Dharmasutras (Samskrit: ) 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>
== 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 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" />
== 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 Shrauta and Grhyasutras .
== 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 topics of Dharma treated in Dharmasutras , according to Gautama Dharmasutras, may be classified broadly into three categories for general understanding.
# 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 Dharmasutra and Manusmrti ==
== Discussion ==