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 XXVII

1. If a hundred improper acts, and even more, have been committed, and the (knowledge of the)[1] Veda is retained, the fire of the Veda destroys all (the guilt) of that man just as a (common) fire consumes fuel.

2. As a fire that burns strongly consumes even green trees, even so the fire of the Veda destroys one's guilt caused by (evil) deeds.

3. A Brāhmaṇa who remembers the Rig-veda is not tainted by any guilt, though he has destroyed these (three) worlds and has eaten the food of all, (even of the most sinful) men.[2]

4. If (a Brāhmaṇa) relies on the power of the Veda, he cannot find pleasure in sinful acts. Guilt (incurred) through ignorance and negligence is destroyed, not (that of) other (intentional offences).

5. If a hermit subsisting on roots and fruit practises austerities in a forest, and (a householder) recites a single Ṛc, the merit of the acts of the one and of the other is equal.

6. Let him strengthen the Veda by (studying) the Itihāsas and Purāṇas. For the Veda fears a man of little learning, (thinking) 'He will destroy me.'

7. The daily recitation of the Veda and the performance, according to one's ability, of the series of Mahāyajñas quickly destroy guilt, even that of mortal sins.

8. Let him daily perform, without tiring, his particular rites which the Veda enjoins. For if he does that according to his ability, he will reach the most blessed state.[3]

9. Through sacrificing for wicked people, through teaching them, through intermarrying with them, and through receiving gifts from them, (learned) Brāhmaṇas do not contract guilt, for (a learned Brāhmaṇa) resembles a fire and the sun.

10. I will now declare the purification prescribed for (eating) food, regarding which doubts have arisen, whether it may be called fit to be eaten or not. Listen to my words!

11. Let a Brāhmaṇa drink during three days the astringent decoction of the Brahmasuvarcalā plant, unmixed with salt or pungent condiments, and (a decoction of) the Śaṅkhapuṣpī plant, together with milk.

12. Let him drink water, after boiling in it Palāśa and Bilva leaves, Kuśa grass, and (leaves of) lotuses and Udumbara trees; after three days and no more he becomes pure.[4]

13. (Subsisting) during one day on each (of the following substances), cow's urine, cowdung, milk, sour milk, butter, and water in which Kuśa grass has been boiled, and fasting on the seventh day purify even (him who fears that he has partaken of the food of) a Śvapāka.[5]

14. He who lives during five days on cow's urine, cowdung, milk, sour milk, and clarified butter, is purified by means of (that) Pañcagavya, (the five products of the cow.)

15. He who, in accordance with the rule, uses barley (for his food), becomes pure even by ocular proof. (For) if he is pure, those (barley grains) will be white, if he is impure they will be discoloured.[6]

16. (If he makes) three morning meals of food[7] fit for a sacrifice and three evening meals in like manner, and if food given without asking (is his subsistence) in the same manner, (he will thus perform) three fasts.

17. Now if he is in haste to make (himself pure), (let him) subsist on air during a day, and pass the night standing in water; (that penance) is equal to a Prājāpatya (Kṛcchra).

18. But if at sunrise he mutters the Gāyatrī eight thousand times, he will be freed from all mortal sins, provided he be not the slayer of a Brāhmaṇa.[8]

19. He, forsooth, who has stolen (the gold of a Brāhmaṇa), has drunk spirituous liquor, has slain a learned Brāhmaṇa, or has violated his Guru's bed, will become free from all (these) mortal sins if he studies the Institutes of the sacred law.

20. For unlawful acts, for unlawful sacrifices, and for great sins (let him perform) a Kṛcchra and a Cāndrāyaṇa, which destroy all guilt.

21. Let him add daily one mouthful (to his food) during the bright (half of the month), let him diminish it (daily by one mouthful) during the dark (half), and let him fast on the new-moon day; that is the rule for the Cāndrāyaṇa (or lunar penance).[9]

Footnotes and references:


-2. XXVII. Manu XI, 247.


Identical with Manu XI, 262.


'The most blessed state,' i.e. final liberation, or mokṣa.


Viṣṇu XLVI, 23. I read abhojyabhojyasaṃjñake.


Viṣṇu XLVI, 19.


The rule is described by Viṣṇu XLVIII.


The meaning of the Sūtra is that each mode of subsistence is to be continued during three days.


Aṣṭasahasram, 'eight thousand times,' may also mean' one thousand and eight times.'


See above, XXIII, 44-47.

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