Manusmriti with the Commentary of Medhatithi

by Ganganatha Jha | 1920 | 1,381,940 words | ISBN-10: 8120811550

This is the English translation of the Manusmriti, which is a collection of Sanskrit verses dealing with ‘Dharma’, a collective name for human purpose, their duties and the law. Various topics will be dealt with, but this volume of the series includes 12 discourses (adhyaya). The commentary on this text by Medhatithi elaborately explains various t...

Verse 2.6 [Sources of Knowledge of Dharma]

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration and English translation by Ganganath Jha:

वेदोऽखिलो धर्ममूलं स्मृतिशीले च तद्विदाम् ।
आचारश्चैव साधूनामात्मनस्तुष्टिरेव च ॥ ६ ॥

vedo'khilo dharmamūlaṃ smṛtiśīle ca tadvidām |
ācāraścaiva sādhūnāmātmanastuṣṭireva ca || 6 ||

The entire Veda is the root-source of Dharma; also the Conscientious Recollection of righteous persons versed in the Veda, the Practice of Good (and learned) Men, and their self-satisfaction.—(6)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

[The opponent raises an initial objection]—

“What is the relevanoy of what is stated in this verse? It is Dharma that has been declared as the subject to be described; and Dharma can be described only by means of Injunctions and Prohibitions. Now as regards the fact of the Veda being the source of Dharma, this cannot form the subject of any injunction such as ‘the Veda should be known as the source of Dharma, as the authoritative means of ascertaining Dharma because this fact can be known without its being enjoined in so many words; certainly the fact of the Veda being the source of Dharma does not stand in need of being notified by any injunctions of such writers as Manu and others; in fact the authoritativeness of the Veda regarding matters relating, to Dharma is as self-evident as that of Direct Perception,—being based upon the facts that (1) it brings about cognitions that are never sublated, (2) that it is not the work of any person, and as such it is entirely free of any suspicion of falsity that might be due to the defects of such authors, and (3) that the words of the Veda itself are free from all defects.

“It might be argued that—‘what the text does is to refer to the well-established fact of the Veda being authoritative, with a view to indicate that the Smṛtis of Manu and others are based upon the Veda.’

“But this explanation cannot be accepted. For this fact also does not need to be stated; as  (l) every Smṛti, by its very nature, must, be dependent upon a previous cognition, (2) the chances of mistake in the Smṛtis are precluded by the fact of their being accepted by great men, (3) the super-sensuous things spoken of in the Smṛtis could not be known to M anu and others (by any ordinary means of knowledge), and (4) every man knows it from his own experience that there is “recollection” of things taught in the Veda; so that the only possible view that could be entertained regarding the Smṛtis is that they are based upon the Veda [which, therefore, need not have been re-iterated in the Text]. Further, persons who know the Veda cannot stand in need of any Smṛti for learning what they should do; and lastly, when the Veda itself is the source of Dharma, there can be no need for postulating any other sources (in the shape of Smṛti, etc.).

“Nor is it right to assert that ‘the conscientious recollection of persons versed in the Veda is also merely referred to for the purpose of pointing out the unauthoritative character of the heterodox Smṛtis’; because the unauthoritative character of these latter is already well established by reasoning. For such heterodox people as the Śākya, the Bhojaka, the Kṣapaṇaka and the rest, there is no possibility of any knowledge of the Veda, by virtue of which they might be regarded as authoritative on matters treated of in their Smṛtis; because in the first place they do not admit any connection with the Veda; secondly, they openly declare that the Veda is hot authoritative; thirdly, they contain teachings directly opposed to the Veda; and lastly, these Smṛtis clearly prohibit the study of the Veda. If Buddha and others had been students of the Veda, then alone could there be any question as to whether or not their Smṛtis are based upon the Veda. When however, as a matter of fact, any connection with the Veda is not even remotely possible, how could there be any possibility of these being based upon the Veda? On the contrary, these writers themselves put forward an entirely different basis for their codes,—in the form of tradition (handed down through a series of several Buddhas); as for example, in the following words: ‘with my divine eyes I perceive the good and bad conditions of Bhikṣus.’ Exactly in the same manner, all such heterodox people as the Bhojaka, the Pañcarātra, the Nirgrantha, the Anarthavāda, the Pāśupata and the rest hold that their scriptures are the works of gifted personalities, particular deities, capable of directly perceiving the subjects dealt with by them; and they do not admit that Dharma has its source in the Veda; in fact their scriptures contain teachings directly opposed to the Veda; e.g., some of these people, holding that death frees the living being from the troubles of living, hold all Killing to be meritorious; and this (reckless) killing is distinctly prohibited in the Veda; similarly, others hold Bathing at sacred places to be sinful, while the Veda directly enjoins daily bathing and living at sacred places; so again, according to some people, the killing of animals at the Agniṣṭoma sacrifice is sinful; and this is against the Vedic injunction laying down the performing of that sacrifice;—lastly, some people hold that all such acts as the offering of libations and sacrifices are entirely selfish, while according to the Veda, which prescribes various deities in connection with the said acts, they are performed for the sake of these several deities. So that there is distinct disagreement between the Veda and the said heterodox scriptures.

“Some people have argued as follows:—

‘In the Veda also we find contradictory assertions e.g., one passage lays down the holding (of the Śodaśī-vessel, at the Atirātra sacrifice), while another says it should not be held; similarly one passage prescribes the time after Sunrise as best suited to the pouring of libations, while another lays down the time before Sunrise; so that it is quite possible that in the Veda itself—either in its lost Rescensions or even in such Rescensions as are not completely lost—there may be found injunctions contrary to a certain Vedic injunction [and these contrary Vedic passages would form the basis for the non-Vedic teachings of the heterodox Smṛtis ]. The number of Vedic Rescensions is endless; how could all of them be known to any one person? And it is quite possible that some of them might have become lost. So that it is quite possible that there may be some such Vedic Rescensional text as contains direct injunctions of such acts as Eating in a vessel made of human bones, remaining naked-skinned and so forth (which have been prescribed in some heterodox scriptures).’

“Our answer to the above is as follows:—We do not deny the possibility of mutually contradictory teachings being found in the Veda; what we mean is that in all such cases (where both the injunctions are equally directly perceived), both injunctions stand upon the same footing, and consequently the two acts are regarded as optional alternatives. In the case in question however (i.e., when the teaching of a heterodox scripture is found to contradict the direct teaching of the Veda), the Vedic text (in support of the heterodox teaching) could only be assumed; but there can be no occasion for the assumption of a text directly contradictory to one that is directly perceived. The mere possibility of a Vedic text (in support of the heterodox teaching) cannot lead to any certainty regarding its actual existence; while the Vedic injunction to the contrary is directly perceptible and certain; and certainly a certain text can never be sublated by an uncertain one. As for the theory of ‘lost Rescensions,’ we shall deal with it in detail later on, in our comments on this same verse. As regards the (orthodox) Smṛtis of Manu and others, their relationship to directly perceptible Vedic texts is quite patent; in some cases they are related to the Vedic mantras, in others to the Vedic deities, and in others again with substances and other details. No such relationship is possible in the case of the heterodox Smṛtis; hence no authority can ever belong to them (for the purpose of re-iterating which fact there could be a reference to the ‘Recollection of persons versed in the Veda.’)

“As regards Practice,—that which consists in what is actually done, with a view to invisible results, by persons learned iu the Veda,—its authoritative character is exactly like that of Recollection (Smṛti); because that also has its basis in the Veda. On the other hand, wrong Practice is generally based upon visible causes (of greed, &c.), and unlearned persons are apt to commit mistakes; hence it can not have any authority at all.

“Similarly with Self-satisfaction.

“If again the authority of the Veda, of Recollection and of Practice were dependent upon the teachings of Manu and others (in the shape of the present verse), on what would the authority of these latter rest? If on other teachings—such as ‘the Smārta Dharma has been expounded by Manu,’—then, whence the authority of these latter? In fact, the ultimate criterion as to what is authoritative and what is not authoritative, would be a purely logical one, and it would not consist in any teaching at all. So that the present verse is absolutely useless; and so also other similar verses that follow.”

Our answer to the above objection is as follows:—

The authors of treatises on Dharma proceed to compose their works for the expounding of their subject for the benefit of such persons as are not learned (in the Vedas). Hence it is that having themselves learnt from the Veda that the Aṣṭakā and such other acts should be performed, they incorporate in their own work the injunctions of these acts, for the purpose of conveying the same knowledge to others similarly in the case of such matters as the authoritative character of the Veda [which are known by the Smṛti- writers themselves from the Veda, and yet they proceed to include that information in their work for the edification of persons not equally learned]. As a matter of fact, there are many enquirers who are incapable of ascertaining truth by means of independent reasoning,—not being endowed with an intellect capable of ratiocination; and for the benefit of these persons even a logically established fact is stated by the writers in a friendly spirit. Hence what is herein stated regarding Veda being the source of Dharma is a well-established fact. What the statement ‘Veda is the source of Dharma’ means is that ‘the fact of Veda being the source of Dharma has been ascertained after due consideration, and one should never doubt its authoritative character.’ Even in ordinary experience we find people teaching others facts ascertained by other means of knowledge; e.g. [when the physician teaches]—‘you should not eat before the food already taken has been digested, for indigestion is the source of disease.’ It cannot be rightly urged that “those who are unable to comprehend, by reasoning, the fact of Veda being the source of Dharma, can not comprehend it through teaching either”; for as a matter of fact we find that when certain persons are known to be ‘trustworthy,’ people accept their word as true, without any further consideration. The whole of the present section therefore is based on purely logical facts, and not on the Veda, in other cases also,—e.g., in the case of Smṛtis dealing with law-suits, &c.—what is propounded is based upon logic, as we shall show later on, as occasion arises. How the performance of the Aṣṭakā, etc., is based upon the Veda we shall show in the present context itself.

The word ‘Veda’ here stands for the Ṛg, Yajuṣ and Sāman, along with their respective Brāhmaṇas; all these are fully distinguished, by students, from all other sentences (and compositions). Learners who have their intellect duly cultured through series of teachings, understand, as soon as a Vedic passage is uttered, that it is Veda,—their recognising of the Veda being as easy as the recognition of a man as a Brāhmaṇa. This word ‘Veda’ is applied to the whole collection of sentences,—beginning with ‘Agnimīle purohitam,’ ‘Agnirvai devānāmvarua,’ and ending with ‘atha mahāvāratam’ (Ṛgveda); as also to the several individual sentences forming part of the said collection; and this application of the word is not direct in the one case and indirect in the other,—as is the case with the word ‘village’ as applied (directly) to the entire group of habitations, and (indirectly) to each individual habitation. In the case of the word ‘village’ the twofold usage is based upon the principle that words denoting the composites are also applicable to the components; the word ‘village’ is known to be used generally in the sense of ‘a group of houses,’ and yet in the case of such expressions as ‘the village is burnt,’ it ìb used in the sense of a few individual houses in the village; as it is when people say ‘the village has been burnt,’ when in reality only a few houses have be in burnt. Or, in this ease also the word ‘village’ may be regarded as used in the sense of the group only; and what happens is that it is the burning, which, though really pertaining to only a portion of that group, is spoken of as pertaining to the entire group as related to the said portion; specially as it is only through its components that a composite can have any connection with an act; in fact the composite’s connection with acts can be none other than that of the components; apart from the components, the composite cannot be either seen or touched.

We now proceed to explain the etymology of the word ‘Veda.’ The ‘Veda’ is that from which people derive their knowledge of Dharma, which cannot be known from any other source of knowledge—[ vidanti asmāṭ iti vedaḥ ]; and this knowledge of Dharma is derived from each individual sentence; hence the name is not restricted to the entire collection of Adhyāyas and Anuvākas that go under the name ‘Ṛgveda.’ It is on this understanding that the penalty of having the tongue cut off is inflicted (upon the Śūdra) when he pronounces a single sentence out of the Veda. On the same principle also is the epithet ‘whole’ found in the injunction that ‘the whole Veda should be studied,’ where it serves to indicate the necessity of studying all the sentences contained in the Veda; otherwise (if the epithet ‘whole’ were not there) the learner would be satisfied with the reading of only a few sentences, and would not read the whole Veda. All this we shall explain in detail in the present work.

This Veda is variously divided. The Sāma Veda is said to have a thousand ‘paths’ (i.e., Rescensions), in the shape of ‘Sātya,’ ‘Mugri,’ ‘Rāṇāyanīya’ and so forth; there are a hundred Rescensions of the Yajurveda, in the shape of ‘Kāṭhaka,’ ‘Vājasaneyaka’ and the rest; there are twenty-one Rescensions of the Ṛgveda; and nine of the Atharva Veda in the shape of ‘Modaka’ ‘Paippalādaka,’ and so forth.


“No one regards the Atharva as a Veda: (a) ‘The science is three-fold, consisting of the Ṛk, the Yajuṣ and the Sāman,’ (b) ‘The Sun moves forward, endowed with the three Vedas’ (Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa, 3.12.91), (c) ‘One should keep up the observance of studying the three Vedas’; [all these speak of only three Vedas]. In fact we also find a prohibition regarding the Atharva—‘One should not recite the Atharvaṇas.’ It is in view of all these that people regard the followers of the Atharvaṇa as heretics, beyond the pale of the Vedic Triad.”

[Answer]—This is not right; all good men agree in regarding the Atharvaṇa as a Veda. In this Smṛti itself (11.33) we find the expression ‘śrutīratharvāṅgirasīḥ,’ where the Atharva is spoken of as ‘śruti,’ and ‘śruti’ is the same as ‘Veda.’

Further [whether a certain Veda is called ‘Veda’ or not is of no import]; when certain passages—those prescribing the Agnihotra and other sacrifices, which all people call ‘Veda’—are regarded as authoritative in matters regarding Dharma, they are so accepted, not because they are called by the name of ‘Veda’;—because the name ‘Veda’ is sometimes applied to Itihāsa and the Āyurveda also, when, for instance, it is said that ‘Itihāsa and Purāṇa are the fifth Veda’ (Chandogya Upaniṣad, 7.1.2), [and yet these are not regarded as authorities on Dharma];—but because they are independent of human agency, and help to make known our duties, and because they are free from mistakes; and all these conditions are fulfilled by the Atharva: such acts as the Jyotiṣṭoma and the like are prescribed in the Atharva just as they are in the Yajuṣ and the other Vedas. Some people have fallen into the mistake that the Atharva cannot be Veda because it abounds in teachings of acts dealing with malevolent magic (witchcraft). As a matter of fact, malevolent magic, as leading to the death of living beings, is always prohibited.

[It is described, because] it is employed by the priests of kings who are well versed in magical spells; but it is deprecated.

It has been argued above that “the Atharva is not mentioned among Vedas, in such passages as ‘the Sun moves, endowed with the three Vedas.’”—But the passages quoted are merely declamatory (Arthavāda); it is therefore of no consequence whether or not the Atharva is mentioned among them. Or, the passages that speak of ‘three Vedas,’ ‘the triple science,’ and so forth may be taken as referring to the three kinds of mantras; besides the three kinds of mantras found in the Ṛk, Yajuṣ and Sāma Vedas, there is no fourth kind,—the Exhortations, the Invocations, the lowly recited Prayers and the Hymns to Indra, and such other Mantras being all included under these three. In the Atharva Veda also, the mantras mentioned are all of the ‘Ṛk’ class; hence so far as the classification according to the kind of mantra is concerned, it comes under the ‘Ṛgveda.’

As regards the interdict placed upon the study of the Atharva Veda, it indicates a conclusion quite the reverse of that which it has been cited (by the opponent) to prove: A prohibition is possible only of what is otherwise possible [so that the very prohibition proves that the said study was, and should be, prevalent, except under the circumstances referred to in the interdict]. Or, the passage quoted may simply mean that ‘one should not mix up the performance of acts enjoined in the other three Vedas with that of those prescribed in the Atharva Veda; for instance, during the performance of the Vācastoma sacrifices, the reciting of all Ṛk, Sāman and Yajuṣ mantras is enjoined, and the said prohibition precludes the reciting, at this sacrifice, of the mantras occurring in the Atharva Veda.

The above-described Veda—which is a particular kind of literary compilation, not by any human author, which is divided into several ‘Rescensions,’ and known under the name ‘Mantra-Brāhmaṇa’—is the ‘root’—i.e., the authority, the means of knowing—‘of Dharma.’ ‘Root,’ here means cause. The Veda and Smṛti can be a ‘cause’ only in the sense that they serve to make known,—not in that of producing, nor in that helping to stand, which are the two senses in which the ‘root’ is the cause of the Tree.

The term ‘dharma’ we have already explained above; it is that which a man should do, and which is conducive to his welfare, and of a character different from such acts as are amenable to perception and the other ordinary means of knowledge. Land-cultivation, service, &c., also are conducive to man’s welfare; but this fact of their being so beneficial is ascertained by means of positive and negative induction; and as regards the sort of cultivation that brings a good harvest of grains, this is ascertained by direct perception and other ordinary means of knowledge. On the other hand, the fact of sacrifices being conducive to welfare, and the manner in which they are beneficial, through the intervention of the ‘Apūrva,’—all this is not amenable to perception or other ordinary means of knowledge. ‘Welfare’is that which is, in its most general form, spoken of as ‘pleasure,’ consisting of the attaining what is desirable, in the shape of Heaven, landed property and so forth, and also (b) the avoiding of what is generally spoken of as ‘pain,’ which consists of illness, poverty, unhappiness, Hell and so forth. Others regard the attaining of Supreme Bliss only as ‘welfare.’

This Dharma is learnt from such passages in the Brāhmaṇas as contain the ‘liṅ’ and other injunctive expressions. In some cases we learnt it also from mantras; e.g., from such mantras as ‘Vasantāya kapiñjalān ālabhale,’ ‘offers the Kapiñjala birds to Vasanta’ (Vājasaneyi Samhitā, 24. 20). Among these such passages as contain the word ‘Kāma’ (‘desire’) indicate that the act therein enjoined is to be performed for the purpose of obtaining a definite result; e.g., ‘brahmavarcasakāmaḥ,’ (‘one desirous of acquiring Brahmic glory should offer cooked rice to Sūrya’), ‘Vaiśvadevīm sāṅgrahiṇīṃ nirvapet grāmakāmaḥ’ (‘one desirous of acquiring landed property should offer the Śāṅgrahini to the Viśvedevas’); and the actions thus enjoined are not done by one who is not desirous of obtaining the particular results spoken of. There are other acts which are pointed out as compulsory, by means of such words as ‘yāvajjīvam’ (‘throughout one’s life’) and so forth. These are not performed with a view to any results,—there being no results mentioned as following from them. Nor will it he right to assume, in this case also, a definite result in the shape of Heaven, in accordance with the ‘Viśvajit’—principle (laid down in the Pūrva-Mimānsā Sūtra 4.3.15-16); because the presence of such words as ‘throughout life’ and so forth already indicates that these are to be performed without any reference to results, and the omission of these acts simply involves the sin of disobeying the scriptural injunction. So that it is with a view to avoid this sin that the acts thus prescribed are performed. This same holds good regarding prohibitions—such as ‘the Brāhmaṇa should not he killed,’ ‘wine should not be drunk’; the avoiding of the prohibited act is not for the purpose of any reward, but simply for the purpose of avoiding something sinful;

Entire,’—whole. That is, there is not a single word, consonant or vowel (of the Veda) that is not conducive to Dharma.

Some people raise the following objection against this:—

“It has been asserted that the Veda consists of injunctions, descriptions, mantras and names, and Dharma is of the nature of what should be done. Now it is only right that the Injunctive passages should be the means of knowing Dharm a; as it is from these that we learn that sacrifice and other acts should he done,—e.g., ‘the Agnihotra should be offered,’ ‘an offering of curds should be made,’ ‘offerings should he made in the morning and in the evening, to Agni and Prajāpati,’ ‘one desirous of attaining Heaven should pour libations into the fire.’ The whole set of these passages points to the particular action of ‘Agnihotra’ as one that should he done; ‘curds’ are the substance to be offered at the same sacrifice, Agni and Prajāpati are the deities to whom the offerings are to be made,—and the ‘desire for heaven’ is the qualifying condition for the performer.

“But in the Veda there are many such passages as—(a) ‘Agni is all the deities, Agni is the divine power of oblations, he invites the Gods and makes offerings to them,’ &c., and again (b) ‘Prajāpati cut out his own fat’ and so forth; and certainly such passages do not lay down anything to be done; all that they do is either to relate some past event or to describe some entirely irrelevant thing. If his own fat was cut out by Prajāpati, let him cut it; what is that to us? Similarly the fact of Agni being all deities does not help in the offerings to Agni; that Agni is the deity to whom the offering should be made having been declared by the word ‘Agni’ itself; if Agni is some other deity, then the mere fact of his being another deity would rule him out as a recipient of that offering. As for inviting, that also is laid down by another passage ‘we invite Agni, O Agni!’ Ac. And lastly, as for the mention of Agni inviting and making offerings to the Gods, this is absolutely meaningless.

“As regards mantras again, there are some,—e.g., (a) ‘There was neither death nor immortality, &.,’ (Ṛgveda, 10.129.2), (b) ‘Sudeva might fall to-day never to return, &c.,’ (Ṛgveda, 10.95.14) and so forth—which either describe some past event or contain a wailing; and what Dharma could such mantras expound? At that time there was neither death, nor immortality, nor life—certainly no living being having been born before creation, there, was no life or death of any one; during the universal dissolution also, there may come about the death of all things, or it may not come about,—it does not teach us anything as to anything to be done. Similarly, Sudeva, a certain highly meritorious godlike man, might to-day fall, i.e.,—might throw himself into a pit—never to return—i.e., after which fall he cannot come back to life;—this is how Purūravas, separated from Urvaśī, bewailed.

Similarly as regards Names,—e.g, as ‘one should sacrifice with the Udbhid,’ ‘one should sacrifice with the Balabhid,’ &c., &c.,—they do not enjoin any act or substance; the enjoining of the action being done by the verb (‘should sacrifice’), and the word ‘Balabhid’ and ‘Udbhid, &c., not being expressive of any substance; specially as the substance for the sacrifice iu question in the form of Soma—is got at from its archetype by virtue of the direct injunction. [that ‘the ectypal sacrifices are to be performed in the manner of their archetypes,’ and the archetype of the Udbhid sacrifice is the Jyotiṣṭoma at which soma-juice is the substance offered]; and hence there is no necessity for twisting the words ‘udbhid,’ &c., to yield the name of some sacrificial material [such as tree or spade, which may be indicated by the etymology of the word ‘udbhid,’ which means ‘that which shoots out’ or ‘that with which digging is done’]. Thus it is clear that no dharma is indicated by the names. How then can it be said that ‘the entire Veda is the root of dharma?’”

Our answer to the above is as follows:—It is just in view of these doubts that the Author has added the epithet ‘entire’; by which it is meant that all these passages that have been cited by the objector help in providing knowledge of Dharma.

(A) First, as regards Arthavādas, these are not meant to be construed apart from the injunctive passages; it is only if they were so construed that they would fail to help in the knowledge of dharma. As a matter of fact, we find that if the Arthavāda is taken apart by itself, it remains syntactically defective; and this leads us to conclude that they subserve the purposes of the corresponding injunctive passages; being so subservient to these latter, they come to be construed along with them; and hence they have got to be explained in such a manner as to make them fit in with the corresponding injunction. Thus the mention of Prajāpati having cut his fat cannot be taken by itself; it has to be taken as supplementing an injunction; in view of the fact however that the Arthavādas do not denote a substance, a sacrificial accessory, or any such thing as generally forms the direct object of injunction, they are construed differently, as eulogising what is directly enjoined, and thus come to be recognised as supplementing the injunction. This praise of the enjoined thing is also expressed by the Arthavāda; for instance, the sense of the passage in question is this—‘it is so necessary to perform animal-sacrifices that, at a time when no animals were available, and there was no other remedy, Prajāpati constituted himself into the animal and cut out his own fat.’ That such is the construction to be put upon the Arthavāda is shown by the fact that whenever we have Arthavādas, they always accompany injunctive passages. Thus even though the sense of the injunction is comprehended even without the accompanying Arthavāda,—e.g., in the case of the injunction ‘one should offer the Kapiñjala birds to Vasanta,’ we comprehend the injunction from the sentence itself,—yet the Arthavādas are not absolutely useless; for when the Arthavāda is there, it is not right to deduce the injunction from the injunctive sentence only. The Veda is not the work of any author; we cannot argue (from the analogy of human speeches) that ‘since in one case the injunction has no Arthavāda to help it, it need not have it in another case also’;—the Arthavādas are there, we have to construe them; and what we have shown above is the only right way in which the particular Arthavāda can be construed. Nor is there anything very extraordinary in this; in ordinary practice also, we find eulogistic words accompanying injunctions; for instance, at the time that the master is paying -wages to his servants, some servant says affectionately (in regard to another)—‘This Devadatta is a good servant, he is always present, knows the occasions of service and is always careful about it.’ Thus we find that Arthavādas also serve the purpose of enjoining, through the eulogising of what is enjoined by the injunction. In fact, in certain cases, details of what is enforced by the injunction are got at from the Arthavāda only; for instance, when the injunction says, ‘wet pebbles are to be put in,’ this injunction stands in need of some wetting substance, such as butter oil, etc.; so that when it is followed by the Arthavāda ‘Butter is glory,’ this praise of Butter leads us to conclude that Butter is the welting substance to be used. Similarly the Arthavāda ‘those who have recourse to these Rātris become respected’serves to point out the qualifying conditions for the performers of the Rātri-satra sacrifice. From all this it is clear that Arthavādas also are ‘the root of Dharma.’

(B) Next as regards Mantras, some of them are directly injunctive; e.g., the MantraVasantāya kapiñjalān ālabhate’ (‘offers the Kapiñjala birds to Vasanta’);—in connection with the Āghāra-offering, the deity to whom the offering is to be made is pointed out by the mantra ‘Ita Indra urdhvodhvaraḥ, etc.’ In this case the Deity is not mentioned in the passage that enjoins the offering, nor is it mentioned in any other purely injunctive passage; the particular mantra to be used however is directly enjoined as being the one that begins with ‘Ita Indra’; hence it is from the words of this mantra that we learn the name of the requisite Deity. There are thousand, of such instances where the Deity is indicated by the words of the mantra. Then, there are certain mantras that are only descriptive of what is being done; and these also serve the purpose of making known Dharma by reminding (the persons engaged in the act, of what is to be done); and thus these also become ‘root of Dharma’ by indicating what should be done.

(C) Thirdly, as regards the Names, they are never found apart from verbs, and hence, like verbs, they have their character of being the ‘root of Dharma’ well established, Then again, as a matter of fact, the accessory details of sacrifices are generally enjoined through these names (of sacrifices); e.g., (a) ‘In the Śarat season one should perform the sacrifice,’ (b) ‘one desirous of Kingdom of Heaven should perform the Vajapeya’ [in the former we have the injunction of the time of performance, and in the latter, of the Result, and both are mentioned along with the name of the sacrifice ‘Vājapeya’].

Thus it is proved that the ‘entire Veda’ is the ‘root of Dharma.’

Other people have taken the word ‘entire’ as added with a view to the possible objection that no knowledge of Dharma is provided by the Vedic passages laying down the Shu??a (Śyena?) and such other objectionable acts, or by the Prohibitions—such as ‘one should not eat garlic.’

The objection anticipated by these people is as follows:—

“The Śyena and other sacrifices of the kind are in the form of malevolent spells; and partaking of the character of murder, they are distinctly of the nature of ‘Himsā’ (Injury); and since all form of injury is cruel, and all evil spells have been prohibited, these sacrifices must be ‘Adharma,’ the opposite of ‘Dharma’ (sinful). [And since the Veda lays down such sacrifices] the ‘entir’ Veda cannot be the ‘root of Dharma.’ Por ‘Dharma’ has been explained as ‘what should be done,’ and certainly the killing of the Brāhmaṇa is not ‘what should be done.’ How then can the passages laying down such acts be the ‘root of Dharma’? Further, even the animal-sacrifices—Agniṣomīya and the rest,—involve the killing of animals, and as such are very far removed from the character of ‘Dharma.’ That killing is sinful is admitted by all enquiries. To this end it has been said ‘where the killing of living beings is Dharma, what can be Adharma?’”

Now how is this objection anticipated? It is anticipated (say these other people) by the adding of the epithet ‘entire.’ There is no other use for this epithet.

It might be asked why no reason has been given [by Manu, why and how the entire Veda is the root of Dharma]; but our answer is that this is a work in the form of Precept, and as such states well-established conclusions; and those persons who seek after the ‘why’ and ‘wherefore’ of these conclusions are instructed by Pūrvamīmāmsā.’We have already said that this work is addressed to persons who are prepared to learn tilings from Precept alone.

The author of the Vivaraṇa however puts forward a few arguments also:—It has been argued by the opponent that the Śyena and other such sacrifices, being prohibited, must be ‘adharma’ sinful. This is quite true. But even though these acts are prohibited, yet in certain cases it so happens that some people may have their animosity too strong to allow of their submitting to the general prohibition of killing,—in such other passages has ‘no living beings should be killed,’—and such persons derive from the Śyena, the pleasure of killing their enemy; and to that small extent, as conducive to this pleasure, the Śyena may be regarded as ‘dharma’; so that the passage prescribing the Śyena does not cease to be the ‘source of Dharma.’ Secondly, as for prohibitions, it is only a person who is moved by passion to do the killing that is guided by the prohibition; and the acting up to the prohibition only consists in not doing what is prohibited [and this desisting from the prohibited act is meritorious, Dharma ] Thirdly, the prohibition of killing does not apply to the killing that is done in course of the and other such offerings; and what is prohibited by the general prohibition of killing is only that killing in ordinary practice which is done through malice. That killing, on the other hand, which is distinctly enjoined and has scriptural sanction, can never form the subject of prohibition; specially as the prohibition has its use in connection with ordinary killing. Nor is it possible to deduce the sinfulness of the scriptural killing, on the analogy of ordinary killing, from the general proposition that ‘all killing is sinful.’ Because what makes the killing sinful is not merely its character of ‘killing,’ but also the fact of its being prohibited; and we have already pointed out that the prohibition does not apply to the scriptural killing.


Some people explain the word ‘mūla,’ ‘root’ to mean cause;—the meaning being that ‘of Dharma Veda is the root,—the basis, the cause—either directly or indirectly.’ It is the ‘direct cause of Dharma’ in such passages as ‘one should study the Veda,’ ‘one should get up the Ṛgveda, etc.’; and it is the ‘indirect cause’ when it points out the detailed form of the Agnihotra and such other acts.


Smṛtiśīle ca tadvidān’—‘Conscientious Recollection of persons versed in the Veda’;—‘Smṛti,’ ‘Recollection’ is the idea that one has of what has been apprehended before.—The pronoun. ‘tat’ (in the compound ‘tadvidām’) stands for the Veda; and those who know the Veda are called ‘Vedavidaḥ,’ ‘versed in the Veda.’ The meaning thus is that another ‘authority’ (means of knowing) for Dharma. consists in the idea, ‘this should be done, that should not be done,’ entertained by people learned in the Veda.

“It has been held that Recollection is not a reliable means of knowledge; and the reason for this that is given is that Recollection only serves to recall what has been apprehended by other means of knowledge, and does not lead to the apprehension of anything new.”

This is true; for the persons to whom the recollection belongs, it is the original means of knowledge—Trustworthy Assertion or Perception, etc.—that constitutes the reliable source of knowledge; and one’s own Recollection is not a reliable source of knowledge for himself. But for us (ordinary mortals), it is the Recollection of Manu and such other persons that forms a reliable source of knowledge; we have no other means, except the said Recollection, for knowing that the Aṣṭakā and such other acts should be done. That the Recollection of Manu, etc., was actually in a certain form, we learn from the assertions made by themselves that have come down to us through a long line of tradition. And from this Recollection we come to the conclusion that the subject-matter of them was actually apprehended by Manu, etc., by the ordinary means of knowledge; and this is indicated by the fact of the Recollection being there, and no.Recollection being possible without previous apprehension.

“It is quite possible that Manu and others have compiled their ‘Recollections’ from imagination, without having actually apprehended what they speak of; in the same manner as certain poets compose a story after having created the whole plot from imagination.”

The answer to this is as follows:—This might be so, if the works under consideration did not contain teachings regarding what ‘should he done.’ Teachings regarding what should he done are meant to lead to the performance of those acts; and certainly no ìational person can ever perform what is taught on an imaginary basis.

“But people might he led to perform it by mistake.”

One man might fall into such a mistake; that the entire world has fallen into a mistake, and this mistake has persisted ever since the beginning of creation,—this would certainly be a most extraordinary presumption. And when it is quite possible that the assertions of Manu, etc., are based upon the Veda, there is no room for the assumption that in following them.people have fallen into a mistake. We also do not admit that Manu and others directly perceived the Dharmas; because ‘Perception’ is that cognition which follows when the sense-organs are in contact with the objects cognised; and certainly no such contact with the sense-organs is possible for Dharma, for the simple reason that it is what should be done, and what should be done is not an accomplished entity, and it is only an accomplished entity that comes into contact with anything. It is true that (though perception does not apprehend non-existent things) Inference and the other means of cognition do bring about the apprehension of things not existent at the time,—e.g., when people see a line of ants moving along with their eggs, they infer the coming rain; but even these latter means of cognition do not provide any knowledge of what should be done.

All this leads, us to conclude that, in as much as the Recollection pertains to what should be done, it must have a source that is similar to itself; and such source can be the Veda only. The Veda that we thus infer (to be the source of the Recollections) must have been directly perceived by Manu and others and the Vedic texts in which the Dharmas laid down in the Smṛtis were originally prescribed (and which we do not find in the Vedas now) must have been contained in such Rescensions as have been lost.

On this point, the following alternative views suggest themselves as possible:—

(a) The Rescensions may be one or several; and it is inferred that from among these some contain the injunction of the Aṣṭakā and some that of others. (b) Or, it may be that all the Rescensions are available even at the present day; but the details of the Dharmas are scattered about among them; so that while one Rescension contains the originative injunction of the Aṣṭakā, another contains the injunction of the substance to be used at it, a third enjoins the Deity, and yet another lays down the Mantra; and what Manu and other compilers have done is to bring together in one place all these scattered details, with a view to make them more easily understood. (c) Or, that the Dharmas in question have their origin only in the indications of Mantras and Arthavādas. (d) Or, these Dharmas, having been performed by men from time immemorial, and having been handed down by an unbroken line of tradition, must be regarded to be as eternal as the Veda itself. (e) Or, the action of Manu and others also, like that of ourselves, must have been based upon the authority of some other source, and as such their assertions must be based upon such Vedic texts as have always been assumed by inference (and never actually perceived by any one in any Veda).

These and such other alternative views have been fully considered by the author of the Vivaraṇa; and the definite conclusion arrived at is as follows:—The performance of the Aṣṭakā and such other acts laid down in the Smṛtis must be regarded as sanctioned by the Veda; because they are found to be connected with purely Vedic injunctions, on perceiving which latter the performers undertake the performance. The said connexion we have already shown above;—in some cases what is prescribed in the Veda is subservient to what is laid down in the Smṛti, and sometimes it is the contrary; sometimes the Veda contains the originative Injunction of the act in question, sometimes its qualifying conditions, and sometimes it lays out a mere Arthavāda, an eulogistic description. In this manner all those acts that are prescribed in the Smṛtis are connected with Vedic injunctions.

We have discussed this matter fully in the as follows:—

‘Between what is laid down in the Smṛti and what is prescribed in the Veda, there is a close connection. There is not much difference between the two, either as to the character of their performers or to the nature of the acts themselves. Those same persons who perform the acts prescribed in the Veda,—if they also do what is mentioned in the Smṛtis, it follows that these latter have their source in the Veda. The principal criterion of the authoritative character of a certain text is its acceptance by persons learned in the Veda; and the fact of the performing agents being the same in both cases has been put forward (in the Pūrvamīmānsā Sūtra 1.3.2) as a ground for inferring the existence of Vedic texts in corroboration of the Smṛtis.’

For going any further than this and for coming to particulars (as to where these corroborative Vedic texts are to be found etc., etc.), there is no reasonable ground; nor is there any necessity (it being sufficient for our present purpose that all that is contained in the Smṛti has its source in the Veda).

It is quite possible that certain rescensional texts of the Veda may have been lost. Even at the present day we find several such texts as are read by very few students. And some people have held that what the authors of the Smṛtis have done is to bring together the purely injunctive passages, shorn of their accompanying arthavādas, contained in such rescensional texts as were found by them to be likely to be lost (for want of learners). Āpastamba (1.4.10) for instance, says—‘the injunctions are those laid down in the Brāhmaṇas,—their exact words have been lost—but they can be inferred from the details of the actual performance.’

But this theory involves many impossible and unheard of assumptions, such as the neglect of, and the total disappearance of all the learners of, just that Vedic text which was the most useful, being that in which were declared all those Dharmas pertaining to castes and life-stages that are set forth in the Smṛtis and the Gṛhyasūtras.

The other view however is more reasonable,—that learned persons, who have formed definite conclusions of their own on all important matters, should compile a practical compendium of all such injunctions as are scattered over (in various sections of the Veda), beset with arthavādas, and difficult to determine what is conducive to the good of man and what is meant only to complete the sacrificial performance.

But under this hypothesis also, there is this difficulty, that in cases where the Smṛti rule runs counter to a Vedic rule, hoth would have to be regarded as equally directly Vedic, and as such representing optional alternatives; so that the Smṛti could not be set aside by the Veda. And this certainly cannot be accepted by the learned. In fact the authors of the Smṛtis themselves admit that the basis of the Smṛti in the Veda is only inferred, and that the former is always set aside in favour of the latter. For instance, Gautama says (3.35)—‘There is only one life-stage, say the revered Teachers; since the householder’s life is the only one that is directly enjoined.’ If Manu and the other writers (who speak of four life-stages) had actually found the Vedic texts (upon which they based their division of the four stages),—then what would be the sense of the expression that ‘the house-holder’s life is the only one that is directly enjoined (by the Veda)’? For according to the hypothesis under discussion all the four stages would be equally directly enjoined. [Nor is the above-quoted Sūtra the statement of a foreign opinion.] In fact it embodies Gautama’s own opinion, which he has put forward as the opinion of ‘revered teachers.’ This is clear from the fact that he has begun the section with the statement ‘Now as regards the various views that h ave been held regarding the life-stages’ (3.1), and he has concluded with the Sūtra (3.35) quoted above.

The authoritative character of Mantras and Arthavādas (as means of knowing Dharma) is not inconsistent. Though it is true that Arthavādas only serve to eulogise what has been enjoined by an Injunctive sentence, and they do not exercise the function of enjoining anything,—yet there are instances in which even the connection of the Arthavāda with an Injunctive sentence is not possible unless the former has afforded some; idea of an injunction in regard to something expressed by its words. For instance the Arthavāda passage ‘Theft of gold, drinking of wine, etc., etc.’ (Upaniṣad, 5.10.9) cannot be understood as pertaining to the Injunction of the ‘Science of the Five Fires,’ until it is known that the ‘theft of gold’ and the rest are prohibited; the sense of the whole being that ‘he who studies this science of the Five Fires does not fall, even though he commits the theft of gold, etc., or associates with persons who have committed them—otherwise he does fall’?

“Who has laid down the law that in the said passage the Injunction is conveyed, not directly by the Arthavāda itself, but by the fact of its being connected with another Injunctive passage? As a matter of fact, the passage itself contains an independent finite verb of its own—‘these four fall’ [and this would serve as the direct prohibition). It might be argued that the verb does not contain the Injunctive affix: But the passage ‘they obtain a standing who per form the Rātrisatra’ also contains no verb ending with the Injunctive affix. It might he argued that—‘in the case of the Rātrisatra, the need for a qualifying condition being distinctly felt, the two sentences (they obtain a standing and they perform the Rātrisatra) come to be taken as syntactically connected, and the necessary injunction is got at by assuming the verb to contain the Let ending.’—But the same may be said in regard to the passage in question also. In fact, there are several injunctions of substances and deities that are obtained from Arthavādas. In a case where the Arthavāda is distinctly subservient to an Injunctive passage,—since this latter injunction would be in need of the mention of a substance or a deity (for the act enjoined) [that may be found mentioned in the corresponding Arthavāda], it may not be improper to take the Arthavāda as simply serving to supply the needs of the corresponding Injunction (and not as enjoining anything independently by itself). In the present instance however (of the Arthavāda passage ‘the theft of gold, etc., etc.’), if we are to seek for an injunction that has no connection with the Arthavāda (and this injunction were sought to be derived from the words of the Arthavāda itself), then this would give rise to a syntactical split; hence it cannot be taken as subservient to the main subject-matter of the context (i.e., the science of the Five Fires); and in the absence of such subserviency, the Arthavāda could not provide any idea of the Prohibition. This is the point on which the case of the Arthavāda in question is not analogous to that of the sentences—‘One should put in wet pebbles’ and ‘Butter is glory’ [where the connection between the two is quite clear].”

This is not right; for even though the Arthavāda has a distinct meaning of its own, yet since its connection with the Injunction is based upon syntactical connection, there can be no room for any objection as regards syntactical split.

As regards the Mantras, they are, by their very nature, indicative of the form of action; and since the action cannot be got at from any other sources, we are led to assume an act indicated by the Mantra, specially with a view to justify its indicative character. And since in connection with the Aṣṭakā, it is not possible to have an indication of such origination and qualifying condition as are absolutely nonexistent, wo take the Mantras as suggestive of the action, its qualifying condition and its very origination. It is in this way that Injunctions are accepted as supplied by the words of a Mantra. As for instance, the injunction of the Deity of the Āghāra offering (is supplied by the MantraIta Indra urdhva, etc., etc.’)

It is admitted on all hands that Dharma has four ‘feet’; now, it is only a small portion of this vast fabric of Dharma that has been directly prescribed in the Veda; and the source of the knowledge of all the remaining factors also must be similar in character to the Veda, for the simple reason that the factors of Dharma can only be known through some sort of an injunction. So that (directly or indirectly) the connection (of Dharma) with Veda is inevitable.

Now (as regards the work of Manu) what happened was that Manu got together pupils who had studied several Vedic texts, as also other Vedic scholars, and having heard from them the several texts, he compiled his work; and he has therefore clearly stated that Vedic texts are the source of what he has written, and thereby established the trustworthy character of his work. Others that came after him performed the several duties, relying upon Mann’s own words, and did not try to trace his words to their source (in the Veda). All this is what we infer (from the circumstances of the case).

Thus even in cases where a Smṛti rule may run counter to what is found to he laid down in the Veda, both must he equally ‘Vedic’ [since the Smṛti also is based upon Vedic texts actually found by the writer]; and yet it is quite reasonable that the former should he discarded in favour of the latter; for when all that we need for the performance of a certain act is found by us in the Vedic text itself, there is no desire on our part to seek for, and infer the existence of, any other Vedic texts (in support of anything that may he found in the Smṛtis). Just as in the case of the Sāmidhenī verses, though the two numbers, seventeen and fifteen, are both equally mentioned in available Vedic texts, yet when we have once found that the number fifteen is applicable to the action in hand, we have no desire to have recourse to the number seventeen, even though this also is directly mentioned in the Veda. Then again, it is only natural that what is directly expressed by the words of a text should set aside what is only indirectly indicated by the requirements of what has been directly expressed, this indicated factor being admittedly remoter and hence weaker than the directly expressed one. But this does not mean that what is indirectly indicated has no force at all. In fact such a case would be analogous to the case where, even though the employment of the details of the archetypal sacrifice at the ectypal one is admissible by the general injunction (that ‘the ectype should be performed in the manner of its archetype’), yet when any such archetypal details are found to be incompatible with those that may be found to be expressly prescribed specifically in connection with ectype, the former are unhesitatingly discarded. [Similarly when the indicated factor is incompatible with the expressed one, it is discarded.]

Under the view [previously put forward as (d)] that the Smṛtis are based upon an unbroken Unit of performers, the position of the Smṛtis would be no better than that of mere current tradition, which does not, at any stage (however longstanding it may have become), attain reliability (based upon direct Vedic support).

The other view [put forward as (e)] also, according to which Vedic texts in support of what they did and wrote were always inferred by Manu and others,—does not differ very much from the view that they are based upon tradition. We have proceeded to examine the source of the Smṛti or Recollection of Manu and others; and if they also only inferred the Vedic texts, just as we are doing now, then, like ourselves, they also would not be recollectors (of Vedic texts). Nor is it possible to infer a thing that has never been directly perceived by any one; as no affirmation (and hence no premiss) could be possible with regard to such a thing. As regards the inference (that has been cited by Śabara), of the motion (of the Sun) and such other things, a general connection (between motion and change of location) is always perceived; or such motion may be deduced from Presumption based on apparent inconsistency. Such basis of presumption however is not available in the case in question.

From all this it follows that in the matter of Dharma, there is certainly some sort of connection between Manu and others and the Veda; but the exact character of this connection we are unable to ascertain. In fact, when persons learned in the Veda have the firm conviction that a certain act should he done, it is only right to assume that this conviction is based on the Veda, and not upon a misconception; it is only thus that wo would be assuming a source of knowledge in keeping with the character of the knowledge itself. And this assumption rests upon the possibility of such source being found in Vedic texts, in the form of mantras and arthavādas scattered far and wide by reason of lapses (of time, etc.). In some cases we also find direct Vedic Injunctions themselves, as the source (of what is found in the Smṛti); e.g., the injunction that ‘one should not converse with a woman in her courses,’ which is found in the Veda in connection with Upanayana and Study (supplies the basis for the general prohibition of such conversation, contained in the Smṛtis).

What we have stated here is only a small portion of this vast subject; more of this should be learnt from the Smṛtiviveka [as follows]:—

‘The view that some Vedic texts have become lost is not accepted by me; as this view necessitates several unwarrantable assumptions. It is far more reasonable to accept the view that the Smṛtis have brought together the injunctions of actions scattered about here and there. In fact even at the present day we find that a person who is surrounded by several Vedic scholars and teachers is capable of composing works after having heard from those persons the several Vedic texts. It is only natural that persons who have actually seen the writer at the time, basing his statements upon direct Vedic texts should accept them as trustworthy; and we also come to have due confidence in them as far as possible. As a matter of fact, the details of performance are indicated by Mantras; and there is indication of them also by Names; there can be no performance, unless there is some sort of indication regarding the nature of the action and the qualifying conditions. For instance, the connection of a particular deity with the Āghāra -offering is indicated by the words of a Mantra; and the reason for this lies in the indicative character of Mantras, which character becomes possible only if the Deity is taken to be indicated by them. When one action enters into the constitution of another well-accomplished one, it does not interfere with the form of this latter [so that when a Deity indicated by the Mantra is introduced into an action enjoined by a distinct Injunctive passage, it does not interfere with the nature of this action]. For instance, in connection with the Viśvajit sacrifice, we find that the desirable result proceeding from it is got at from sources other than its originative Injunction. Thus it is quite reasonable to assume details in connection even with a well-established injunction, specially when the needs of the Injunction are not supplied even by Mantras and Arthavādas.

‘[An objection is raised]—

“The revered Pāṇini has laid down that Injunction is expressed only by the Injunctive and other cognate affixes. So that Mantras and Arthavādas, describing as they do only accomplished entities, can never express an injunction. If then, from theArthavāda, which is not directly injunctive, some sort of Injunction were deduced by means of an indirect interpretation put upon the Arthavāda,—how could any reliance be placed upon such an Injunction? In fact such an interpretation would lead to a syntactical split; specially as (in such arthavādas as they obtain a standing who perform the Rātrisatra) the Rātris tra offerings do not necessarily stand in need of the ‘standing.’ In fact it is only a detail of the direct Injunction (and not that of the vāda) which can be accepted as indicated by supplementary sentences. As regards the prohibition of Theft, etc. (which has been sought to be deduced from the Arthavāda passage ‘the theft of gold, etc., etc.’), this will certainly be amenable to a direct Injunction; and as in the event of the arthavāda being made to yield the necessary injunction, syntactical split would be inevitable. Nor is there any analogy between the Vācastoma and the Aṣṭakā; for in the sacrifice all the details are performed in accordance with injunctions deduced from mantras; while in the case of the Aṣṭakā there are no grounds for regarding the mantra as indicative of any details of performance. Further, no indicative power of the mantra can prompt one to any course of action, unless there is some sort of a general connection; and in the case in question there is no such connection either of context or of any such factor.”

‘To the above objection the following reply is given by those who hold the view that also are the source of Dharma:—(a) In the case of the passage “they obtain a standing, etc.,” even though there is no directly injunctive agency in the form of the Injunctive affix and the rest, yet the idea of injunction is held to be supplied by the conjugational affix let (in the verb “upayanti,” “offer”). (b) Similarly in the case of the verb “patanti” “they fall” (occurring in the passage “Theft of gold, etc.”), or in that of the verb “use corrupt words” (occurring in another arthavāda passage), (c) In connection with the Vācastoma, we have the distinct injunction beginning with the expression ‘sarvadāśa ṭayīḥ anubrūyāt,’—this name “dāśatayī” being applied to the ten Ṛk. verses selected each out of the ten maṇḍalas of the Ṛgveda. (d) As regards the general connection (of the mantra) with the action, this is said to be brought about by the force of the Name,—the Gṛhyamantras being named after the acts (with which they are connected). (e) As regards the arthavāda passage “Theft of gold, etc., etc.,” that this is subservient to the Science of the Five Fires is indicated by the fact that it contains a deprecation of the said Theft, etc.; and this cannot be possible except when the Prohibition (of the Theft, etc.) is also implied. That the passage is subservient to the Science of Five Fires is indicated by the trend of the whole context; and the idea that the Theft, etc., should not be done serves to emphasise the said subserviency; and there is no incompatibility between these two [the idea of subserviency and that the acts should not be done ]. Lastly, as regards the view that the Vedic texts in corroboration of the Smṛti rules h ave always been inferred (and never actually found by any one in the Veda),—it stands on the same footing as the notion of long-standing tradition; both would be of the nature of the “blind following the blind”; and we do not perceive any difference between these two views.’

From all this it follows that when Gautama speaks of the Householder’s Life being ‘directly enjoined’ (by the Veda), what he means is that the words of the Veda enjoin it directly, without the intervention of any other process; that which is cognised immediately after the hearing of the words is said to be ‘directly known’; while after something has been cognised, if the reflection over the capacities of that thing leads to the cognition of another thing, this latter is not said to be ‘directly perceived.’ Thus everything becomes duly established.


[Having discussed the idea expressed by the expression ‘Smṛtiśīle ca tadvidām,’ the Author next proceeds to explain the words themselves]—‘Smṛtiśīle tadvidām’ ‘the conscientious re-collection of those versed in the Veda,’—The compound ‘smṛtiśīle’ stands for ‘Smṛti and śīla.’—‘Śīla’ has been explained as the abandoning of love and hate; and this is a ‘root of a Dharma,’—not like the Veda and Smṛti, which are ‘root of Dharma’ in the sense of being the source of knowledge of Dharma,—but in the sense that it is a means of accomplishing Dharma; for by abandoning love and hate one acquires merit (Dharma).

Question:—“Dharma has been described as what leads to welfare; and certainly the abandoning of love and hate is itself of that character (of Dharma); so that there being no difference between the two (i .e., between Dharma and the abandoning of love and hate), how can it be said that the said abandoning accomplishes Dharma?”

Answer:—We have already pointed out that the authors of Smṛtis use the term ‘dharma s,’ ometimes in the sense of acts which form the subjects of Injunctions and Prohibitions (i.e., meritorious and unmeritorious deeds), and also sometimes in the sense of that peculiar thing (force, i.e., merit) which proceeds from the performance of acts and continues to exist until it has brought its reward (to the doer). That there is such a thing as this latter can be believed only on the authority of the scriptures. If the sacrificial performance were to disappear without bringing about any such force, then, bow could its results appear at some remote period of time? It is this peculiar something that is meant by the term ‘dharma’ here [when it is said that ‘the abandoning of love and hate accomplishes Dharma.’] And certainly the said ‘Śīla’ is the ‘root’ of ‘Dharma’ in this sense; so that there is nothing incongruous in this. The use of the word ‘Dharma’ in this sense is common; e.g., in the verse—‘Dharma is the only friend that accompanies one even on death’ (Manu, 8.17). Since the act disappears immediately after it has been done, bow could it continue to exist at any other time (as mentioned in this verse)?

Some people bring forward the following objection:—

“As a matter of fact, everything that is enjoined in the Veda and in the Smṛtis is the source of Dharma; and since ‘Śīla’ also is included among the acts thus enjoined, there is no point in mentioning it separately. In fact Manu himself is going to enjoin it in the following verse—‘Day and night one should take care to subdue the senses’ (7.41),—and again—‘When the mind has been subdued, the two groups of five become subdued.’ And it is this ‘subjugation of the mind’ which constitutes the ‘abandoning of love and hate,’ as we shall explain later on.”

Some writers answer this by saying that ‘Śīla’ has been separately mentioned with a view to indicate its superior importance; it is something that comes useful in the performance of all acts; and is important also by itself; being just like the Agnihotra and such other acts; and further, it is a ‘Dharma’ for all castes and conditions. It is for these reasons that it has been specifically mentioned in the present verse, which sets forth the most general conception of Dharma.

Our explanation however is as follows:—‘Śīla’ stands for Samādhi, ‘composure of the mind;’ the root ‘Śīl’ signifies ‘composing,’ and ‘composure’ is a property of the mind; so that ‘Śīla’ here stands for the withdrawing of the mind from other things and concentrating it upon what is enjoined in the scriptures.

The copulative compound (‘Smṛtiśīle’) connotes interdependence; hence what is meant to be the ‘source of Dharma’ is ‘Smṛti’ (Recollection) and ‘śīla’ (composed mind, Conscience) as interdependent; and ‘śīla’ does not stand for being the means of accomplishing Dharma (as explained by some people, above). The sense therefore comes to be that what is the ‘source of Dharma’ is Conscientious Recollection, and not mere Recollection. Hence, even though some persons may be ‘versed in the Veda,’ yet any recollection that they may have at a time when they are not duly attentive to the subject cannot be regarded as a valid source of knowledge of Dharma; and this for the simple reason that unless people have fixed their attention upon what is prescribed in the scriptures, they are liable to fall into error.

As regards the particle ‘ca’ found in the verse, this ‘should be construed after the term ‘tadvidām,’ ‘of people versed in the Veda’; and it is due to the exigencies of metre that it has been placed before that term. This particle has a copulative force; and since nothing that has gone before can be copulated, it serves to bring in here the epithet ‘sādhūnām’ (good, righteous) that comes next. So that there are three qualifications intended here: the ‘Recollection’ that is authoritative is of such persons as (1) are learned, having learnt the soiences from a qualified teacher (), (2) are attentive to what is prescribed in the scriptures (śīla) and (3) are in the habit of acting up to the injunctions of the scriptures (sādhu, good, righteous). It has been declared that all these qualifications existed in Manu and other writers (of Smṛtis). If it were not so, then it would never have been possible for their words to have been accepted by the wise.

“If this is what is meant, it should be stated dearly, in the form ‘the words of Manu and others, are the sources of Dharma’; what is the use of setting forth the characteristics (of the writers)?”

True; but there might be persons who may not agree to the words of Manu and others being authoritative; and it is with reference to such persons that the text has set forth the well-established grounds for regarding them as trustworthy. Even, at the present day, a man who is possessed of the qualifications mentioned in the text, has his words accepted with the same amount of trust and confidence as the words of Manu and others; as we find in cases where learned men pronounce their opinion upon the precise character of the expiatory rite to be performed by one who has committed a certain sin. In fact a person possessed of the said qualifications has ever been recognised as constituting the ‘pariṣad’ ‘court,’ by himself alone: ‘The Brāhmaṇa should act up to that Dharma which even a single person learned in the Vedas should declare to be Dharma’—says Manu (12.113). For these reasons, there can be no reasonable ground for enumerating the names of ‘Recollectors,’ as ‘Manu, Viṣṇu, Yama, Aṅgiras’ and so forth. For we find that many such persons as Paiṭhīnasi, Baudhāyana, Pracetas and the rest are recognised by the wise and learned as reliable ‘Recollectors,’ and yet these names are not found in any of the lists (supplied by various Smṛtis).

What thus the words ‘Smṛtiśīle ca tadvidām’ mean is that ‘when a person is found to be recognised and spoken of by all wise and learned persons as endowed with the said qualifications, and they also accept a certain work as really by that person,—the word of such a person (and of the work composed by him), even though proceeding from a human source, should be recognised as an authoritative source of the knowledge of Dharma. So that even at the present day if there were a person possessed of the said qualifications, and he were to compose a work by reason of just those qualifications, then for later generations they would be accepted to be just as authoritative as the words of Manu and others. People of the present generation—who would be contemporaries of the said writer—would not derive their knowledge of Dharma from the words of such a writer, because the sources of information available to him would be all available to them also. Hence it is that until a teacher of the present day clearly indicates the source from which he has derived a certain information, learned people do not accept his word as reliable. When however he has pointed out his source and his work has been accepted as authoritative, then at some future time if the case of his work be found to be analogous to that of the Smṛti rules regarding Aṣṭakā and other acts (whose basis in the Veda we of the present day cannot find), it would be only right to infer its authoritative character from the fact of its being accepted by the wise and the learned (which fact could not be explained except on the basis of its being duly authoritative).


Ācārascaiva sādhūnām’ ‘The practice of Good Men’;—the particle ‘ca’ connects the epithet ‘vedavidām’ (of persons versed in the Veda) with this phrase also. These two qualifications (‘goodness’ and ‘Vedic learning’) indicate the ‘Śiṣṭa,’ ‘the cultured man.’ The ‘practice of cultured men’ also is ‘source of Dharma.’—‘Practice’ means conduct, behaviour. When, in regard to any action, there are no Vedic or Smṛti statements, but cultured men are found to regard it as ‘Dharma’ and do it,—then that act also should be accepted as ‘enjoined by the Veda,’ just like the act prescribed in the Smṛti. To this category belong such acts as the following—(a) the tying of the bracelet and such other auspicious rites performed during marriage, etc., (b) the worshipping of famous trees, Yakṣas, road-crossings and such things, varying in various countries, done by the girl on her day of marriage, (c) the number of hair-locks kept on the head, varying with different countries; (d) the exact manner of attending on guests, teachers and other respectable persons, consisting in the addressing of sweet and agreeable words, saluting, rising to receive and so forth; for instance, it is customary with some people to recite the Pṛṣṇi-sūkta with grass in hand, when banding over the horse consecrated for the Aśvamedha sacrifice. It is such customs that are meant by ‘Practice’ here. It is not possible to collect in any compilation all such practices, there being endless forms of them, varying with the diversities in the nature of men, caused by such variable circumstances as the calm or disturbed condition of their mind and so forth. The same act that may have been found, on several, occasions, to be pleasing (to one person), may, on another occasion, turn out to be unpleasant (to another person). For instance, a house-holder may be in the habit of being in constant attendance upon his guests;—this may be quite pleasing to one guest, who may be pleased at finding the man attending upon him like a servant; but the same close attendance becomes unpleasant to another guest, who may feel—‘the feeling of restraint caused by this man’s constant presence is so galling that I do not find an opportunity to sit at ease.’ Hence, in corroboration of such ‘Practices’ it is not possible for us to assume Vedic texts, corroborating them either collectively or individually. The Aṣṭakā and such other acts, on the other band, have a fixed form; and hence we have Smṛti rules regarding their performance. This is what constitutes the difference between ‘Recollection’ and ‘Practice’ (Smṛti and Ācāra).


Ātmanastuṣṭireva ca’,—‘Self-satisfaction also’—‘is source of Dharma’ is to be construed here also. This ‘self-satisfaction’ also is meant to be of those only who are ‘learned in the Veda and Good’ (‘Vedavidām sādhūnām’). The fact of this ‘Self-satisfaction’ being ‘source of Dharma’ has been held to be based upon the trustworthy character (of the people concerned). When such persons as are possessed of the stated qualifications (of being good and learned) have their mind satisfied with a certain act, and they do not feel any aversion towards it, that act is ‘Dharma.’

“But it may happen that a man’s mind is satisfied with a prohibited (sinful) act; and this would have to be regarded as Dharma. Again, a man may have hesitation (and doubt) regarding what is enjoined in the Veda; and this latter would h ave to be regarded as n otDharma.’”

(a) As a matter of fact, the ‘self-satisfaction’ of the high-souled and extremely good men endowed with the said qualifications, is possessed of such tremendous force that, under its influence ‘Dharma’ may become ‘Adharma’ and ‘Adharma’ become ‘Dharma’; but this cannot be so in the case of men tainted with love and hate, etc. Whatever goes into a salt-mine, becomes transformed into salt; similarly everything is rendered pure by the unpremeditated ‘self-satisfaction’ of persons learned in the Veda. [The mere fact of an act being prohibited does dot make it Adharma ] for though the ‘holding of the Ṣoḍaśi vessel’ has been prohibited at the Atirātra sacrifice, yet when the holding comes to be done, in accordance With a Vedic injunction, it is not sinful. But in the present case, there is no question of option, as there is in the case of the ‘holding of the Ṣoḍaśi’. What happens in this case is that the Prohibitions take effect in regard to all cases except the one that falls within tho purview of the said ‘self-satisfaction.’

(b) Or (the second answer to the objection is that), people like those mentioned in the verse can never feel any self-satisfaction at what is ‘Adharma.’ The mongoose bites only that herb which is an antidote of poison, and not any other herb; hence the notion that ‘whatever herb is bitten by the mongoose is destructive of poison.’

(c) (Thirdly) The revered teachers have explained as follows:—What is meant is that, in cases of optional alternatives, that alternative should be adopted in regard to which the mind feels satisfied. It is in accordance with this that the Author will say later on, in connection with the purification of things and expiatory rites—‘the penance should be performed until the mind may feel satisfied.’

(d) Or, what is said in the Text may be taken as ruling out the unbelieving Atheist; as a matter of fact, the Atheist does not feel any ‘self-satisfaotion’ in doing even those aots that are enjoined in the Veda; hence such acts though done by him are absolutely useless.

(e) Or, what the Text teaches is that in the performance of all acts, one should have a tranquil mind; i.e., at the time of doing anything one should keep his mind free from anger, stupefaction, grief and so forth, and should remain happy. Hence like ‘Śīla’ this also is laid down as pertaining to all acts.


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Cf. Āpastamba,—3; Gautama, 1.1—4 and 28. 48; Vaśiṣṭha, 1. 4—6; Baudhāyana,—6; Yājñavalkya, 1.7.

The meaning of ‘Śīla’ and ‘Ācāra’ separately has been the source of much misunderstanding. The difficulty has been solved by Medhātithi taking the term ‘Smṛtiśīle, as standing, not for ‘Smṛti’ and ‘Śīla,’but for ‘Smṛti’ as qualified by ‘Śīla,’ this being ‘freedom from hatred and attachment;’ ‘Smṛti—Śīla’ stands for that ‘Smṛti,’ recollection, which the learned have when their mind is calm and collected, not perturbed by passions of any kind. The reason suggested by Buhler is not satisfactory.

Kullūka has explained ‘Śīla’ as standing for the virtues enumerated by Hārīta—‘Brāhmaṇa-like behaviour, devotion to gods and Pitṛs, gentility, kindness, freedom from jealousy, sympathy, absence of cruelty, friendliness, agreeable speech, gratefulness, being prepared to grant shelter, mercy, and calmness.’ Nārāyaṇa puts it vaguely as ‘that to which learned men are prone.’

Self-satisfaction’—This is meant to apply to cases where the scriptures provide options (Medhātithi, Govindarāja and Kullūka);—or to cases not covered by any of the aforesaid sources (Nārāyaṇa and Nandana).

In connection with this verse, the student desirous of carrying on further investigation, is advised to read Kumārila’s Tantravārtika, Adhyāya I (Translation—Bibliotheca Indica).

Medhātithi (p. 57, l. 8)—‘Viśvajitā’—See Mīmāṃsā Sūtra 4.3.15—10.

Medhātithi (p. 57, l. 20)—‘Kvachidarthavādādeva’—for an example, see Mīmāṃsā Sūtra 1.4.29.

Medhātithi (p. 60, l. 29)—‘Kartṛsāmānyāt’—This refers to Mīmāṃsā Sūtra 1.3.2.

Medhātithi (p. 62, l. 2) — ‘Yathā āghāre devatāvidhiḥ—Śabara on Mīmāṃsā Sūtra 2.2.10 says—

[ādhāre] māntravarṇako devatāvidhiḥ | ita indra ūrdhvo'dhvaro divi...indravāna svāhesyādhāramādhārayati—ityevamasāvādhāro yadyasyendro devatā

Medhātithi (p. 60, ll. 7-8) ‘Tulye śrautatve’—Though in regarding both the Śruti-rule and the Smṛti-rule to be equally ‘Śrauta,’ ‘Vedic’—Medhātithi apparently accepts the view of Kümārila as against Śabara (according to whom’ the Smṛti-rule is not Śruti, but stands on a distinctly inferior footing),—ultimately his view comes to be the same as Śabara’s—viz., that in case of conflict between Śruti and Smṛti, the latter is set aside in favour of the former; while according to Kumārila, there is option.

Medhātithi (p. 63, l. 1)—‘Viśvajityodhikāravat’—See Mīmāṃsā Sūtra 6.7.18—19. In connection with the Viśvajit sacrifice we have the text—‘one should give away his entire property, sarvasva.’ The conclusion is that the injunction of the giving away of one’s entire property having been already found in connection with the Jyotiṣṭoma,—at which one is bound to pay as fee either 1,200 gold pieces or his entire property,—what the mention of the giving of entire property at the Viśvajit means is that at this latter sacrifice, the fee must consist of the entire property, and not of 1,200 gold pieces; and this has been taken to imply that the man who seeks to perform the Viśvajit must possess more than 1,200 gold pieces.

Medhātithi (p. 64, 1. 4)—‘Indriyāṇām &c’—The first part of this quotation occurs in Manu 7. 44; but the second half is from some other work.

This verse has been quoted in the Vidhānapārijāta (vol. II, p. 511) in support of the authority of Sadāchāra, as bearing upon the propriety of tasamudrādhāraṇa;—also in the Smṛtikaumudī (p. 1) which remarks that the Practice of cultured men is authoritative only when it is not repugnant to Śruti and Smṛti.

The Aparārka (p. 82) quotes the verse in support of the view that the Practices of Good Men also, as distinct from the Smṛti, are an authoritative source of our knowledge of Dharma. It is interesting to note that it reads vedavitsmṛtiśīlatā in place of ātmanastuṣṭireva ca.

It is quoted in the Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra, p. 5), which adds the following explanation:—

Veda is the means of knowing Dharma; so also are the ‘Smṛti’ and ‘Śīla’—i.e. freedom from love and hate,—of persons learned in the Veda;—‘āchāra’ such as the tying of the bracelet and so forth;—and ‘ātmatuṣṭi’, i. e., when there are several options open to us, it is our own satisfaction that should determine the choice of one of them;—also in the Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Saṃskāra, p. 17b);—and in Hemādri (Vrata, p. 17).

This is quoted in the Vīramitrodaya (Paribhāṣa, p. 10), which adds the following notes:—

‘Vedaḥ’ is the collection of Mantra and Brāhmaṇa texts, as defined by Āpastamba;—‘akhilaḥ’, the actual texts available, as also those presumed on the strength of ‘transference’ and that of ‘Indicative Power’, ‘Syntactical Connection’, ‘Contest’, ‘Position’ and ‘Name’ (Jaimini iii);—or ‘akhilaḥ,’ ‘entire,’ may be taken as meant to preclude the notion that the said authority belongs only to the three Vedas, and not to the Atharva’, which is based upon such assertions of Āpastamba and others as ‘Yajña is enjoined by the three Vedas’. That the ‘Atharva is an authority for Dharma is due to the fact that it prescribes the performance of the Tulāpuruṣa and other propitiatory rites for all castes, even though it does not deal mainly with the performance of the Agnihotra or other Śrauta rites.—When the text says that these are the means of knowing ‘DharmaRight, it implies that they are the means of knowing also what is ‘Adharma,’ ‘wrong’ it being necessary for the scriptures to furnish an idea of all that is wrong and hence a source of impurity of the mind, which obstructs the acquiring of true knowledge.—‘Mūlam’, ‘Source’, the means of knowing;—‘Todvidām’, those learned in the Veda; this implies that in the case of ‘Smṛti’ and the rest, tḥe authority is not inherent in themselves, but due to their being based upon the Veda—

Smṛti’ the Dharmaśāstra compiled by Yājñavalkya and others.—‘Śīla’ implies the thirteen qualities enumerated by Hārīta—viz., Faith in Brahman, Devotion to Gods and Pitṛs, Gentility, Harmlessness, Freedom from jealousy, Freedom from harshness, Friendliness, Sweetness of speech, Gratefulness, Kindness for sufferers, Sympathy, Calmness. This ‘Śīla’ differs from ‘Ācāra’; it stands for the negative virtues, the avoidance of wrong, while the former stands for the positive active virtues; the doing of right.—‘Ācāra’, the tying of the bracelet during marriage and so forth.—‘Sādhūnam atmanastuṣṭiḥ’, whenever doubt arises regarding what is right, what determines the question is the ‘self-satisfaction’ of those that are ‘Sādhu’ i. e., have their minds replete with the knowledge of the Veda and the impressions gathered therefrom; i. e., that course is to be accepted as ‘light’, which commands the unanimous approval of the said persons;—such is the explanation suggested by the Kalpataru. In support of this view we have the following passage from the Taittirīya, relating to cases of doubt regarding Dharma,—‘Thou shouldst behave in that manner in which behave those Brāhmaṇas who are impartial, honest, steady, calm and righteous.’ This implies the authority of the Pariṣat ‘Assembly’.—Or ‘sādhūnām’ may be construed with ‘āchāraḥ’, which would imply the authority also of those ‘good men’—men free from all evil qualities,—who are not ‘learned in the Veda’; so that for superior Śūdras, the practices of their forefathers would be authoritative.—‘Self-satisfaction’ is the determining factor in the case of options; but this is an authority for the man himself, not for others.


Comparative notes by various authors

(Verses 6, 10 and 12)

Baudhāyana, Dharmasūtra, 1.1.6.—‘Dharma has been enjoined in each Veda.’ ‘The second source of knowledge consists of the Smṛtis.’ ‘The third is what proceeds from the cultured, i. e., those persons who are free from jealousy and selfishness, fairly well off, free from avarice, haughtiness, greed, delusion, and anger.’ ‘Those persons are cultured who have studied the Vedas along with their supplements and who are versed in the art of making deductions from them; those are the persons from whom the direct knowledge of Śruti can be derived.’

Gautama, Dharmasūtra, 1.1-2.—‘Veda is the source of Dharma’: ‘the Smṛti and Śīla of persons learned in the Veda.’

Āpastamba, Dharmasūtra, 1.2-3.—‘The convention of persons knowing Dharma is authoritative’: ‘and also the Vedas.’

Vaśiṣṭha, Smrti, 1.4-6.—‘In the absence of Śruti and Smṛti, the custom of the cultured is authoritative’: ‘those persons are cultured whose mind is free from selfish desires’: ‘that is to be regarded as Dharma which is not prompted by a selfish motive.’

Yajñavalkya, Smṛti, 1-7.—‘Śruti, Smṛti, the practice of good men, self-satisfaction determination based upon right volition,—these four are the source of Dharma.’

Āpastamba, Dharmasūtra, 1.4.7.—‘The Śruti is more authoritative than custom which derives its authority only from assumption (of corroboration of Śruti).’

Ibid, 30.9.—‘In cases of conflict, what is stated in the Śruti is more authoritative.’

Jaimini, the writer of the Mīmāṃsā-sūtra (1.1.2), has emphatically declared that the Vedic Injunction is the only trustworthy source of our knowledge of Dharma, i.e., of what is right, i.e., what is conducive to good, temporal and spiritual (Vaiśeṣika-Sütra 1.1.2); though he knew of the later ‘lawbooks, Smṛtis, and customs,’ yet he had no hesitation in declaring that these are to be relied upon only so far as they are not repugnant to anything declared in the Veda.

Coming to the strictly legal writers we find—1. Baudhāyana, (1.1.1-6) naming—(a) Veda, (b) the Smṛti, and (2) ‘Śiṣṭāgama,’—the ‘Āgama,’ teaching, of the ‘Śiṣṭas’ ‘cultured’ men;—i. e., ‘those who are free from ill-feeling, devoid of vanity, possessed of sufficient grain, not greedy, devoid of hypocrisy, haughtiness, avarice, stupidity and anger;—those who have studied, in the right manner, the Veda along with its supplements and are well versed in making deductions out of them.’

[There is no mention of ‘custom’ here at all. It is ‘scripture’ pure and simple; but no longer the Veda only, but also the Smṛtis, and the deductions therefrom and teachings based thereupon by persons with very special qualifications.]

Parāśara, 1.20.—‘At the beginning of each Kalpa, there appear Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva......... the propounders of (1) Śruti, (2) Smṛti and (3) Sadāchāra.’

kalpe kalpe kṣayotyattau brahmaviṣṇumaheśvarāḥ |
śrutismṛtisadācāranirṇetāraśva sarvadā ||

To the same end we have Āpastamba (1.1.2-3) declaring that the ‘convention or opinion of those versed in Dharma’ and ‘also the Veda,’ are the authority. It only means that when those learned in Dharma are agreed in regard to the righteousness of a certain course of action, that is to be accepted as authoritative.

This is made clear by Vaśiṣṭha (1.4-6)—‘In the event of the aforesaid’ (i.e., Śruti and Smṛti) not being available, the practice of cultured men is the authority,—the cultured man being defined as one who is entirely unselfish, having no desires of his own.

The same opinion is expressed more definitely by Gautama (1.1. 1-2)—‘Veda is the source of Dharma, also the Smṛti (Recollection) and Śīla of those learned in the Veda.’

[In all this ‘custom’ begins to be admitted; but only that of the ‘cultured.’]

The next step in advance is taken by Manu (2.6)—

vido'khilo dharmamūlaṃ smṛtiśīle ca tadvidām |
ācāraśvaica sādhūnāmātmanastuṣṭireva ca ||

Also Vyāsa

dharmamūlaṃ vedamāhuḥ grantharāśimakṛtrimam |
tadvidāṃ smṛtiśīle ca sādhvācāraṃ manaḥpriyam ||

By this the sources of Dharma are (1) Veda, (2) Smṛti, (3) Sadāchāra and (4) ‘Svasya priyam.’

[What is exactly meant by these terms we shall see later on.] The same is recapitulated in Manu (2.12)—

vedaḥ smṛtiḥ sadācāraḥ svasya ca priyamātmanaḥ |
etaccaturvidhaṃ prāhuḥ sākṣāddharmasya lakṣaṇam ||

This is slightly improved upon by Yājñavalkya (1.7)—

śrutiḥ smṛtiḥ sadācāraḥ svasya ca priyamātmanaḥ |
samyaksaṅkalpajaḥ kāmo dharmamūlamidaṃ smṛtam ||

By which the sources of law are fivefold:—(1) Veda, (2) Smṛti, (3) Sadāchāra, (1) Svasya priyam and (5) Samyak-saṅkalpaja Kāma. [For the exact signification of these, see below.]

Thus the sources of Law are: (1) ‘Śruti,’ (2) ‘Smrti’ (3) ‘Sadāchāra’—‘practices of the good’ (with regard to these there is unanimity among all old authorities), (4) ‘Svasya priyam’ or ‘ātmanastuṣṭiḥ,’ ‘self-satisfaction.’ In regard to the fourth also Manu and Yājñavalkya are agreed. In Manu however we find one thing more, which is not found in Yājñavalkya—viz., ‘Sīla’; and Yājñavalkya speaks of ‘Samyaksaṅkalpajaḥ kāmaḥ,’ which is not found in Manu. Vīramitrodaya on Yājña has identified these two.

We shall see now what these terms mean according to the Commentators and the more important Digest-writers.


(A) Śruti

Medhātithi on Manu, 2.6.—The word ‘Veda’ stands for the Ṛgveda, Yajurveda, and Sāmaveda (also Atharva Veda), along with their respective Brāhmaṇas, There are 21 Recensions of the Ṛgveda, 100 of the Yajurveda, 1,000 of the Sāmaveda and 9 of the Atharvaveda. The Vedic character of the Atharva cannot be denied, because, like the other Vedas, this also is not the work of a human author, it helps to make known man’s duties, it is free from mistakes, it prescribes the Jyotiṣṭoma and such other rites exactly in the same manner as the other Vedas do. [This is denied by Vīramitrodaya on Yājñavalkya; see below.] Though there are certain texts that forbid the study of the Atharva Veda, yet all that this means is that one should not confuse the teachings of the other Vedas with those of the Atharva; for instance, at the performance of rites in accordance with the three other Vedas, one should not use Mantras of the Atharva Veda.

This ‘Veda’ is the ‘root,’ i.e., source, cause, of dharma, in the sense that it makes it known, and it does this by means chiefly of such passages in the Brāhmaṇas as contain injunctive expressions; sometimes also by means of Mantras. And the other parts of the Veda—the Arthavāda or Declamatory Passages—have their use in eulogising what is enjoined by the corresponding injunction; Mantras and names help in indicating the details of the acts prescribed.

Sarvajñanārāyaṇa on Manu, 26.—When Manu speaks of the ‘entire Veda,’ he means to include the Arthavādas, commendatory and condemnatory exaggerations, also.

Kullūka on Manu, 26.—‘Veda’ stands for the Ṛk, Yajus, Sāman and Atharvan; the whole of these, including the injunctions, Mantras and Arthavādas, the last also serving the purpose of helping the injunction by persuasion. Both Mantras and Arthavādas serve the useful purpose not only of persuasion, but also of reminding the agent of the details of the action undertaken. The authority of Śruti and the rest also rests upon.the fact of their having their source in the Veda.

Rāghavānanda on Manu, 2.6.—Ṛk, Yajus, Sāman and Atharvan are the authority for Dharma.

Viśvarūpa on Yājña, 1.3-7.—‘Śruti’ is to be taken, not in the strictly limited sense of the ‘Mantra and Brāhmaṇa texts,’ but for all the fourteen ‘Sciences’—the Four Vedas, their six ‘subsidiaries’ or ‘limbs,’ Purāṇa, Nyāya, Mīmānsā, and Dharmaśāstra.

Mitākṣarā on Yājña, 1.7.—‘Śruti’ is Veda.

(I) Aparārka on Yājña, 1.7.—‘Śruti’ is Veda—it is the only determining factor in all matters relating to the Agnihotra and other rites. As Vyāsa says, this is the only pure authority (i.e., entirely trustworthy), all the rest being ‘adulterated,’ i.e., of doubtful authority; that law is the highest which is learnt from the Veda, what is propounded in the Purāṇas and other works being of a lower grade.

Says Manu—‘The Veda embodies all knowledge’ (2.7).

‘The learned man should enter upon his own duties, resting upon the authority of the Revealed Word’ (2.8). ‘The Veda should be known as the Revealed Word, Śruti’ (2.10).

Vīramitrodaya-Tīkā on Yājña, 1.7.—‘Śruti’ is Veda—as in Manu (2.10). It is the sole authority in regard to Agnihotra and such rites.

Vīramitrodaya-Paribhāṣā, pp. 8-25.—‘Śruti’ stands for ‘Veda,’ which, according to Āpastamba’s definition, is the name given to the ‘collection of Mantra and Brāhmaṇa texts’;—the ‘whole’ of this authoritative, i.e., the direct, texts themselves, as also those that are deducible from the implications of ‘Indication,’ ‘Syntactical Connection,’ ‘Context,’ ‘Position’ and ‘Name,’ and also the transformations undergone by the original texts under well-recognised principles. Another implication of the epithet ‘entire’ is that the Atharva Veda also is to be accepted as authoritative, and not only the ‘trinity of Vedas,’ as one might be led to suppose from the words of Āpastamba, who says that ‘Dharma is to be learnt from the three Vedas.’ It would be wrong to deny the authority of the Atharva Veda, because, even though it has nothing to say regarding the setting up of the Sacrificial Pires or the details of the Agnihotra and other rites, yet on certain matters it is our only authority; such propitiatory rites for instance as those relating to the ‘Tulāpuruṣa’ and the like, which affect all the castes. When we speak of these being the ‘source of dharma,’ ‘means of knowing what Dharma, Right, is,’ it follows that they are the means of knowing also what ‘Adharma’ ‘wrong’ is; it is necessary to understand what is ‘wrong’ in order to discard it and thereby prepare the mind for perceiving what is ‘right.’

This ‘Śruti’ operates in the following seven forms:

(1) The Injunction or Mandatory text—e.g., ‘one shall sacrifice the goat to Yāyu’—this is a trustworthy guide as to what one should do.

(2) The Prohibitive Text—e.g., ‘one shall not eat the flesh of an animal killed by the poisoned arrow this is a guide as to what one shall avoid.

(3) The ‘Declamatory’ text of two kinds: the commendatory and the condemnatory; the former serves the purpose of delineating the excellence of the course of action enjoined by the Mandatory text; e.g., the text ‘Vāyu is the eftest deity,’ serves to indicate the excellent properties of the deity Vāyu to whom the offering of the goat has been enjoined; the condemnatory text serves to deprecate the course of action prohibited; e.g., the assertion that ‘the tears of weeping Rudra became silver’ is meant to deprecate the giving of silver as the sacrificial fee, which has been forbidden by a prohibitive text. Texts of this declamatory kind are of use sometimes in settling a doubtful point: e.g., it having been enjoined that one should place wet pebbles under the altar, and the injunction being silent as to the substance with which the pebble is to be wetted, the doubt on this point is settled by a subsequent ‘declamatory’ text, ‘clarified butter is glory itself,’ which clearly indicates the clarified butter as the substance with which the pebbles are to be wetted.

(4) The Mantra text—e.g., ‘Devasya tvā savituḥ,’ etc., serves to remind the performer of the details of the performance in the shape of the deity and so forth.

(5) The proper names of particular sacrifices help in the determining of the exact action connoted by the common root ‘yaji,’ ‘to sacrifice’ occurring in the injunctive text.

(6) The meaningless syllables, stobhas, introduced in the Sāma-chant, serve the purpose of marking time and cadence;

and (7) the Upaniṣad text serves to promulgate that knowledge of Brahman which destroys all evil.

Parāśara, 1-20—speaks of the ‘propounders of Śruti’ appearing at the beginning of each kalpa. From the words it would seem as if the three gods—Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara were the said ‘propounders.’ But Mādhava (p. 98) takes the ‘propounders of Śruti, Smṛti and Sadāchāra’ separately from Brahmā, etc., and he supplies a peculiar account of the ‘propounders of Śruti’—which extends the scope of the authority of this source of knowledge. He says that by the ‘propounders of Śruti’ here are meant

(1) Vyāsa, who divided the Vedic text into the several recensions;

(2) the expounders of those Recensions—such as Kaṭha and Kuthuma;

(3) the contents of Kalpasūtras, such as Baudhāyana, Āśvalāyana, aud Āpastamba, and also the ‘authors’ of the Mīmāṃsāsūtras, Jaimini and the rest.

Nṛsiṃhaprasāda-Saṃskara-Sāra MSS.—The Veda is the main authority for Dharma. Any inconsistencies that may be found in it can be easily explained away. This authority belongs not only to the Injunctions, but also to Mantras, names and declamatory passages.

Smṛticandrikā, p. 3.—The Veda is authoritative as it is independent of human authorship.


(B) Smṛti

Medhātithi on Manu, 2.6.—‘Smṛti’ is Recollection and ‘Śīla’ denotes freedom from love, hatred and such improper feelings; this latter, according to one explanation, is a means of accomplishing Dharma, and not a means of knowing it; and it has been separately mentioned in the present connection only with a view to emphasise its importance. Not satisfied with this, he has taken the two terras ‘Smṛti’ and ‘Śīla’ in the compound as inter-related; and as together standing for a single means of knowing Dharma, in the shape of ‘Recollection during that state of the mind when it is calm, free from all disturbing influences of love, hatred and so forth’,—i.e., ‘Conscientious Recollection.’ The authority of ‘Smṛti’ thus becomes qualified. Even though a certain writer may be a Ṛṣi versed in Veda, yet if his ‘recollection’ and its compilation come about at a time when his mind was perturbed by discordant feelings, much trust cannot be placed upon such ‘Recollection.’

This again has to be taken along with ‘Sādhūmām’; so that we have a threefold condition for the trustworthiness of a writer of Smṛti:—

  1. he must be learned (‘tādvidām’),
  2. he must be ‘conscientious,’ ‘free from love and hatred’ (‘Śīla’),
  3. and he must be ‘righteous’ (‘Sādhūmām’), be habitually engaged in carrying out the injunctions of the Veda.

The upshot of the whole is that when a person is found to be recognised and spoken of by all wise and learned persons as endowed with the said three qualifications—and a certain compilation is also recognised as made by that person,—the word of such a person as found in his recognised work, should be recognised as an authoritative exponent of Dharma. Sc that even at the present day if there were such a person and he were to compose a work, then for all later generations that work would be regarded just as highly as those of Manu and others. This is the reason why Medhātithi is averse to the practice of enumerating the authoritative ‘Smṛtis.’ (Trans., p. 204.)

Sarvajñanārāyaṇa on Manu, 2.6.—In cases where no Vedic texts are available, the law can be determined with the help of the Smṛti of persons learned in the Veda—the term ‘Smṛti’ standing for the reflections over a certain subject, as also the treatises embodying those reflections.

Kullūka on Manu, 2.6.—The Smṛti of ‘persons learned in the Veda’ is authoritative,—this last qualification being added for the purpose of indicating that the authority of Smṛti is due to its having its source in the Veda.

Rāghavānanda on Manu, 2.6.—‘Smṛti’ stands for the work of Manu and others. It stands here for only such Smṛti as is not incompatible with tho Veda. All the rest are to be rejected whenever they are found to be repugnant to any direct text of the Veda. But where there is no such repugnance, we are justified in assuming that the Smṛti must be based upon a Vedic text now lost to us; and it is on this assumption that its trustworthiness rests.

Nandana on Manu, 2.6.—The ‘Smṛti of men learned in the Veda.’ This stands for Smṛtis, Purāṇas and Itihāsas.

Viśvarūpa on Yājña, 1.7.—‘Smṛti’ and ‘Dharmaśāstra’ are synonymous terms. “How do we know that the Smṛtis are all based upon the Veda, from which they derive their authority? Certainly we do not find Vedic texts in support of everything that is ordained in the Smṛtis. As for the Vedic texts that are found to support some Smṛti assertions, such support is found also in the case of the heterodox scriptures.”—The simple answer to this question is that in the face of the direct assertion of Manu and other Smṛti-writers that their work is ‘based on the Veda,’ we have no justification for thinking otherwise. They being great Vedic scholars, could not have lied on this point. As a matter of fact also we find that every one of the injunctions contained in the Smṛtis has its source in the Veda; in some cases the connection is direct, in others indirect; for instance, we have the single Vedic injunction ‘one should study the Veda’; now studying is not possible without teaching, hence the injunction of teaching is implied by the former—the teaching cannot be done without some one to teach; this implies the receiving and initiating of a pupil; this implies the necessity of having children; this again that of marrying and so on; most of the other injunctions may have their source traced in the single Vedic text.

(I) Aparārka on Yājña, 1.7.—‘Smṛti’ is that ordinance which, in matters relating to Dharma, has its source in the Veda; its authority is ‘adulterated,’ i.e., not so absolute as that of Śruti; it supplies us with information regarding the duties of all castes and the four life-stages; one should carefully do all that has been ordained, Smṛtam, by persons most learned in the Veda and eschew what is forbidden by them. [This writer like Kumārila makes a distinction between ‘Smṛti’ and ‘Purāṇa.’] There are chances of our going astray in the matter of interpreting a Vedic text and learning the law from it; but there is no fear of any such mistake being committed by the Smṛti-writers who were thoroughly well-versed in the Vedic lore. [From this it would seem that this writer flourished during the transition period, when the centre of gravity was beginning to shift from the Veda towards the Smṛti.]

Mitākṣarā on Yājña, 1.7.—‘Smrti’ is Dharmaśāstra.

Vīramitrodaya on Yājña, 1.7.—‘Smṛti’ is ‘Dharmaśāstra’—‘Legal Ordinances’ (Manu 2-10); it is the sole authority regarding the Aṣṭakā and such rites.

Vīramitrodaya-Paribhāṣā, pp. 8-25.—‘Of persons learned in the Veda’; this has been added with a view to make clear that the authority of the Smṛtis does not rest upon themselves: it is derived entirely from the fact of their having their source in the Veda. The name ‘Smṛti’ stands for the legal ordinances, ‘Dharmaśāstra,’ compiled by Yājñavalkya and others.

Madanapārijāta, p. 11.—Manu is the most important of the expounders of law. Among others, some are mentioned by Yājñavalkya (see above). But this list is not exhaustive. Though all these ‘expounders’ do not always agree, yet, on the main principles, they are all agreed; the differences, if any, are confined to minor points; and these latter discrepancies can always he explained.

Nṛsiṃhaprasāda-Saṃskāra MSS.—“How can any authority attach to the Smṛtis of Manu and others, which being of human origin are open to the suspicion of the possibility of all those defects to which human writers are liable; and for this reason these cannot be regarded as authoritative in the same manner as the Vedas are, whose authority is above suspicion.”—The answer to this is that inasmuch as these Smṛtis are found to be mere reproductions of what is contained in the Veda, they must be regarded as duly authoritative. The very name ‘Smṛti,’ ‘Recollection,’ implies that they only reproduce what the authors have learnt elsewhere; and as Manu and others are known to have been learned in the Veda it stands to reason that knowing as they did that the Veda was the sole authority on Dharma, when they proceeded to note down for the benefit of others what the laws were that regulated Dharma, they could not but have drawn upon the Veda. It is true that they arc found to contain many rules that we cannot trace to the Veda as known to us; but if they were mere reproductions of whatever is found in the Veda, no one would care for them. So we are led to the inference that as on most of the points dealt with by them, their assertions are found to be based on Vedic texts, the other points also must have had their source in the Veda; but in those Vedic texts that have become lost to us. We have the Veda itself testifying to the trustworthy character of at least one Smṛti-writer, Manu—‘Whatever Manu has said is wholesome.’

Smrticandrikā, pp. 1 et scq.—The ordinances composed by Manu and other writers, being based on the Veda, are our sole authority on Dharma. That the Smṛtis have their source in the Veda is deduced from the fact that they only expound what is contained in the Veda. Says Bhṛgu—‘Whatever Dharma has been expounded by Manu has all been set forth in the Veda.’ Śaṅkara also says that ‘the Smṛtis have their source in the Veda.’ But this refers to only what the Smṛti says regarding spiritual matters, and not to what they lay down regarding temporal matters; as is distinctly declared in the Purāṇa—‘All these (smṛtis) have their source in the Veda—save those portions that deal with visible (temporal) matters.’

Question.—“When the Smṛti itself only expounds whatever is already set forth in the Veda and is on that account, based upon the Veda, then the Veda itself being sufficient for all purposes, what is the use of the Smṛti or Dharmaśāstra?”—The Smrticandrikā quotes Marīci as giving the answer to this question—‘The requisite texts of the Veda are difficult to understand and are scattered about in various places; all these are collected and explained by the Smṛtis.’

The Purāṇas are also included under Smṛti, as the Veda itself names ‘Itihāsa-Purāṇa’ along with ‘the four Vedas.’ Viṣṇu also places the Purāṇas on the same footing as ‘Manu-Smṛti,’ ‘Veda and its subsidiary sciences,’ ‘Science of Healing.’

This establishes the authority of the authors of the Gṛhyasūtras also; since all that these do is to lay down practical manuals setting forth the details of the various rites along with the necessary Mantras belonging to that individual Vedic recension to which the manual is inferred to appertain. As says Devala—‘Manu and others are the expounders of the Law; the authors of the Gṛhyas are the expounders of the application of Law.’

Saṃskāra-Mayūkha, p. 2.—The Smṛti includes the Āyurveda Smṛtis also, as also Purāṇa and the astronomical ‘Saṃhitās,’ compilations of Varāhamihira and others; as also the Saṃhitā texts which are included in the Skandapurāṇa.

Now we have got to determine what works are entitled to be classed under ‘Smṛti’ or ‘Dharma-Śāstra,’ which latter is what is meant by ‘Smrti.’

The original Smṛti-writers are thus enumerated by Yājñavalkya (1.4-5):—

  1. Manu,
  2. Viṣṇu,
  3. Yama,
  4. Aṅgiras,
  5. Vaśiṣṭha,
  6. Dakṣa,
  7. Saṃvarta,
  8. Śātātapa,
  9. Parāśara,
  10. Āpastamba,
  11. Uśanas,
  12. Vyāsa,
  13. Kātyāyana,
  14. Bṛhaspati,
  15. Gautama,
  16. Śaṅkha-Likhita,
  17. Hārīta,
  18. Atri,
  19. and Yājñavalkya himself.

The following is from Parāśara (Ācāra 12-15), where Vyāsa relates to his father the Smṛtis he has already learnt:

  1. Manu,
  2. Vaśiṣṭha,
  3. Kaśyapa,
  4. Garga,
  5. Gautama,
  6. Uśanas,
  7. Atri,
  8. Viṣṇu,
  9. Saṃvarta,
  10. Dakṣa,
  11. Aṅgiras,
  12. Śātātapa,
  13. Hārīta,
  14. Yājñavalkya,
  15. Āpastamba,
  16. Śaṅkha,
  17. Likhita,
  18. Kātyāyana,
  19. Pracetas.

On Parāśara (1.20), which speaks of ‘propounders of Smṛti,’ Mādhava (p. 98), mentions the following additional names:

  1. Vyāsa,
  2. Yama,
  3. Parāśara,
  4. Bhṛgu,
  5. Nārada,
  6. Baudhāyana,
  7. Pitāmaha,
  8. Sumantu,
  9. Kāśyapa,
  10. Babhru,
  11. Paiṭhīnasi,
  12. Vyāghra,
  13. Satyavrata,
  14. Bharadvāja,
  15. Kārṣṇājini,
  16. Jābāli,
  17. Jamadagni,
  18. Lokākṣi.

The Smṛticandrikā reproduces the same list.

Yājñavalkya and Kātyāyana being omitted, these two lists make the number 36.

The same writer quotes from the Mahābhārata the following:—

  1. Umā-Maheśvara,
  2. andi,
  3. Brahmā,
  4. umāra,
  5. Dhūmrāyaṇa,
  6. Kaṇva,
  7. Vaiśvānara,
  8. Bhṛgu,
  9. Yājñavalkya,
  10. Mārkaṇḍeya,
  11. Kuśika,
  12. Bharadvāja,
  13. Bṛhaspati,
  14. Kuni,
  15. Kuṇibāhu,
  16. Viśvāmitra,
  17. Sumantu,
  18. Jaimini,
  19. Śakuni,
  20. Pulastya,
  21. Pulaha,
  22. Pāvaka,
  23. Agastya,
  24. Mudgala,
  25. Śāṇḍilya,
  26. Solabhāyana,
  27. Bālakhilya,
  28. Saptarṣi,
  29. Vyāghra,
  30. Vyāsa,
  31. Vibhāṇḍaka,
  32. Vidura,
  33. Bhṛgu,
  34. Aṅgiras,
  35. Vaiśampāyana.

The Smṛticandrikā reproduces Paiṭhīnasi’s list (given by Mādhava), but adds that the list is not exhaustive, as in addition to them there are others also, eg., Vatsa, Marīci, Devala, Pāraskara, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Ṛṣyaśṛṅga, Likhita and Chāgaleva. It quotes Śaṅkha as enumerating

  1. Manu,
  2. Yama,
  3. Dakṣa,
  4. Viṣṇu,
  5. Aṅgiras,
  6. Bṛhaspati,
  7. Uśanas,
  8. Āpastamba,
  9. Gautama,
  10. Saṃvarta,
  11. Ātreya,
  12. Hārīta,
  13. Kātyāyana,
  14. Śaṅkha,
  15. Likhita,
  16. Parāśara,
  17. Vyāsa,
  18. Śātātapa,
  19. Pracetas,
  20. Yājñavalkya.

Also Aṅgiras quoted mentions the following and calls them Upa-Smṛti:

  1. Logākṣi,
  2. Kāśyapa,
  3. Vyāsa,
  4. Sanatkumāra,
  5. Śāntanu,
  6. Janaka,
  7. Vyāghra,
  8. Kātyāyana,
  9. Jātūkarṇa,
  10. Kapiñjala,
  11. Baudhāyana,
  12. Kaṇāda,
  13. and Viśvāmitra.

Yājñavalkya’s and Paiṭhīnasi’s lists are reproduced also by the Saṃskāramayūkha (p. 2). To them it adds ‘Viśvāmitra and the rest.’

The Purāṇa has been defined as that which has five characteristic features in the shape of the accounts of (1) Creation, (2) Dissolution, (3) Genealogy, (4) Age-Cycles, and (5) History of Dynasties.

The Viṣṇupurāna names the following eighteen Purāṇas and the Bhāgavata adds the number of verses in each:

  1. Brahma, 10,000,
  2. Padma, 55,000,
  3. Viṣṇu, 23,000,
  4. Śiva, 24,000,
  5. Bhāgavata, 18,000,
  6. Nāradīya, 25,000,
  7. Mārkaṇḍeya, 9,000,
  8. Agni, 15,400,
  9. Bhaviṣya, 14,500,
  10. Brahmavaivarta, 18,000,
  11. Liṅga, 10,600,
  12. Varāha, 24,500,
  13. Skanda, 81,000,
  14. āmana, 10,000,
  15. Kūrma, 17.000,
  16. Matsya, 14,000,
  17. Garuḍa, 19,000
  18. and Brahmāṇḍa, 12,000.

Total number of verses, 4,00,000.

The Brahmavaivarta has the Vāyupurāṇa in place of the Brahmāṇḍa, and this diversity is due to the two enumerations referring to two distinct cycles.

In addition to these eighteen ‘Purāṇas,’ there are 18 ‘Upapurāṇas,’ ‘secondary Purāṇas.’ These have been named in the Kūrmapurāṇa:

  1. Sanatkumāra,
  2. Narasiṃha, 18.000,
  3. Nānda (recited by Kumāra),
  4. Śivadharma (recited by Nandīśvara),
  5. Nāradīya,
  6. Durvāsas,
  7. Kāpila,
  8. Mānava,
  9. Uśanas,
  10. Brahmāṇḍa,
  11. Vāruṇa,
  12. Kālikā,
  13. Māheśvara,
  14. Śāmba,
  15. Saura,
  16. Parāśara,
  17. Mārīca,
  18. and Bhārgava.

In place of ‘Nānda,’ the Brahmavaivarta has Vāśiṣṭha-Laiṅga.

The Saṃskāramayūkha also reproduces the lists of the Viṣṇupurāṇa (for Purāṇas) and of Kūrmapurāṇa (for Upapurāṇas).

Vīramitrodaya, Paribhāṣā, pp. 10-24.—The knowledge of ‘Veda’ implies also the knowledge of certain other branches of study, which is essential to the proper understanding of the Veda. These have been thus enumerated by Yājñavalkya—‘There are fourteen departments of knowledge and of Dharma. The four (1-4) Vedas along with (5) Purāṇas, (6) Nyāya, (7) Mīmāṃsā, (8) Dharma-Śāstra, (9-14) the six ‘Limbs’ or subsidiary sciences of the Veda.’

Here ‘Nyāya’ stands for the system propounded by Gautama and others, dealing with such subjects as the means of knowledge and so forth, ‘Mīmāṃsā’ for the system of interpretation propounded by Jaimini and that of philosophy propounded by Bādarāyaṇa, ‘Dharmaśāstra’ for the ordinances of Manu and others, and ‘Limbs of the Veda’ for—(a) Phonetics, (b) Rituals, (c) Grammar, (d) Etymology, (e) Prosody and (f) Astronomy.

There is a diversity of opinion regarding the lists of recognised ‘Purāṇas’ and ‘Dharmaśāstras,’ as shown above.

Smṛticandrikā, p. 5.—‘Purāṇa’—the Brahma and the rest;—‘Nyāya’—Reasoning; ‘Mīmāṃsā,’ discussion relating to the exact meaning of Vedic passages;—‘Dharmaśāstra,’ the Smṛtis of Manu and others; and the four Vedas with the six ‘subsidiary sciences’ are the ‘means’ of knowing Dharma; and also of Dharma itself, through that knowledge.


(C) Sadācāra

Medhātithi on Manu, 2-6.—‘Sādhūnām āchāraḥ,’ ‘Practice of good men’ also has to be construed with ‘Vedavidām’ ‘learned in the Veda,’ and the two qualifications ‘Goodness’ and ‘Vedic learning,’ come under ‘culture.’ When in regard to any action, there are no Vedic or Smṛti declarations available, but cultured people are found to do it as ‘Dharma,’—something right—then that action is to be regarded as ‘enjoined in the Veda’ in the same manner as anything laid down in the Smṛti. What are meant by ‘practices’ here are such customs as the tying of the bracelet at marriage, the keeping of an exact number of hair-locks on the head, the exact manner of receiving guests and so forth. Each of such practices has to be taken on its own merits; it is not possible to assume Vedic texts corroborating those ither severally or even collectively; as the rightness or wrongness of a certain practice varies with circumstances; e.g., a certain cultured man may be very assiduous in attending upon his guests—never leaving them for a single moment unattended, and so forth. This may he quite agreeable to one guest who likes constant attendance; but there may be another to whom all this close attendance is disagreeable; he would prefer much rather to be left alone to himself. There is no such variation possible in regard to what is prescribed in the Smṛti; and herein lies the difference between what is prescribed in the ‘Smṛti’ and what can be learnt from the ‘Practices of the cultured.’

Sarvajñanārāyaṇa on Manu, 2-0.—In cases where we find no guidance either from Vedic texts or Smṛti or the Śīla of learned men, we have to be guided by the ‘Ācāra,’ Practice, of ‘Sādhus,’ persons engaged in the performance of acts in accordance with the Veda. ‘Ācāra’ really stands for the recalling and practising of what has been done by the good men of the past, i.e., Usage or Custom.—This is regarded as inferior to ‘Śīla’ on account of the possibility of suspicion regarding the correctness of tradition upon which it is based.

Kullūka on Manu, 2-6.—‘Ācāra’ stands for the practice of dressing oneself in blankets or tree-bark and so forth.

Sādhūnām’; of the good, i.e., righteous persons.

Rāghavānanda on Manu, 2-6.—Such practice as binding of the bracelet at marriage and so forth, which is current among ‘Sādhus,’ i.e., people free from ill feeling.

Nandana on Manu, 2-6.—Nandana takes ‘Ācāra’ by itself offering no remarks about it, and construes ‘Sādhūnām’ with ‘Ātmanastuṣṭi.’

Viśvarūpa on Yājña, 1-7.—‘Sadāchāra’ stands for those religious or spiritual (as distinguished from temporal or worldly) acts that are done by such men as are free from selfishness and devoid of hypocrisy and other defects. This is mentioned apart from ‘Smṛti,’ (1) because there is no compilation of the said practices, as there is of the ordinances; and (2) the trustworthiness of practices is doubtful, which is not the case with Smṛti.

Aparārka on Yājña, 1-7.—‘Sadāchāra’ is the practice of cultured people, i.e., such people as are free from ill-will, vanity, possessed of sufficient funds (i.e., not in want of living), not greedy, free from hypocrisy, haughtiness, avarice, stupidity and anger; those who have studied the Veda and its supplements in the right manner, and are expert in making deductions therefrom (Baudhāyana),—the supplements being the Itihāsas, Purāṇas, and also Grammar and the other subsidiary sciences; ‘those expert in making deductions therefrom’ are those versed in the Smṛtis,—the latter being regarded as indicative of the Veda. When the texts speak of ‘Sadāchāra’ as an authority what they refer to is the fact that the customs obtaining in Brahmāvarta and other civilised lands are all based on the Veda (and not that custom qua custom is to be accepted as in itself authoritative): any custom that is repugnant to any clear text of the Veda is to be rejected. Vaśiṣṭha’s declaration that ‘all the customs current in Āryāvarta are authoritative’ means that most of them are so; as is clear from another declaration of his to the effect that customs of the cultured are to be accepted as authority only on points where no Veda or Smṛti texts are available.

Mitākṣarā on Yājña, 1-7.—‘Sadāchāra’—practice of the cultured, not of the uncultured.

Vīramitrodaya on Yājña, 1-7.—‘Sadāchāra’ is thus defined in the Viṣṇupurāṇa: “Good men, free from all defects, are called Sat, and their practice, Ācaraṇa, is what is called ‘Sadāchāra.’” It is the sole authority in regard to the Holākā and such observances.

Vīramitrodaya-Paribhāṣā, pp. 8-29.—Gautama declares that such local, tribal and family customs as arc repugnant to the scriptures are not authoritative;—‘Scripture’ here stands for ‘Veda, Smṛti and Purāṇa.’ This Ācāra stands for positive virtues, as distinguished from ‘Śīla’ which stands for the negative ones. If we connect ‘Sādhūnām’ with ‘āchāraḥ,’ then the meaning comes to be that the practices of even those not learned in the Veda are to be accepted as authoritative, when these are men free from all weaknesses and defects; it is in this sense that in the case of Śūdraṣ, the practices of one’s ancestors become an authoritative source of knowledge of Dharma.

Parāśaramādhava, p. 100.—‘Sadāchāra’—e.g., Holākā, Udvṛṣabha and the like. Those who ‘expound’ or ‘determine’ these are the elders of each family or tribe.

Madanapārijāta, pp. 11-12.—Dharma depends upon ‘Ācāra’—[But this term is used here in a very wide sense, being defined as]—‘Ācāra is the name of that course of conduct which is enjoined in Śruti and Smṛti and which is prescribed by the Good.’—This āchāra is to be learnt from persons born in Madhyadeśa and other countries:—(a) the tract of land between Sarasvatī and Dṛṣadvatī—Brahmāvarta; (b) between Himalaya and Vindhya and between Gaṅgā and Yamunā, West of Prayāga—Madhyadeśa; (e) between Himalaya and Vindhya and the Eastern and Western Oceans—Āryāvarta.

Nṛsiṃhaprasāda-Saṃskāra.—“It is difficult to believe that the endless practices or customs that have grown, and are still growing up from time to time, should be all based upon Vedic texts. Even Manu’s declaration cannot be taken as testifying to the authority of each and every custom. For if their authority rested upon the trustworthy character of the ‘cultured’ persons among whom it is current, then there would be an interdependence; the people would be ‘cultured’ because they follow those practices and the practices would be authoritative because they are followed by those persons. Further, customs and practices are found to vary in different parts of the country; and certainly all of these cannot he authoritative.”

It is not each and every practice of the ‘cultured’ that we regard as authoritative; that alone can be regarded as a trustworthy guide which is done by the cultured people as ‘Dharma,’ that which they do knowing it to be ‘righteous.’ And certainly the many misdeeds of well-known great men that are cited could not have been done by them as ‘dharma’; when the learned regard an act as ‘dharma’ they must do so on the strength of some Vedic text known to them; hence these Practices and Customs also must be inferred to have their source in the Veda.

Smṛticandrikā, p. 5.—‘Ācāra’ stands for the tying of the bracelet and such practices.

Ibid, p. 6.—The ‘Śiṣṭaṣ,’ ‘cultured,’ are defined by Manu (12-109)—

dharmeṇādhigato yaistu vedaḥ saparibṛṃhaṇaḥ |
te śiṣṭā brāhmaṇā jñeyāḥ śrutipratyakṣahetavaḥ ||

The paribṛṃhaṇa of the Veda being the subsidiary sciences, Itihāsa and Purāṇa. Says Bṛhaspati—

itihāsapurāṇābhyāṃ vedaṃ samupabṛṃhayet |

[This occurs in the Mahābhārata also.]

On questions where we find no Śruti or Smṛti text we are to be guided by the opinion of the ‘Pariṣad,’ ‘Assembly.’ Says Manu (12.108)—

amāmnāteṣu dharmeṣu kathaṃ syāditi ced bhavet |
yaṃ śiṣṭā brāhmaṇā brūyuḥ sa dharmaḥ syādaśaṅkitaḥ ||

This ‘Assembly’ should consist of at least 10 ‘cultured’ men—as declared by Gautama—

anāmnāte daśāvaraiḥ śiṣṭairūhavadbhiḥ alubdhaiḥ praśastaṃ kāryam |

That is, what these people say is ‘good’ should be done. Baudhāyana also prescribes the same number—

daśāvarā pariṣat |

Yājñavalkya says—

catvāro vedadharmajñāḥ parṣat traividyameva vā |
sā brūte yaṃ sa dharmaḥ syādeko vā'dhyātmavittamaḥ ||

by which the Assembly should consist either (1) of four men versed in the Veda and the Dharmaśāstra, or (2) of those men each versed in three Vedas, or (3), of only one man who is the best ‘knower of the philosophy of the Self.’

Manu also (12.110 and 112) fixes the number at (1) ten or (2) three of those who are fully learned in the three Vedas.

The opinion of this ‘Assembly’ is as authoritative as the Veda itself,—says Yama.

Manu (4.178) sanctions the authority of ‘Family Custom’—

yenāsya pitaro yātā yena yātāḥ pitāmahāḥ |
tena yāyāt satāṃ mārgaṃ tena gacchanna riṣyati ||

But this can be a guide only in matters where the scriptures are found to he at variance with one another;—as is clear from the words of Sumantu—

yatra śāstragatirbhinnā sarvakarmasu bhārat |
tasmin kulakramāyātmācāraṃ tvācared brudhaḥ ||

Saṃskāramayūkha, p. 1.—That ‘Sadāchāra’ is authoritative which is not repugnant to Veda and Smṛti texts.


(D) Śīla—Samyak-Saṅkalpaja-Kāma (Mentioned in Manu 2-6.)

Medhātithi on Manu, 2.6.—Medhātithi takes the two terms ‘Śīla’ and ‘Smṛti’ as interrelated,—the two together standing for ‘conscientious recollection’ (see under ‘Smṛti’), so that according to him ‘Śīla’ is not a distinct means of knowing Dharma. He also suggests another explanation of ‘Śīla’ by which it pertains to all acts; the meaning being that whatever one does one should do with the mind free from all ‘love and hate.’

Sarvajñanārāyāṇa on Manu, 2.6.—In cases where neither Vedic nor Smṛti tests are available one’s duty can be determined on the basis of the ‘Śīla’ of a large number of persons learned in the Veda, i.e., their ‘natural inclination,’ ‘temperament.’ In support of the authority of this we have the Vedic text which declares that ‘whatever the learned man feels is to be regarded saintly’;—wherever this is not available, we have to he guided by the ‘āchāra,’ practice, of ‘Sādhus.’

Kullūka on Manu, 2.6.—‘Śīla’ stands for ‘devotion to Brahman’ and such other qualities enumerated by Hārīta (ride above). According to Govindarāja however it stands for ‘freedom from love and hate.’

Rāghavānanda on Manu, 2.6.—‘Śīla’ is conduct, action, of those learned in the Veda, i.e., those who know that the injunctions contained in the Veda are to he acted up to; or it may stand for the thirteen qualities spoken of by Hārīta (see above).

Nandana on Manu, 2.6.—Nandana defines it as ‘that excellent quality of the soul which makes a man respected among the wise,’ as defined in the Mahābhārata; as an example is cited that magnanimity which was shown by Yudhiṣṭhira when he asked for the life of his stepbrother Nakula before that of his brother Bhīma and Arjuna, when all of them had been devoured by the alligator.

Yājñavalkya, 1.7.—speaks of Samyakṣaṅkalpajaḥ kāmaḥ, determination or judgment after full reflection.

Aparārka on Yājña, 1-7.—This means ‘that desire to act in a certain way which arises from rightful volition,’ i.e., the determination to attain a certain object by a definite means in accordance with the Scriptures.

According to Viśvarūpa this helps only in determining one out of a number of optional alternatives.

Vīramitrodaya on Yājña, 1-7.—‘Samyakṣaṅkalpa’ is such volition as is free from love, hatred and such aberrations. ‘Kāma’, a well-considered vow. Or this may be the same as what Manu has called ‘Śīla,’ which has been described in the Mahābhārata as consisting in knowledge and sympathy, in thought, word and act, towards all living beings;—this is called a ‘source of Dharma’ in the sense that it is helpful in the man possessed of this quality being better able to understand what is said in the Veda. Hārīta has described ‘Śīla’ as consisting in the following ten qualities:—‘Devotion to Brāhmaṇas, Gods and Pitṛs, sympathy, freedom from jealousy, kindly disposition, friendliness, sweet words, mercy and calmness.’ This is to be accepted as authoritative only in regard to those cases of doing (such acts as the helping of a Brāhmaṇa) which are not covered by the Vedic injunctions bearing on the subject. According to others, however, it is the authority in regard to such determinations as ‘I shall not drink water except with food.’

Another interpretation of the whole verse .—‘ Samyak’ qualifies ‘Śruti,’ and means ‘duly understood’; and it also qualifies ‘Smṛti,’ where it means ‘based upon the Veda’;—

Svasya’ is to be taken by itself and construed with ‘āchāraḥ’ the meaning being ‘the practice or custom of one’s own ancestors’:—‘priyam ātmanaḥ’ means ‘self-satisfaction’; ‘Samyakṣaṅkalpajaḥ kāmaḥ’ means the desire to act in a certain way after proper reflection; this would vary with different individuals; some men would be satisfied with the mere assertion of a trustworthy person,while others would want corroborative texts.

Mitākṣarā on Yājña, 1.7.—Such desire as is not repugnant to the scriptures, e.g., in such cases as the determination not to drink water except with food.

Vīramitrodaya-Paribhāṣā, p. 10.—This means a ‘well-considered vow’ such as ‘I shall not drink water except with food’; or it may stand for the ‘desire to do good and so forth which arises from a proper, i.e., philanthropic, determination’; in this sense it stands for the same thing as the ‘Śīla’ in Manu’s text.

Vīramitrodaya-Paribhāṣā, pp. 8-25.—The term ‘Śīla’ stands for the thirteen qualities enumerated by Hārīta. It stands, it will be seen, for the negative virtues, and is as such distinguished from ‘Ācāra,’ practice or custom, which stands for the positive ones.

On Yājña. 1.7 the Vīramitrodaya identifies the Śīla of Manu with the ‘Samyakṣaṅkalpajakāma’ of Yājñavalkya.

