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 king is master of all, with the exception of Brāhmaṇas.[1]

2. (He shall be) holy in acts and speech,[2]

3. Fully instructed in the threefold (sacred science) and in logic,[3]

4. Pure, of subdued senses, surrounded by companions[4] possessing excellent qualities and by the means (for upholding his rule).

5. He shall be impartial towards his subjects;[5]

6. And he shall do (what is) good for them.[6]

7. All, excepting Brāhmaṇas, shall worship him who is seated on a higher seat, (while they them-selves sit on a) lower (one).[7]

8. The (Brāhmaṇas), also, shall honour him.[8]

9. He shall protect the castes and orders in accordance with justice;[9]

10. And those who leave (the path of) duty, he shall lead back (to it).[10]

11. For it is declared (in the Veda) that he obtains a share of the spiritual merit (gained by his subjects).[11]

12. And he shall select as his domestic priest (purohita) a Brāhmaṇa who is learned (in the Vedas), of noble family, eloquent, handsome, of (a suitable) age, and of a virtuous disposition, who lives righteously and who is austere.[12]

13. With his assistance he shall fulfil his religious duties.[13]

14. For it is declared (in the Veda): 'Kṣatriyas, who are assisted by Brāhmaṇas, prosper and do not fall into distress.'[14]

15. He shall, also, take heed of that which astrologers and interpreters of omens tell (him).

16. For some (declare), that the acquisition of wealth and security depend also upon that.

17. He shall perform in the fire of the hall the rites ensuring prosperity which are connected with expiations (śānti), festivals, a prosperous march, long life, and auspiciousness; as well as those that are intended to cause enmity, to subdue (enemies), to destroy (them) by incantations, and to cause their misfortune.[15]

18. Officiating priests (shall perform) the other (sacrifices) according to the precepts (of the Veda).[16]

19. His administration of justice (shall be regulated by) the Veda, the Institutes of the Sacred Law, the Aṅgas, and the Purāṇa.[17]

20. The laws of countries, castes, and families, which are not opposed to the (sacred) records, (have) also authority.[18]

21. Cultivators, traders, herdsmen, money-lenders, and artisans (have authority to lay down rules) for their respective classes.

22. Having learned the (state of) affairs from those who (in each class) have authority (to speak he shall give) the legal decision.[19]

23. Reasoning is a means for arriving at the truth.[20]

24. Coming to a conclusion through that, he shall decide properly.

25. If (the evidence) is conflicting, he shall learn (the truth) from (Brāhmaṇas) who are well versed in[21] the threefold sacred lore, and give his decision (accordingly).

26. For, (if he acts) thus, blessings will attend him (in this world and the next).[22]

27. It has been declared in the Veda: 'Brāhmaṇas, united with Kṣatriyas, uphold gods, manes, and men.

28. They declare, that (the word) daṇḍa (rule or punishment) is derived from (the verb) damayati (he restrains); therefore he shall restrain those who do not restrain themselves.

29. (Men of) the (several) castes and orders who always live according to their duty enjoy after death the rewards of their works, and by virtue of a remnant of their (merit) they are born again in excellent countries, castes, and families, (endowed) with beauty, long life, learning in the Vedas, (virtuous) conduct, wealth, happiness, and wisdom.[23]

30. Those who act in a contrary manner peṛṣ, being born again in various (evil conditions).[24]

31. The advice of the spiritual teacher and the punishment (inflicted by the king) guard them.[25]

32. Therefore a king and a spiritual teacher must not be reviled.[26]

Footnotes and references:


XI. Macnaghten, Mitākṣarā I, 1, 27; Manu IX, 313-322; Weber, Ind. Stud. X, 29, 60.


Manu VII, 26. 'Holy in acts,' i.e. constantly acting in conformity with the Śāstras; 'holy in speech,' i.e. when administering justice he shall not speak partially.


Manu VII, 43; Yājñavalkya I, 310. Haradatta thinks that the term 'the threefold sacred science includes the fourth Veda also, because it consists chiefly of Ṛcas and Yajus formulas.'


Manu VII, 30-31; Yājñavalkya I, 354; Āpastamba III, 11, 27, 18. 'Of subdued senses, i.e. free from the (seven) vices p. 235 (common among kings), i.e. sensuality, gambling, hunting, drinking, &c.'--Haradatta. The means (upāya) are those mentioned by Yājñavalkya I, 345-346.


Manu VII, 80; Yājñavalkya I, 333.


'And he shall do what is good, i.e. dig tanks, build embankments and bridges &c. for them, i.e. his subjects.'--Haradatta.


'(On a) lower (one), i.e. on the ground only.'--Haradatta. This is still the custom in native courts, where, however, Brāhmaṇas, as a rule, must also sit on the floor.


'Honour him,' i.e. worship him by invoking blessings on him and the like.


Manu VII, 35.


Yājñavalkya I, 360.


Manu VIII, 304; Yājñavalkya I, 334.


Manu VII, 78; Yājñavalkya I, 312. Haradatta explains vāksampanna, 'eloquent,' by 'one who knows Sanskrit.' According to the same, 'the (suitable) age' is the prime of life, when men are neither too young nor too old. 'Austere' is interpreted to mean 'not given to sensual enjoyments.'


Manu VII, 78.


Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa IV, I, 4, 4-6.


Āpastamba II, 10, 25, 4, 7. Sāntis, 'expiations,' are rites intended to avert an impending misfortune which is announced by an evil omen. 'Festivals' are, according to Haradatta, wedding-days and the like; 'rites connected with auspiciousness' are, according to the same, rites on entering a new dwelling and the like. Haradatta further remarks that, though, according to the text, the king must perform these rites, he is, in reality, only to give the necessary orders, and to furnish the means for their performance, while the Purohita is to officiate as priest. He adds, that another commentator asserts that 'the Purohita,' not 'the king,' must be taken as the subject of the sentence.


Manu VII, 78-79; Yājñavalkya I, 313. Haradatta says that by the 'other' sacrifices, both Gṛhya and Śrauta rites are meant. I think that the latter are chiefly intended, as the Saṃskāras are included under the rites of festive days, mentioned in the preceding Sūtra.


The Aṅgas, i.e. the six auxiliary branches of learning mentioned above, VIII, 5. My best copy inserts 'the Upavedas' after the Aṅgas. But the words upavedāḥ and dharmasāstrāṇi, 'the institutes of law,' are probably interpolations. For the latter are already included by the term Aṅga, as part of the Kalpa.


Āpastamba II, 6, 15, 1; Manu VII, 203; V111, 47, 46; Yājñavalkya I, 342. 'The (sacred) records, i.e. the Vedas and the rest.'--Haradatta.


'Having learned, i.e. having heard and considered, from them, i.e. from men of those classes, according to their authority, i.e. from those who in each class are authorised to give decisions, the (state of) affairs, i.e. the peculiar customs, the legal decision must be given in accordance with that which they declare to be the rule in their community.'--Haradatta.


Manu VIII, 44; XII, 105-106; Macnaghten, Mitākṣarā II, 8, 8. Haradatta remarks that this Sūtra refers to the case where the spokesmen of a guild may be suspected of partiality.


Manu XII, 108-113, According to Haradatta this Sūtra refers to particularly difficult cases.


Āpastamba, II, 5, 11, 4.


Āpastamba II, 5, 11, 10.


Āpastamba II, 5, 11. 'Peṛṣ, i.e. fall from one misfortune info the other.'--Haradatta.


Āpastamba II, 5, 10, 12-16.


Manu VII, 8.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: