Hārīta

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Harita, HArIta, Haarita


Hārīta in Mahābhārata

Hārita is an ancient sage mentioned by Bhīṣma in the Mahābhārata[1] who had taught gītā, now famous as the Hārītagītā. It has 22 verses. It describes the code of conduct for a sanyāsins. It can be summarized as follows:

  • A sādhaka or a mumukṣu[2] should first renounce the world and take to the sanyāsis life.
  • He should not find fault with others.
  • He should be friendly and kind towards all.
  • He should bear with fortitude all insults that may be hurled at him by others.
  • He should approach the householders for alms after they have finished their food.
  • He should eat just enough to keep the body and the soul together.
  • He should resort to lonely places for contemplation on the ātman.
  • He should practise self-control at all the times.
  • He should be broad-minded, always detached from the things of the world and never harm anybody.
  • A person practicing all these would attain the world of light, the highest Abode.

Hārīta, an Author of Dharmasutras

Hārīta is also the name of a famous writer of dharmasutras who has often been quoted by other ancient authors like Āpastamba and Vasiṣṭha as an authority. Though his time is not known, he existed long before A. D. 600. From the profuse quotations given by other writers of the dharmaśāstras, some scholars have even tried to rebuild his lost work. The Dharmasutras of Hārīta was definitely an extensive work, in prose and verses. The topics as gleaned from the quotations given in other works are as follows:

  • Sources of dharma
  • Two kinds of brahmacārins
  • The snātaka
  • The gṛhastha - house-holder
  • The vānaprasthin - forest hermit
  • Injunctions and prohibitions about food
  • Aśauca - ceremonial impurity
  • Śrāddha - obsequial rites
  • Pañcamahāyajñas - five daily sacrifices
  • Vedic studies
  • Statecraft
  • Court procedures
  • Sins and expiations
  • Prayers
  • Etc.

Classification of Women

Hārīta refers to two kinds of women:

  1. Brahmavādinīs
  2. Sadyovadhus

The former were entitled for upanayana, Vedic studies and keeping the sacred fire.

Hārīta Works

Two works are mentioned by some writers like Aparārka (12th century A. D.). They are:

  1. Laghu-Hārīta
  2. Vrddha-Hārīta

References

  1. Śāntiparva chapter 278
  2. Mumukṣu is the one who is desirous of liberation.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore