By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Dayabhaga, DAyabhAga, Daayabhaaga
Dāyabhāga literally means 'Division of estate'. The dharmaśāstras are the law-books guiding the Hindu society over centuries and contain enough material regarding civil as well as criminal topics. The smṛtis (secondary scriptures), nibandhas (digests) and purāṇas (mythological works) are the main components of these dharmaśāstras. One of the topics that has been discussed in great detail in these works is that of division of ancestral property and the rules for inheritance. On the whole, there has been a broad twofold system prevailing in the country, for nearly a thousand years. These twofold system forms the basis of two schools following different psychologies which are:
- The Mitākṣarā school - The Mitāksarā or Rjumitāksarā is a magnificent commentary by Vijñaneśvara (12th cent. A. D.) on the ancient work Yājñavalkya Smṛti. This school is the authority accepted all over the country except in Bengal (including Bangladesh). According to the Mitākṣarā law, a son, as soon as he was born, becomes a coparcener (joint owner) with his father in the ancestral property inherited by him.
- The Dāyabhāga school - The Dāyabhāga is an independent work or a digest written by Jīmutavāhana (A. D. 1100). It has a standard commentary called Dāyatattva by Raghunandana (A. D. 1510-1580). However the Dāyabhāga school seems to be a binding authority in Bengal. In the Dāyabhāga system the son did not automatically acquire that right just by birth. The father, during his life-time, could alienate the property or give it to his children or prepare a will according to his desire. None had the right to question it. If the person passed away without issues, his widow became the owner of that property and not his brothers or other relatives.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore