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...

Chapter XIII

1. In disputed cases the truth shall be established by means of witnesses.[1]

2. The (latter) shall be many, faultless as regards the performance of their duties, worthy to be trusted by the king, and free from affection for, or hatred against either (party).[2]

3. (They may be) Śūdras even.[3]

4. But a Brāhmaṇa must not be forced (to give evidence) at the word of a non-Brāhmaṇa, except if he is mentioned (in the plaint).[4]

5. (Witnesses) shall not speak singly or without being asked,[5]

6. And if, (being asked,) they do not answer, they are guilty of a crime.[6]

7. Heaven is their reward, if they speak the[7] truth; in the contrary case hell (will be their portion).

8. (Persons) not mentioned (in the plaint), must also give evidence.

9. No objection (can be raised against witnesses) in a case of (criminal) hurt,[8]

10. Nor if they have spoken inadvertently.[9]

11. If the sacred law or the rules (referring to worldly matters) are violated,. the guilt (falls) on the witnesses, the assessors, the king, and on the offender.[10]

12. Some (declare, that the witnesses) shall be charged on oath to speak the truth.[11]

13. In the case of others than Brāhmaṇas that (oath shall be sworn) in the presence of the gods, of the king, and of Brāhmaṇas.

14. By false evidence concerning small cattle a witness kills ten,[12]

15. (By false evidence) regarding cows, horses, men, or land, in each succeeding case ten times as many (as in the one mentioned before),}

16. Or (by false evidence) regarding land the whole (human race).

17. Hell (is the punishment) for a theft of land.

18. (By false evidence) concerning water (he incurs) the same (guilt) as (for an untruth) about land,

19. Likewise (by false evidence) regarding (criminal) intercourse.

20. (By false evidence) regarding honey or clarified butter (he incurs) the same (guilt) as (by an untruth) about small cattle,

21. (By false evidence) about clothes, gold, grain, and the Veda, the same as (by an untruth) about kine,

22. (And by false evidence) regarding a carriage (or a beast of burden) the same as (by an untruth) about horses.

23. A witness must be reprimanded and punished for speaking an untruth.[13]

24. No guilt is incurred by giving false evidence, in case the life (of a man) depends thereon.[14]

25. But (this. rule does) not (hold good) if the life of a very wicked (man depends on the evidence of a witness).

26. The king, or the judge, or a Brāhmaṇa learned in the Śāstras (shall examine the witnesses).[15]

27. (The litigant) shall humbly go to seek the judge.[16]

28. If (the defendant) is unable to answer (the plaint) at once, (the judge) may wait for a year.[17]

29. But (in an action) concerning kine, draught oxen, women, or the procreation (of offspring), the defendant (shall answer) immediately,[18]

30. Likewise in a case that will suffer by delay.

31. To speak the truth before the judge is more important than all (other) duties.

Footnotes and references:


XIII. Manu VIII, 45; Yājñavalkya II, 22.


Āpastamba II, 11, 29, 7. 'Many means at least three.'--Haradatta.


Manu VIII, 63. I.e. Śūdras endowed with the qualities mentioned above.


Manu VIII, 65. 'A Brāhmaṇa means here a Śrotriya. If a man other than a Brāhmaṇa says: "This Brāhmaṇa is a witness of this fact," then the (Śrotriya) shall not be forced to become, i.e. not be taken as a witness, provided he has not been mentioned, i.e. he has not been entered in the written plaint (as one of the witnesses). But if he has been entered in the plaint, he certainly becomes a witness.'--Haradatta.


Manu VIII, 79; Macnaghten, Mitākṣarā VI, 1, 21. In the Mitākṣarā the Sūtra is read nāsamavetāḥ pṛṣṭāḥ prabrūyuḥ, 'witnesses need not answer if they are examined singly.' Mitramiśra in the Vīramitrodaya says that Haradatta's reading of the text is the same, and that his explanation does not agree with it.


Manu VIII, 107; Yājñavalkya II, 76-77.


Āpastamba II, 11, 29, 9-10.


Manu VIII, 72; Yājñavalkya II, 72.


'Negligence, i.e. inadvertence. If anything has been spoken at random by a witness in a conversation referring to something else (than the case), no blame must be thrown on him for that reason.'--Haradatta.


Manu VIII, 18. The translation follows Haradatta. Perhaps it would, however, be as well to take dharmatantra, 'the sacred law and the rules referring to worldly matters,' as a Tatpuruṣa, and to translate, 'If there is a miscarriage of justice, the guilt,' &c.


-13. Āpastamba II, 11, 29, 7.


-22. Manu VIII, 98-100. 'By speaking an untruth regarding them, the witness kills ten. Ten what? Even ten (of that kind) regarding which he has lied. His guilt is as great as if he actually killed ten of them, and the punishment. (is the same). 'Equal penances must also be prescribed for both cases.'--Haradatta.


Manu VIII, 119-123; Yājñavalkya II, 81. 'Yāpyaḥ (literally "must be turned out") means "must be reprimanded" in the presence of the whole audience, lest anybody have intercourse with him.'--Haradatta.


-25. Manu VIII, 104-105; Yājñavalkya II, 83.


Manu VIII, 8-9, 79; Yājñavalkya II, 1, 3, 73.


Manu VIII, 43. The meaning of the Sūtra is that the judge shall not promote litigation, and incite people to institute suits. If litigants do not humbly appear before him, he is not to send for them.


See also Nārada I, 38, 41.


Yājñavalkya II, 12. Haradatta explains prajanana, 'the procreation (of offspring),' to mean 'marriage.'

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