Smṛticandrikā, p. 5.—‘Śīla’ connotes freedom from love, hatred and so forth.


(E) Ātmanastuṣṭi—Svasya Priyam

Medhātithi on Manu, 2.6.—This ‘self-satisfaction’ is meant to be of those only who are ‘learned in the Veda and good’ (‘Vedavidām sādhūnām’), the idea of this being that the ‘source of Dharma’ is based upon the trustworthy character of the persons concerned. When the ‘learned and good’ feel satisfied regarding the righteousness of a certain action, that action must be accepted as right; because such men can never feel satisfied with anything that is wrong. The older treatises however have explained the meaning to be that in oases of optional alternatives that alternative should be adopted in regard to which the man’s own mind feels satisfied. There is yet another explanation by which what is meant is that ‘whenever one is doing anything he should keep his mind tranquil and calm’ and in this sense like ‘Śīla,’ ‘freedom from love and hate,’ this ‘self-satisfaction’ also pertains to ‘all acts.’

Sarvajñanārāyaṇa on Manu, 2.6.—In cases where we have no other means of ascertaining the right course of action, we are to he guided by ‘self-satisfaction’; i.e., we should do that the doing of which makes us feel easy at heart and satisfies the conscience. This is inferior to ‘Śīla’ and ‘Ācāra’ as it pertains to the mind of a single individual and hence is lacking in that corroboration by others which is available in the case of the other two.

Kullūka on Manu, 2.6.—‘Self-satisfaction’ is authoritative only in regard to the choice of alternatives.

Nandana on Manu, 2.6.—Nandana construes this with

Sādhūnām,’ by which explanation the meaning is that the self-satisfaction of exceptionally righteous persons is to be regarded as trustworthy.

Viśvarūpa on Yājña, 1.7.—‘Self-satisfaction’ meant here is such as is not incompatible with Vedic texts, and is not due to restlessness;—the taking to renunciation, for instance, during a time when the family is in trouble, would not be ‘lawful,’ even though one may feel self-satisfaction in it......‘Svasya ca priyam ātmanaḥ’ may also mean ‘Liberation.’

Mitākṣarā on Yājña, 1.7.—‘Self-satisfaction’ serves to determine which one of several sanctioned alternatives has to be adopted, e.g., the performance of Upanayan in the 7th or the 8th year.

Aparārka on Yājña, 1.7.—It is that which brings satisfaction to one’s own mind. This is to be accepted as authority only in regard to cases that are distinctly declared to be subject to such authority, in such texts as ‘when one feels that there is a load in his mind until a certain act is done, that act he shall do.’

Vīramitrodaya on Yājña, 1.7.—‘Svasya priyam’ means ‘self-satisfaction’; i.e., the satisfaction regarding the propriety of a certain act, in the mind of such men as arc steeped in Vedic tradition. This same idea is expressed by Bhaṭṭa Kumārila in the verse etena vaidikāneka ‘Trustworthiness belongs to the self-satisfaction of such persons as have their minds steeped in the moral grandeur of the Veda.’ This ‘self-satisfaction’ must be that of the enquirer himself, and he cannot go about seeking for that of all Vedic scholars. This is the sole authority in regard to such questions as to whether or not the performance of the expiation of a certain sin shall be repeated; this having been declared by Bṛhaspati:—‘One should go, on doing an act until his mind becomes lightened,’—i.e., free from the incubus of the sinful act committed. Others, however, have held that ‘self-satisfaction’ is what determines which of the several equally authoritative alternative courses of action one shall adopt.

Vīramitrodaya-Paribhāṣā, pp. 8-25.—‘Sādhūnām’ in Manu has to be construed with ‘tuṣṭiḥ’; the sense being that when there is a doubt as to what is ‘right,’ that course of action is to be accepted as ‘right’ with regard to which there is satisfaction among ‘good men,’ i.e., men whose minds are steeped in Vedic lore. Such is the explanation given by the Kalpataru; this view has the support also of a Taittirīya text, which says—‘When there are doubts regarding what is right, one should act in the manner that those Brāhmaṇas act who are impartial, judicious, trustworthy and highly righteous.’ This implies the authority also of the Pariṣad, ‘Council’ or ‘Assembly.’ This ‘self-satisfaction’ is authoritative only in the determining of one out of a number of optional alternatives, and there too it is authority only for the man himself; and the ‘self-satisfaction’ of one man can have no authority for another.

Nṛsiṃhaprasāda-Saṃskāra - M S.—Mere self-satisfaction is not authoritative. What is meant is that when a cultured and learned man feels satisfied that a certain course of action is righteous, that satisfaction itself is to be regarded as a trustworthy guide.

Smṛticandrikā, p. 5.—This is authority only in determining one of several optional alternatives.


Comparative Authority

Manu, 2.10.—‘The Veda is to be known as Śruti, R evealed Word, and the Dharmaśāstra, Legal Ordinances, as Smṛti; in all matters these two do not deserve to be criticised.’

According to Medhātithi, ‘Custom’ also is included under ‘Smṛti’ here. Kullūka does not accept this view; according to him the text puts the Smṛti distinctly above Custom, which means that Custom contrary to Smṛti is to he rejected.

Manu (2.14) says—‘Whenever there is conflict between two Vedic texts, both are to be regarded as lawful’; the same with two Smṛti texts, adds Medhātithi; i.e., the two courses of action laid down by the conflicting texts are to be treated as optional alternatives.

Viśvarūpa on yājñavalkya, 1.7.—According to Manu, in all purely spiritual matters the Veda is the highest authority; the Smṛti-writers themselves regard the authority of the Smṛti as extremely weak in comparison with that of the Śruti; all which leads to the conclusion that when Smṛti conflicts with Śruti, it is to he rejected.

Aparārka on Yājña, 1.7.—In the determining of Dharma, says Vyāsa, the Veda is the only pure source of knowledge, ‘pure,’ i. e., whose authority is beyond suspicion;—all the rest are ‘mixed’—i. e., their authority is open to doubt. Hence that is the highest Dharma which is learnt from the Veda; what is declared in the Purāṇa anil other works is the lower Dharma. All other works of human origin are to be rejected in the matter of Dharma. Vaśiṣṭha says that “Dharma is that which is prescribed by Śruti and Smṛti; and it is in the absence of these that the ‘Practice of the Cultured’ is to be accepted as authoritative.”

Saṃskāramayūkha, p. 1.—

The order is

  1. Śruti,
  2. Smṛti,
  3. Sadācāra,
  4. Svasya Priyam,
  5. Samyakṣaṅkalpaja-kāma.

Among Smṛtis Manu is most authoritative, as says Aṅgiras—manvarthaviparītā tu yā smṛtiḥ sā na śasyate (i.e., not to be honoured). Also the Veda itself—yad vai manuravadat tad bheṣajam |

Smṛticandrikā, pp. 15-17.—Says Manu (2.14)—tu yatra syāt tatra dharmāvabhau smṛtau, i.e., where two Śruti texts are mutually contradictory, both are right; i.e., the two courses laid down are to be treated as optional alternatives. The same rule applies to cases of conflict between two Smṛti texts; says Gautama tustyabalavirodhe vikalpaḥ.—When there is conflict between Śruti and Smṛti the latter is to be rejected; so also when Custom conflicts with Smṛti, the former is rejected, as is clear from Vaśiṣṭha’s words—śrutismṛtivihito dharmaḥ tadabhāve śiṣṭācāraḥ pramāṇam. The same applies to the opinion of the Assembly also. When there is conflict between Manu and another Smṛti, the former is to be accepted; as says Aṅgiras:—

yat pūrvaṃ manunā proktaṃ dharmaśāstramanuttamam |
na hi tat samatikrasya vacanaṃ hitamātmanaḥ ||

Also Bṛhaspati—

vedā(du|rtho)panibaddhatvāt prādhānyaṃ tu manoḥ smṛtaṃ |

In cases where the same act is prescribed in equally authoritative texts in two different forms, we have to accept the more elaborate of the two and reject the simpler.

Vīramitrodaya-Paribhāṣā, pp. 25-29.—When there is a conflict between two Vedic texts, both are to be regarded as equally authoritative, and in actual practice the two courses of action are to be treated as optional alternatives. Similarly when there is a conflict between two Smṛti texts or between two ‘customs.’ When there is conflict between a Vedic text and a Smṛti text, preference is to he given to the former as possessed of inherent authority, while the latter owes its authority to an assumed Vedic text. When there is a conflict between a Smṛti text and a Custom, the Smṛti is to he regarded as the more authoritative; e.g., the custom of the marrying of the maternal uncle’s daughter cannot he accepted as authoritative when it is found to be in conflict with the distinct Smṛti text forbidding that practice.

There is a further distinction among authorities of the same class also. For instance, between two Vedic texts, if one is of doubtful import while the meaning of the other is clear, then the latter is to be given preference. If one treats of a more important matter than the other, it is to be given preference; e.g., if one deals with something to be done, while the other, with a minor detail of the act, the former is to set aside the latter. What occurs in the opening sentence sets aside what occurs in the concluding sentence; e.g., the opening sentence speaks of the ‘three Vedas,’ and the concluding sentence speaks of the ‘Ṛk Verse’ as to he recited ‘loudly,’ the signification of the word ‘Ṛk’ in the latter is sublated by that of the word ‘Veda’in the former, and the ‘loudness’ becomes connected with the three Vedas, and not with the Mantras of the Ṛk Veda only. If what is said in one text is beset with more difficulties than what occurs in another, then the former is to be rejected; e.g., one text lays down that a man who accepts the gift of horses should perform as many sacrifices as the horses he receives; while another speaks of Prajāpati having given a horse to Varuṇa and performed a sacrifice to this deity—by which the giver and not the receiver, is to perform the sacrifice;—now if we accept the former, i.e., if we accept the view that the sacrifice is to be performed by the receiver of the gift, then we shall have the following difficulties in the construing of the latter text: (1) it will be necessary to take the Dative in ‘Varuṇāya’ (‘to Varuṇa’) as standing for the Ablative (‘from Varuṇa’), and (2) to take the verb ‘given’ as standing for ‘accepted’; while on the other hand, if we accept the latter text, according to which the sacrifice is to be performed by the giver of the horse, then the only difficulty involved in the construing of the former text is to take the verb ‘accept’ as standing for ‘give’; and hence it is the former text that is rejected, and the conclusion is that the giver of a horse is to perform sacrifices. Where one thing is enjoined in connection with a particular Veda, this is given preference over what would apply to that same, in accordance with what has been prescribed in connection with another Veda; e.g., in connection with the Yajurveda we have the injunction that its Mantras are to be recited in an undertone; in accordance with this rule one may be led to think that the chanting of the Vāravantīya (Sāma-hymn) is to be done in an undertone; but this is precluded by the ‘high pitch’ that has been enjoined in connection with the chanting of the mantras of the Sāma-Veda. What is enjoined in regard to the particular ‘Vedic Recensional School’ to which the performer’s family belongs is given preference over what may have been enjoined in connection with another school. The general law is superseded by the particular, and so on.

In the case of Smṛtis also,—the ‘orthodox’ Smṛti sets aside the ‘heterodox,’—among the ‘orthodox’ Smṛtis also, if a certain course of action is sanctioned by one, hut condemned by another, the latter sets aside the former, and the action in question is to he avoided. What is laid down in reference to imperceptible transcendental effects sets aside what is enjoined for temporal or worldly ends; e.g., the law prohibiting the killing of the Brāhmaṇa sets aside the law that ‘one may kill a person who is threatening to kill,’ as the latter course of action is meant only to serve the perceptible purpose of saving one’s life.. The Smṛti that is based upon a Vedic Arthavāda is set aside by that which is based upon a Vedic injunction; e.g., the law sanctioning the killing of the cow in honour of an honoured guest,—being based upon an Arthavāda passage commendatory of the ‘churning’ or ‘rubbing’ of sticks,—is set aside by that which prohibits the said killing,—this latter being based upon the Vedic injunctive passage—‘Kill not Aditi, the hornless cow.’

Among ‘Custom,’ ‘self-satisfaction’ and ‘well considered vow,’—the preceding is more authoritative than the following; as declared by the Mitākṣarā.

In some cases what is sanctioned by higher authority is rejected by what is said by a lower authority; e.g., the drinking of wine (at the Sautrāmaṇi sacrifice), even though enjoined by the Veda, is not considered right, in view of its prohibition during Kali - Yuga contained in the Smṛti.

Any Smṛti that goes against the ordinances of Manu is to be rejected—as declared by Bṛhaspati (see above). This is the view of the Kalpataru also.—Customs, local, tribal as well as family, are to be rejected if repugnant to the Veda or the Smṛti or the Purāṇa.

As between Śruti and Smṛti, the conclusion arrived at is thus expressed by Vyāsa:—‘That law which is deduced from the Veda is the higher, while that declared in the Purāṇa and other Smṛtis is the lower; which means that in cases of conflict our first duty is to do what is laid down in the Veda, and the doing of what is declared in the Smṛti can be justified only as a substitute, i.e., to be adopted only when there is no possibility of the other being adopted. And this for the simple reason that according to Manu (11.30), if one follows the ‘second best’ course when the best course is possible, his action becomes futile; so that tho conclusion indicated by this is that even in cases of conflict tho Smṛti does not entirely lose its authoritative character; all that happens is that the course of action sanctioned by it is rendered fruitless by reason of the superiority of authority attaching to the Vedic text to the contrary.

The variability of the Law is unfeignedly declared by Parāśara in 1.22:—

‘The Law or the Right is one in the Kṛta Cycle, different in the Tretā Cycle, yet different in the Dvāpara Cycle, and yet different in the Kali Cycle,—varying as it does with the character of the Time-Cycles.’

On this Mādhava makes the following observations:—

The ‘difference’ spoken of here is, not of the nature or essence, of the Law or Right, but of its modes. If it were the former, then it would imply a corresponding diversity in the Veda also, as the source of that Law; while as a matter of fact, the Veda does not vary with the time-cycles. As regards the modes however, we have several instances of diversity; for instance, though the act of the Agnihotra- offering itself is the same, yet there is diversity in regard to the mode of performing it according as it is performed in the morning or in the evening. For instance, at the evening-performance the sprinkling is to be done with the mantra ‘Ṛtantva satyena pariṣiñchāmi,’ while that at the morning-performance with the mantraSatyantva ṛtena pariṣiñchāmi.’ Thus in the present instance also, the variation lies in the mode of doing what is ‘right,’ and not in what is ‘right’ itself; the variations being due to the nature of the time-cycle and of the capacity of the man doing the acts. This matter has been fully discussed in the Mīmāṃsā-Sūtra VI.3, where the conclusion arrived at is that in the case of the Agnihotra and such other obligatory rites, only those prescribed details have to be performed which it is within the capacity of the performer to perform. Baudhāyana also has declared that the obligatory acts are to be performed to the extent that one can; they should, on no account, be entirely omitted.

The most important instance of variation is cited by Parāśara (1.23) himself—“In the Kṛta Cycle, Austerity is the highest Dharma or Duty;—in the Tretā, Learning;—in the Dvāpara, Sacrifice,—and in the Kali, Charity.” To the last Bṛhaspati adds ‘sympathy and self-control.’

There is variation, according to Parāśara (1.24), not only in Law, but also in the authority:—‘Duringthe Kṛa, the Laws are those ordained by Manu,—during the Tretā, those ordained by Gautama,—during the Dvāpara, those ordained by Śaṅkha-Likhita,—and during the Kali, those ordained by Parāśara.’ This distinction however has never been observed in actual practice, as even up to the present time, the work of Manu holds the highest position among the Smṛtis.



From the above we conclude that all the authorities are agreed on the following points—(a) The Veda is the first and paramount authority, (b) The Smṛti is authoritative only in so far as it is not repugnant to the Veda, to which it owes its authority; but only on matters on which we have no paramount authority, (c) Practices or Customs are trustworthy guides, only as they are current among the ‘cultured,’ and then too only those that are not repugnant to Vedic or Smṛti texts. (d) The same with regard to Tribal or Family Customs. (e) The judgment of the ‘Assembly’ of the learned is to be accepted as authoritative only when it is not repugnant to the Veda, and only when tho judgment is ‘unbiased’ by improper feelings. There is not a single text, or ‘explanation,’ which favours the opinion that Custom is to override original texts,—an opinion that has been upheld by the Privy Council, and endorsed by eminent writers on Anglo-Hindu Law. Neither Vijñāneśvara (Mitākṣarā) nor Jīmūtavāhana (Dharmaratna) nor Nīlakaṇṭha (Mayūkha) countenances any such view; and these three are regarded by our lawyers as the founders of the principal ‘Schools of Law.’

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