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 XIII

1. Now, therefore, the Upākarman (or the rite preparatory to the study) of the Veda (must be performed) on the full moon day of the month Śrāvaṇa or Prauṣṭhapada.[1]

2. Having kindled the sacred fire, he offers (therein) unground (rice) grains,

3. To the gods, to the Ṛṣis, and to the Khaṇḍas.

4. Let them begin to study the Vedas, after having made Brāhmaṇas (invited for the purpose) wish 'welfare' (svasti), and after having fed them with sour milk,

5. (And continue the Veda-study) during four[2] months and a half or during five months and a half.

6. After (the expiration of) that (period), he may study (the Vedas) during the bright half of each month,[3]

7. But the supplementary treatises (Aṅgas) of the Veda at pleasure (both during the bright and the dark halves of each month).

8. Interruptions of the (Veda-study shall take place),

9. If it thunders during the twilight,[4]

10. During (both) the twilights (of each day),[5]

11. In towns where a corpse (lies) or Cāṇḍālas (stay).[6]

12. At pleasure (he may study seated) in (a place) which has been smeared with cowdung and around which a line has been drawn.[7]

13. (Let him not study) near a burial-ground,[8]

14. (Nor) lying down,[9]

15. Nor when he has eaten or received a gift at a funeral sacrifice;[10]

16. And with reference to this (subject) they quote a verse of Manu, 'Be it fruit, or water, or[11] sesamum, or food, or whatever be the (gift) at a Śrāddha, let him not, having just accepted it, recite the Veda; for it is declared in the Smṛti, that the hand of a Brāhmaṇa is his mouth.'

17. (Let him not recite the Veda) while he runs, (nor) while a foul smell and the like (are perceptible, nor) on barren ground,[12]

18. (Nor) when he has ascended a tree,[13]

19. (Nor) in a boat or in a camp,[14]

20. Nor after meals while his hands are moist,[15]

21. (Nor) while the sound of a Vāṇa (is heard),[16]

22. (Nor) on the fourteenth day (of each half-month, nor) on the new moon day, (nor) on the eighth day (of each half-month, nor) on an Aṣṭakā,[17]

23. (Nor) while he stretches his feet out, (nor) while he makes a lap, (nor) while he leans against (something), nor (in any other unbecoming posture),[18]

24. (Nor) close to his Gurus,

25. (Nor) during that night in which he has had conjugal intercourse,

26. (Nor) dressed in that garment which he had on during conjugal intercourse, except if it has been washed,[19]

27. (Nor) at the extremity of a village,[20]

28. (Nor) after (an attack of) vomiting,[21]

29. (Nor) while voiding urine or fæces.[22]

30. (Let him not recite) the Rig-veda, the Yajur-veda, and (the Atharva-veda) while the sound of the Sāman melodies (is audible), nor (the Sāman while the other Vedas are being recited).[23]

31. (Let him not study) before (his food is) digested,[24]

32. (Nor) when a thunderbolt falls,[25]

33. (Nor) when an earthquake happens,

34. Nor when the sun and the moon are eclipsed.

35. When a preternaturally loud sound is heard in the sky, when a mountain falls, (and) when showers of stones, blood or sand (fall from the sky, the Veda must not be read) during the twenty-four hours (immediately succeeding the event).[26]

36. If meteors and lightning appear together, (the interruption shall last) three (days and) nights.

37. A meteor (alone and) a flash: of lightning (alone cause an interruption lasting) as long as the sun shines (on that or the next day).

38. (If rain or other celestial phenomena come) out of season, (the Veda must not be read) during the twenty-four hours (immediately succeeding the event).[27]

39. If the teacher has died, (he shall not study the Veda) during three (days and) nights.[28]

40. If the teacher's son, a pupil, or a wife (have died, he shall not study) during a day and a night.[29]

41. Let him honour an officiating priest, a father-in-law, paternal and maternal uncles, (though they may be) younger than himself, by rising and saluting them,

42. Likewise the wives of those persons whose feet must be embraced, and the teacher's (wives)[30]

43. And his parents.

44. Let him say to one acquainted with (the meaning of) a salute, 'I N. N. ho! (salute thee);'[31]

45. But him who does not know it (he shall address with the same formula, omitting his name).[32]

46. When a salute is returned, the last vowel (of the noun standing) in the vocative is produced to the length of three moras, and if it is a diphthong (e or o) changeable according to the Sandhi rules, it becomes āy or āv, e.g. bho, bhāv.[33]

47. A father who has committed a crime causing loss of caste must be cast off. But a mother does not become an outcast for her son.[34]

48. Now they quote also (the following verses):[35] 'The teacher (ācārya) is ten times more venerable than a sub-teacher (upādhyāya), the father a hundred times more than the teacher, and the mother a thousand times more than the father.'

49. 'A wife, sons, and pupils who are defiled by sinful deeds, must first be reproved, and (if they do not amend, then) be cast off. He who forsakes them in any other way, becomes (himself) an outcast.'[36]

50. An officiating priest and a teacher who neglect to teach the recitation of the Veda, or to sacrifice, shall be cast off. If he does not forsake them, he becomes an outcast.[37]

51. They declare that the male offspring of outcasts are (also) outcasts, but not the females.[38]

52. For a female enters (the family of) a stranger.

53. He may marry such a (female) without a dowry.[39]

54. 'If the teacher's teacher is near, he must be treated like the teacher (himself). The Veda declares that one must behave towards the teacher's son just as towards the teacher.'[40]

55. A Brāhmaṇa shall not accept (as gifts) weapons, poison, and spirituous liquor.

56. Learning, wealth, age, relationship, and occupation must be honoured.[41]

57. (But) each earlier named (quality) is more venerable than (the succeeding ones).

58. If he meets aged men, infants, sick men, load-carriers, women, and persons riding in chariots, he[42] must make way (for them, i.e.) for each later (named before those enumerated earlier).

59. If a king and a Snātaka meet, the king must make (way) for the Snātaka.

60. All (must make way) for a bride who is being conveyed (to her husband's house).

61. Grass, room (for resting), fire, water, a welcome, and kind words never fail in the houses of good men.[43]

Footnotes and references:


XIII. Viṣṇu XXX, I. Śrāvaṇa, July-August. Prauṣṭhapada, i.e. Bhādrapada, August-September. Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita improperly combines this Sūtra with the next.


Gautama XVI, 2.


-7. Manu IV, 98.


Āpastamba I, 3, 9, 20.


Gautama XVI, 12.


Gautama XVI, 19; Viṣṇu XXX, 10. The above translation follows Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita's gloss. But the Sūtra may also be taken differently: 'In (villages) where a corpse lies or a Cāṇḍāla stays (and) in towns.' For the prohibition to study in towns is mentioned by Gautama XVI, 45; Manu IV, 116; and Āpastamba I, 3, 9, 4.


Āpastamba I, 3, 9, 5. The rule refers to places, such as high-roads, where studying is ordinarily forbidden.


Viṣṇu XXX, 15; Āpastamba I, 3, 9, 6.


Gautama XVI, 17.


Gautama XVI, 34.


Manu IV, 117 somewhat resembles the verse quoted. But p. 65 its altered form shows clearly that the Mānava Dharmaśāstra known to Vasiṣṭha differed from the work which at present goes by that name. Compare also Śāṅkhāyana Gṛhya-sūtra IV, 7, 55.


Yājñavalkya I, 150; Gautama XVI, 19; Manu IV, 120.


Āpastamba I, 3, 11, 16.


Viṣṇu XXX, 18; Manu IV, 121.


Āpastamba I, 3, 10, 25.


Gautama XVI, 7, and note.


Viṣṇu XXX, 4; Gautama XVI, 37-38. The Aṣṭakās are the eighth days of the dark halves of the winter months, Mārgaśīrṣa, Pauṣa, Māgha, and Phālguṇa.


Viṣṇu XXX, 17; Manu IV, 112.


Manu IV, 116.


Gautama XVI, 18.


Viṣṇu XXX, 19.


Gautama XVI, 11. Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita improperly divides the Sūtra into two.


Viṣṇu XXX, 26.


Viṣṇu XXX, 21.


-34. Viṣṇu XXX, 5; Gautama XVI, 22.


Gautama XVI, 22; Manu IV, 105, 115. Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita mentions digdāha, 'when the sky appears preternaturally red,' as a various reading for 'dignāda.'


Āpastamba I, 3, 11, 29.


Āpastamba I, 3, 10, 2-4.


Viṣṇu XXXII, 4.


The persons intended are, the teacher and so forth. See Āpastamba 1, 4, 14, 7, note.


Gautama VI, 5.


Āpastamba I, 4, 14, 23. Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita combines this Sūtra with the preceding.


Āpastamba I, 2, 5, 18. In returning a salute, the name of the person addressed is pronounced, and if it ends in a, the vowel is made pluta, while e and o are changed to āya and āva, e.g. Hare to Harāya.


Gautama XX, I; XX, 15; Āpastamba I, 10, 28, 9.


Manu II, 145.


Āpastamba I, 2, 8, 29-30.


Gautama XXI, 12.


Āpastamba I, 10, 29, 14.


Manu II, 238; Yājñavalkya III, 261.


Viṣṇu XXVIII, 29, 31.


Viṣṇu XXXII, 16.


-59. Viṣṇu LXIII, 51.


Āpastamba II, 2, 4, 14; Gautama V, 35-36.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: