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 XXX

1. Practise righteousness, not unrighteousness; speak truth, not untruth; look far, not near; look towards the Highest, not towards that which is not the Highest.

2. A Brāhmaṇa is a fire.[1]

3. For the Veda (says), 'Agni, forsooth, is a Brāhmaṇa.'[2]

4. And how is that?

5. And it is also declared in the Kāṭhaka, 'On that (occasion) the body of the Brāhmaṇa who represents the sacrificial seat is the altar, the vow to perform the rite is the sacrifice, the soul is the animal to be slain, the intellect the rope (with which the animal is bound), the mouth of (the Brāhmaṇa) who represents the seat is the Āhavanīya fire, in his navel (is the Dakṣiṇā fire), the fire in his abdomen is the Gārhapatya fire, the Prāṇa is the Adhvaryu priest, the Apāna, the Hotṛ priest, the Vyāna the Brahman, the Samāna the Udgātṛ priest, the organs of sensation the sacrificial vessels. He who knowing this offers a sacrifice to the organs through the organs.' . . .[3]

6. Now they quote also (the following verses): 'An offering placed in the mouth-fire of a Brāhmaṇa which is rich in Veda-fuel, protects and saves the giver and (the eater) himself from sin.'

7. 'But the offering made through the mouth of a Brāhmaṇa, which is neither spilt nor causes pain (to sentient creatures), nor assails him (who makes it), is far more excellent than an Agnihotra.'[4]

8. After performing a mental sacrifice at which meditation (takes the place of the sacred) fire, truthfulness (the place of) the sacred fuel, patience (the place of) the oblation, modesty (the place of) the sacrificial spoon, abstention from injuring living beings (the place of the) sacrificial cake, contentment (the place of) the sacrificial post, (and a promise of) safety given to all beings which is hard to keep (the place of) the reward given to the priests, a wise man goes to his (eternal) home.[5]

9. The hair of an aging man shows signs of age, (and) the teeth of an aging man show signs of age, (but) the desire to live and the desire for wealth do not decay even in an aging man.

10. Happiness (is the portion) of that man who relinquishes (all) desire, which fools give up with difficulty, which does not diminish with age, and which is a life-long disease.

11. Adoration to Vasiṣṭha Satayātu, the son of Mitra and Varuṇa and Urvaśī!

Footnotes and references:


XXX. See above, III, 10.


Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa I, 4, 22.


Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita divides the passage into thirteen Sūtras, and connects tatra, 'on that occasion,' with the preceding Sūtra. 'On that (occasion),' i.e. if a Brāhmaṇa is fed.


Manu VII, 84; Yājñavalkya I, 315. Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita's reading, nainam adhyācate ka yaḥ, which occurs also in B., is nonsense. I read with Bh. nainamadhyāpatecca yat, and take adhyāpatet, 'assails (the giver),' in the sense of 'troubles him by causing the performance of penances, on account of mistakes committed.' Manu's version, na vinaśyati karhicit, 'and never peṛṣes,' is of course an easier one, but it seems to me doubtful whether it is older than Vasiṣṭha's.


The passage, which is probably a quotation from an Upaniṣad, is very corrupt in the MSS. and Kṛṣṇapaṇḍita's text. I correct it as follows:

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