Gautama Dharmasutras

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Religion has always considered dharma[1] as a basic value which must cover all the individual and social aspects of life. Dharmasutra literature is one of the earliest classes of scriptures dealing with dharma.

Significance of Gautama Dharmasutras

The Dharmasutras of Gautama has been considered quite ancient (600-400 A.C.) infact the oldest and authoritative dharmasutra work. It has been held in high esteem by the later writers of dharmaśāstras.

Gautam Dharmasutra Era

There is reason to believe that the Dharmasutras of Gautama is an independent work and not a part of the Kalpasutras. The sage Gautama probably belonged to the Rāṇāyānīya school of the Sāmaveda.

Aspects of Gautama Dharmasutras

The Gautama Dharmasutras is written entirely in prose and has 28 chapters. A brief summary of the contents can now be attempted:

  1. Sources of dharma
  2. Details of the upanayana sacrament
  3. The four āśramas
  4. Rules concerning marriage and the duties of a householder
  5. The pañcamahāyajñas or the five daily sacrifices
  6. The duties of the four varṇas
  7. Rājadharma or the duties and responsibilities of a king
  8. Crime and punishment
  9. Rules concerning law-suits
  10. Śrāddhas or obsequial ceremonies
  11. Rules regulating food and eating
  12. On women
  13. Sins and their expiations
  14. Penances
  15. Partition of property and related matters

Commentaries on Gautama Dharmasutra

This work has a bhāṣya or commentary by Maskarin (A. D. 900) and another one called Mitāksarā by Haradatta (A. D. 1100).

References

  1. Dharma was the foundational morality and ethics.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore