pratignaa – the plaintiff’s complaint; Second part – uttaram – defendant’s answer; Third part – saadhana – the evidence and proof that are produced; and Fourth part – nirnaya – the decision taken.
While saadaarana vyavahaara can be considered to be the petty cases, the asaadaarana vyavahaara would be the more serious criminal cases. In the Asaadaarana vyavahaara or the uncommon type, there will be some rare cases with some specialty.
[Side note: As in Raghuvamsam, श्रुतौ तस्करता स्थिता, in the olden days, stealing was a rare event that people would say that they have heard about robbers. ]
प्रत्यभियोग is the counter-charge during the proceedings of the court that happen before a conclusion is arrived at. प्रत्यारोप is the manhandling or attack (by means of poison, weapons, mantras or tantric practices) on the accuser (दोषारोपकः), which is suspected to be done by the accused. In this case, the punishment will be more severe since the accused is making more mistakes to cover up his earlier mistake. मित्याभियोग are the false accusations which were proved to be false by the court through interrogation. When a party delays the case, the king should consider that party to be guilty and appoint spies to check on that person. The king should not delay the proceedings in case of Asaadaaraa Vyavahaara.
The king should find out the reactions संभाव्य-लक्षण of both parties through the members of the court, or through his spies or on his own. Certain body languages like drying up of the lips, avoiding eye contact, walking restlessly, being nervous, facial expressions, etc., could indicate that the person might be lying. The king should be smart enough to find out if these reactions are natural to that person due to the age, nature and other factors; or whether it is because of saying a lie.
गतिप्रतिभन्दक are the illegal activities like bribing or frightening other people like the witness or the jury, done by either parties to get the verdict in their favor. These are hindrances (प्रतिभन्दक) to the progress (गति) of the case. Such things might not become explicit. The king has to get such information through his spies. The king should gather full details (पूर्व-इतिहास) about the nature of the person before giving the verdict. एकत्र निर्णीतशास्त्रात् – the verdict should be based on the similar verdicts provided earlier. The king should also consider the accused person’s earlier cases that he has been convicted for.
अर्थशास्त्रात् तु बलवद् धर्मशास्त्रम् इति स्थितिः ॥ यास्मृ२.२१ ॥ The dharma shashtra are considered more important over the Arthashastra, Raaja Neeti, dhanda neeti, etc. So the king should adhere to those while giving the verdict. For example, there is an injunction – ब्रह्मणो न हन्तव्यः – A Brahmin should not be killed. If a crime is committed by a Brahmin, he cannot be killed. Other alternatives are to be taken, like causing an insult or banishing the person from the kingdom, that are equivalent to killing.
There are varied means, अर्थसाधन, to prove the truth. One is the लिखित, written document. The second is the Shakshi or witness. The third is Bhukti or possession. In the absence of these three, it has to be understood through Divya, some divine interference, which is beyond the physical proof.
(Side note: At Kumbakonam, some 30 or 40 years back, the ownership of the Sarangapani temple was claimed by two groups – Shakti Vishishtaadvaitins and Vaishnavites. It was decided to keep the temple closed for a week and then check for some indication. In this specific case, a Hanuman vigraha appeared when they opened the temple after a week and the case was closed in favor of the Vaishnavites).
(Side note: A story in which there was a special lucky ring that an old man has to give to one of his three sons. He made two similar ones and gave the rings to all the three sons individually telling them that they should keep it as it would bring them good luck. All the three sons benefit from their rings. After many years, they realize that all three were having the rings and they go to the court. As the jury could not decide which one is real, they tell the sons that their father had asked them to have the ring with all faith and that it would bring them good luck. So they should give up the doubt and continue with the faith that they have the special ring).
- When one complaint has been filed against a person, another one against him/her cannot be filed till the present case is disposed off.
- The plaintiff cannot alter his version. No change in subject matter or the nature of the suit will be entertained.
- If there is any change in version in cases of assault or violence, the case gets dismissed. But in cases of disputes relating to cattle, women, land, immovable, recovery of debt, the case is not dismissed but the plaintiff is liable for punishment for changing the version.
- Both plaintiff and defendant have to produce a surety [pratibhu]. A person who assumes responsibility for the plaintiff or the defendant is called pratibhu.
- If the defendant loses then he pays what is due to the plaintiff and an equal amount of money to the king.
- If the plaintiff loses then he will pay that amount to the king.
- Nomads, those who lick their lips (i.e., to show eagerness or pleasure about a future event), whose foreheads perspire, whose form becomes changed in colour, who stammers, who talks inconsistently, who has born mental deformity, etc. cannot be a complainant or a witness.
- In case of gifts purvavadi has the right. The one who got it first has the right over it. Suppose the gifted property has been purchased by another person or the king and then gifted to someone else then the first claimant has no right over it.
- If a wager (bet amount) is involved in a dispute then the losing party shall pay the disputed amount; wager; and also a fine to the king.
- Of a set of complaints if a false denial is proved against a defendant in at least one of the cases, then the defendant is made to admit all the other complaints too.
- Rules of dharmashastra prevail over arthashastra.
- Pramana or evidence has to be written down by the plaintiff. Evidence may be manava [human] and divya [divine].
- Human evidence is of 3 kinds, likhitam [written as in sale deed], bhukti [possession] and sakshi [witness]. Human evidence is greater than divine.
- Written evidence: if both have it then, in civil disputes regarding property, evidence in support of later transaction prevails [i.e., the ownership deed with later date]. In cases of pledge, gift or a sale, the evidence in support of the earlier claim prevails.
- If a person has not objected to another person enjoying his land for 20 years, then the former loses his right over the property. In cases of animals like horse and elephant, the period is 10 years.
- This is not applicable in case of pledges.
- Title [agama] and possession [bhukti] are 2 things. Title is superior to possession except when possession has descended down a line of ancestors. If it is 4th generation or more then possession is superior even without title.
- Title without a possession for even a short period is invalid. This is to cover the cases of a gift that was never accepted.
- Invalid transactions include those done by force, brought forth by women at night, with intoxicated persons, mad man, oppressed by disease, misery, frightened and transaction against a servant without the permission of his master are all invalid.
- Lost and recovered property goes to king unless the claimant gives proper identification of it.
- Wealth recovered from robbers shall be distributed to the people of the country.
<**> अभियोगम् अनिस्तीर्य नैनं प्रत्यभियोजयेत् ।
अभियुक्तं च नान्येन नोक्तं विप्रकृतिं नयेत् ॥ यास्मृ२.९ ॥
एनम् अभियोगम् अनिस्तीर्य न प्रत्यभियोजयेत् । अन्येन अभियुक्तं च न | उक्तं विप्रकृतिं न नयेत् |
Until the accusation or the complaint (अभियोगम्) is disposed of, no counterclaim (प्रत्यभियोज) should be allowed against the complainant. Not should be any other person be allowed to file a complaint against one who is already under a charge nor what has already been alleged should be allowed to be changed विप्रकृतिं.
कुर्यात् प्रत्यभियोगं च कलहे साहसेषु च ।
उभयोः प्रतिभूर्ग्राह्यः समर्थः कार्यनिर्णये ॥ यास्मृ२.१० ॥
कलहे च साहसेषु च प्रत्यभियोगं कुर्यात् । कार्यनिर्णये समर्थः उभयोः प्रतिभूः ग्राह्यः |
A countercharge may be allowed in cases of defamation and assault. From both a surety should be taken. A person who would be competent to satisfy the object of judgement should be taken as surety.
साक्षिषूभयतः सत्सु साक्षिणः पूर्ववादिनः ।
पूर्वपक्षेऽधरीभूते भवन्त्युत्तरवादिनः ॥ यास्मृ२.१७ ॥
उभयतः साक्षिषु सत्सु, पूर्ववादिनः साक्षिणः । पूर्वपक्षे अधरीभूते (सति), उत्तरवादिनः (साक्षिणः) भवन्ति |
When there are witnesses for both sides, those for the person who claims priority (i.e., the one who has enjoyed at a prior date and not the person who has filed the complaint first) should be taken first; and if the first claim gets invalidated, then the witnesses of the next claimant should be examined.
<**> स्मृत्योर्विरोधे न्यायस्तु बलवान् व्यवहारतः ।
<**> अर्थशास्त्रात् तु बलवद् धर्मशास्त्रम् इति स्थितिः ॥ यास्मृ२.२१ ॥
स्मृत्योः विरोधे न्यायः तु व्यवहारतः बलवान् । अर्थशास्त्रात् तु बलवद् धर्मशास्त्रम् इति स्थितिः |
Where two smritis conflict, there the principles of equity, as determined by popular usage, shall prevail. The rule, however, is that the science of law धर्मशास्त्रम् is stronger than the science of politics अर्थशास्त्रम्. Note that when two smritis conflict, the king was not given any power or discretion to make a choice, but he was required to apply the law as approved by custom and usage by the people themselves.
सर्वेष्वर्थविवादेषु बलवत्युत्तराक्रिया ।
आधौ प्रतिग्रहे क्रीते पूर्वा तु बलवत्तरा ॥ यास्मृ२.२३ ॥
सर्वेषु अर्थ-विवादेषु उत्तरा-क्रिया बलवती (भवति) । आधौ प्रतिग्रहे क्रीते च पूर्वा तु बलवत्तरा |
In all civil disputes regarding property, evidence produced in support of a later transaction preponderates (i.e., gains more importance). In the case of a pledge (आधिः), a gift and a sale “however” evidence in support of the prior claim preponderates. For instance, when a man after mortgaging his field with one and obtains some loan, again mortgages it with another and obtains another loan, his mortgaged field belongs to the first only and not to the second.
नृपेणाधिकृताः पूगाः श्रेणयोऽथ कुलानि च ।
पूर्वं पूर्वं गुरु ज्ञेयं व्यवहारविधौ नृणाम् ॥ यास्मृ२.३० ॥
नृपेण अधिकृताः पूगाः श्रेणयः अथ कुलानि च | नृणाम् व्यवहार-विधौ पूर्वं पूर्वं गुरु (इति) ज्ञेयम् |
In a matter of legal proceedings between men, officers appointed by the King, the Pugas, the Srenis, and the Kulas (each of these) proceedings should be considered to be in the superior order of priority. In descending order of importance, they are (a) officers appointed by the king (b) ‘pugas’ (assemblies of inhabitants of the same village or town), (c) ‘srenis’ (associations of merchants and craftsmen), and (d) ‘kulas’ (families). The decision of a Kula or kin group is subject to revision by the Sreni which, in turn, could be revised by the Puga.
ऋणादानप्रकरण is related to loans. When the loan is given for a specific interest, if the loan has not been returned on time, if the interest has not been paid on time, etc., the necessary actions to be taken are dealt in this prakarana.
The interest will vary from least to highest increasing in this order – Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Sudhra – वर्णक्रम | Brahmana should give 2%. Kshatriya and Vaishya should give 3% and 4% respectively. Rest will give 5%. If a person resides in forest and those who have risky profession like wrestlers and those who do not have a permanent residence, then the interest will be 10% due to the insecurity. If the person moves around in the sea, then the interest increases further to 20%. सर्वे सर्वासु जातिषु ॥ २.३८ ॥ The transactions are to be held as per the agreements irrespective of the class whether the loan to the person is secure or not. Depending on the pledged item, the interest will be 8 times for decayable material like the fluids (oil) and 4, 3 and 2 times for cloth, grains and gold respectively.
If the person is not able to repay, the sons and the relatives will have to repay. If any woman had taken the loan, then the husband will have to repay. The son need not repay if the father’s loan was taken for the purposes of his enjoyment – alcohol consumption, lust or gambling.
- Total 7 points. First 5 relating to the debtor [one who has taken the money]. Last 2 related to creditor [lender].
- Debtor: kind of debt to be paid, kind of debt not to be paid, by whom to be paid, at what particular time and in what way it is to be paid. [what, what not, whom, when and how]
- Creditor: mode of advancing a loan and mode of recovery.
- Interest against pledge 1/80th part of principal for a month.
- If moving through forests then 10%; If travelling overseas then 20% interest because of high risk.
- All debtors to pay agreed interest irrespective of the class.
- Four kinds of interests are mentioned in Naarada Smruti. Kaalika [monthly], Kaarita [fixed according to an agreement], Kaayika [manual labour-slavery] and Chakravrddhi [compound interest]
- In case of pledge of female animals, the progeny [santati] is the interest. The creditor enjoys the milk and labor of the female animal in that period.
- Maximum interest is 8 times in case of fluids, 4 times for cloth, 3 times for grains and 2 times for gold.
- 5 methods for loan recovery are there according to Manu namely 1. Moral persuasion [dharma] 2. Suit of law [vyvahara] 3. Deceit [chala] 4. Starvation [Acharitam- sitting in front of debtor’s house in protest] 5. Force [bala]
- If the loan was taken for maintaining the family then the head of the family should repay. In case of his absence [death, etc.,] then other members should repay.
- If the loan was taken for any other purpose then the wife is not liable to repay.
- If the loan was taken by the woman or was agreed by her when her husband received it, then she is liable to pay.
- In case of loan, the guarantee given to the creditor is of 2 kinds. Pratibhu [surety] and Adhi [pledge].
- Praatibhaavyam: law of surety-ship
- Surety [pratibhu] is a contract with another person to bring about confidence.
- 3 types, for appearance [darshana], for assurance [pratyaya] and for payment [daana].
- If the surety person dies then his son is liable to pay in case of daana.
- When there are 2 or more sureties, the amount will be equally divided and paid.
- If the case wins, in return, the person who gave surety also receives money or some article from the debtor.
- Aadhi : Law of pledges
- Pledge is hypothecation to the creditor by the debtor.
- There are 2 kinds namely the pledge with time limit [krtakala] and without time limit [akrtakala].
- Each has 2 more kinds – gopya [only custody] and bhogya [use and enjoyment].
- Expiry means the entire cessation of the debtor’s right of ownership, and the ownership of the creditor becoming absolute.
- Krtakala pledges will expire at the end of the stipulated period and the pledged item will become the Creditor’s own. For example, if the pledge is for one year, if the debtor does not redeem it by making the necessary payment, the creditor will take the ownership after one year. This holds good for both Gopya and Bhogya.
- Bhogya has no expiry date in the case of akrtakala, (since it has been already stated that krtakala has a fixed period beyond which it expires). The creditor can use the pledge as long as the amount is not paid back. But he cannot claim ownership of the pledge and he would have to return the pledge whenever the amount is paid.
- In case of akrtakala-Gopya, the pledge is kept only for custody and the creditor is expected to get separate interest from the debtor. Gopya will expire in the case of akrtakala when the lent amount has doubled. This means that if the unpaid interest also matches the principal, the debtor loses the ownership over the pledged item.
- If the creditor does not return the property then he is considered as thief.
- Pledge is mainly for the interest component. So the debtor can pay the principal and take back the pledge.
- If the pledge has gone beyond time limit and the profit has exceeded the interest, then the creditor has to pay the excess amount to the debtor.
- If the interest component is not totally covered, then the debtor has to pay the remaining amount along with the principal to get back the pledge.
कान्तारगास्तु दशकं सामुद्रा विंशकं शतम् ।
दद्युर्वा स्वकृतां वृद्धिं सर्वे सर्वासु जातिषु ॥ यास्मृ२ .३८ ॥
कान्तारगाः तु दशकं, सामुद्रा विंशकं शतम् । सर्वे सर्वासु जातिषु स्वकृतां वा वृद्धिं दद्युः |
Persons (usually) travelling through forests should pay ten percent and those who travel by sea twenty percent. The interest is more as there is a danger of the loss of the principal also. Or all should pay what they agree – irrespective of their class – i.e., irrespective of whether the loan will be secure or unsecured. The transactions are to be held as per the agreement.
संततिस्तु पशुस्त्रीणां रसस्याष्टगुणा परा ।
वस्त्रधान्यहिरण्यानां चतुस्त्रिद्विगुणा परा ॥ यास्मृ२.३९ ॥
स्त्रीणां तु संततिः पशुः | रसस्य अष्टगुणा परा । वस्त्र-धान्य-हिरण्यानां चतुस्-त्रि-द्विगुणा परा |
In the case of female animals, the interest is their progeny. In the case of fluid the utmost limit for interest is eight-fold. The interest of the principal loan advanced should be four-fold, three-fold, and two-fold in the case of cloth, grain and gold respectively.
सुराकामद्यूतकृतं दण्डशुल्कावशिष्टकम् ।
वृथादानं तथैवेह पुत्रो दद्यान् न पैतृकम् ॥ यास्मृ२.४७ ॥
सुरा-काम-द्यूत-कृतं, दण्ड-शुल्क-अवशिष्टकं, वृथादानं तथा एव इह, पैतृकं पुत्रः न दद्यात् |
The son should not pay the paternal debt which was contracted for the purposes of spirituous liquor, lust or gambling, or which is due as the balance of an unpaid (i.e., remaining portion of) fine or toll, as also a gift without any consideration.
प्रतिपन्नं स्त्रिया देयं पत्या वा सह यत् कृतम् ।
स्वयंकृतं वा यद् ऋणं नान्यत् स्त्री दातुम् अर्हति ॥ यास्मृ२.४९ ॥
यत् पत्या सह कृतं वा, यद् स्वयंकृतं वा, प्रतिपन्नं ऋणं स्त्रिया देयम् | स्त्री अन्यत् दातुं न अर्हति |
A debt agreed to (प्रतिपन्नं) by her, or which was contracted by her jointly with the husband, or by herself (alone) should be paid by a woman. A woman is not bound to pay any other debt.
The fourth prakarana is Upanidhi or safe deposits. This prakarana explains the action to be taken when there is a litigation related to deposits. Those who go on a yatra might hand over their valuables for safe custody until they return. There are different types of deposits. In one variety, the person does not disclose what is being given and that is अनाख्यात. The one where it is mentioned is called आख्यात. In such transactions, it is important to have a witness or Saakshi. In the other variety called यथास्थिति – the house is not physically handed over. It remains in its place. But the care-taker will ensure its safety in the owner’s absence. In the fourth variety लेख्य, a list is prepared of the things that are being handed over for safe-keeping.
- Undisclosed property placed in a container without any description of quantity and quality and given to a person is called upanidhi.
- If the same is described then it is nikshepa.
- These shall be returned with the seal intact.
- If the deposit has been stolen or taken away by the king before it was claimed by the owner then the depositary [the person to whom it was given] is not liable to pay.
- If it was stolen after the original depositor asks for it then the depositary has to pay up.
वासनस्थम् अनाख्याय हस्तेऽन्यस्य यद् अर्प्यते ।
द्रव्यं तद् औपनिधिकं प्रतिदेयं तथैव तत् ॥ यास्मृ२.६५ ॥ <2016>
The property, which is placed in a container and delivered to a person without being described the particulars as to the quality and quantity of it, is called a deposit (Upanidhi).
न दाप्योऽपहृतं तं तु राजदैविकतस्करैः ।
भ्रेषश्चेन्मार्गितेऽदत्ते दाप्यो दण्डं च तत्समम् ॥ यास्मृ२.६६ ॥
राज-दैविक-तस्करैः अपहृतं तं तु न दाप्यः । मार्गिते अदत्ते (सति) भ्रेषः चेत् तत् दाप्यः समम् दण्डं च |
That, however, which has been carried away by (an act of) the King, natural calamities, or thieves shall not be caused to be restored. When, however, the loss (भ्रेषः) occurs after demand (मार्गिते) and non-payment (अदत्ते), the depositary should be fined and compelled to pay an amount equal (to the deposit).
The next prakarana is about Saakshi or witness. यथाजाति यथावर्णं सर्वे सर्वेषु वा स्मृताः ॥ यास्मृ२.६९ ॥ The person in the same Jathi or samskraara is to be taken as Saakshi. i.e., for Brahmana, another Brahmana is to be called and not a Kshatriya. The person from a lower jathi might give wrong witness out of respect for the person in the higher jathi. Children below 8, women and old men above 80 do not have the right to be a witness. (Side note: In those days, the eight years old boy would go to gurukula and have the required maturity). Those who are involved in risky professions are not allowed to be a witness. The vaadi and the prativaadi could bring witnesses. The King could choose whom to question. उभयानुमतः साक्षी भवत्य् एकोऽपि धर्मवित् – २.७२ Just one person who is a common witness for both parties is sufficient if that person adheres to Dharma. Else, there has to be three or five and in the extreme cases up to 7 witnesses could be there. तपस्विनो दानशीलाः कुलीनाः सत्यवादिनः । धर्मप्रधाना ऋजवः पुत्रवन्तो धनान्विताः ॥ यास्मृ२.६८ ॥ Those who are committed, those who are broad-minded, those who are born in a good family, truthful, having dharmic ideals – such people having rujatva quality – i.e., union of speech, mind and action. The people coming should have children and sufficient wealth – such people will hesitate to commit sins and will not fall for money. Mentally retarded or handicapped like visually impaired person, etc. cannot be taken as a witness. Friends and people in the same profession should not come as a witness. Based on the context, if situation demands, these rules could be relaxed and there can be exceptions. The dharmic witness धर्म-शाक्षी is considered to be the best form of witness. [Side note: Once there was a saint called Indiresha Vitala Dasar. He had lost his eyes. Once a thief leaves some stolen items in his hands and he escapes. The Dasar gets caught as the theft. When asked to produce a witnesses, the Dasar says that only Lord Thimmappa should come as witness. In the King’s dream, Lord Srinivasa tells the king that his devotee is innocent].
- Evidences are of 3 kinds Likhitam [documents], bhukti [possession] and sakshi [witness]
- Witness is one who has actually seen or heard the thing.
- Witness may be appointed or unappointed [someone may voluntarily provide witness]
- Characteristics of competent witness – tapasvin, daanashila, kulina, satyavadi, dharmapradhana, putravaan, dhanaanvita.
- Generally number should not be less than 3 but with mutual consent sometimes even one witness is enough.
- He must be sworn–in and the effects of giving false witness should be explained.
- If a person, having agreed to give witness, fails to do so, then he is liable for punishment.
- If the witness has been proved wrong then the judgment gets cancelled.
- If a person gives false witness or hides the truth after receiving a bribe, then he is punishable.
<**> त्र्यवराः साक्षिणो ज्ञेयाः श्रौतस्मार्तक्रियापराः ।
यथाजाति यथावर्णं सर्वे सर्वेषु वा स्मृताः ॥ यास्मृ२.६९ ॥
यथा-जाति, यथा-वर्णं (वा), सर्वे सर्वेषु स्मृताः वा श्रौत-स्मार्त-क्रियापराः त्रि+अवराः साक्षिणः ज्ञेयाः |
It is to be known (ज्ञेयाः) that the competent (अवराः) witnesses (साक्षिणः) should be three (त्रि) or more in number, and should be devoted to the performance of Srauta and Smaarta rites (श्रौत-स्मार्त-क्रियापराः ), each respectively according to their caste or class (यथा-जाति, यथा-वर्णं) or all for all castes and classes (सर्वे सर्वेषु वा ).
साक्षिणः श्रावयेद्वादिप्रतिवादिसमीपगान् ।
ये पातककृतां लोका महापातकिनां तथा ॥ यास्मृ२.७३ ॥
वादि-प्रतिवादि-समीपगान् साक्षिणः श्रावयेत् – “ये पातककृतां लोकाः महापातकिनां तथा …” |
In the presence of the plaintiff and the defendant, the witnesses should be affirmed (in the following form). “Those regions which are meant for the perpetrators of sins and of baser sins, ….. to all these shall he go who gives false evidence.”
The last prakarana is about written documents called लेख्य prakarana. All the transactions of the king whether general or special, should have proper written documentation. The record has to be written in the presence of a witness. The important aspects to be captured mandatorily in the document are the year, the month, the thithi, the nakshatra, the day of the week, (i.e., panchaanga which indicates the first aspects namely vaara, tithi, nakshatra, yoga, and karana, along with samvatsara and sthaana) the place, and the day of the transaction and the personal details about the borrower and the lender like the gotra, nakshatra, age, etc.
The document should not be spoiled by oil or turmeric. भिन्ने दग्धेऽथवा छिन्ने लेख्यं अन्यत्तु कारयेत् ॥२.९१॥ If it is torn or damaged or burnt, a new one has to be prepared in the presence of some respectable witness. Both the parties should understand and sign it and both parties should have the witness.
Yajnavalkya concludes his work saying that the king should resolve all the cases without deviating from the dharmic principles. The verdict should be based on the code of conduct or the injunctions of dharma.
[Side note: During Srinivasa Kalyana, when Kubera comes to collect his loan, he mentions that the first witness was the Ashwatta Vruksha and the second witness was the Sun].
- 2 kinds shaasana [royal grant] and janapada [executed among citizens].
- Janapada is of 2 kinds, one written in one’s own handwriting and the other is written by someone else.
- The second category of Janapada written by another person requires attestation.
- Monetary transaction agreed by mutual consent should be documented in a contract.
- The name of creditor, year, month, fortnight, day, etc, must be mentioned.
- The debtor shall sign at the bottom saying that he has agreed to the contract.
- Equal number of witnesses for both creditor and debtor shall witness it.
- If the document is written by the debtor then witness is optional.
- Debt repayable only till 3 generations.
- Pledge can be enjoyed by the creditor as long as it has not been paid off [even 4th or 5th gen]
- Debtor shall note down all the instalments that have been repaid on the backside of the contract and it must be signed by the creditor.
- At the end of the contract a fresh document may be prepared stating the expiry of the contract.
- The same witnesses should be present at the time of redemption.
विनापि साक्षिभिर्लेख्यं स्वहस्तलिखितं तु यत् ।
तत् प्रमाणं स्मृतं लेख्यं बलोपधिकृताद् ऋते ॥ यास्मृ२.८९ ॥
साक्षिभिः विना अपि, बल+उपधिकृताद् ऋते, यत् लेख्यं तु स्व-हस्त-लिखितं, तत् लेख्यं प्रमाणं स्मृतम् |
A writing, which is in one’s own hand, although it be without witnesses, is declared to be evidence, except when it is caused by force or fraud.
ऋणं लेख्यकृतं देयं पुरुषैस्त्रिभिरेव तु ।
आधिस्तु भुज्यते तावद् यावत्तन्न प्रदीयते ॥ यास्मृ२.९० ॥
त्रिभिः पुरुषैः एव लेख्यकृतं ऋणं तु देयम् । यावत् तत् न प्रदीयते तावद् आधिः तु भुज्यते |
A debt evidenced by writing should be paid by persons in three generations only. A pledge, however, is enjoyed as long as it is not paid off.
देशान्तरस्थे दुर्लेख्ये नष्टोन्मृष्टे हृते तथा ।
भिन्ने दग्धेऽथवा छिन्ने लेख्यम् अन्यत् तु कारयेत् ॥ यास्मृ२.९१ ॥
देशान्तरस्थे, दुर्लेख्ये, नष्टे, उन्मृष्टे, हृते तथा, भिन्ने, दग्धे, अथवा छिन्ने, अन्यत् लेख्यम् तु कारयेत् |
If a document is in another country देशान्तरस्थे, is badly written दुर्लेख्ये, or is lost नष्टे, or effaced उन्मृष्टे, as also तथा, if it is stolen हृते, if it is torn भिन्ने, burnt दग्धे, or cut asunder छिन्ने, another document अन्यत् लेख्यम् should be allowed (by the King) to be made कारयेत् (in its place).
सचैलं स्नातम् आहूय सूर्योदयोपोषितम् ।
कारयेत् सर्वदिव्यानि नृपब्राह्मणसंनिधौ ॥ यास्मृ२.९७ ॥
स्नातं सचैलं सूर्योदय-उपोषितं आहूय, सर्वदिव्यानि नृपब्राह्मणसंनिधौ कारयेत् |
All these divyas or ordeals (i.e., the tests that the accused is put through hoping to get some divine proof) are to be performed in the presence of the King and the Brahmins, by inviting the person who should have been fasting since sunrise and he should come bathed with his (wet) clothes on him.
- याज्ञवल्क्यस्मृतिः https://sa.wikibooks.org/s/la
- KSOU material seems to be based on this book — Mitākṣarā-of-Vijnāneśvara-on-Yājnavalkya-Dharmaśāstra-Vyavahāra-pt-1-Gharpure-translation https://www.scribd.com/doc/199798475/Mit%C4%81k%E1%B9%A3ar%C4%81-of-Vijn%C4%81ne%C5%9Bvara-on-Y%C4%81jnavalkya-Dharma%C5%9B%C4%81stra-Vyavah%C4%81ra-pt-1-Gharpure-translation
The Smrutis were written by great rishis who were very knowledgeable and they also practiced the dharma. They gained this status of Rishi through their righteous conduct while carrying out the worldly actions. Most of the Smrutis are named after its Author like Yajnavalkya Smruti or Vaadula Smruti. They have realized the ultimate truth and they wrote these works to share their knowledge with others.
In Vaadula Smruti, Rishi Vaadula mentions in details the duties of a person that has to be carried out right from dawn to dusk. प्रात: प्रभूति सायन्तं सायादिप्रातरं तथा | He splits the activities into two groups namely Nitya Karma and Naimittika Karma. The daily activities like Sandyaavandana are stated under Nitya Karma. The occasional activities that are to be performed at specific times like the Pitru Karma are stated under Naimittika Karma. The activities like giving Dhaana or performing Yagna would also come under this classification. Irrespective of caste or community, the general instruction to one and all is that they should wake up in Brahmi-muhurta i.e., before sun-rise (ब्राह्मीमुहूर्ते च उत्ताय…) | The varna specific karmas are stated by Yajnavalkya in the vyaavahaara portion. But this instruction is applicable to all. Then he says about शौचाचारपरायणः relating to the tasks of keeping oneself clean. Stressing on the importance of the शौचाचार विहीनस्य समस्ता: निष्फला: क्रिया: | The mental cleanliness is also given importance along with the physical hygiene. A person devoid of this will not be successful in all of his endeavors. There is a saying — आचार प्रथमो धर्मः | The customs and practices form the first Dharma that one should adhere to. In this Smriti, there is a special importance given to Guru. गुरुद्वाराप्रसादकृतः – that the God will appear through the form of the Guru only. To achieve salvation, it is important to seek refuge in a Guru.
It is also called Durvaasasmriti. दुर्वाशः is called so since his clothes used to be dirty and he would not bother about it as he used to be revealing in higher levels of consciousness. This Smriti is the instruction given by Durvaasa to Narayana Muni. The work is collated by Narayana muni. So it is popularly known as Narayana Smriti. In this, the nine crore sins that could be committed by one person in one life is listed out. He also mentions about the remedial actions. Even if a person resolves to perform only good actions in his life both physical and mental, within a moment, he could still commit sins that would require thirty two births to redeem. Even the thought of hurting someone is considered as a sin even though the actual action is not performed. So sins are not to be done – तस्मात् पापं न कर्तव्यम् नरैः नरकभेरुभिः | So he tells the people, who are scared of hell, to refrain from committing sins and to do actions that will lead them to better states. They would have to go to hell if they commit paapa. They could go to heaven if they do punya activities. But again, क्षीणे पुण्ये मर्त्यलोकं विशन्ति | When the punyas are exhausted, they would take birth again in this world and get into the cycle of birth and death. Instead each person should strive to attain Moksha.
Different Smritis give different definitions for the five great sins or the pancha mahaa paatakas. According to this Narayana Smriti they are brahma-hatya (killing a Brahma), suraa-paana (consuming alcohol), svarna-steya (stealing gold), guru-talpa-gamana (going to the guru’s bed i.e., approaching Guru Patni with wrong intentions), and go-vadha (killing a cow). Usually the sins for which there is no redemption from undergoing the consequences are considered as Mahaa Paatakas. But in this Smriti, there is prayaschita told even for these pancha maha patakas. Three actions are suggested as the remedial action. First one is the recitation of Adhamarshana Sutra. Adha indicates the sin. Marshana means – to forgive. The second prayaschita is the recitation of Hari’s Pavamaana Sutra. For the physical cleansing, the consumption of pacha-gavya is recommended.
This Smriti highlights the influence of the Kali Yuga. It states the places where the Kali Purusha resides. The primary place is the place of kalaha or commotion or fight – कलिस्तु कलहप्रियः | It is essential to know the residing place of Kali like gold; and try our best to avoid coming under its influence. This Smriti also recommends the places that are ideal to avoid Kali’s influence. People should avoid the Papa karma and stay in the Kali Nigraha Sthaanaas.
(This is important from exam point of view).
Rishi Vyaagrapaada is a Mantra Drushtaa for some Rik Veda Mantras. There is a mandal in Rig Veda attributed to this Rishi. He is also a Gotra Pravartaka meaning there is a Gotra or clan in his name. Paandavas (Bhima, etc.) in Mahabharata belongs to this Gotra. Vyaagrapaada is the deeksha guru of Upamanyu who is the guru of Sri Krishna. Thus he becomes Krishna’s parama guru.
There are around 400 shlokas in this Smriti. The specialty about this Smriti is that the recitation of this Smriti itself serves as a parihara, whereas the other Smritis give instructions on the ways to do parihara. सर्व-पाप-हरं दिव्यं सर्व-शंशय-नाशनं चतुर्णां अपि वर्णानां व्याग्रः शास्त्रम् अकल्पयत् | Vyaagraha created this divine Shaastra for the people in all the four Varnaas for the eradication of all their doubts and for the destruction of all their sins.
Dhaana Mahimaa is elaborately explained in this Smriti. दानं दात्रुवशं प्रोक्तम् | It is said that the charity is to be given based on the wish of the giver. This means that a person should not be instructed to give specific charity to specific individuals. Whatever the person feels like giving and to whomever she/he feels like giving, it could be given. The factors to be considered while giving Dhaana are Desha, Kaala and Paatra – place, time and the receiving person. The significance of the place is that if a dhaana is made in the right place, say a pilgrim spot, the result of the dhaana will be many times more than the result obtained by doing in it one’s house. Similarly on special occasions like during an eclipse or during the specific parva kaalas, there will be additional benefits. The dhaana made to a learned Brahmin would yield more punya than the dhaana given to others. This Smriti also says नापुत्राय दातव्यम् – daana should not be made to a person without Putra – which could be taken as progeny or knowledge.
Rishi Gautama is the maanasa putra of Brahma. He is one of the sapta rishis. He is the husband of Ahalyaa. There are 22 adhyaaya or chapters in this Smriti. He specially elaborates on the activities associated with each month. He mentions about the specific Tirthas and Kshetras, the holy pilgrim places meant for giving Daana and for performing Pitru Shraardha. The superior and the inferior paths that the soul takes after death has been mentioned as Garuda Maarga and Shesha Maarga or Surya Maarga and Chandra Maarga. Rishi Gautama mentions about the value of Bhakti towards Paramaatma Vishna and also towards one’s guru. मुक्ति: नैजसुखानुभूति: अमला भक्तिश्च तत् साधनम् – pure bhakti is the means of attaining mukti. Only when Draupadi had complete surrender, she got the akshaya ambara.
Bharadwaaja Smriti or Vaajapeya Smriti is written by Bharadwaaja, also called as Vaajapeya. He is also a Drushtaa of the Rig Veda’s sixth Mandala. So this mandala is referred Bharadwaaja Mandala. He was authored six works – Bharadwaaja Shrota Sutra, Bharadwaaja Gruhya Sutra, Yantra Sarvasva (dealing with aeroplane – only some part is available now), Aamshuma Tantra (also dealing with Aeroplane), Aakaasha Shaastra and Bharadwaaja Smriti. In Bharadwaaja Smriti, there are 25 adhyaayas or chapters out of which only 19 adhyaayas comprising of 114 shlokas are available now. Bharadwaaja elaborates on the importance of Gayatri Mantra, along with the significance and the procedure for conducting the Upanayana Dhaarana Karma. गायत्री वेदमातासि सुत्ररूपेण तिष्ठति | He mentions that the Gayatri Devi resides in the form of the sacred thread of Yagnopaveeta. He also mentions about the greatness of the Dharba Grass which is used in the auspicious festivities and pitru karmas. We use a piece of Dharba during Eclipse to remove the bad effects and to retain the purity of the food items as it is natural disinfectant and a natural food preservative. He says how Dharba got its greatness. According to him, Dharba has Amrita in it. He elaborately describes about the nature of the flowers that are fit to be used in the pooja like those that have not fallen down, those without fragrance, etc. He goes to the extent of instructing how to pluck the flower without hurting the plant.
This is also called as Vaishnava Smriti. Its author is Chiraadalabhya or Dalabhya. All the time, he used to be in deep meditation. चिरात् अलभ्यः = Difficult to obtain for a long time. He has authored Daalabhya Sutra also which is related to Ayurveda. In the Daalabhya Smriti, there are 167 shlokas. He has collated the information provided by the Rishi Shankalikhita, which is also a Smritikaara. He elaborates on the importance of Go-Seva, and explains how to take care of the cow and how to milk it, how much to milk, how the calf has to be allowed to consume before we milk the cow, how much water is to be mixed with the milk, to whom the milk has to be sold, when it has to be sold, the greatness of pancha gavya, how to take care of cows that have stopped giving milk and the sin of Go-Vadha.
He is the son of Rishi Jabali. He has authored three works – Lagu Haarita Smriti, Haarita Smriti, and Vrudda Haarita Smriti with 117 shlokas, 200 shlokas, and 3500 shlokas respectively. He explains how Lord Vishnu is to be worshipped and stress on the importance of Bhakti. Since Vishnu has the quality of Bhakta-vatsalya, he is easily blessed by the devotion of the devotees. He cites some examples for how Vishnu has blessed his disciples. He states the greatness of the Ekaakshara mantras – for example, “Gam” for Ganesha. While explaining this, he gives special importance to the mantra for Narasimha. नरसिंहः क्षस्य देवता | Narasimhan is the god of “Ksha”.
This is also called Sukra Smriti. Sukraacharya is the son of Brughu Maharshi. He is also called as Ushana / Ushanas. The Smriti is so named because Ushanasya ayam aushanas. This smriti has 9 chapters and 600 shlokas. The need for the Upanayana karma, those who are eligible for Upanayana, and its greatness are explained in this Smriti. The father gains the eligibility to initiate the son into Gayatri only after he himself chants it 10,000 times. The 24 letters in Gayatri have their own specific gods and mantras. To be performed when the boy is 7 years old and initiation is to be done while seated in a Dharbhaasana. अहरहस्सन्द्यां उपासीत | Perform Sandhya three times in a day, else the person will lose his Brahminhood. (Side note: Earlier women were also initiated. Later on, considering the additional effort required to retain the sanctity, women were exempted from this. This ban on women to get initiated this way, is only based on practice and it was not mentioned in the ancient scriptures). In this Smriti, the importance of Gurukula education and the significance of the service done to the Guru are explained. गुरूशुश्रूषया विद्या पुष्कलेन धनेन वा ।
This is also called Kashyapa Dharma Shashtra as he has put all the Dharmas in an authoritative manner in this Smriti. Some of the initial verses are in the Gadya / prose format, while the rest are in Padya / poetry format. In the initial Gadya portion along with only 20 shlokas in Padya portion which are in Anushtub Chandas are available now. He elaborates on the duties of the Grihasta. How the husband should protect his wife, what are the responsibilities of the wife, etc. यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवता:। There will be all prosperity and the divine presence where the women are kept happy. He gives importance to the guidance of the woman and mentions that the advice of the elderly woman is to be taken while taking decisions related to the household dilemmas.
Shandilya Bhakti Sutra and Shandilya Smriti have been written by Shandila. The Smriti has 5 chapters and 700 shlokas. Starting with the Praatarvidhi or the morning activities, he explains how the worship of the god is to be performed. He mentions about the Krutya – the practices of Seducing people. He warns about the reverse effect if it is used on great people. How to redeem from its effects, etc. are explained.
He is a Gotra Pravattakara. There is a clan called Lohita Gotra. This Smriti has 721 shlokas. This is also called as Dattaka Smriti, since it deals in detail about adoption explaining who can be adopted, the rights of the adopted child, when adoption can be done, the adopted child’s duties and responsibilities towards his adopted parents and biological parents, etc.
Aruna is the son of Kashyapa. There are 148 shlokas in this smriti. The daily routine of a Brahmin, his actions, his thoughts, the unique duties of the Brahmin are all explained in this. He mentions the greatness of a Brahmin. He explains about giving and receiving dhaana. On receiving dhaana, (so that the giver can obtain the punya of giving), it is mentioned about the person from who dhaana can be received, what items can be accepted, etc. Other topics related to the duties of the Brahmin are also covered like यज्ञ – यज्ञापन Conducting and making others conduct yagna, अध्ययन – अध्यापन studying and teaching others, hospitality towards invited and uninvited guests, etc.
This Smriti mainly deals with the 16 (shodash) samskaaraas. The 24 letters, the 24 mudras and the 24 tattvas related to the Gayatri mantra are explained here. He describes in detail the Panchaayata Pooja, i.e., the worship of the five popular deities namely Surya, Vinayaka, Durga, Shiva and Vishnu. He deals with the food explaining which items can be consumed, how the food has to be prepared, that it should not be consumed before offering to god, etc. At the end, he also mentions about the Stree Dharma.
Though there is mention that this is a very long Smriti, currently only 30 shlokas are available. Raja Dharma, Varnashrama Dharma, Nitya-Naimittika Karma, etc. are mentioned in this Smriti. Like how Krishna states in the Gita, स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेयः, this Smriti recommends the adherence to one’s own dharma. This Smriti concludes stating that one’s own Dharma is the greatest Dharma for the person.
Aangirasa is the pravarthaka of Atharva Veda. He is one of the Sapta Rishi (There are different sets of seven rishis) . He is a Gotra Pravarthaka. He has written a number of Smritis. The most important among them are three – Poorva Aangirasa Smriti, Aangirasa Smriti, and Uttara Aangirasa Smriti with 1132 shlokas, 82 shlokas, and 175 shlokas respectively. He elaborates about the food offered to god and mentions that there should be द्रव्यशुद्धिः, क्रियाशुद्धिः and भावशुद्धिः by using the right ingredients, by performing the right actions and with the right attitude. The greatness of Annadaana of the food that has been prepared and offered to god as mentioned earlier, is mentioned in this smriti.
Samvarta is a great devotee of Shiva. The Smriti itself mentions the greatness of the spiritual knowledge possessed by Rishi Samvarta. There are 227 shlokas in this Smriti. He mentions about the power of Kali which none can escape, Kali’s residing place, Places which Kali avoids – Nigraha Sthaana, etc. He explains about the panch daana – Abhaya daana (Ramaa to Vibhishana), Suvarna daana (gold), Go-daana (cow), bhu daana (land) and Anna daana (that which gives life is Anna and hence it indicates both food and knowledge).
He is the drushtaa of the eight mandal of Rig Veda. There is branch called Kanva Shakhaa comprising of the followers of this eight mandal of Rig Veda. He gives a lot of importance for the Grihasta Dharma. He elaborates on the duties of the householder. कुरु कृष्णार्पणं नित्यम् | The good actions that were performed should be offered to Krishna on a daily basis. There are two ways of offering possible – one is dedicating the fruits of all the actions and the other one is to offer only the fruits of the good actions. There is a belief that Krishna multiplies the offering hundred times and returns it back. So, in order to avoid the negative impact, Kanva does not recommend offering the fruits of all actions which could have some faults. The other non-saatvik nishidda actions are also to be offered with a prayer to free us from the impact of these actions.
This Smriti is based on the instructions of Ruchi Maharshi given to Brajaapati. It is mentioned that Lord Brahma had instructed Ruchi Maharshi. The Source of all knowledge is Hyagriva. He instructed all the knowledge to Brahma. The Knowledge spread from Brahma to various Rishis. Hence this is not a specific feature of this Smriti.
Here he mentions about the various aspects of Pitru Yagna like how to offer Pindaa, its quantity, etc.
He is the moola pravarthaka of Shankya Shastra or the Shankya school of Philosophy. He has also written Kapila Gita. He has also written a work called Kapila Paancharaatra which is related to the Aagama Shaastra, which is the science of performing the pooja and homa. In the Kapila Smriti there are 100 shlokas in the Anushtup Chandas. वेदो नारायणः साक्षात् तदर्थज्ञ स एव हि । (कपिल स्मृ ३७). Though the Vedas might have hymns of other gods like Sree Sukta, Agni Sukta, Varna Sukta, etc., Kapila says that only the external meaning of those words will indicate the respective deities. The internal meaning will always be addressed towards Narayana only. तदर्थज्ञ स एव हि – one who understands the Vedas is also Narayana. No one other than Narayana, in the form of Hyagriva, can have the complete understanding of the Vedas. By Narayana it was instructed to Brahma and he in turn instructed the Rishis.
He explains how Vedas are to be studied, the presiding deities in each letter present in the Vedic hymns, and the need for worshipping Narayana who is the Antaryaami of these presiding deities. He mentions a term called गोलकत्रय. If we are worshipping a god, say Ganesha, then the first covering or Aavarana is that of Ganesha. Ganesh is controlled by the Rudra Devatha who in turn is controlled by Narayana. So these three layers have to be remembered while performing the worship. While elaborating on the way to study Vedas, he mentions about the swaras like udatta, anudatta, svaritha and pluta. He also talks about नाद, बिन्दु, घोष. He specifies about the people who qualify to learn Vedas. He talks about अनाध्ययनत्रय. स्त्रीशूद्रब्रह्मबन्दूना त्रयेन स्मृति गोचरा – Women, Sudras and Brahmabandus (unworthy name-sake Brahmin as he happens to be related to a Brahmin) are prohibited from even listening to the Smrutis. He clarifies on the restrictions related to who can access the Smrutis. He stresses the point about the apaurushatva of Vedas that it was created without the influence of any human.
Refer the separate section after this overview of the different Smritis.
It is in the form of Sutras or aphorisms. Only 40 sutras are available from this work. He states that Dharma is the main cause for a person to attain higher goals. श्रेयो अभ्युदयसाधनः धर्मः | The extent to which one adheres to Dharma, to that extent he would be able to progress in life. In Kathopanishad, the concepts of Shreyas and Preyas is explained which deal with laukika or worldly achievements and Paaramaarthika or the spiritual achievements. In this Smriti also it has been clarified about which are to be considered as Shreyas and which are taken to be Preyas. Kaamya Karma, the actions performed with a specific desire in mind is considered as Preyas. The actions performed without any attachment in a sense of Nishkaama Karma are Shreyas. There are certain Kaamya Karma are considered to be worthy of carrying out.
There are certain descriptions related to the administration of the Kingdom, i.e., Raajya Shaastra. Stressing on the importance of Dharma, the Smritikaara says that Dharma should be considered as our friend, rather than saying that there should be faith or devotion towards Dharma. In spite of all difficulties we will not give up our friendship. In the same way, Dharma has to be carried out with a sense of friendship towards it. जानामि धर्मं न च मे प्रवृत्तिः | जानामि अधर्मं न च मे निवृत्तिः | One should not have this weakness where he says that he knows the Dharma and he is yet unable to follow it and in the same way, he knows the Adharma and he is unable to give it up. Once you know that it is Adharma, at least an attempt has to be made to give it up. There is no forgiveness for knowingly committing a mistake. He also speaks about the Shodasha (16) samskaaras.
He talks about the eight types of marriages, on who can do it, under what circumstances these are to be done, etc. These 8 types of marriages are covered in 4 or 5 Smritis. The different types are Brahma Vivaaha, Daiva Vivaaha, Aarsha Vivaaha, Praajapatya Vivaaha, Gandharva Vivaaha, Aasura Vivaaha, Paishaacha Vivaaha and Raakshasa Vivaaha. The present day marriage procedure is considered to be Aarsha Vivaaha or Maanushya Vivaaha. The other forms of marriage do not apply to the present times. For example, if the couple looks at each other, that is considered as Gandharva marriage. If one person’s hand touches the other person, then it is considered as a marriage. (Side Note: With the present day culture of shaking hands, this rule will lead to ananta-patnitvaa or having unlimited wives J ).
Bruhaspati, the guru of the devas gave this instructions to Lord Indra. Only 81 shlokas are available now. There is an elaborate description of the duties and responsibilities of the Devataas, their 32 characteristics, the relevance of these characteristics, etc. It is believed that only the portion that is required for mankind is available with us. The portions that are meant for the Devataas have been retained in the Deva loka where they are adored and followed.
He mentions about Go-Daana, Bhu-daana and Vidhyaa-daana. Without any compulsion, when one of this Daana-traya is done, it is called Atidaana. Even if you are not able to any other daana, this Atidaana has to be made. त्रीणि आहुः अतिदानानि गावः पृथ्वी सरस्वती | The benefit of this daana is stated as सर्वपाप-तारयन्ति दातारः सर्वात् पापात् असंशयम् | The giver of this daana will definitely cross over all the sins.
There are 3 Smritis namely Laghu Shaataatapa, Vruddha Shaataatapa, and Shaataatapa Smriti with 183 shlokas, 68 shlokas, and 240 shlokas respectively. This Shaataatapa Smriti with 240 shlokas is also called as Karma Vipaakaa. षातातपीय कर्म-विपाका |
In this Smriti, the greatness of Kurcha is explained. Kurcha is the collection of 5 or 7 dharbha tied together and used like a stick while performing rituals like Yagna and Shaardha. He also mentions about the consequences of eating what should not be eaten – अभक्ष-भक्षणम् and also states the praayaschitta and parihaara for the same. पलाण्डं न भक्षयेत् – don’t eat onions. He lists 21 diseases that could come if such forbidden food is consumed. The remedy for that is to consume Pancha-gavya and to observe fasting on Ekadhasi day. Fasting on Ekaadhasi day is the remedy for consuming the abhakshya-bhakshana in those 14 days. It is to be noted that this parihara is for the mistakes done without one’s knowledge.
There are different avatars of Yama. This Smriti is written by the Yama named Vivasvan, the son of one of the 20 Suryas. This Smriti says that Dharma has to be adhered to for the welfare of the humanity, while the other smritis recommend it for one’s own upliftment. There are three works namely Lagu Yama Smriti, Yama Smriti and Bruhat Yama Smriti having 99 shlokas, 78 shlokas and 182 shlokas respectively. The specialty of this Smriti is the relaxation given for children. He says that the activities performed between 8 and 80 only count for accumulating the paapa or punya. Before 8 years, whatever the child does, he/she is freed of the result of those actions and it actually impacts their parents only. After 80 years of age, the duties are relaxed considering the health conditions.
There is a story told in our epics that once Narada decided to visit all the lokas. When he entered the hell ruled by Yama, the people were undergoing different kinds of punishments like being fried in oil, continuous cutting of the limbs which get attached back again to the Yaatana Shaarira, etc. But, they felt extreme happiness due to the power of his chanting of Narayana naama.
नारायणेति मन्त्रोस्ति जिह्वापि वशवर्तिनी |
तथापी नरके घोरे पतत्येतत् अहो विधिः ||
Narada says this with surprise – There is this powerful mantra called Narayana. There is also this tongue which is well within our control. Yet, people fall into this hell. Oh! Fate is powerful.
Yama tells Narada that it is true. But if he does his preaching here in the hell, Yama would not be able to discharge his duties. So he recommends Narada to go to the earth and preach there. Narada in turn tells Yama that Yama would also have to take a birth in the world since he committed the sin of stopping the in-dwellers of hell from hearing the Narayana Naama.
Narada takes birth as Purandara Daasa and wrote 7,25,000 devar-naamaas or songs to enable people to remember Narayana and attain better worlds. Yama takes birth as this Vivasvan and wrote this Smriti.
There is a ritual called Vrishotsarga that is done on the eleventh day as part of the Sraddha using a Vrishaba or a bull. This Smriti explains about the significance of that ritual. He mentions that the intake of the Pitru jala or the water that is given after doing the yearly Pitru kaarya causes the progeny to be born. It becomes the cause of Vamshaa Abhivridhi.
He is the mantra drushtaa for Rig Veda’s ninth Mandala and the Pavamaana Sukta. There are 90 shlokas in this Smriti. He elaborates on the greatness of Panchagavya and mentions the proportion in which the items have to be mixed while preparing the Panchagavya, etc. Here he mentions specific aspects like the cow’s urine should be that of a cow in the color of Tamra or copper, the cow dung should be that of a white (shveta) colored cow, the milk should be from yellow (suvarna) colored cow, the curd should be from cow the mix of brown and black (neela) colored cow, and the ghee should be obtained from the black colored cow.
He is the mantra drushtaa for Rig Veda’s third Mandala. He is the mantra drushtaa for Gayatri Mantra also. There are three works – Vishvamitra Smriti, Vishvamitra Samhita, and Vishvamitra Kalpa. The Smriti has 475 shlokas. He elaborates about the greatness of Gayatri. Usually Gayatri Mantra is considered to be having 3 parts – tripadaa Gayatri matching the Gayatri Chandas. But he shows Gayatri to be having 4 parts – chatuspaada-Gayatri.
[Additional Info: This Turiya Gayatri is of 32 letters with 1st pada with 8 letters being included. It is the highly secret and is even hidden from the Gods. This vidya is imparted only to Yatis].
He mentions about Kojaagara vrata. During Sharad ritu, i.e., during the time of navaraatri, on one specific day, the devotees should stay awake during the night time as on that day and worship Lashmi. It is believed that Lakshmi Devi will be checking “को जागरति” – who is awake? and bless those who are worshipping her that night. He also explains the five types of Achamana.
