Gautama Dharmasūtra

by Gautama | 1879 | 41,849 words

The topics in this Dharmasūtra are devoted to the student, the order of a person's life (āśramas), the householder, occupations of the four classes, the king, impurity, ancestral offerings, women and marriage, property, inheritance and penances. Gautama's Dharmasūtra is believed to be the oldest of the four Hindu Dharmasastras, It survives as an i...

1. THE Veda is the source of the sacred law,[1]

2. And the tradition and practice of those who know the (Veda).

3. Transgression of the law and violence ate observed (in the case) of (those) great (men); but both are without force (as precedents) on account of the weakness of the men of later ages.[2]

4. If (authorities) of equal force are conflicting, (either may be followed at) pleasure.

5. The initiation of a Brāhmaṇa (shall ordinarily take place) in his eighth year;

6. (It may also be performed) in the ninth or fifth (years) for the fulfilment of (some particular) wish.[3]

7. The number of years (is to be calculated) from conception.[4]

8. That (initiation) is the second birth.[5]

9. The (person) from whom he receives that (Sacrament is called) the Ācārya (teacher).[6]

10. And (the same title is also bestowed) in consequence of the teaching of the Veda.[7]

11. (The initiation) of a Kṣatriya (shall ordinarily take place) in the eleventh (year after conception), and that of a Vaiśya in the twelfth.[8]

12. Up to the sixteenth year the time for the Sāvitrī of a Brāhmaṇa has not passed,[9]

13. Nor (for the initiation) of a Kṣatriya up to the twentieth (year).[10]

14. (And the limit for that) of a Vaiśya (extends) two years beyond (the latter term).

15. The girdles (worn by students) shall be strings of Muñja grass, a bow-string, or a (wool) thread, according to the order (of the castes).[11]

16. (Their upper garments shall be) skins of black-bucks, spotted deer, (or) he-goats.[12]

17. Hempen or linen cloth, the (inner) bark (of trees), and woollen blankets (may be worn as low garments by students) of all (castes),[13]

18. And undyed cotton cloth.

19. Some (declare that it) even (may be dyed) red.[14]

20. (In that case the garment) of a Brāhmaṇa (shall be dyed with a red dye) produced from a tree,

21. (And those of students) of the other two (castes shall be) dyed with madder or turmeric.

22. The staff (carried by a student) of the Brāhmaṇa (caste shall be) made of Biliva or Palāśa wood.[15]

23. Staves made of Aśvattha or Pīlu wood (are fit) for (students of) the remaining (two castes).

24. Or (a staff cut from a tree) that is fit to be used at a sacrifice (may be carried by students) of all (castes).[16]

25. (The staves must be) unblemished, bent (at the top) like a sacrificial post, and covered by their bark.[17]

26. They shall reach the crown of the head, the forehead, (or) the tip of the nose (according to the caste of the wearer).[18]

27. (It is) optional (for students) to shave (their heads), to wear the hair tied in a braid, (or) to keep (merely) a lock on the crown of the head tied in a braid (shaving the other portions of the head).[19]

28. If he becomes impure while holding things in his hands, he shall (purify himself) by sipping water without laying (them on the ground).[20]

29. (As regards) the purification of things, (objects) made of metal must be scoured, those made of clay should be thoroughly heated by fire, those made of wood must be planed, and (cloth) made of thread should be washed.[21]

30. (Objects made of) stone, jewels, shells, (or) mother-of-pearl (must be treated) like those made of metal.[22]

31. (Objects made of) bone and mud (must be treated) like wood.[23]

32. And scattering (earth taken from a pure spot is another method of purifying defiled) earth.[24]

33. Ropes, chips (of bamboo), and leather (must be treated) like garments.[25]

34. Or (objects) that have been defiled very much may be thrown away.[26]

35. Turning his face to the east or to the north, he shall purify himself from personal defilement.[27]

36. Seated in a pure place, placing his right arm between his knees, arranging his dress (or his[28] sacrificial cord) in the manner required for a sacrifice to the gods, he shall, after washing his hands up to the wrist, three or four times, silently, sip water that reaches his heart; twice wipe (his lips); sprinkle his feet and (his head); touch the cavities in the head (severally) with (certain fingers of his) right hand; (and finally) place (all the fingers) on the crown of his head and (on the navel).

37. After sleeping, dining, and sneezing (he shall) again (sip water though he may have done so before).[29]

38. (Remnants of food) adhering to the teeth (do not make the eater impure as little) as his teeth, except if he touches them with his tongue.[30]

39. Some (declare, that such remnants do not defile) before they fall (from their place).[31]

40. If they do become detached, he should know that he is purified by merely swallowing them, as (in the case of) saliva.[32]

41. Drops (of saliva) failing from the mouth do not cause impurity, except if they fall on a limb of the body.[33]

42. Purification (from defilement) by unclean substances (has been effected) when the stains and the (bad) smell have been removed.[34]

43. That (should be done) by first (using) water and (afterwards) earth,[35]

44. When urine, fæces, or semen fall on a (limb) and when (a limb) is stained (by food) during meals (water should be sipped).[36]

45. And in case the Veda ordains (a particular manner of purification, it must be performed according to the precept).[37]

46. Taking hold with (his right) hand of the left[38] hand (of his teacher), but leaving the thumb free, (the pupil) shall address his teacher, (saying): 'Venerable Sir, recite!'

47. He shall fix his eyes and his mind on the (teacher).[39]

48. He shall touch with Kuśa grass the (seat of the) vital airs.[40]

49. He shall thrice restrain his breath for (the space of) fifteen moments;[41]

50. And he shall seat himself on (blades of Kuśa grass) the tops of which are turned toward the east.[42]

51. The five Vyāhṛtis must (each) be preceded by (the syllable) Om and end with Satya.[43]

52. (Every) morning the feet of the teacher must be embraced (by the pupil),[44]

53. And both at the beginning and at the end of a lesson in the Veda.

54. After having received permission, the pupil[45] shall sit down to the right (of his teacher), turning his face towards the east or towards the north,

55. And the Sāvitrī must be recited;[46]

56. (All these acts must be performed) at the beginning of the instruction in the Veda.[47]

57. The syllable Om (must precede the recitation of) other (parts of the Veda) also,[48]

58. If (any one) passes between (the teacher and the pupil) the worship (of the teacher must be performed) once more.[49]

59. If a dog, an ichneumon, a snake, a frog, (or) a cat (pass between the teacher and the pupil) a three days' fast and a journey (are necessary).[50]

60. (In case the same event happens) with other (animals, the pupil) must thrice restrain his breath and eat clarified butter,[51]

61. And (the same expiation must be performed), if (unwittingly) a lesson in the Veda has been given on the site of a burial-ground.[52]

Footnotes and references:


-2. I. Āpastamba I, 1, 1, 1-2.


Āpastamba II, 6, 13, 8-10. Instances of transgressions of the law are the adultery of Kataka and Bhāradvāja, Vasiṣṭha's marriage with the Cāṇḍālī Akṣamālā, Rāma Jāmadagnya's murder of his mother. Haradatta explains the term 'avara,' translated by 'men of later ages,' to mean 'men like ourselves' (asmadādi). In his comment on the parallel passage of Āpastamba be renders it by idānīntana, 'belonging to our times;' and in his notes on Āpastamba I, 2, 5, 4, he substitutes arvācīna kaliyugavartin, 'men of modern times living in the Kaliyuga.' The last explanation seems to me the most accurate, if it is distinctly kept in mind that in the times of Gautama the Kaliyuga was not a definite period of calculated duration, but the Iron Age of sin as opposed to the happier times when justice still dwelt on earth.


Āpastamba I, 1, 1, 20-21.


Āpastamba I, 1, 1, 19.


Āpastamba I, 1, 1, 17-8.


Āpastamba I, 1, 1, 14.


Manu II, 140; Yājñavalkya I, 34.


Āpastamba I, 1, 1, 19.


Āpastamba I, 11 1, 27. Sāvitrī, literally the Ṛk sacred to Sāvitrī, is here used as an equivalent for upanayana, initiation, because one of the chief objects of the ceremony is to impart to the neophyte the Mantra sacred to Sāvitrī, Rig-veda III, 62, 10.


-14. Āpastamba I, 1, 1, 27.


