Apastamba Dharma-sutra

by Āpastamba | 1879 | 60,011 words

The Dharmasutra of Āpastamba forms a part of the larger Kalpasūtra of Āpastamba. It contains thirty praśnas, which literally means ‘questions’ or books. The subjects of this Dharmasūtra are well organized and preserved in good condition. These praśanas consist of the Śrautasūtra followed by Mantrapāṭha which is used in domestic rites and is a colle...

Praśṇa I, Paṭala 1, Khaṇḍa 1

1. Now, therefore, we will declare the acts productive of merit which form part of the customs of daily life, as they have been settled by the agreement (of those who know the law).[1]

2. The authority (for these duties) is the agreement of those who know the law,[2]

3. And (the authorities for the latter are) the Vedas alone.

4. (There are) four castes--Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas, and Śūdras.

5. Amongst these, each preceding (caste) is superior by birth to the one following.

6. (For all these), excepting Śūdras and those who have committed bad actions, (are ordained) the initiation, the study of the Veda, and the kindling of[3] the sacred fire; and (their) works are productive of rewards (in this world and the next).

7. To serve the other (three) castes (is ordained) for the Śūdra.[4]

8. The higher the caste (which he serves) the greater is the merit.

9. The initiation is the consecration in accordance with the texts of the Veda, of a male who is desirous of (and can make use of) sacred knowledge.[5]

10. A Brāhmaṇa declares that the Gāyatrī is learnt for the sake of all the (three) Vedas.[6]

11. (Coming) out of darkness, he indeed enters darkness, whom a man unlearned in the Vedas, initiates, and (so does he) who, without being learned in the Vedas, (performs the rite of initiation.) That has been declared in a Brāhmaṇa.

12. As performer of this rite of initiation he shall seek to obtain a man in whose family sacred learning is hereditary, who himself possesses it, and who is devout (in following the law).

13. And under him the sacred science must be[7] studied until the end, provided (the teacher) does not fall off from the ordinances of the law.

14. He from whom (the pupil) gathers (ācinoti) (the knowledge of) his religious duties (dharmān) (is called) the Ācārya (teacher).[8]

15. Him he should never offend.[9]

16. For he causes him (the pupil) to be born (a second time) by (imparting to him) sacred learning.[10]

17. This (second) birth is the best.[11]

18. The father and the mother produce the body only.[12]

19. Let him initiate a Brāhmaṇa in spring, a Kṣatriya in summer, a Vaiśya in autumn, a Brāhmaṇa in the eighth year after conception, a Kṣatriya in the eleventh year after conception, (and) a Vaiśya in the twelfth after conception.[13]

20. Now (follows the enumeration of the years to be chosen) for the fulfilment of some (particular) wish,

21. (Let him initiate) a person desirous of excellence in sacred learning in his seventh year,[14]

22. A person desirous of long life in his eighth year,[15]

23. A person desirous of manly vigour in his ninth year,

24. A person desirous of food in his tenth year,

25. A person desirous of strength in his eleventh year,

26. A person desirous of cattle in his twelfth year.

27. There is no dereliction (of duty, if the initiation takes place), in the case of a Brāhmaṇa before the completion of the sixteenth year, in the case of a Kṣatriya before the completion of the twenty-second year, in the case of a Vaiśya before the completion of the twenty-fourth year. (Let him be initiated at such an age) that he may be able to perform the duties, which we shall declare below.[16]

28. If the proper time for the initiation has passed, he shall observe for the space of two months[17] the duties of a student, as observed by those who are studying the three Vedas.

29. After that he may be initiated.

30. After that he shall bathe (daily) for one year.[18]

31. After that he may be instructed.

32. He, whose father and grandfather have not been initiated, (and his two ancestors) are called 'slayers of the Brahman.'[19]

33. Intercourse, eating, and intermarriage with them should be avoided.[20]

34. If they wish it (they may perform the following) expiation;

35. In the same manner as for the first neglect (of the initiation, a penance of) two months (was) prescribed, so (they shall do penance for) one year.[21]

36. Afterwards they may be initiated, and then they must bathe (daily),

Footnotes and references:


1. Samaya, 'agreement, decision,' is threefold. It includes injunction, restriction, and prohibition.


Manu II, 6, 12 Yājñ. I, 7; Gautama I, 1.


Manu II, 35.


Manu 1, 91, VIII, 410; and IX, 334; Yājñ. I, 120.


The use of the masculine in the text excludes women. For though women may have occasion to use such texts as 'O fire, of the dwelling' &c. at the Agnihotra, still it is specially ordained that they shall be taught this and similar verses only just before the rite is to be performed.


The object of the Sūtra is to remove a doubt whether the ceremony of initiation ought to be repeated for each Veda, in case a man desires to study more than one Veda. This repetition is declared to be unnecessary, except, as the commentator adds, in the case of the Atharva-veda, for which, according to a passage of a Brāhmaṇa, a fresh initiation is necessary. The latter rule is given in the Vaitāna-sūtra I, 1, 5.


Haradatta: 'But this (latter rule regarding the taking of p. 3 another teacher) does not hold good for those who have begun to study, solemnly, binding themselves, to their teacher. How so? As he (the pupil) shall consider a person who initiates and instructs him his Ācarya, and a pupil who has been once initiated cannot be initiated again, how can another man instruct him? For this reason it must be understood that the study begun with one teacher may not be completed with another, if the first die.' Compare also Haradatta on I, 2, 7, 26, and the rule given I, 1, 4, 26. In our times also pupils, who have bound themselves to a teacher by paying their respects to him and presenting a cocoa-nut, in order to learn from him a particular branch of science, must not study the same branch of science under any other teacher.


Manu II, 69; Yājñ. I, 15.


Manu II, 144.


Manu II, 146-148.


'Because it procures heavenly bliss and final liberation.'--Haradatta.


Manu II, 147.


Yājñ. I, 14; Manu II, 36; Āśvakāyana Gṛ. Sū. I, 19, 1, 4: Weber, Ind. Stud. X, 20 seq.


Manu II, 37.


-26. Āśv. Gṛ. Sū. I, 19, 5, 7; Weber, Ind. Stud. X, 21.


The meaning of the Sūtra is, that the initiation shall be performed as soon as the child is able to begin the study of the Veda. If it is so far developed at eight years, the ceremony must then be performed; and if it be then neglected, or, if it be neglected at any time when the capacity for learning exists, expiation prescribed in the following Sūtras must be performed. The age of sixteen in the case of Brāhmaṇas is the latest term up to which the ceremony may be deferred, in case of incapacity for study only. After the lapse of the sixteenth year, the expiation becomes also necessary. Manu II, 38; Yājñ. I, 37.


The meaning is, he shall keep all the restrictions imposed upon a student, as chastity, &c, but that he shall not perform the fire-worship or service to a teacher, nor study. Manu II, 39; XI. 192, Yājñ. I, 38; Weber, Ind. Stud. X, 101.


'If he is strong, he shall bathe three times a day--morning, midday, and evening.'--Haradatta.


Brahman, apparently, here means 'Veda,' and those who neglect its study may be called metaphorically 'slayers of the Veda.'


Manu II, 40; Āśv. Gṛ. Sū. I, 19, 8, 9; Weber, Ind. Stud. X, 21.


Compare above, I, 1, 1, 28.

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