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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 (कल्पवेदाङ्गम्)|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 ==
== 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.
 
=== Authors of Dharmasutras ===
Many scholars opine that there is no means to determine the exact number of texts composed as part of the Kalpa Sutragranthas. Neither the number nor the time of composition can be determined and it is highly debatable by many. The dharmasutras of Gautama, Baudhayana, Apastamba, Vashistha, Vaikhanasa and Vishnu are included into the major works, as per S. C. Banerji. He also quotes law books of Atri, Ushanas, Kanva, Kaanva, Kashyapa, Kaasyapa, Kaatyayana, Gaargya, Chyavana, Jamadagni, Jaatukarnya, Devala, Javali, Prajapati, Brhaspati, Bharadvaja, Sataatapa, Harita and many others, known only from quotations found in later Smrti digests and have been designated as minor works by him.<ref name=":1">Sarma, Ratul (2013) Ph.D. Thesis Title : ''The Gautamadharmasutra, A Study. [https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/115204/9/09_chapter%201.pdf Chapter 1]. Gauhati University''</ref>
=== 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 Maharshi Panini's Ashtadhyayi. <ref name=":1" />
=== समयाचारधर्मः ॥ Samayachara Dharmas ===
Sanyasa ashrama follows the Vanaprastha. It is the fourth stage of human life and signifies renunciation of worldly possessions and attachments to relations. The Dharmasutras prescribe a code of standard conduct for a Sanyasin and enjoin upon him to refrain from participation in activities such as astrology, palmistry etc and lead a life of complete resignation, contentment, and meditation.
'''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 asaucha.<ref name=":1" /> General rules of asauchalife showcasing the bharatiya jivana vidhana are best visible in these texts. They include a discussion about rules for taking food, drinking, daily cleansing activities, habits, menstruation time in women, observing vows among other things.
== Individual Dharmasutras ==
!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)
|Commentary by Govindasvamin
|-
|Apastamba DS
|Yajurveda
|28th and 29th Prashnas of Apastamba Kalpa both in sutra and sloka format
|Commentary by Haradatta
|-
|Vasishta DS
|Rigveda
|30 Adhyayasboth in sutra and shloka format|In close agreement with the Shankhayana, Asvalayana and Kaushitaki grhyasutras.|-|Vaikhanasa
|
|3 Prasnas of the Vaikhanasa Smartasutra
|Thorough information on the Ashramas and Varnas unknown to other Dharmasutras. Enumerates a large number of mixed varnas. Silent on Shraddhas and administration rules.
|-
|Vishnu
|
|100 Adhyayas||Unique in mentioning the custom of ''suttee,'' the word ''Pustaka'' for a book, days of a week, Trimurtis and many tirthas in the South of India. Close identity with Manusmrti.
|}

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