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 XIV

1. The Sapiṇḍas become impure by the death (of a relative) during ten (days and) nights, except those who officiate as priests, who have performed the Dīkṣaṇīyeṣṭi (or initiatory ceremony of a Śrauta sacrifice), and those who are students.[1]

2. (The impurity) of a Kṣatriya lasts for eleven (days and) nights,[2]

3, (That) of a Vaiśya twelve (days and) nights,

4. (Or), according to some, half a month,

5. (And that) of a Śūdra a whole month.[3]

6. If during (a period of impurity) another (death) happens, the (relatives) shall be pure after (the lapse of) the remainder of that (first period).[4]

7. (But) if one night (only of the period of impurity) remains (and another death happens, they shall become pure) after (the lapse of) two (days and nights).

8. (If the second death happens) on the morning (after the completion of the period of impurity, they shall be purified) after three (days and nights).

9. (The relatives) of those who are slain for the sake of cows and Brāhmaṇas (become pure) immediately after the burial,[5]

10. And (those of men destroyed) by the anger of the king,[6]

11. (Further, those of men killed) in battle,

12. Likewise (those) of men who voluntarily (die) by starving themselves to death, by weapons, fire, poison, or water, by hanging themselves, or by jumping (from a precipice).[7]

13. Sapiṇḍa-relationship ceases with the fifth or the seventh (ancestor).[8]

14. (The rules regarding impurity caused by the[9] death of a relative apply) to the birth (of a child) also.

15. (In) that (case the impurity falls) on the parents,

16. Or on, the mother (alone).

17. (The impurity) for a miscarriage (lasts for a number of days and) nights equal to (the number of) months from conception,[10]

18. Or three days.

19. And if he hears (of the death of a Sapiṇḍa) after (the lapse of) ten (days and nights, the impurity lasts for) one night together with the preceding and following days,

20. Likewise when a relative who is not a Sapiṇḍa, a relative by marriage, or a fellow-student (has died).[11]

21. For a man who studies the same recension of the Veda (the impurity lasts) one day,[12]

22. Likewise for a Śrotriya who dwells in the same house.[13]

23. On touching (i.e. on carrying out) a corpse from an interested motive, the impurity lasts for ten days.[14]

24. (The duration of the impurity) of a Vaiśya and of a Śūdra (in the same case) has been declared (by Sūtras 3-5).

25. Or (it shall last for these two) as many nights as there are seasons (in the year);[15]

26. And (the same rule may be made applicable) to the two higher (castes).

27. Or (the impurity lasts) three days.

28. And if the teacher, his son or wife, a person for whom (a Brāhmaṇa) sacrifices or a pupil (has been carried out, the duration of the impurity is) the same.[16]

29. And if a man of lower caste carries, out (the corpse of) one of higher caste, or a man of higher caste (carries out the body of) one of lower caste, (the duration of) the impurity in these (cases) is determined by (the caste of) the dead man.

30. On touching an outcast, a Kaṇḍāla, a woman impure on account of her confinement, a woman in her courses, or a corpse, and on touching persons who have touched them, he shall purify himself by bathing dressed in his clothes,[17]

31. Likewise if he has followed a corpse (that was being carried out),[18]

32. And (if he has come into contact) with a dog.[19]

33. Some (declare), that (the limb) which (a dog) may touch (must be washed).

34. The Sapiṇḍas shall offer (libations of) water for (a deceased relative) whose Caula-karman (or tonsure) has been performed,[20]

35. As well as for the wives and daughters of such (a person).

36. Some (declare, that it must be done in the case) of married female relatives (also).[21]

37. (During the period of impurity) all (the mourners) shall sleep and sit on the ground and remain chaste.[22]

38. They shall not clean (themselves);

39. Nor shall they eat meat until (the funeral oblation) has been offered.[23]

40. On the first, third, fifth, seventh, and ninth (days after the death) water (mixed with sesamum) must be offered.

41. And the garments (worn during that ceremony) must be changed,

42. But on the last (day they must be given) to men of the lowest castes.

43. The parents (shall offer water for a son who dies) after he has teethed.

44. If infants, (relatives) who live in a distant country, those who have renounced domestic life, and those who are not Sapiṇḍas, (die), the purification is instantaneous.[24]

45. Kings (remain always pure), lest their business be impeded,[25]

46. And a Brāhmaṇa, lest his daily study of the Veda be interrupted.[26]

Footnotes and references:


XIV. Manu V, 59, 83, 93; Yājñavalkya III, 18, 28; see also Āpastamba I, 5, 16, 18. Regarding the meaning of the term Sapiṇḍa, see below, Sūtra 13. This Sūtra refers, of course, to Brāhmaṇas only.


-3. Manu V, 83; Yājñavalkya III, 22.


Manu and Yājñavalkya l. l. cit.


Manu V, 79.


Yājñavalkya III, 27. The Sūtra may, however, also be translated 'the relatives of those who have been killed by a cow, or by a Brāhmaṇa, &c.,' as the latter case, too, is mentioned by Yājñavalkya III, 21. The word anvakṣam, translated by 'immediately after burial,' is explained by Haradatta as follows: 'The corpse is seen, i.e. is visible, so Iona; the meaning is that they will be pure after having bathed at the end of the burial.'


Yājñavalkya III, 21.


Manu V, 89; Yājñavalkya III, 21.


Āpastamba II, 6, 15, 2. Haradatta states that the Sapiṇḍa relationship extends to four degrees in the case of the son of an appointed daughter (see below, XXVIII, 18), while it includes the relatives within six degrees in the case of a legitimate son of the body. In either case the term refers to Sagotra-sapiṇḍas, or Sapiṇḍas who bear the same family name only. The case of the Bhinnagotra-sapiṇḍas will be discussed below, Sūtra 20.


-16. Manu V, 62; Yājñavalkya III, 18-19.


Manu V, 66; Yājñavalkya III, 20. 19. Manu V, 75-77.


Manu V, 81. Haradatta explains asapiṇḍa, 'a kinsman who is not a Sapiṇḍa,' by Samānodaka, i.e. 'a kinsman bearing the same family name, but more than six degrees removed,' and yonisambandha, 'a relative by marriage,' by 'the maternal grandfather, a maternal aunt's sons, and their sons, &c., the fathers of wives and the rest.' The latter term, for which 'a person related through a female' would be a more exact rendering than the one given above, includes, therefore, those persons who, according to the terminology of Manu and Yājñavalkya, are called Bhinnagotra-sapiṇḍas, Bāndhavas, or Bandhus (see Colebrooke, Mitākṣarā II, 53; II, 6). Gautama's terminology agrees in this respect with that of Āpastamba, see note on II, 5, 11, 16.


Haradatta explains sabrahmacārin by suhṛt, 'a friend.' But the term which elsewhere means 'a fellow-student' cannot have that sense in our Sūtra, as the fellow-student (sahādhyāyin) has been mentioned already. The translation given above is supported by the manner in which it is used in the ancient landgrants, where expressions like bahvṛcasabrahmacārin are of common occurrence.


Manu V, 81.


'The word upasparśana (literally touching) does not denote here simple touching. For below, Sūtra 30, bathing with the clothes on, will be prescribed for that, What does upasparśana then mean? It means carrying out a corpse. For that an impurity lasting ten days falls on the performer, provided that the carrying out be done for an object, i.e. with the intention of gaining a fee or the like, not for the sake of doing one's duty. The word impurity is here repeated in order to indicate that the impurity, here intended, differs from that described above. Hence the rules given below, Sūtra 37, which prescribe sleeping and sitting on the ground and so forth, do not apply. (The word impurity) indicates (here) merely that (the performer of the act) must not be touched, and has no right (to perform sacred ceremonies).'--Haradatta.


Haradatta states that Gautama does not simply say 'six days,' because five seasons only are to be reckoned in the case of a Vaiśya, and six in the case of a Śūdra.


Haradatta asserts that mṛteshu, 'have died,' must be understood. But as both the preceding and the following Sūtras. refer to p. 253 the carrying out of corpses, it is impossible to agree with him. It seems to me that Gautama's rule means, that, if a man has carried out the corpse of a teacher, &c., he becomes impure for ten, eleven, or twelve days, or for three days only. See also Manu V, 91, 103; Yājñavalkya III, 15.


Āpastamba II, 2, 2, 8-9; Manu V, 85; Yājñavalkya III, 30.


Manu V, 103; Yājñavalkya III, 26.


-33. Āpastamba I, 5, 15, 16-17.


Āpastamba II, 6, 15, 9; Manu V, 70. Haradatta observes that most Gṛhya-sūtras prescribe the performance of the Caula-karman in the third year,


Yājñavalkya III, 4.


Manu V, 73; Yājñavalkya III, 16.


Manu V, 73. 43. Manu V, 70.


Yājñavalkya III, 23, Haradatta remarks that the rule refers to those Sapiṇḍas residing in foreign countries only, of whose death one may hear a year after their decease, and to remoter relations of whose death one hears after the lapse of ten days; see Manu V, 75-76.


Manu V, 93-94; Yājñavalkya III, 27. Haradatta add: that the plural 'kings' is used in order to include all rulers and governors, and such persons as the king wishes to be pure.


Yājñavalkya III, 28.