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 XXI

1. If a Śūdra approaches a female of the Brāhmaṇa caste, (the king) shall cause the Śūdra to be tied up in Vīraṇa grass and shall throw him into a fire. He shall cause the head of the Brāhmaṇī to be shaved, and her body to be anointed with butter; placing her naked on a black donkey, he shall cause her to be conducted along the highroad. It is declared that she becomes pure (thereby).[1]

2. If a Vaiśya approaches a female of the Brāhmaṇa caste, (the king) shall cause the Vaiśya to be tied up in Lohita grass and shall throw him into a fire. He shall cause the head of the Brāhmaṇī to be shaved, and her body to be anointed with butter; placing her naked on a yellowish donkey, he shall cause her to be conducted along the highroad. It is declared in the Veda that she becomes pure (thereby).

3. If a Kṣatriya approaches a female of the Brāhmaṇa caste, (the king) shall cause the Kṣatriya to be tied up in leaves of Sara grass and shall throw him into a fire. He shall cause the head of the Brāhmaṇī to be shaved, and her body to be anointed with butter; placing her naked on a white donkey, he shall cause her to be conducted along the highroad. It is declared in the Veda that she becomes pure (thereby).

4. A Vaiśya who offends) with a female of the Kṣatriya class (shall be treated) in the same manner,

5. And a Śūdra (who offends) with females of the Kṣatriya or Vaiśya castes.

6. If (a wife) has been mentally unfaithful to her husband, she shall live on barley or rice boiled in milk during three days, and sleep on the bare ground. After the three days (have expired), the (husband) shall offer eight hundred burnt-oblations, (reciting) the Sāvitrī (and the Mantra called) Śiras, while she is immersed in water. It is declared in the Veda that she becomes pure (thereby).[2]

7. If (a wife) has held an (improper) conversation (with another man), she must perform the same penance during a month. After (the expiration of) the month, (the husband) shall offer four times eight hundred burnt-oblations, (reciting) the Sāvitrī (and the Mantra called) Śiras, while she is immersed in water. It is declared in the Veda that she becomes pure (thereby).

8. But if (a wife) has actually committed adultery, she shall wear during a year a garment smeared with clarified butter, and sleep on a mat of Kuśa grass, or in a pit filled with cowdung. After (the expiration of) the year, (the husband) shall offer eight hundred burnt-oblations, (reciting) the Sāvitrī (and the Mantra called) Śiras, while she is immersed in water. It is declared in the Veda that she becomes pure (thereby).

9. But if she commits adultery with a Guru, she is forbidden (to assist her husband) in (the fulfilment of) his sacred duties.[3]

10. But (these) four (wives) must be abandoned, (viz.) one who yields herself to (her husband's) pupil or to (his) Guru, and especially one who attempts[4] the life of her lord, or who commits adultery with a man of a degraded caste.

11. That woman of the Brāhmaṇa caste who drinks spirituous liquor, the gods will not admit (after death) to the same abode with her husband; losing all spiritual merit she wanders about in this world and is born again as a leech or a pearl-oyster.[5]

12. The wives of Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas, and Vaiśyas who commit adultery with a Śūdra may be purified by a penance in case no child is born (from their adulterous intercourse), not otherwise.

13. (Those who have committed adultery) with a man of lower caste shall perform a Kṛcchra penance, succeeded by one, two, or three Cāndrāyaṇa.[6]

14. Faithful wives who are constantly pure and truthful (reside after death) in the same abodes with their husbands; those who are unfaithful are born as jackals.[7]

15. Half the body of the husband falls if his wife[8] drinks spirituous liquor. No purification is prescribed for the half which has fallen.

16. If a Brāhmaṇa unintentionally commits adultery with the wife of a Brāhmaṇa, (he shall perform) a Kṛcchra penance in case (the husband) fulfils the religious duties (of his caste), and an Atikṛcchra penance in case (the husband) does not fulfil his religious duties.[9]

17. The same (penances are prescribed) for Kṣatriyas and Vaiśyas (for adultery with women of their respective castes).

18. If he kills a cow, let him perform, during six months, a Kṛcchra or a Taptakṛcchra, dressed in the raw hide of that (cow).[10]

19. The rule for these two (penances is as follows):

20. 'During three days he eats in the day-time (only), and during the (next) three days at night (only), he subsists during (another) period of three days on food offered without asking, and (finally) he fasts during three days.' That is a Kṛcchra penance.[11]

21. 'Let him drink hot water during three days; let him drink hot milk during the (next) three days; after drinking during (another) period of three days hot clarified butter, he shall subsist on air during the (last) three days.' That is a Taptakṛcchra penance.[12]

22. And he shall give (to a Brāhmaṇa) a bull and a cow.

23. Now they quote also (the following verse): 'Through killing a spotted deer, a he-goat, and[13] a bird three maladies (befal men), viz. jealousy, hunger, and old age; (therefore) let him (who is guilty of such an offence) perform (a penance) during ninety-eight (days).'

24. Having slain a dog, a cat, an ichneumon, a snake, a frog, or a rat, let him perform a Kṛcchra penance of twelve days' duration, and give something (to a Brāhmaṇa).[14]

25. But having slain a quantity of boneless animals, equal to the weight of a cow, let him perform a Kṛcchra penance of twelve days' duration, and give something (to a Brāhmaṇa).[15]

26. But (the same penance must be performed) for each single (slain animal) that possesses bones.[16]

27. He who extinguishes the (sacred) fires shall perform a Kṛcchra penance of twelve days, and cause them to be kindled again (by priests engaged for the occasion).[17]

28. He who falsely accuses a Guru shall bathe, dressed in his clothes, and ask his Guru's pardon. It is declared in the Veda that he becomes pure by the Guru's forgiving him.[18]

29. An atheist shall perform a Kṛcchra penance of twelve days' duration, and give up his infidelity.[19]

30. But he who receives subsistence from infidels (shall perform) an Atikṛcchra penance (and not repeat his offence).

31. (The rule applicable to) a seller of Soma has been explained hereby.[20]

32. A hermit, on violating the rules of his order, shall perform a Kṛcchra penance of twelve days' duration, and continue (the observances obligatory on him) in a great forest.

33. Ascetics, (offending in the same manner) as hermits, shall perform for a protracted period (the vow of regulating the quantity of their food according to) the growth of the moon, and shall again be initiated, in accordance with (the rules of) the Institutes applicable to them.[21]

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

-5. XXI. Gautama XXIII, 15. Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita reads, instead of prāsyet, 'he shall throw,' prāśyet, and explains it by dāhayet, he shall cause to be burnt.' It must be understood that these p. 110 extreme punishments are to be inflicted in particularly bad cases only.

[2]:

'Afterwards in order to purify her who is immersed in water, i.e. has plunged into water, he shall offer eight hundred, i.e. (such) p. 111 a number of burnt-oblations with the Śiras, i.e. (the words) "Om, ye waters, who are splendour, juice, and ambrosia," &c., which are joined to the Gāyatrī.'--Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita. The Śiras, or 'head,' is again mentioned below, XXV, 13; see also Viṣṇu LV, 9. This and the following two rules refer to offences committed with males of equal caste.

[3]:

Yājñavalkya I, 70. Colebrooke IV, Dig. LXXVI, where a different reading, vyavāyatīrthagamanadharmebhyaḥ; has been adopted, and the Sūtra has been combined with the neat. The first clause may also be translated, 'If she actually commits adultery, (and especially) if she converses with a Guru.'

[4]:

Colebrooke loc. cit.; Manu IX, 80; Yājñavalkya 1, 72.

[5]:

Colebrooke IV, Dig. CXIII, where śūkarī, 'a sow,' is read instead of śuktikā, 'a pearl-oyster.'

[6]:

Manu XI, 178. Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita states correctly that cāndrayaṇottaram, 'succeeded by one, two, or three Cāndrāyaṇas,' may also mean 'following one, two, or three Cāndrāyaṇas,' and that the number of Cāndrāyaṇas to be performed depends on the caste of the person with whom the adultery was committed. Thus a Brahmaṇī must perform one Kṛcchra and one Cāndrāyaṇa for adultery with a Kṣatriya, one Kṛcchra and two Cāndrāyaṇas for adultery with a Vaiśya, and one Kṛcchra and three Cāndrāyaṇas for adultery with a Śūdra. His view that the rule refers to wives who commit the sin without intent or against their will, is open to doubt. It is probably an alternative, to be adopted in lighter cases, for the public punishment prescribed above, XXI, 1-3. Regarding the Cāndrāyaṇa, see below, XXIV, 44,

[7]:

Colebrooke IV, Dig. CVIII; Manu V, 164-165.

[8]:

Manu IX, 80; Yājñavalkya I, 73.

[9]:

'Viṣṇu LIII, 2.

[10]:

Viṣṇu L, 16-24; Gautama XXII, 18.

[11]:

Viṣṇu XLVI, 10.

[12]:

Viṣṇu XLVI, 11.

[13]:

The above translation follows the commentary of Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita, p. 114 who further states that the penance to be performed shall consist of a diet of barley gruel. I feel by no means certain that his interpretation, especially that of the last clause, is correct. Possibly aṣṭānavatim āharet may mean 'he shall offer ninety-eight oblations.'

[14]:

Viṣṇu L, 30, 31.

[15]:

Gautama XXII, 21. 'Something' means eight handfuls of grain.

[16]:

Gautama XXII, 22.

[17]:

Viṣṇu LIV, 13; Gautama XXII, 34.

[18]:

Viṣṇu LIV, 14; Yājñavalkya III, 283.

[19]:

-30. Viṣṇu LIV, 15.

[20]:

Viṣṇu LIV, 17.

[21]:

The penance prescribed appears to be similar to the Cāndrāyaṇa. The offender must eat one mouthful on the first lunar day, two on the second, and so forth. But it is not clear for how long a period the rule is to be observed. The Sūtra is interesting as it furnishes corroborative evidence for Pāṇini's statement (IV, 3, 110) that Bhikṣu-sūtras which contained the, rules applicable to Bhikṣus formerly existed.

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