Āpastamba I, 1, 2, 33-36.


Āpastamba I, 1, 3, 3-6.


Haradatta explains cira, the inner bark of a tree, by 'made of Kuśa grass and the like.' Regarding dresses made of Kuśa grass, See the Petersburg Dict. s.v. Kuśacīra. Kira may also mean 'rags,' such as were worn by Sannyāsins (see below, III, 19) and Bauddha ascetics.


-21. Āpastamba I, 1, 2, 41-I, 1, 3, 2.


Āpastamba I, 1, 2, 38.


'Because the term "fit to be used at a sacrifice" is employed, the Vibhītaka and the like (unclean trees) are excluded.'--Haradatta. Regarding the Vibhītaka, see Report of Tour in Kaśmīr, Journal Bombay Br. Roy. As. Soc. XXXIV A, p. 8.


Manu II, 47. 'Unblemished means uninjured by worms and the like'--Haradatta.


Manu II, 46.


Āpastamba I, 1, 2, 31-32. The above translation follows the reading of my MSS. muṇḍajaṭilaśikhājaṭā vā, which seems more in accordance with the Sūtra style. It must, however, be understood that the arrangement of the hair is not regulated by the individual choice of the student, but by the custom of his family, school, or country. In the commentary, as given by one of my MSS., it is stated the custom of shaving the whole head prevailed among the Chandogas. Max Müller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 53; Weber, Indische Studien, X, 95.


The above translation agrees with Professor Stenzler's text and Manu V, 143. But according to Haradatta the meaning of. the Sūtra is not so simple. His explanation is as follows: 'If while holding things in his hands he becomes impure, i.e. he is defiled by urine, fæces, leavings of food, and the like (impurities) which are causes for sipping water, then he shall sip water after placing those things on the ground. This refers to uncooked food, intended to be eaten. And thus Vasiṣṭha (III, 4, 3, Benares edition) declares: "If he who is occupied with eatables touches any impure substance, then he shall place that thing on the ground, sip water, and afterwards again use it." But the following text of another Smṛti, "A substance becomes pure by being sprinkled with water after having been placed on the ground," refers to cooked food, such as boiled rice and the like. Or (the above Sūtra may mean), "If he becomes impure while holding things in his hands, then he shall sip water without laying them on the ground." And thus Manu (V, 143) says: "He who carries in any manner anything in his hands and is touched by an impure substance shall cleanse himself by sipping water without laying his burden down." This rule refers to things not destined to be eaten, such as garments. And in the (above) Sūtra the words, "He who becomes impure shall sip water," must be taken as one sentence, and (the whole), " If while holding things in his hands he becomes impure, p. 179 he shall sip water without laying (them) down," must be taken as a second.'


Āpastamba I, 5, 17, 10-12; Manu V, 115, 122.


Manu V, 111-112.


'Bone, i.e. ivory and the like. Mud, i.e. (the mud floor of) a house and the like. The purification of these two is the same as that of wood, i.e. by scraping (or planing). How is it proper that, since the author has declared (Sūtra 29) that objects made of wood shall be purified by planing, the expression "like wood" should be substituted (in this Sūtra)? (The answer is that), as the author uses the expression "like wood," when he ought to have said "like objects made of wood," he indicates thereby that the manner of purification is the same for the material as for the object made thereof.'--Haradatta. The p. 180 Sūtra is, therefore, a so-called Jñapaka, intended to reveal the existence of a general rule or paribhāṣā which has not been given explicitly.


'Scattering over, i.e. heaping on (earth) after bringing it from another spot is an additional method of purifying earth. With regard to this matter Vasiṣṭha (III, 57) says: "Earth is purified by these four (methods, viz.) by digging, burning scraping, being trodden on by cows, and, fifthly, by being smeared with cowdung."'--Haradatta.


'Chips (vidala), i.e. something made of chips of ratan-cane or bamboo, or, according to others, something made of feathers.'--Haradatta.


'The word "or" is used in order to exclude the alternative (i.e. the methods of purification described above).'--Haradatta. For the explanation of the expression 'very much' Haradatta refers to Vasiṣṭha III, 58, with which Manu V, 123 may be compared.


'The alternative (position) depends on the pleasure of the performer.'--Haradatta.


My MSS. more conveniently make five Sūtras of Professor Stenzler's one Sūtra. The divisions have been marked in the translation by semicolons.


Manu V, 145.


Manu V, 141.


Vasiṣṭha III, 41.


'As the author ought to have said, "If they become detached, p. 182 he is purified by merely swallowing them," the addition of the words "he should know" and "as in the case of saliva" is intended to indicate that in the case of saliva, too, he becomes pure by swallowing it, and that purification by sipping need not be considered necessary.'--Haradatta. This Sūtra consists of the second half of a verse, quoted by Baudhāyana I, 5, 8, 25, and Vasiṣṭha III, 41.


Āpastamba I, 5, 16, 12.


In explanation of the term amedhya, 'unclean substances,' Haradatta quotes Manu V, 135.


Manu V, 134; see also Āpastamba I, 5, 16, 15.


Āpastamba I, 5, 16, 14.


'If the Veda ordains any particular manner of purification for any particular purpose, that alone must be adopted. Thus the sacrificial vessels called camasa, which have been stained by remnants of offerings, must be washed with water on the heap of earth called mārjālīya.'--Haradatta.


This and the following rules refer chiefly to the teaching of the Sāvitrī, which forms part of the initiation. According to Gobhila Gṛhya-sūtra II, 10, 38, the complete sentence addressed to the teacher is, 'Venerable Sir, recite! May the worshipful one teach me the Sāvitrī!'


Āpastamba I, 2, 5, 23; I, 7, 6, 20; Manu II, 192.


'The (seat of the) vital airs are the organs of sense located in the head. The pupil shall touch these, his own (organs of sense) located in the head, in the order prescribed for the Ācamana (see Āpastamba, I, 5, 16, 7 note).'--Haradatta, See also Manu II, 75.


Passing one's hand along the side of the knee, one will fill the space of one Truṭikā. That is one moment (mātrā).'--Haradatta. Manu II, 75.


Manu II, 75.


'In the Vyāhṛti-sāmans (see Burnell, Ārsheya-br., Index s.v.) five Vyāhṛtis are mentioned, viz. Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, Svaḥ, Satyam, Puruṣaḥ. Each of these is to be preceded by the syllable Om. But they are to end with Puruṣaḥ, which (in the above enumeration) occupies the fourth place.'--Haradatta, See also Manu II, 75 seq.


-53. Āpastamba I, 2, 5, 18-20.


Āpastamba I, 2, 6, 24; Manu II, 193. Turning his face towards the east or towards the north." This alternative depends upon (the nature of) the business.'--Haradatta.


Manu II, 77.


'All those acts beginning with the touching of the organs of sense with Kuśa grass and ending with the recitation of the Sāvitrī, which have been prescribed (Sūtras 48-57, must be performed before the pupil begins to study the Veda with his teacher, but should not be repeated daily. After the initiation follows the study of the Sāvitrī. The touching of the organs of sense and the other (acts mentioned) form part of this (study). But the rules prescribed in the three Sūtras, the first of which is Sūtra 52, and the rule to direct the eye and mind towards the teacher (Sūtra 47), must be constantly kept in mind. This decision is confirmed by the rules of other Smṛtis and of the Gṛhya-sūtras.'--Haradatta.


Āpastamba I, 4, 13, 6-7.


'The worship of the teacher (upasadana) consists in the performance of the acts prescribed in Sūtras 46-57, with the exception of the study of the Sāvitrī and the acts belonging to that. The meaning of the Sūtra is that, though the worship of the teacher may have already been performed in the morning of that day, it must, nevertheless, be repeated for the reason stated.'--Haradatta.


'A journey (vipravāsa) means residence in some other place than the teacher's house.'--Haradatta. The commentator adds that the somewhat different rule, given by Manu IV, 126, may be reconciled with the above, by referring the former to the study for the sake of remembering texts recited by the teacher (dhāraṇādhyayana), and the latter to the first instruction in the sacred texts.


'This penance must be performed by the pupil, not by the teacher. Others declare that both shall perform it.'--Haradatta.


See also Āpastamba I, 3, 9, 6-8. The last clauses of this and all succeeding chapters are repeated in order to indicate that the chapter is finished.

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