Talk:The Dharmasutra of Gautama

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The edition of Dharmasutra of Gautama along with the commentary of Haradatta and the Mysore Government edition with the bhāsya of Maskari; was translated by Buhler in S. B. E., Vol. II. with an introduction. The Anandasraraa edition of 1910 which is incorrect in a few places ( e. g. 21. 7 ) has been used in this work. This dharmasiitra is, as we shall see, the oldest of those we have. The Gautama-dharmasiitra was specially studied by followers of the Samaveda (see note 5 5 above). The com- t mentary on the Caranavyiiha tells us that Gautama was one of the nine subdivisions of the Ranayaniya school of the Samaveda. A teacher Gautama is mentioned frequently in the Latyayana-srantasiltra (e. g. 1. 3. 3 and I. 4. 17 ) and in the Drahyayanasrauta (e. g. I. 4. 17, IX. 3. 15) of the Samaveda.

The Gobhilagrhya (III. 10. 6) wliich belongs to the Samaveda cites Gautama as an authority. Therefore it is not improbable that a complete Gautamasutra embody- ing Srauta, Grhya and Dharma doctrines once existed. There are other indications pointing to the close connection of the Gautama- dharmasutra with the Samaveda. Chapter 26 of the dharmasutra about penance is the same, almost word for word, as the .Samavidhana'’ Brahmana ( I. 2, Burnell’s ed. ). Among the purificatory texts ( 2t in number ) mentioned in Cau. Dh. S. ( 19. 12 ) there are nine that arc Samans. The mention of the five utterances (N'yahnis) resembles the number in the Vj’ahrtisama®” though ilie order is different. It is however to be noted that Gautama is a generic name. In the Kathopanisad, both Naciketas[1] and his father[2] arc styled Gautama. In the Chandogyopanisad there is a teacher Haridrumata Gautama[3]

There are however considerable divergences; e. g. q-, 26. 10-12 are i -white the contains many additions. Wherever there is divergence, it is generally Gautama that amplifies the passages found in the nr. n. n. I- 52 stTfetn: rrar nrnF?n;. *“ *n. n. n. 25. 8 we' have nRiRrrj ni. *8. 8. the snifW® s®®™ he As remarks the five inWR *f® gn:, The 5 q|||(%s are generally declared to be seven ^ 10. the first three being styled.

According to Haradatta the dharmasutra has 28 chapters. The Calcutta edition adds one chapter on Kanmvipitka after chapter 19. In many places Gautama unmistakably refers to his own previous dicta ; c. g. Yathoktam va (23. 16 ) refers to 23. 10 ; 23. 26 refers to 17. 8-26 ; 17. 18 refers to 15. 18. The following are briefly the contents of the Gautamadharmasutra : —

  1. Sources of dharma, rules /about interpretation of texts, time of Upniniymia for the four vanjas, the appropriate girdle, deer skin, cloth and staff for each Varna, rules about huca and acamana, method of approaching the teacher
  2. Rules about those not invested with sacred thread, rules for the hmhmaalriu, control of pupils, period of study
  3. The four asramas, the duties of brahiiuictlriit, hlukfii, and viiikh&misa
  4. Rules about the house-holder, marriage, age at time of marriage, eight forms of marriage, sub-castes
  5. Rules about sexual intercourse on marriage, the five great daily sacrifices, the rewards of gifts, niadhuparka, method of honouring guests of the several castes
  6. Rules about showing respect to parents, relatives ( male and female) and teachers, rules of the road
  7. Rules about the avocations of a briihmana, avocations for him in distress, s\ hat articles a brahmana could not sell or deal in ; 8 the forty saiiiskaras and the eight spiritual qualities ( such as daya, forbearance ike. )
  8. The observances for a snataka and householder
  9. The peculiar duties of the four castes, the responsibilities of the king, taxation, sources of ownership, treasure-trove, guardianship of minor’s wealth
  10. Rajadharma, the qualities of the king’s piirohita
  11. Punishments for libel, abuse, assault, hurt, adulter)' and rape, theft in the case of the several varnas and rules about money-lending and usury and pos.scssion, special privileges of brfihmanas as to punishments; payment of debts, deposits
  12. Rules about witnesses, falsehoods when excusable
  13. Rules of impurity on birth and death
  14. Sriiddha of five kinds, persons not fit to be invited at Sraddha
  15. Upakarma, period of Vedic study in the ycai, holidays and occasions for them
  16. Rules about food allowed and forbidden to Brahmanas and other castes
  17. The duties of women, niyoga and its conditions, discussion about the son born of niyoga
  18. The causes and occasions of prayascitta, five things that remove sin ( japa, tapas, Imia, fasting, gifts ), purifi- catory Vedic prayers, holy food for one who practises /apa, various kinds of tapas and gifts, appropriate times and places for japa
  19. Abanii^ning a sinner who does not undergo prayascitta and the way pf doing it
  20. Sinners of various grades, mahapaukas, upapatakas
  21. Pryascittas for various sins such as hrahmahatyay adultery, killing a Ksatriya, Vaisya, Sudra, cow and other animals
  22. Prayascitta for drinking wine, and nasty things, for incest and unnatural offences, and for several transgressions by brahmacarin
  23. Secret pniyakittas for muhapatalzas and upap&tahts
  24. The penances called Krcchra and Atikrcclira
  25. The penance called Candra- yana
  26. Partition, stridhana, reunion, twelve kinds of sons, inheritance

The Gautama-dharmasutra is written entirely in prose and it contains no verses either quoted or composed by the author him- self, as is the case with the other dharmasulras. Here and there occur sutras that look like portions of Anustubh verses e.g. 23. 27^*. The language of Gauuiina agrees for more closely with the standard set up by Paiiini than the dbctrmasntras of Baiulhayana and Apastamba. It is not very easy to account for this difference. It is obvious that commentators and generations of students that were brought up in the tradition of the Paninean grammar tampered with the text and improved it in accordance with their notions of correct Sanskrit. But why this process should not have been carried out to the same extent in the case of Apastamba it is diflicult to say. A conjecture may be hazarded that the Ap. l)h. S. being a well-knit component of the Ap. Kalpa and being studied as such was less liable 10 being tampered with than the Gautama Dh. S., whicli probably did not in its origin belong to any particular kalpa.

The same commentator, IJaradatta, explained both Gautama and Apastamba. ilaradatta, who as will be seen later on, was a great grammarian, shows in several , places that the current reading was ungrammatical from the Paniiiean stand-point and that he preferred readings that were in consonance with Panini's rules^^. There are still a few un-Paninean words, e. g. in i . 14 (‘dvaviiiisateb’ for dvavim-sat’ ) and 9. 52 ( kulamkula ). The Tantravartika ( p. 99 ) appears 62 e. g. on ^ 16. 21 ( ^ ‘ Sistory of Dharmasastrd to discuss the various readings in Gautama ( I. 45*’* ). A few suiras quoted from Gautama in the Mitaksara ( e. g. the sutra ‘ utpatyaiva arthsvamitvam labhantc), the^miticandrika ( dvyamsam va purvajah and other works arc not found in the extant text. This iact along with the fact of an interpolation of one chapter makes it clear that the present text of Gautama is of somewhat doubtful authority. The literature known to the Gautama-dharmasutra was extensive. Besides the Vedic sariihitas and Brahmanas it mentions the follo^^•ing works ; Upanisads (19.13), the Vcdiiiigas (8.5 and 11. 19), Itihasa (8. 6), Purana (8.6 and ii. 19), Upaveda (11. 19), dharmsastra ( ii. 19 ). That he borrows a chapter from the Sama- vidhana-brahmana has been mentioned above. He borrows the first six sutras of the 25th chapter from the Taittiriya Aranyaka (11.18).

The sramanaka ( in Gautama 111 . 26 ) is, according to Haradatia, the Vaikhanasa-siistra ( cither composed by Vikhanas or treating ol the duties of hermits ). Gautama refers to Anviksiki ( XI. 3 ). The only teacher o( tlhitniia lie quotes by name in Manu ( in 21. 7 ) who is cited for the proposition that there is no expiation for the three sins of brahmahatyii, drinking wine and violation of the bed of the guru. Haradatta says that in the extant Manusmrti the same propositions are laid down about brahumixitya and siirapuiia ( in Manu II. 89 and 146 respectively), but that as to violation of talpn a passage from the Manusmriti has to be searched out (i.e. such a passage is not found tliere ). From this Biihlcr drew the conclusion tliat Gautama refers to the dharmasutra attributed to Manu ( and not to any versified Manu-smrti ). But Btihler is not right in drawing this inference. In the first place in spite of what Haradatta says there (ire verses in the e.xtant Manusmriti (XI. 104-105) which say that death is the expiation for violation of the guru’s bed. In the second place there is nothing to show, even if Haradatta -were correct, that Gautama refers only to a dhunuasiitra of Manu and not to a versified work. Besides Manu, Gautama frequently quotes certain views ascribed to the ‘ Acaryas’ ( e. g. III. 35, IV. 18 ). What teachers are meant by the word ‘ Acaryafi ’ ( which occurs in the Niru kta, in Kaufilya and various other works ), it is difficult to say. 63 It follows from the discussion in the that the ancient pUfka in its day was ‘ ’ while the present text has 5

Probably the word means ‘the general traditional view of most writers in that particular sastra on a particular point/ In numerous places Gautama refers to the views of his predecessors in the words ‘ eke ’ (2. 15, 40 and 56, 3. I, 4. 17, 7. 23 &c. ) and ‘ ekesam ’ ( 28. 17 and 38 ). This proves that Gautama was preceded by great literary activity in the sphere of dharniasastra. Gautama ii. 28 seems to be a reminiscence of the Nirukta ( II. 3 y-K The earliest reference to Gautama as an author on dharma occurs in the Baudhayanadharmasiitra. Baudbayana discusses the au- thoritativeness of usages peculiar to the north or the south and quotes Gautama as saying that it is wrong to hold that certain customs must be held authoritative in certain countries ( even though opposed to Vedic tradition and smrti ). This refers to G. Dh. S. ii. 20. In another place Baudhayana gives it as his view that a Brahmana, if he cannot make a living by teaching, officiating as a priest or by gifts, should earn his livelihood as a Ksatriya and quotes the views of Gautama as opposed to this^^. The extant Gautama on the other hand teaches the same view as that of Baudhayana^'^'. Buhler made the plausible suggestion that the siitra in the extant Gautama is an interpolation. Govindasvami, the commentator of Baudhayana, suggests that another Gautama is referred to by Baudhayana. It is possible to suggest that in the Ms. of Gautama used by Baudhayana the sutra about living as a Ksiilriya did not occur and the next sCitra about living as a Vaisj^a alone occurred. Chapter 19 of the Gautama- dharinasutra which forms an introduction to prayascitlas in Gautama seems to have been borrowed wholesale by Baudhayana (III. 10) with slight changes.

That BaudhajMua borrows follows from the fact that the chapter in Baudhayana occurs in the middle of the discussion about prayascittas and not as an introduction, which is the case in Gautama. Baudhayana treats of penances in several places ( II. i, There are besides many sutras in both Gautama and Baudhayana that exhibit a close correspondence, e. g. The hae Gautama 111 . 25-3^ and Baudhayana 11 . 6. 17 about Vaikhanasa, Gain. 3. 3 and 35 and Baud. 11 . 6. 29, Gaut. 15. 29 and Baud. 11 . 8. 2, Gaut. 23. 8-10 and Baud. II. i. 12-14, Gaut. 24. 2 and Baud. II . 3. 8. The Ap. Dll. S. 11 . 6. 15. 25 speaks of Smrti as laying down lliat up to iilHUiaymui tlicrc is no adhihUrn for homa. This probably refers to (jautama II. 1-3. 'I’he Vasisthadharmasutra also quotes ihe views of Cbuitnma in two places ( 4. 34 and 36, impurity on death ). 'I'hc first refers to Gautama 4. q i but the second cannot be traced in the extant (iautania. Chapter 22 of Vasistha is borrowed iVom the (kuiiamadharinasutra, chapter 19. There are besides many siitras that are the same or almost the same in Gautama and Wisisflia, e. Ciaiiiama 3. ^1-33 and Vas. 9. 1-3, Gaut. 3. 26 and \ as. n. 10, Gain. 1 . and \^is. 3. 37, Gaut. i. 40 and Vas. 3. 38, Gain. I. .|i”i6 and \as. 3. q8, Gaut. i. 28 and Vas. 3. 49, Gaut.

I |. <)-7 and \’as. j. 2,1-26. (kuitama is referred to in the Manusmrti (111. 16) as the son of Utathya. Gautama is one of the authors oi Lil)itnm}sii.slras enumerated in Yajhavalkya (I. 5). Apararka quotes a verso from the Bhavisyapurana which speaks of Gautama^ prohibition about drinkinit^. Similarly Kulluka ( on Manu XI. 146) (]uotcs a verse from the same Puriina which refers to Gautama 23.2. Kumarila in his 'lantraNartika quotes over a dozen sutras from Gautama which present the same text as we havc^^. Gautama ii. 29 and 12. 4 are quoted by Saiiikara in his hhd^ya on Vedantasutra III . I. 8 and [. 5. 38 respectively. Visvarupa in his commentary on Yajhavalkya queues numerous sutras from Gautama. In Medha- tilhi's A/.v6mv/ on Manu tiie writer more frequently quoted than any other is (iauiama ( e. g. on Manu 11 . 6, VIII. 125 &c.).

The foregoing discussion about tlie literature known to the Gautama Dli. S. and the authors and works that mention Gautama or quote the dharmasutra helps us in arriving at the approximate age of the dharmasutra. lie is separated by a long interval from the Saniavidhana lhahmana. lie is later than Yaska and wrote at a time \\ ]icn lYinini’s system was either not in existence or had not attained a pre-eminent position. The extant text was known to Baudhayana and \ asistha and was in the same state long before 700 A. D. The sutra betrays no knowledge of the onslaught delivered on Brahma quoted by P* 68 Vide JBBRA8 vol. 1 ( new series ) for 1925, pp. 66-67,

B. The Dhamwmitra of Gautama nisra by Buddha and his followers. He uses die lerni bhiksu ( 3. 10) instead of the term parivrajaka that occurs in Baudhayana, Apastamba and other siitra works and lays down that a Mnk^u is to stay in one place in the rains, which reminds one of the Buddhist ‘ bhikkhu ’ and ‘ Vasso’. Gautama cites the opinion of some that Yavana is the offspring of a Ksatriya male and a Sudra female (4. 17 ). It is supposed by many scholars that the Yavanas became known to the Indians only at the time of Alexander’s invasion and hence every work in which the word ydvniiii occurs must be laier than 320 B. C. Biihler ( S. B. li. vol. 11 . Intro, ) seems to suggest that the sutra where the word Yavana occurs in Gautama may be an interpolation. This is not a satisfactory explanation. One may ask, if Buhler believes that the Indians borrowed their alphabet centuries before Alexander from the . neighbours of the Greeks, why it is improbable that the Indians may not have heard of the word Yavana centuries before Alexander and why Yavanas iiiav not have resided In India long before that date. Taking all these things into consideration the Gautama-dharmasutra cannot be placed later than the period between 600-400 B. C. Haradatta wrote a learned commentary on the Gatitama-dharma- sutra called Mitaksara. For an account vidt> sec. 87 below , in numerous places he quotes the explanations of other commentators of Gautama ( e. g. i). 52; 10. 12, 56, 66; n . 17 ; 12. 3.1 ; 21 . 9 :<.c. ).

The bhdfya of Maskari, son of \’aniana, is also a learned one, but may probably be later than Harailatta, since the interpretations v, hich he quotes as given by others are found to he those of Haradatta (vide on Gaut. 12. 30, 13. 20-22). Asahaya seems to have written a bhdsyii on Gautama ; vich' sec. 54 below. The Mitaksara, the Smrticandrika, Hemadri, Miidhava, and other writers quote a sloka-Gautama. Fhh’ Para.sara-Madhavl\'a, vol. I, part I, p. 7. Apararka, Hemadri and Madhava quote Vrddha- Gautama, while the Dattakamimariisa ( p. 72 ) quotes Vrddha-Gaut. and Brhad-Gaut. side by side on the same point. These are later works. Jivananda publishes a smrti of Vrddha-Gautama in 22 chapters and about 1700 verses ( part II, pp. .397-656 ), where it is said that Yudhisthira asked Krsna about tl.e iHurr.iis of i!;e lour castes. This smrti seems to have been originally taken from the A^vamedhikaparva of the Mahabh.^rata, as Madhava and others cite 30 verses occurring in it as from that parva ( vide Para^aramadhaviya vol, I, part I, pp. 108-110).

Ad/Cr Mr. Batakrishna wrote, in Indian Historical Quarterly (volume Ill for 1927, p. 607), an exhaustive note on the mutual relations of Gautama, Baudhayana and Apastamba. He holds that Gautama is not the oldest extant author, that Apastamba and Gautama stand in the same relation as Manu and Yajnavalkya, that Baudhayana dharmasutra is not older than Apastambadharmasutra, that the reference to the views of some in Gautama 15. 30 may easily be to Apastamba Dharmasutra II. 7. 21. Some of the reasons on which he relics for these views have already been examined in the body of the work. That the extant sutra of Gautama has been in some places revised may be admitted; but that Gautama as an author on dharma preceded Apastamba’s work cannot be denied. There is nothing of chronological value so far as Gautama is concerned in Apastamba’s rejection of the view of Svetaketu that even a married man should continue Veda-study. That Apastamba says nothing about mixed castes is on a par with his silence as to niyoga and the secondary sons. Apastamba knew the lowest castes such as Candala and Paulkasa and Vaina ( Apastamba Dharmasutra S. 11. 1. 2. 6 ). As to beef-eating allowed by Apastamba, ide p. 45 of text and Satapatha Brahmana ( Satapatha Brahamana B. E. vol.26 p. II) where beef-eating is not allowed to a dikshita. Doctors of law were not agreed on many points of dharma and hence no certain chronological conclusion about individual authors can be drawn merely from their views on certain points. It is not correct to say as Mr. Ghose does that Apastamba knows no fines for crimes. Apastamba does say that in case of dispute between litigants elders were to decide, that in case of doubt they were to decide by inference or divine proof, that witnesses were to tell the truth and that if the witnesses were found to be false they were to be fined (II. ii. 29. 5-8 ). This shows that fines were not unheard of in Apastamba’s days and if he omits a statement the reason must be sought for elsewhere than in his being prior to all dharmasutras. Fines for crimes are as old as the Taittiriya Samhita II. 6. I0. 2

After the words ‘the sutra is in close relation to one of the oldest schools of the Yajurveda, viz. Kafha’ the following should be added ‘ Vacaspati in his Sraddha- kalpa alias Pitrbhaktitarangini says that the siitra of Visnu is meant for students of the Katha.s.ikha, as Visnu is a sfitra- kara of tliat ^akha’ ; *IT flit ttftpasnfe'R ^ of in the India Ollicc, folio 17a ( 1 . O. p. 556 No. 1750 ). The siitra referred to is 86. 9. Sec. II p. 71 Vide Ind. Ant. vol. 25 for 1896 pp. 147-48 for an account of the ms. of the 1 laritadharinasutra found by the late Pandit Vaman Sastri Islampurkar.

Synopsis Gautama’s is the oldest extant dharmasutra - specially studied by followers of Samaveda - Gautama one of the nine subdivisions of the Ranayaniya school of Samaveda - Gautamadharmasutra points to close connection with Samaveda - Gautama refers to his own previous dicta - contents of 28 chapters of Gautamadharmasutra - the work is entirely in prose - Gautama’s language agrees more with Panini’s rules than Apastamba’s - explanation of this - Haradatu prefers Paiiinian readings of Gautamti’s text - some sUtras of Gautama quoted in the Mitaksara and other works not found in extant text - extent of literature known to Gautama - the only author named is Manu - the meaning of ‘ScarySh’ whose views are cited by Gautama - earliest reference to Gautama on dharma is in Baudhayana- dharmasutra - BaudhUyana ( III. 10) borrows chap. 19 of Gautama - close correspondence between many other sutras of Gautama and Baudhayana - Vasistha ( 4. 34 and 36 ) refers to views of Gautama -Vasi§tha’s 22nd chap, is borrowed from 19th of Gautama - many sutras the same in Gautama and Vasistha - Gautama referred to by Manu as son of Utathya - Gautama referred to by Yajnavalkya, Bhavisyapurana, Kumarila, Saihkaracarya, MedharitW “ Gautapia’s reference to Yavava - probable age between 600 – 400 B. c. - Haradatta and Maskarin commented on Gautama - Asahaya also did so - sloka - Gautama and Vrddha.


  1. Kathopanisad II. 4. 15, II. 5. 6
  2. Kathopanisad I. i. 10
  3. Kathopanisad IV- 4- 3 59