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Dharmasutras (Samskrit: धर्मसूत्राणि) are a class of ancient samskrit texts of Bharatavarsha, expounding the principles of dharma. Studied as a part of the Kalpa Vedanga texts, they are categorized as Sutragranthas, primarily because a majority of these texts are composed in Sutra style of writing or short terse aphorisms. The sutras lay equal stress on the trivarga; Dharma, Artha and Kama, but do not discuss anything at length about Moksha.<ref name=":0">Gopal, Ram. (1959) ''India of Vedic Kalpasutras.'' Delhi : National Publishing House</ref>
== परिचयः॥ Introduction ==
Dharmasutras, the ancient texts dealing on matters of dharma, contain directions about domestic, social and moral aspects pertaining to people in general. Sections about Rajadharma, or duties of royal persons are not dealt with elaborately in them. The Dharmasutras differ from Smrti texts considerably and the former are regarded as the source of later. They are closely allied to the [[Grhyasutras (गृह्यसूत्राणि)|Grhyasutras]] and several topics are common to both Dharmasutras and Grhyasutras. While the grhyasutras are restricted to domestic rites pertaining to individuals, the Dharmasutras include a broader scope of treatment of a human being in social, economic, political, religious and philosophical spheres. A point of mention is that they deal with the trivarga of the Purusharthas extensively, highlighting only those philosophical aspects which pertain to the ashramas and varnas. Several topics such as [[Upanayana (उपनयनम्)|Upanayana]], [[Anadhyayana (अनध्ययनम्)|Anadhyayana]], [[Shraddha (श्राद्धम्)|Shraddha]], [[Panchamahayajnas (पञ्चमहायज्ञाः)|Panchamahayajnas]], vivaha samskara are common to both.
The final goals and fruits of these yajnas are directed towards attainment of desires in this world or the other worlds (such as svarga) as stepping stones which lead to the Brahman ultimately. Thus they are define an indirect karmamarga to Brahmaloka; the [[Upanishads (उपनिषदः)|Upanishads]] focus on the jnanamarga directly leading to Brahman.
The authors of Dharmasutras declare themselves to be ordinary people and state that they have attempted to codify Dharma based on the three main sources, namely, the Shrutis, Smrtis and conduct of shishtas (unselfish, virtuous and learned personages prior to them).<ref name=":0" />
== Typical Features of Dharmasutras ==Mention usually as the third of the Kalpasutras, Dharmasutras have some characteristics which set them apart from the other texts of Kalpas.  === Sutra style of Writing ===The word dharmasutra means the sutras dealing with dharma. A sutra which a means a short or concise technical sentence (condensing a large meaning within), is the characteristic style if writing in which many ancient texts were composed. Brevity of the subject-matter is the important feature of the sutragranthas. However, these sutras are not the same as the vyakarana sutras such as those seen in Panini's Ashtadhyayi.  === समयाचारधर्मः ॥ Samayachara Dharmas ===
The central theme of three main sutragranthas of the Kalpa Vedanga is Dharma; Shrauta sutras comprehend the dharmik activities for the larger welfare of the society, the Grhyasutras lay down the dharmas (in relation to yajnas) governing the individual in particular. Dharmasutras are set of treatises, which often confused with the Dharmashastras, are precursors to personal law codes and include the details of prevalent samayacharas (traditional practices prevalent at the time of their composition) in their discourse.<ref name=":0" />
The term Dharmasutra is elliptically used for the full title "Samayacharika Dharma" or "Smarta Dharmasutra". These dharmasutras nowhere claim that they deal with dharma in its entirety and openly declare that they are going to expound Samayacharika dharmas which are otherwise called Smarta dharmas. The Apastamba Dharmasutra, for instance, opens with the words,<blockquote>अथातः सामयाचारिकान्धर्मान्व्याख्यास्यामः । athātaḥ sāmayācārikāndharmānvyākhyāsyāmaḥ । (Apas. Dhar. Sutr. 1.1.1)<ref>Apastamba Dharmasutras ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%86%E0%A4%AA%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AC-%E0%A4%A7%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%82%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D Full Text])</ref></blockquote>According to Ram Gopal,<ref name=":0" /> Dharma is employed in a restricted sense and signifies Smarta Dharma only. The dharma based on established tradition (Smrtis) is called Smarta Dharma founded upon conventional practice (समयाचारः ।Samayachara) is known as Saamayachaarika Dharma (सामयाचारिकान्धर्मा). Thus Dharmasutras propound Dharmas based on tradition or conventional practices, which is the primary difference from the topic discussed in Shrauta and Grhyasutras.  Smarta dharma embodied in the Dharmasutras is the basis of development of Smrti granthas is advocated by many scholars and there is no denying that the said dharmas are far more elaborate in the Smrtis than in Dharmasutras. But the exact relationship of the Sutras and Smrtis is highly controversial. Many western and Indian scholars have extensively discussed about this topic, which is at present beyond the scope of this article.
== धर्मसूत्रविषयाणि॥ Subject Matter of Dharmasutras ==There are varied opinions in the scholarly community (both western and traditional scholarships) about the availability of sutragranthas based on the veda shakas. The Hence some variation in the topics discussed in these sutragranthas may be expected as they evolved imbibing the specialities of those vedashakas. According to Gautama Dharmasutras, taken as a representative example here, the topics of Dharma treated in Dharmasutras, according to Gautama Dharmasutras, may be are classified broadly into three categories for general understandingas follows.
# Varna dharmas (duties of people in four social classes)
# Ashrama dharmas (duties of people in four stages of life)
'''Other Topics:''' Apart from the above topics which form a major portion of these treatises, Dharmasutras dwell on Naimittika dharma, enumerate various types of papakarmas (sins) and atonement for them by performing penances. They also explain about Saucha and Asaucha (impurities related to events of birth and death) and the process of cleansing after periods of asaucha.
== Manava Individual Dharmasutras ==In this section, details of the individual dharmasutras the divisions therein, their characteristics, special features are discussed briefly.{| class="wikitable"|+Details of Dharmasutras<ref name=":0" />!Dharmasutra !Veda and Shaka!Book Division!Some aspects|-|Gautama DS|Samaveda, Rananiyashaka according to Charanavyuha|28 Adhyayas |Widely accepted as the earliest DS text |-|Baudhayana DS|Yajurveda|Four prasnas (only two are regarded as original)||-|Apastamba DS|Yajurveda|28th and 29th Prashnas of Apastamba Kalpa both in sutra and Manusmrti ==sloka format||-|Vasishta DS|Rigveda|30 Adhyayas||-|||||}
== Discussion ==

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