Śaṅkha-likhita-dharmasutras

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Sankha-likhita-dharmasutras, ZaGkha-likhita-dharmasutras, shankha-likhita-dharmasutras


If the Śrutis[1] deal with philosophical truths and occasionally refer to ethical principles and social conduct, the smṛtis or dharmaśāstras have codified and systematized these ethical principles as best as they could.

The Sañkha-likhita-dharmasutras is one such ancient work. It might have existed during the period 300 B. C. to A. D. 100. Śaṇkha and Likhita were brothers known for their pure life and uncompromising rectitude. The Dharmasutra work attributed to them is not available now. From other sources which have quoted it, we can presume that it was a work in prose in the sutra form.

The following works available now in print may be considered as the redacted condensations of the ancient original work:

Sañkhasmrti 330 verses in 18 chapters
Likhitasmrti 93 verses
Laghuśañkhasmrti 71 verses
Sañkhalikhitasmrti 32 verses


Out of these, the first seems to be the oldest of the extant works. Many well-known authors of dharmaśāstras have quoted passages from Sañkha or Śaṅkha-likhita or Likhita. Not much is known about the actual contents of this ancient work. However, this work seems to have been more liberal in its social attitudes like allowing niyoga[2] and permitting a brāhmaṇa to marry girls from all the four varṇas.


References

  1. Śrutis means Vedas.
  2. Niyoga means levirate.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore