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Women In The Sacred Laws
Kulapati's Preface The Author
Foreword Prologue
The Dharma Sutras Contemporary Evidence
The Manu - Samhita The Later Law-Books
Digest On Hindu Law Espirit Des Lois
Major Sections

THE DHARMA SUTRAS

Apastamba denies the right of offering burnt oblations to women : A female shall not offer any burnt oblation. The keynote of the more ascetic and conservative rules of the later times is first sounded by Apastamba, and they find a fuller expression in Manu and the later lawgivers. As a child of the Kali age, he discards the rules, which allowed greater freedom to women on the ground of their being unfit for the society of his time. His rules are framed to preserve the chastity of women, to limit the excessive importance given to the birth of male children and to confine the sphere of women to the household only.

But to understand Apastamba and to account for his diversions and limitations, we must turn our attention to the age in which he lived. It was an age of asceticism Buddhism was at its zenith, and the importance of conduct and morals, which Buddhism demanded and set forth, had had its repercussions on Hindu society as a whole.

Hence the laws that were hitherto considered good and beneficial to society had to be discarded as unfit, as their demoralising effect had been revealed by the influence, of such reformatory movements as Buddhism We next come to Vasishtha, a law giver belonging to the Rig-Vedic school, who has been claimed by some to be the sage Vasishtha of the Rig-Veda, on which assumption the later commentators tried to make it the most authoritative and the most ancient of all law-books, a theory that has been discarded by Western scholars on linguistic grounds.103

It has, however, been ascribed to a teacher of the Gotra of the Vasishtha of the Rig Veda. He refers in his treatise to Yama, Manu, Harita, Gautama and Baudhayana. The quotations from Manu are numerous. Harita, one of the ancient Sutra-Karas of the Black Yajur-Veda, has been referred to even by Baudhayana; Vasistha, too, refers to him.104The striking affinity of the twenty second chapter of Vasishtha to Prasna II of Baudhayana makes it probable that the former borrowed it from the latter.

There are likewise two passages of the Vishnu Smrti to be found in Vasishtha : those facts, along with others, have enabled scholars to determine his date. UP is considered to be later than Gautama and Baudhayana. He begins with a description of general rules for society; after quoting the various views prevalent in his time as to the limit of Aryavarta, 105 he proceeds to the general laws that are applicable for all.

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Women In The Sacred Laws
About The Dharma Sutras
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