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By Swami Harshananda

Bṛhat-parāśara-samhitā literally means ‘A big collection of verses of Parāśara’.

Medieval and modern religious practices depend much upon the dharmaśāstras. It is a works that generally deals with ācāra (personal conduct) and vyavahāra (social conduct) of a person.

Bṛhat-parāśara-samhitā is one such work, though not an ancient one wielding greater authority. It appears to be a recast of an earlier work, the Parāśara Smṛti.

This work is said to have been imparted by the sage Parāśara to Suvrata. It contains about 3000 verses divided into 12 chapters. The subject matter contains the following topics:

  1. The sphere of the āryas
  2. The six daily karmas like bath, sandhyā, japa, worship of gods and honoring guests
  3. The Gāyatrī mantra
  4. The duties of the various varṇas and āśramas
  5. Forms of marriage
  6. Connected topic on gifts
  7. Śrāddha or after-death ceremonies
  8. Prāyaścittas or expiations
  9. Rites for propitiating deities like Gaṇeśa and Rudra
  10. Some aspects of yoga like prāṇāyāma
  11. etc.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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