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...

1. Man formed of uterine blood and virile seed proceeds from his mother and his father (as an effect) from its cause.[1]

2. (Therefore) the father and the mother have power to give, to sell, and to abandon their (son).

3. But let him not give or receive (in adoption) an only son;[2]

4. For he (must remain) to continue the line of the ancestors.[3]

5. Let a woman neither give nor receive a son except with her husband's permission.[4]

6. He who desires to adopt a son, shall assemble[5] his kinsmen, announce his intention to the king, make burnt-offerings in the middle of the house, reciting the Vyāhṛtis, and take (as a son) a not remote kinsman, just the nearest among his relatives.

7. But if a doubt arises (with respect to an adopted son who is) a remote kinsman, (the adopter) shall set him apart like a Śūdra.[6]

8. For it is declared in the Veda, 'Through one he saves many.'[7]

9. If, after an adoption has been made, a legitimate son be born, (the adopted son) shall obtain a fourth part,[8]

10. Provided he be not engaged in (rites) procuring prosperity.[9]

11. He who divulges the Veda (to persons not authorised to study it), he who sacrifices for Śūdras, (and all those) who have fallen from the rank of the highest caste (shall be excommunicated by the ceremony of) emptying the water-vessel.[10]

12. A slave or the son of a wife of a lower caste, or a relative not belonging to the same caste, who is destitute of good qualities, shall fetch a broken pot from a heap of vessels unfit for use, place Kuśa grass, the tops of which have been cut off, or Lohita grass (on the ground), and empty the pot for the (outcast, overturning it) with his left foot;[11]

13. And the relatives of the (outcast), allowing their hair to hang down, shall touch him who empties (the pot).[12]

14. Turning (when they leave) their left hands towards (that spot), they may go home at pleasure.[13]

15. Let them not afterwards admit the (excommunicated person) to sacred rites.[14]

16. Those who admit him to sacred rites become his equals.

17. But outcasts who have performed (the prescribed) penance (may be) readmitted.

18. Now they quote also (the following verse): 'Let him walk before those who readmit him, like one gamboling and laughing. Let him walk behind those who excommunicate him, like one weeping and sorrowing.'

19. Those who strike their teacher, their mother, or their father may be readmitted in the following manner, either after being pardoned by the (persons offended) or after expiating their sin.

20. Having filled a golden or an earthen vessel (with water taken) from a sacred lake or river, they pour (the water) over him, (reciting the three verses) 'Ye waters are' &c.[15]

21. All the (other ceremonies to be performed on the) readmission of one who has bathed (in this manner) have been explained by (those ordained an) the birth of a son.[16]

Footnotes and references:


-9. XV. Vyavahāramayūkha IV, 5, 16; Colebrooke V, Digest CCLXXIII; Dattakamīmāṃsā IV, 14; V, 31-40.


Colebrooke, Mitākṣarā I, II, 11; Dattakamīmāṃsā IV, 2-3.


Dattakamīmāṃsā IV, 4. I.e. to offer funeral sacrifices to his ancestors and to have sons who do it after him.


Dattakamīmāṃsā I, 15; IV, 9.


Colebrooke, Mitākṣarā I, II, 13, and note; Dattakamīmāṃsā p. 76 II, 51; Dattakacandrikā II, 11. 'To the king,' i.e. to the person who holds the village, either to the king of the country or to the feudal chief (Thākor) who holds it under the sovereign. 'Reciting the Vyāhṛtis,' i.e. saying with the first oblation Oṃ bhūḥ svāhā, with the second Oṃ bhuvaḥ svāhā, with the third Om svaḥ svāhā, and with the fourth Oṃ bh., bh., sv. svāhā; see Vyavahāramayūkha IV, 5, 42. 'A not remote kinsman, just the nearest among his relatives,' i.e. a boy as nearly related as possible, in the first instance a Sapiṇḍa, on failure of such a one, .a Samānodaka or a Sagotra.


Dattakamīmāṃsā II, 18; Dattakacandrikā II, 11. If a doubt arises,' i.e. if the adopter afterwards feels uncertain regarding the caste or other qualifications of his adopted son. 'Set him apart like a Śūdra,' i.e. shall neither have him initiated nor employ him for any sacred rites.


Dattakacandrikā II, 11.


Colebrooke, Mitākṣarā I, 11, 24. Dattakamīmāṃsā X, 1; Dattakacandrikā II, 11; V, 17. For the explanation of the term 'a fourth part,' see Colebrooke, Mitākṣarā I, 77.


'Rites procuring prosperity,' i.e. Śrāddhas, expiatory rites, &c. See also above, III, 71, and Gautama XI, 17. According to Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita the estate is in this case to be divided equally between the legitimate son and the adopted son. An entirely p. 77 different explanation, 'Provided (the estate) may not have been expended in acts of merit,' is given Dattakacandrikā V, 17-18. It is doubtlessly erroneous, for 'the estate' is nowhere mentioned in the preceding Sūtras.


Gautama XX, 1.


Gautama XX, 4. 'For the (outcast),' i.e. pronouncing his name, and saying, 'I deprive N. N. of water.'


Gautama XX, 5. Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita takes the Sūtra differently, but his explanation is refuted by the parallel passage of Gautama and Haradatta's commentary thereon.


Gautama XX, 7.


Gautama XX, 8-9.


Gautama XX, 10-14. I read 'puṇyahradāt,' instead of 'pūrṇāhradāt,' as the MSS. and Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita have. The passage of the Veda referred to occurs Rig-veda X, 9, I.


I.e. the person readmitted shall receive all the various sacraments just like a new-born child.

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