Daksha Prajaapati is a maanasa putra of Brahma Deva. Seven chapters are available from this Smriti. He splits the day and night comprising of 24 hours into 8 parts, with each having 3 hours. Each unit of 3 hours is called a Jaama. In this Smriti, the activities to be performed in each Jaama are explained.
वेदाभ्यासो हि पञ्चधा | He mentions about 5 types of Vidhyaabhyaasa. (1) Doing service to the guru. In those days, when the child is five or six years old, he will be left in the gurukula. Guru and Gurupatni will then take care. Based on the individual capacity, the guru will choose to teach the student whatever he wants to teach. There are cases where the guru did not teach anything for years together. After 10 or 12 years, when the guru feels that the student is ready for the gnana, he might touch the head of the disciple and bless him saying चिरञ्जीव-सुखी भव – may you have eternal happiness with Gnaana. (chiranjeeva also indicates knowledge). This was one way of transferring the knowledge. The Rishis that the capacity to do so. Like this the four ways of teaching is mentioned in this Smriti.
In this Smriti, there is mention about nine nines नवनवक. They are nine types of Snaana, nine types of Bhakti, daana, aachamana, archana, shraadda, tapas, bhojana, and aarjana.
He prohibits eating the food that remains after someone has eaten. He also mentions the parihaara for such a mistake committed.
There are 10 chapters and 200 shlokas. Aapastamba shrauta Sutra, Aapastamba gruhya sutra, Aapastamba Dharma Sutra, Aapastamba Shulba Sutra, Yagna paribhaashaa sutra, and Aapastamba Smriti were written by Aapastamba. He states the importance of Gnana for salvation. ज्ञानेनैव परं पदम् | Brahmasutra tells about the loka from where there is no return न च पुनरावर्तते | Such a loka can be obtained only by knowledge. The other good deeds will enable one to attain only svarga loka from which they would have to come back once the acquired punya is over – क्षीणे पुण्ये मर्त्यलोकं विशन्ति | When gnaana is gained, then Moksha is obtained and there is no coming-back.
This Smriti has 12 chapters. The greatness of the four yugas has been mentioned – चतुर्युग माहात्म्यम् | The four yugas are kruta yuga, kretaayuga, dwaapara yuga, and kali yuga. The dharma to be observed in each yuga is explained. The cause for the reduction in the size of man from one yuga to another has been explained. The height of men is supposed to be 16 feet, 9 feet, 7 feet, and 6 feet respectively in the four yugas. आकार सदृशः प्रज्ञः | प्रज्ञया सदृशः आकारः | says Kalidasa. Based on the size of the body, they possessed the physical strength, they did their austerities and gained greater amount of gnaana. With the passage of yuga, as the Dharma and Shraddha keep reducing, even the life span has been reducing. कलौ कलुषचित्तानां – In the kali yuga, the people have impure thinking.
This is also called as Baalaka Smriti. Mrukandoh apatyam pumaan maarkandeyah. He comes in the clan of Brughu Muni. He is the son Mrukandu Maharishi. He has written four works – Mrutyunjaya stootra, Maarkandeya Upadesha, Maarkandeya Samasyaa parva, and Maarkandeya Smriti. The Maarkadeya Puranam was written by Veda Vyasa. The Smriti captures the outcome of the discussions between Shaunaka Maharishi and Maarkandeya. It describes the way to bring up children. It stresses the importance of teaching them the proper samskaaras right from the young age and bringing them up in a disciplined environment. This Smriti also gives some instructions to the married couple for begetting good children.
Shanka and Likhita were brothers. They discussed about the aspects of Dharma and documented the conclusion and the summary in this Smriti. There are other Smritis that these two rishis wrote on their own. In Shanka Smriti, Laghu Shanka Smriti, Likhita Smriti and Shankalikhita Smriti there are 350 shlokas, 71 shlokas, 93 shlokas, and 32 shlokas respectively. This Smriti deals specially with the Yati Dharma, the duties and responsibilities of a Sanyaasi. काषाय-दण्ड-मात्रेण यतिः पूज्यो भविष्यति | The Sanyaasi is to be respected once they take the ocher robes and the sacred stick. Others do not have the rights to question the yati. Only Yama can comment on their actions. The pooja to be performed by the Sanyaasis are mentioned in this Smriti. If a sanyaasi happens to think about the beauty of any lady, the prayaschchita is given as giving up one’s life by rolling on the hot sands.
This Smriti is also referred to as Atri Dharma Sutra. There 9 adhyaayas and 90 Shlokas. It is in the Champu format. Fourth and Seventh chapters are in sutra form. Explaining the ways to do Praanaayaama and its benefits, this smriti states that Praanaayaama is an important tool for man to conduct his life in the right manner. सन्ततं चिन्तयेऽनन्तं अन्त्यकाले विशेषतः | We should always think about God and in particular during the last days. Since it is important to have thoughts about God during the praana prayaana samaya, it is essential to have the practice of always remembering God.
Vashishta is the Drushtaa for the seventh mandala of Rig Veda. This Smriti has 7 adhyaayas and 1150 shlokas. It is also called Vaishnava Smriti as it elaborates on the need to worship Vishnu and the procedure for the worship. It gives importance to the company of good people – महत्-जन-समागम | Good people are those who perform their duties in the right way. He mentions about the greatness of the Sudharshana Chakra and also about the greatness of getting the mudra of shanka and chakra on the arms. It demonstrates our bhakti towards God and symbolically indicates Vishnu. Three aspects of Ankana-bhajana-naamakarana namely adoring the symbols, chanting the names and naming the children after Vishnu are the ways to demonstrate our Bhakti towards him. He also mentions about the shodashsamskaara and the greatness of Shaligraama. Which types of Shaligraama can be kept in the house, what different shapes of Shaligraama indicates, how it is to be worshipped, and other aspects related to Shaaligraama.
This is also called as the Vaishnava Dharma Shaastra. This is the instruction given by Lord Vishnu himself to Bhoo Devi. This has 100 Chapters. Bhoodevi questions Vishnu about the reduction in Bhakti towards him in the earth. Vishnu gives the reason and gives some remedial actions also. In this context, he specifically elaborates on the Sanyaasa Dharma, Raja Dharma and Vaishya Dharma. If these three classes of people are prefect, the rest of world will also practice dharma. While mentioning the Vaishya dharma, he describes about the weighing balance or tula and mentions that it should be check it and kept it set correctly. This smriti also mentions about the procedure to enquire the person considered to be guilty. It states 5 types of tests namely Agni Pareeksha, Visha, Jala, Abhimantrita jala (Sacred water which is made powerful through mantra shakti) pareeksha, and pratignaa (promise) pareeksha.
There are 4 chapters and 250 shlokas in this Smriti. He specially explains the Varanaashrama Dharma, the greatness of chastity, the characteristics of kanya and stree, and the duties of the woman. The need for Daampatya and the importance of Daampatya is explained in this Smriti. The significance of Eka-patni Vrata or Sa-patni Vrata is also mentioned in this Smriti.
The most important of all the Smritis is Manu Smriti and the next one is Yagnavalkya Smriti. वेदार्थोपनिबन्धृत्वात् प्राधान्यं हि मनोः स्मृतम् | The Smriti by Manu has a prominence as in it, the meaning of the Vedas has been provided in a condensed manner. Manu mentions that he has collated the knowledge provided by Lord Brahma to his students. He states in the Smriti itself that he has mentioned about the earlier times, the present times, and how the things are going to happen in the future times. This smriti has 12 Chapters and 2684 shlokas. Each chapter primarily deals with a specific aspect. In the final chapter, he summaries everything and mentions about Moksha Dharma. The ultimate goal of man should be Moksha. All the actions of man is towards gaining the chaturvida-phala-purushaartha namely dharma, artha, kama, and moksha.