The Sacred Laws of the Aryas

The Sacred Laws of the Aryas

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Section 1. Apastamba's aphorisms on the sacred law of the Aryan Hindus possess a special interest beyond that attaching to other works of the same class. Their discovery enabled us to dispose finally of the Brahmanical legend according to which Hindu society was supposed to be governed by the codes of ancient sages, compiled for the express purpose of tying down each individual to his station, and of strictly regulating even the smallest acts of his daily life. Section 2. Gautama's Institutes are scanty and the conclusions deducible from them somewhat vague. There are only two points, which, it seems to me, can be proved satisfactorily, viz. the connection of the work with the Sama-veda and a Gautama Karana, and its priority to the other four Dharma-sutras which we still possess. To go further appears for the present impossible, because very little is known regarding the history of the schools studying the Sama-veda, and because the Dharmasastra not only furnishes very few data regarding the works on which it is based, but seems also, though not to any great extent, to have been tampered with by interpolators. Section 3. The Vasishtha Dharmasastra is, like that of Gautama, the last remnant of the Sutras of a Vedic school, which, as far as our knowledge goes at present, has perished, together with the greater part of its writings. We owe the preservation of its Dharma-sutra probably to the special law schools of India, which, attracted as it would seem by its title and the legend connecting it with Vasishtha Maitravaruni, one of the most famous Rishis of the Rig-veda and a redoubtable champion of Brahmanism, made it one of their standard authorities. The early existence of a legend according to which the Vasishtha Dharma-sutra was considered either to be a work composed by the Rishi Vasishtha, or at least to contain the sum of his teaching on the duty of man, is indicated by several passages of the work itself. Section 4. Baudhayana Dharma-sutra is in many respects analogous to that of the Institutes of the Sacred Law, current in the schools of Apastamba and Hiranyakesin. Like the latter, it is the work of a teacher of the Black Yagur-veda, who composed manuals on all the various subdivisions of the Kalpa, and founded a Sutra-karana, which is said to exist to the present day. The Brahmanical tradition, too, acknowledges these facts, and, instead of surrounding Baudhayana's work with a halo of myths, simply states that it was originally studied by and authoritative for the followers of the Taittiriya-veda alone, and later only became one of the sources of the Sacred Law for all Brahmans.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 476 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 27.18mm | 793.78g
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1514218984
  • 9781514218983