By Swami Harshananda
Vyāsa, also known as Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana and Vedavyāsa, is the reputed author of the epic Mahābhārata and also the purāṇas. However, the Vyāsasmrti as available now in print is a work of another Vyāsa who might have lived during the period A. D. 200-500. He might have been a contemporary of other writers of smṛtis like Bṛhaspati and Yājñavalkya.
The printed text as available now has 250 verses and deals with the following topics:
- Extent of the land where the dharmas described here apply
- Relative authoritativeness of the Śruti, smṛti and the purāṇas
- Mixed castes
- Sixteen sanskāras
- Duties of a brahmacārin
- Duties of a wife
- Nitya, naimittika and kāmya karmas of a householder
Other well-known writers on the dharmaśāstra often quote verses as of Vyāsa. These are mostly from the Mahābhārata. There are also verses not found in the epic. These verses are of about 200 in number which deal with the topic of vyavahāra or common laws. Quite a few legal matters bearing on gifts of land, procedures in lawsuits and division of ancestral property are dealt with in these verses. The topic of śrāddha is also touched upon.
- Śrāddha means obsequial rites.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore