Viṣnudharmasutra

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Visnudharmasutra, ViSnudharmasutra, Vishnudharmasutra


Significance of Viṣṇudharmasutra

Viṣṇudharmasutra is one of the dharmaśāstra works in the form of sutras. The text as available in print at present seems to be a mixture of an earlier old part and a later part grafted on to it. The earlier prose part in the form of sutras probably belongs to the period 300 B. C. to A. D. 100. The later part in poetry may be assigned to the period A. D. 400-600.

Contents of Viṣnudharmasutra

It has 100 chapters most of them being brief or even very short. A brief synopsis of the contents may now be given:

  • The four varṇas and their dharmas
  • Duties of kings
  • Various offences and their punishments
  • Mixed castes and their off-springs
  • Death-rites and associated rules
  • Marriages including inter-marriages
  • Duties of women
  • Various sanskāras
  • Sins and expiations
  • Descriptions of various hells
  • Śrāddhas
  • Anatomy of the human body
  • Hymns of praise to Vāsudeva by Bhu[1] and Śrī[2]

Epilogue

The whole work professes to be a revelation by Lord Viṣṇu. However it seems to borrow the material from other earlier smṛtis like those of Manu and Yājñavalkya. There is a commentary called Vaijayanti by Nandapaṇḍita[3] which has been published.

References

  1. Bhu means Earth.
  2. Śrī means Lakṣmī.
  3. He lived in A. D. 1623.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore