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 XVII

1. The father throws his debts on the (son) and obtains immortality if he sees the face of a living son.[1]

2. It is declared in the Veda, 'Endless are the worlds of those who have sons; there is no place for the man who is destitute of male offspring.'[2]

3. There is a curse (in the Veda), 'May our enemies be destitute of offspring.'[3]

4. There is also (the following) passage of the Veda, 'May I obtain, O Agni, immortality by offspring.'[4]

5. 'Through a son he conquers the worlds, through a grandson he obtains immortality, but through his son's grandson he gains the world of the sun.'[5]

6. There is a dispute (among the wise; some say), The son belongs to the husband of the wife;' (and some say), 'The son belongs to the begetter.'[6]

7. With respect to this (matter) they quote also on both sides verses like the following:

8. (Some say), 'If (one man's) bull were to beget a hundred calves on another man's cows, they would belong to the owner of the cows; in vain would the bull have spent his strength.'[7]

9. (Others say), 'Carefully watch the procreation of your offspring, lest strangers sow seed on your soil; in the next world the son belongs to the begetter; (by carelessness) a husband makes (the possession of) offspring in vain.'[8]

10. If amongst many brothers who are begotten by one father, one have a son, they all have offspring through that son; thus says the Veda.[9]

11. If among many wives of one husband, one have a son, they all have offspring through that son; thus says the Veda.[10]

12. Twelve (kinds of) sons only are noticed by the ancients.[11]

13. The first (among these is the son) begotten by the husband himself on his legally married wife.[12]

14. The second is the son of a wife (who is begotten) on failure of the (first) on a (wife or widow duly) authorised (thereto, by a kinsman).[13]

15. The third is an appointed daughter.[14]

16. It is declared in the Veda, 'A maiden who has no brothers comes back to the male ancestors (of her own family); returning she becomes their son.'[15]

17. With reference to this (matter there is) a verse (to be spoken by the father when appointing daughter), 'I shall give thee a brotherless damsel, decked with ornaments; the son whom she may bear, shall be my son.'[16]

18. The fourth is the son of a remarried woman.[17]

19. She is called remarried (punarbhū) who leaving the husband of her youth, and having lived with others, re-enters his family;[18]

20. And she is called remarried who leaving an impotent, outcast or mad husband, or after the death of her husband takes another lord.[19]

21. The fifth is the son of an unmarried damsel.[20]

22. They declare that the son whom an unmarried damsel produces through lust in her father's house, is the son of his maternal grandfather.[21]

23. Now they quote also (the following verse): If an unmarried daughter bear a son begotten by a man of equal caste, the maternal grandfather has a son through him; he shall offer the funeral cake, and take the wealth (of his grandfather).'

24. (A male child) secretly born in the house is the sixth.[22]

25. They declare that these (six) are heirs and kinsmen, preservers from a great danger.[23]

26. Now among those (sons) who are not heirs, but kinsmen, the first is he who is received with a pregnant bride.[24]

27. (The son of a damsel) who is married pregnant (is called) a son received with the bride (sahoḍha).

28. The second is the adopted son,

29. (He) whom his father and his mother give (in adoption).[25]

30. (The son) bought is the third.

31. That is explained by (the story of) Sunaḥśepa.

32. 'Hariścandra, forsooth, was a king. He bought the son of Ajīgarta Sauyavasi.[26]

33. The fourth is (the son) self-given.[27]

34. That is (likewise) explained by (the story of) Sunaḥśepa.

35. 'Sunaḥśepa, forsooth, when tied to the sacrificial stake, praised the gods; there the gods loosened his bonds. To him poke (each of) the officiating priests, "He shall be my son." He did not agree to their (request. Then) they made him make (this) agreement, "He shall be the son of him whom he chooses." Viśvāmitra was the Hotṛ priest at that (sacrifice). He became his son.'

36. The son cast off is the fifth.[28]

37. (He is called so) who, cast off by his father and his mother, is received (as a son).

38. They declare that the son of a woman of the Śūdra caste is the sixth. These (six) are kinsmen, not heirs.[29]

39. Now they quote also (the following rule): 'These (last-mentioned) six (sons) shall take the heritage of him who has no heir belonging to the first-mentioned six (classes).

40. Now (follow the rules regarding) the partition of the (paternal) estate among brothers:[30]

41. And (let it be delayed) until those (widows) who have no offspring, (but are supposed to be pregnant), bear sons.[31]

42. Let the eldest take a double share,[32]

43. And a tithe of the kine and horses.

44. The goats, the sheep, and the house belong to the youngest,

45. Black iron, the utensils, and the furniture to the middlemost.

46. Let the daughters divide the nuptial present of their mother.[33]

47. If a Brāhmaṇa has issue by wives belonging to the Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya, and Vaiśya classes respectively,[34]

48. The son of the Brāhmaṇa wife shall receive three shares,

49. The son of the Kṣatriya wife two shares,

50. The other (sons) shall inherit equal shares.

51. And if one of the (brothers) has gained something by his own (effort), he shall receive a double share.[35]

52. But those who have entered a different order receive no share,[36]

53. Nor (those who are) eunuchs, madmen, or outcasts.[37]

54. Eunuchs and madmen (have a claim to) maintenance.[38]

55. The widow of a deceased person shall sleep[39] on the ground during six months, practising religious vows and abstaining from pungent condiments and salt.

56. After the completion of six months she shall bathe, and offer a funeral oblation to her husband. (Then) her father or her brother shall assemble the Gurus who taught or sacrificed (for the deceased) and his relatives, and shall appoint her (to raise issue to her deceased husband).[40]

57. Let him not appoint a (widow who is) mad, ill-conducted, or diseased,[41]

58. Nor one who is very aged.

59. Sixteen years (after maturity is the period for appointing a widow);

60. Nor (shall an appointment be made) if the (male entitled to approach the widow) is sickly.

61. Let him approach (the widow) in the muhūarta sacred to. Prajāpati, (behaving) like a husband, without (amorously) dallying with her, and without abusing or ill-treating her.[42]

62. Let her obtain (the expenses for) food, raiment, baths, and unguents from (the estate of) her former (husband).

63. They declare that a son begotten on (a widow who has) not been (duly) appointed, belongs to the begetter.[43]

64. If she was (appointed, the child belongs) to both the males connected with the appointment.[44]

65. No appointment (shall be made) through a desire to obtain the estate.[45]

66. Some say, 'Or, one may appoint (a widow out of covetousness), after imposing a penance.'[46]

67, A maiden who has attained puberty shall wait for three years.[47]

68. After three years (have passed), she may take a. husband of equal caste.

69. Now they quote also (the following verses) But if through a father's negligence a maiden is here given away after the suitable age has passed, she who was waiting (for a husband) destroys him who gives her away, just as the fee which is paid too late to the teacher (destroys the pupil).'

70. 'Out of fear of the appearance of the menses let the father marry his daughter while she still runs about naked. For if she stays (in the house) after the age of puberty, sin falls on the father.'[48]

71. 'As often as the courses of a maiden, who is filled with desire, and demanded in marriage by men of equal caste, recur, so often her father and her mother are guilty of (the crime of) slaying an embryo; that is a rule of the sacred law.'[49]

72. 'If the betrothed of a maiden die after she has been promised to him verbally, and by (a libation of) water, but before she was married with (the recitation of) sacred texts, she belongs to her father alone.'[50]

73. 'If a damsel has been abducted by force, and not been wedded with sacred texts, she may lawfully be given to another man; she is even like a maiden.'

74. 'If a damsel at the death of her husband had been merely wedded by (the recitation of) sacred texts, and if the marriage had not been consummated, she may be married again.'

75. The wife of an emigrant shall wait for five years.[51]

76. After five years (have passed), she may go (to seek) her husband.

77. If for reasons connected with spiritual or with money matters she be unwilling to leave her home, she must act in the same manner as if (her husband were) dead.

78. In this manner a wife of the Brāhmaṇa caste who has issue (shall wait) five years, and one who has no issue, four years; a wife of the Kṣatriya caste who has issue, five years, and one who has no issue, three years; a wife of the Vaiśya caste who has issue, four years, and one who has no issue, two years; a wife of the Śūdra caste who has issue, three years, and one who has no issue, one year.

79. After that among those who are united (with her husband) in interest, or by birth, or by the funeral cake, or by libations of water, or by descent from the same family, each earlier named person is more venerable than the following ones.[52]

80. But while a member of her family is living, she shall certainly not go to a stranger.

81. Let the Sapiṇḍas or the subsidiary sons divide the heritage of him who has no heir of the first-mentioned six kinds.[53]

82. On failure of them the spiritual teacher and a pupil shall take the inheritance.[54]

83. On failure of those two the king inherits.[55]

84. But let the king not take (the estate) of a Brāhmaṇa.

85. For the property of a Brāhmaṇa is a terrible poison.

86. 'Poison they do not call the (worst) poison; the property of a Brāhmaṇa is said to be the (most destructive) poison. Poison destroys only one person, but the property of a Brāhmaṇa (him who takes it) together with sons and grandsons.'

87. He should give it to men who are well versed in the three Vedas.[56]

Footnotes and references:


XVII. Identical with Viṣṇu XV, 45; Manu IX, 107; Colebrooke Y, Dig. CCCIV.


The latter part of the quotation occurs Aitareya-brāhmaṇa VII, 3, 9.


Rig-veda I, 21, 5.


Rig-veda V, 4, 10; Taittirīya-saṃhitā I, 4, 46, I.


Identical with Manu IX, 137, and Viṣṇu XV, 46.


The same point is argued Manu IX, 31-56.


Identical with Manu IX, 50.


Āpastamba II, 6, 13, 7.


Viṣṇu XV, 42.


Viṣṇu XV, 41.


Colebrooke V, Dig. CXCIII; Viṣṇu XV, 1. Elsewhere the expression purāṇadṛṣṭāḥ, 'noticed by the ancients,' has been taken to mean 'seen in the Purāṇa' ('the holy writ,' Colebrooke).


Colebrooke V, Dig. CXCIII; Viṣṇu XV, 2.


Colebrooke V, Dig. CCXXX; Viṣṇu XV, 3.


Colebrooke V, Dig. CCIII; Mitākṣarā I, 11, 3; Vyavahāra Mayūkha IV, 4, 43. The curious fact that Vasiṣṭha here calls the appointed daughter a son may perhaps be explained by a custom which, though rarely practised, still occurs in Kaśmīr, and by which a brotherless maiden is given a male name. A historical instance of this kind is mentioned in the Rājataraṅgiṇī, where it is stated that Kalyāṇadevī, princess of Gauḍa and wife of king Jayāpīḍa, was called by her father Kalyāṇamalla. When I collated this passage with the help of a Kaśmīrian, I was told that a certain Brāhmaṇa, still living in Śrinagar, had changed the p. 86 name of his only child, a daughter called Amrī, to the corresponding masculine form, Amarjū, in order to secure to himself through her the same spiritual benefits as if he had a son. It seems to me not improbable that Vasiṣṭha's Sūtra alludes to the same legal fiction, and that he recommends in the first instance that the father is to make his daughter a son by changing her name, and next to secure for himself her son, by the verse quoted Sūtra 17.


Colebrooke V, Dig. CCIII, where the preceding Sūtra has been placed after this. Compare Rig-veda I; 124, 5.


Colebrooke V, Dig. CCXVI; Mitākṣarā I, 11, 3; Dāyabhāga X, 4; Vyavahāra Mayūkha IV, 4, 43; Viṣṇu XV, 5.


Viṣṇu XV, 7.


Nārada XII, 48 (Jolly), where, however, kaumāraṃ patim has been wrongly translated by 'an infant husband.'


Manu IX, 175.


Colebrooke V, Dig. CCLIX; Viṣṇu XV, 10.


Colebrooke V, Dig. CCLIX; Viṣṇu XV, 11.


Viṣṇu XV, 13.


'From a great danger,' i.e. 'from the danger of losing heaven through failure of the funeral oblations.'


Viṣṇu XV, 15. 28. Viṣṇu XV, 18.


Viṣṇu XV, 19. 30. Viṣṇu XV, 20.


The MSS. and editions read the last word of the Sūtra as follows: B. vikrīyya; Ben. ed. vikrīya; Bh. E. F. vikrādya; Calc. ed. and I. O. 913 vikrāyya svayaṃ krītavān. I believe that, as the letters ca and va are constantly mistaken by the copyists the one for the other, the original reading was cikrāya. Regarding the story told in this Sūtra and continued below, Sūtra 35, see Max Müller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, pp. 408-416 and 573-588.


Viṣṇu XV, 22.


-37. Colebrooke V, Dig. CCXC; Viṣṇu XV, 24-25.


Colebrooke V, Dig. CCXCII; Dattakacandrikā V, 14; Viṣṇu XVII, 27; Manu IX, 178-179; Gautama XXVIII, 39.


Colebrooke V, Dig. L; Vyavahāra Mayūkha IV, 4, 37.


Colebrooke V, Dig. CXVII; Vyavahāra Mayūkha IV, 4, 37.


-45. Colebrooke V, Dig. L; Dāyabhāga II, 41; Gautama XXVIII, 9 and 5-7.


Colebrooke V, Dig. CCCCXCII; Dāyabhāga IV, 2, 15; Viṣṇu XVII, 21.


-50. Colebrooke V, Dig. CLIV; Viṣṇu XVIII, 1--5.


Colebrooke V, Dig. LXXV, CXXXVIII, CCCLVI; Dāyabhāga II, 41; Vyavahāra Mayūkha IV, 7, 8. 'By his own effort,' i.e. by learning or disputations with learned men, by bravery in battle, &c.


Colebrooke V, Dig. CCCXXXVIII; Mitākṣarā II, 8, 7; 10, 3; Vyavahāra Mayūkha IV, 11, 5. The persons intended are a perpetual student, a hermit, and ascetic.


Vyavahāra Mayūkha IV, 11, 10.


Vyavahāra Mayūkha IV, 11, 10; Viṣṇu XV, 33.


'Practising religious vows,' i.e. 'eating only once a day, and so forth.'--Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita.


Gautama XVIII, 4-7. The Gurus intended are the teacher, sub-teachers (upādhyāya), and officiating priests.


Avaśām, 'ill-conducted,' may also mean 'out of her mind through grief or any other passion.' The former explanation has been adopted by Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita, whom I have followed above.


Manu IX, 60. Regarding the muhūrta sacred to Prajāpati, see above, XII, 47.


Gautama XVIII, 9-12.


Gautama XVIII, 13. 'To both the males connected with the appointment,' i.e. to the deceased husband for whose sake the appointment is made, and to the natural father of the child, to whom the widow is made over.


Colebrooke, Mitākṣarā II, 1, 11. Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita thinks that the Sūtra forbids an appointment which is made with the intention to secure the estate or a share of the estate of the natural father, from whom the kṣetraja son inherits also (Yājñavalkya II, 127). But it seems equally probable that it is intended to pre-vent a widow from agreeing to an appointment in order to obtain control over her husband's estate.


Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita thinks that the rule refers to all cases of appointment.


-68. Viṣṇu XXIV, 40, and note.


Gautama XVIII, 23.


Colebrooke IV, Dig. XVI; Dāyabhāga XI, 2, 6; Yājñavalkya I, 64.


Colebrooke IV, Dig. CLXXIV.


-76. Colebrooke IV, Dig. CLVI, where the Sūtras have been altered intentionally; Gautama XVIII, 15-12,


The persons intended are, (1) brothers united in interest with her husband and other coparceners, (2) separated brothers of the husband. (3) separated blood-relations of the husband within six degrees, (4) separated blood-relations of the husband within fourteen degrees, and (5) persons bearing the same family name or, in the case of Brāhmaṇas, descended from the same Ṛṣi.


Gautama XXVIII, 21; Viṣṇu XVII, 10. The subsidiary sons are those mentioned above, 26-38, who under ordinary circumstances do not inherit; see also above, Sūtra 39, and Gautama XXVIII, 34.


Āpastamba II, 6, 14, 3.


-84. Viṣṇu XVII, 13.


Viṣṇu XVII, 14.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: