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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

The Vedas and the Upaniṣads give the basic ideas of philosophy and occasionally some instructions concerning personal ethics or social conduct whilst the task of elaborating the latter has been fulfilled admirably by the purāṇas, smṛtis, dharmaśāstras and nibandhas.[1] One of the more ancient smṛtis is the Nāradasmrti. Though Nārada is a familiar figure in the mythological literature, the author of this treatise may not be that sage. The work as available now in print comprising 1028 verses has been assigned to the period A. D. 100-300. There are two commentaries on this work:

  1. One by Asahāya[2] named as Naradiya-puraṇa which is incomplete
  2. Other by Bhavasvāmin[3]

Overview on Nāradasmṛti[edit]

Nāradasmṛti follows the Manusmṛti closely. However, it contains greater details and is arranged in a more systematic way. Some of the subjects dealt with in this work are as follows:

  1. Ṛṇādāna - recovery of debts
  2. Upanidhi - deposits and lending
  3. Dattāpradānika - gifts and resumption thereof
  4. Abhyupetya-aśuśruṣā - breach of contract of service
  5. Asvāmi-vikraya - sale without ownership
  6. Samayasya-anapā-karma - violations of the conventions of guilds
  7. Sīmābandha - settlement of boundaries
  8. Dāyabhāga - partition and inheritance
  9. Strīpurhsayoga - marital relations
  10. Crimes and punishment


It is seen that almost all these items belong to the field of vyavahāra.[4] Nārada differs on this point from Manu. He allows niyoga,[5] remarriage of widows and gambling.[6] Later writers like Viśvarupa,[7] Medhātithi[8] and Asahāya have regarded Nāradasmrti as an authoritative work.


  1. Nibandhas means digests.
  2. He lived in circa A. D. 600-750.
  3. He lived in circa A. D. 700-1000.
  4. Vyavahāra means the social conduct.
  5. Niyoga means levirate.
  6. Gambling should be controlled by the State.
  7. He lived in circa A. D. 750-1000.
  8. Medhātithi lived in A. D. 825-900.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore