By Swami Harshananda
The Nirnayasindhu of Kamalākara Bhaṭṭa (early part of the 17th century) is an authoritative and voluminous work on the dharmaśāstras belonging to the class of nibandhas or digests.
Kamalākara Bhaṭṭa was the son of Rāmakṛṣṇa Bhatta and a grandson of Nārāyaṇa Bhaṭṭa, both of whom were also great scholars. Being a person of profound erudition, Kamalākara Bhaṭṭa authored several works—more than twenty-two—of which, the Nirnayasindhu is one and perhaps, his master-piece. The other two works considered as equally famous are: Sudrakamalākara and Vivādatāndava.
The Nirnayasindhu is said to be an exposition of Kumārila Bhaṭṭa’s (8th cent.
A. D.) Vārttika on Mīmāmsā. However it is an encyclopaedic work on the dharma-śāstra subjects, divided into three paricchedas or sections.
A brief account of the contents may now be given:
On divisions of time and the right times for the performance of various
rites and vratas; the various samskāras or sacraments; consecration of images;
auspicious times for various religious actions; śrāddha; rites for sarimyāsa.
It is interesting to note that the work describes the procedure for satī or self-immolation of a widow who willingly undertakes it.
It is equally interesting and educative to learn from Kamalākara’s another work, the Sudrakamalākara, the various facilities and freedom given to the śudras, the last of the four varṇas or castes, regarding the worship of gods, observance of vratas or religious vows, allowing at least ten samskāras (sacraments), the performance of the pañcamahāyajñas (five daily sacrifices) and many other socio-religious rites.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore