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Vasiṣṭha Dharmasutras

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Significance of Vasiṣṭha Dharmasutras[edit]

Vasiṣṭha Dharmasutras is a fairly ancient work belonging to the period 300-100 B. C. Though assigned to the Kalpasutra group of the Ṛgveda there is no specific proof to conclusively prove it. One of the printed editions considered as a standard publication contains 30 chapters. Only one commentary, the Vidvanmodini by Yajñasvāmin, is available.

Contents of Vasiṣṭha Dharmasutras[edit]

The contents may be briefly summed up as follows:

  • Definition of dharma
  • Limits of Āryāvarta
  • Sins and sinners
  • Six forms of marriage
  • Four varṇas
  • Ātatāyins or criminals
  • Duties common to all varṇas
  • Four āśramas and the duties pertaining to them
  • Vedic studies
  • Permitted and forbidden food
  • Rules of adoption
  • King and administration of justice
  • Partition of property
  • Pratiloma castes
  • Certain prāyaścittas or expiations
  • Virtues of prāṇāyāma and Gāyatrīmantra as purifiers
  • Eulogy of Vedic mantras
  • Eulogy of dharma

References From and Of this Work[edit]

The work refers to several verses of the Ṛgveda. Other dharmaśāstra works like the Mitākṣarā on Yājñavalkya Smṛti by Vijñāneśvara[1] quote from this work. Vijñāneśvara[2] quote from this work. It has many things in common with the dharmasutras of Baudhayana and Gautama.


  1. He lived in A. D. 1100.
  2. Vijñāneśvara lived in A. D. 1100.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore