Vasistha Dharmasutra

by Georg Bühler | 1882 | 44,713 words

The Dharmasutra of Vasistha forms an independent treatise and has no relationship with the Kalpasutra. The chapters of this text are divided in a way that resemble the practice of later Smritis. This Dharmasutra has a unique characteristic, it cites the opinions of Manu at many places. This led scholars like Bühler among others to form a hypothesis...

Chapter III

1. (Brāhmaṇas) who neither study nor teach the Veda nor keep sacred fires become equal to Śūdras;[1]

2. And they quote a verse of Manu on this (subject), 'A twice-born man, who not having studied the Veda applies himself to other (and worldly study), soon falls, even while living, to the condition of a Śūdra, and his descendants after him.'[2]

3. '(A twice-born man) who does not know the[3] Veda (can)not be (called) a Brāhmaṇa, nor he who lives by trade, nor he who (lives as) an actor, nor he who obeys a Śūdra's commands, nor (he who like) a thief (takes the property of others), nor he who makes his living by the practice of medicine.'

4. 'The king shall punish that village where Brāhmaṇas, unobservant of their sacred duties and ignorant of the Veda, subsist by begging; for it feeds robbers.'

5. 'Many thousands (of Brāhmaṇas) cannot form a (legal) assembly (for declaring the sacred law), if they have not fulfilled their sacred duties, are unacquainted with the Veda, and subsist only by the name of their caste.'[4]

6. 'That sin which dunces, perplexed by ignorance and unacquainted with the sacred law, declare (to be duty) shall fall, increased a hundredfold, on those who propound it.'[5]

7. 'What four or (even) three (Brāhmaṇas) who have completely studied the Vedas proclaim, that must be distinctly recognised as the sacred law, not (the decision) of a thousand fools.'[6]

8. 'Offerings to the gods and to the manes must always be given to a Śrotriya alone. For gifts bestowed on a man unacquainted with the Veda, reach neither the ancestors nor the gods.'

9. 'If a fool lives even in one's house and a (Brāhmaṇa) deeply learned in the Veda lives at a great distance, the learned man shall receive the gift. The sin of neglecting (a Brāhmaṇa is not incurred) in (the case of) a fool.'[7]

10. 'The offence of neglecting a Brāhmaṇa cannot be committed against a twice-born man who is ignorant of the Veda. For (in offering sacrifices) one does not pass by a brilliant fire and throw the oblations into ashes.'[8]

11. An elephant made of wood, an antelope made of leather, and a Brāhmaṇa ignorant of the Veda, those three have nothing but the name (of their kind).[9]

12. 'Those kingdoms, where ignorant men eat the food of the learned, will be visited by drought; or (some other) great evil will befall (them).'

13. If anybody finds treasure (the owner of) which is not known, the king shall take it, giving one sixth to the finder.[10]

14. If a Brāhmaṇa who follows the six (lawful) occupations, finds it, the king shall not take it.

15. They declare that the slayer commits no crime by killing an assassin.[11]

16. Now they quote also (the following verses): 'An incendiary, likewise a poisoner, one who holds a weapon in his hand (ready to kill), a robber, he who takes away land, and he who abducts (another man's) wife, these six are called assassins (ātatāyin).'

17. 'He may slay an assassin who comes with the intention of slaying, even though he knows the whole Veda together with the Upaniṣads; by that (act) he (does) not (incur the guilt of) the slayer of a Brāhmaṇa.'[12]

18. 'He who slays an assassin learned in the Veda and belonging to a noble family, does not incur by that act the guilt of the murderer of a learned Brāhmaṇa.; (in) that (case) fury recoils upon fury.'

19. Persons who sanctify the company are, a Triṇāciketa, one who keeps five fires, a Trisuparṇa, one who (knows the texts required for) the four sacrifices (called Aśvamedha, Puruṣamedha, Sarvamedha, and Pitṛmedha), one who knows the Vājasaneyi-śākhā of the White Yajur-veda, one who knows the six Aṅgas, the son of a female married according to the Brāhma-rite, one who knows the first part of the Sāma-veda Saṃhitā, one who sings the Gyeṣṭhasāman, one who knows the Saṃhitā and the Brāhmaṇa, one who studies (the treatises on) the sacred law, one whose ancestors to the ninth degree, both[13] on the mother's and on the father's side, are distinctly known to have been Śrotriyas, and learned men and Snātakas.

20. (Four students of) the four Vedas, one who knows the Mīmāṃsā, one who knows the Aṅgas, a teacher of the sacred law, and three eminent men who are in three (different) orders, (compose) a (legal) assembly consisting at least of ten (members).[14]

21. He who initiates (a pupil) and teaches him the whole Veda is called the teacher (ācārya).[15]

22. But he who (teaches) a portion (of the Veda only is called) the sub-teacher (upādhyāya);

23. So is he who (teaches) the Aṅgas of the Veda.

24. A Brāhmaṇa and a Vaiśya may take up arms in self-defence, and in (order to prevent) a confusion of the castes.[16]

25. But that (trade of arms) is the constant (duty) of a Kṣatriya, because he is appointed to protect (the people).[17]

26. Having washed his feet and his hands up to[18] the wrist, and sitting with his face turned towards the east or towards the north, he shall thrice sip water out of the Tīrtha sacred to Brahman, (i.e.) the part of the hand above the root of the thumb, without uttering any sound;

27. He shall twice wipe (his mouth with the root of the thumb);.

28. He shall touch the cavities (of the head) with water;

29. He shall pour water on his head and on the left hand;

30. He shall not sip water while walking, standing., lying down or bending forward.[19]

31. A Brāhmaṇa (becomes pure) by (sipping) water, free from bubbles and foam, that reaches his heart,

32. But a Kṣatriya by (sipping water) that reaches his throat,

33. A Vaiśya by (sipping water) that wets his palate,

34. A woman and a Śūdra by merely touching water (with the lips).

35. Water (for sipping may) even (be taken) out of a hole in the ground, if it is fit to slake the thirst of cows.[20]

36. (He shall not purify himself with water) which has been defiled with colours, perfumes, or flavouring substances, nor with such as is collected in unclean places.[21]

37. Drops (of saliva) falling from the mouth, which do not touch a limb of the body, do not make (a man) impure.[22]

38. If, after having sipped water, he sleeps, eats, sneezes, drinks, weeps or bathes, or puts on a dress, he must again sip water,[23]

39. Likewise, if he touches (that part of) the lips on which no hair grows.[24]

40. No defilement is caused by the hair of the moustache (entering the mouth).[25]

41. If (remnants of food) adhere to the teeth, (they are pure) like the teeth, and he is purified by swallowing those which (become detached) in the mouth.[26]

42. He is not defiled by the drops which fall on his feet, while somebody gives to others water for sipping; they are stated to be equally (clean) as the ground.[27]

43. If, while occupied with eatables, he touches any impure substance, then he shall place that thing (which he holds in his hand) on the ground, sip water and afterwards again use it.[28]

44. Let him sprinkle with water all objects (the purity of) which may be doubtful.

45. 'Both wild animals killed by dogs, and fruit thrown by birds (from the tree), what has been spoilt by children, and what has been handled by women,'[29]

46. 'A vendible commodity tendered for sale and what is not dirtied by gnats and flies that have settled on it,'[30]

47. 'Likewise water collected on the ground that quenches the thirst of cows,--enumerating all these things, the Lord of created beings has declared them to be pure.'[31]

48. Anything defiled by unclean (substances) becomes pure when the stains and the smell have been removed by water and earth.[32]

49. (Objects) made of metal must be scoured with ashes, those made of clay should be thoroughly heated by fire, those made of wood should be planed, and (cloth) made of thread should be washed.[33]

50. Stones and gems (should be treated) like objects made of metal,[34]

51. Conch-shells and pearl-shells like gems,

52. (Objects made of) bone like wood,[35]

53. Ropes, chips (of bamboo), and leather become pure (if treated) like clothes,[36]

54. (Objects) made of fruits, (if rubbed) with (a brush of) cow hair,[37]

55. Linen cloth, (if smeared) with a paste of yellow mustard (and washed afterwards with water).[38]

56. But land becomes pure, according to the degree of defilement, by sweeping (the defiled spot), by smearing it with cowdung, by scraping it, by sprinkling (water) or by heaping (pure earth) on (it).[39]

57. Now they quote also (the following verses): 'Land is purified by these four methods, by digging, burning, scraping, being trodden on by cows, and fifthly by being smeared with cowdung.'[40]

58. 'A woman is purified by her monthly discharge, a river by its current, brass by (being scoured with) ashes, and an earthen pot by another burning.'[41]

59. 'But an earthen vessel which has been defiled by spirituous liquor, urine, ordure, phlegm, pus, tears, or blood cannot be purified even by another burning.'

60. 'The body is purified by water, the internal organ by truth, the soul by sacred learning and austerities, and the understanding by knowledge.'

61. Gold is purified by water alone,[42]

62. Likewise silver,

63. Copper is cleansed by acids.[43]

64. The Tīrtha sacred to the Gods lies at the root of the little finger,[44]

65. That sacred to the Ṛṣis in the middle of the fingers,

66. That sacred to Men at the tips of the fingers,

67. That sacred to Agni (fire) in the middle of the hand,

68. That sacred to the Manes between the forefinger and the thumb.

69. He shall honour (his food at) the evening and morning meals (saying), 'It pleases me,'[45]

70. At meals in honour of the Manes (saying), I have dined well,'[46]

71. At (a dinner given on the occasion of) rites procuring prosperity (saying), 'It is perfect:[47]

Footnotes and references:


III. I read Śūdrasadharmāṇaḥ, 'equal to Śūdras,' instead of śūdrakarmāṇaḥ, which occurs in MS. B. only. Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita explains the latter reading by śūdravatkarma yeshu te śūdravatteṣvācaraṇīyamityarthaḥ, 'shall be treated like Śūdras.' But the verses quoted in the following Sūtras show that the former reading is the better one.


Identical with Manu II, 168.


This and the following nine verses are, as the word 'iti,' which the best MSS. give at the end of Sūra 12, quotations. p. 17 Anṛk, 'who does not know the Veda,' means, literally, 'unacquainted with the Rig-veda.'


This verse, which is identical with Manu XII, 114, and the next two are intended to show that a Brāhmaṇa who, neglects the study of the Veda, is unfit to decide points of the sacred law, which are not settled either by the Smṛti or the Śruti, and become a member of a pariṣad or' Pañc.'


The verse contains a better version of Manu XII, 115.


Regarding the term Vedapāraga, see Gautama V, 20, note. Itareṣām, 'fools,' means literally, 'different from (those who have mastered the Vedas).'


-10. Regarding the crime of 'neglecting a Brāhmaṇa,' see Manu VIII, 392-393, where fines are prescribed for neglecting to invite to dinner worthy neighbours and Śrotriyas.


A learned Brāhmaṇa resembles a sacrificial fire, see e.g. below, XXX, 2-3; Āpastamba I, 1, 3, 44.


Manu II, 157. Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita and MS. B. give the ungrammatical construction which occurs in Manu and other Dharmaśāstras, while the other MSS. read more correctly, 'yaśca kāṣṭhamayo h. yaśca carmamayo m.' &c.


-14. This rule agrees exactly with Gautama X, 45; see also Viṣṇu III, 56-61. The matter is introduced here in order to show the prerogative of a learned Brāhmaṇa. Regarding the six lawful occupations, see-above, II, 13-14.


Viṣṇu V, 189-192. The connexion of this subject with the main topic consists therein that it furnishes an instance where learning does not protect a Brāhmaṇa.


I read with the majority of the MSS., 'api vedāntapāragam,' instead of 'vedāntagaṃ raṇe,' as Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita has.


For the explanations of the terms left untranslated, see the p. 20 note on Āpastamba II, 8, 17, 22; Gautama XV, 28; and the notes on Viṣṇu LXXXIII, 2-21. Regarding the meaning of Chandoga, 'one who knows the first part of the Sāma-veda Saṃhitā,' see Weber, Hist. Ind. Lit., p. 63, note 59. 'One who knows the Saṃhitā and the Brāhmaṇa, i.e. of the Rig-veda.'--Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita. Regarding the various classes of Snātakas, see Āpastamba I, 11, 30, 1-3.


Manu XII, 111. Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita reads cāturvidyas trikalpī ca, 'one who knows the four Vedas and one who knows three different Kalpa-sūtras.' My translation, follows the reading of the MSS., cāturvidyaṃ vikalpī ca, which is corroborated by the parallel passage of Baudhāyana I, 1, 8, 'cāturvaidyaṃ vikalpī ca.' The explanation of the latter word is derived from Govindasvāmin. 'Men who are in three orders, i.e. a student, a householder, and ascetic,' see Gautama XXVIII, 49.


-23. Viṣṇu XXIX, 1-2.


Gautama VII, 25.


Viṣṇu II, 6.


-34. Viṣṇu LXII, 1-9.


Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita is probably right in thinking that the word vā, 'or,' inserted before 'bending forward,' is intended to forbid other improper acts, gestures or postures, which are reprehended in other Smṛtis.


Viṣṇu XXIII, 43; Manu V, 128.


'Collected in unclean places, e.g. in a burial-ground.'--Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita.


Gautama I, 41.


Gautama I, 37.


Āpastamba I, 5, 16, 10.


Āpastamba I, 5, 16, 11.


Gautama I, 38-40.


Manu V, 142.


Viṣṇu XXIII, 55. 'Occupied with eatables,' i.e. 'eating.'--Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita.


Viṣṇu XXIII, 50. This and the following two Sūtras are a quotation, as appears from the use of the particle iti at the end of Sūtra 47.


Manu V, 129.


Viṣṇu XXIII, 43


Gautama I, 42. For the explanation of the term amedhya, 'unclean substances,' see Manu V, 135, and the passage from Devala translated in Professor Jolly's note on Viṣṇu XXIII, 38.


Gautama I, 29; Viṣṇu XXIII, 26, 33, 27, 18.


-51. Gautama I, 30.


Gautama I, 31 and note; Viṣṇu XXIII, 4.


Gautama I, 33.


Viṣṇu XXIII, 28. Cups and bottles made of the shell of the cocoa-nut or of the Bilva (Bel) fruit and of bottle-gourds are meant.


Viṣṇu XXIII, 22.


Viṣṇu XXIII, 56-57. Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita takes upacaraṇa, 'heaping (pure earth) on (the defiled spot),' to mean 'lighting a fire on it' or 'digging it up.' The translation given above rests on the parallel passages of Gautama I, 32, and of Baudhāyana I, 5, 52, bhūmes tu saṃmārjanaprokṣaṇopalepanāvastaraṇopalekhanairyathāsthānaṃ doṣaviśeṣāt prāyatyam, 'land becomes pure, according to the degree of the defilement, by sweeping the (defiled) spot, by sprinkling it, by smearing it with cowdung, by scattering (pure earth) on it, or by scraping it.' Bhūmi, 'land,' includes also the mud-floor of a house or of a verandah.


Some MSS. have instead of gharṣāt, 'by scraping,' varṣāt, 'by rain;' see also note on Gautama I, 32.


Viṣṇu XXII, 91. 59. Viṣṇu XXIII, 5. 60. Identical with Manu V, 109, and Viṣṇu XXII, 92.


-62. Viṣṇu XXIII, 7. Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita points out that these p. 25 two rules and that given in the next Sūtra refer to cases in which gold, silver, and copper have not been stained by impure substances.


Viṣṇu XXIII, 25.


-68. Viṣṇu LXII, I-4; Āpastamba II, 2, 3, II.


Viṣṇu LXVIII, 42. The Sūtra is also intended to prescribe that the number of the daily meals is two, only.


Manu III, 251.


The rites referred to are, according to Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita, marriages, feeding Brāhmaṇas, Nāndīśrāddhas, and the like.

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