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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

He next narrates a story in order to describe and ex plain the origin of impurity ascribed to women at certain periods.117 But in the earliest sacred literature no law can be found which sanctions such a custom. The Iranian scriptures, however, produce evidence of such a one where impurity is ascribed to women at certain times. There women are supposed to be under the influence of a fiend and hence they are ordered to be kept apart from the entire household, until the influence of the fiend has been discarded. 118

The Atharva-Veda, however, has a number of hymns for purificatory performances ; but they are of a different type. In the law-books it is in Vasishtha that we come across the notion of impurity being ascribed to women. It is here described as the sin of Brahmana-murder and, even if food is taken from her hands, the sin is transmitted to others through the food ; hence it is forbidden to take food from such a woman. The Brahmans who violated this law were regarded as Sudras. It is a custom that is still prevalent in many parts of India and especially in the South.

A man is allowed after the completion of his studies and with the permission of his preceptor, to marry a girl of his own caste, but not of the same Gotra and who is not related to him within four degrees on the motherís side and six degrees on the fatherís side.119 But, while describing the various persons who could claim inheritance, Vasishtha indicates his knowledge, of the divergence of opinion among the people of his time. Apropos of the dispute about the ownership of a son, he says, Ď There is a dispute among the wise and some say, " The son belongs to the begetter".120

This evidently refers to the lingering custom of Kshetraja children, which seems to be fast disappearing from society, for Vasishtha, like Apastamba, enjoins a close watch to be kept on women as, owing to neglect, the man might be deprived of the benefits to be derived in the life after death through the funeral oblations offered by a Son. 121

Vasishtha refers to, and himself admits into society, the twelve kinds of sons recognised by his predecessors. Thus he says,Ď Twelve kinds of sons only are noticed by the ancients. The first among these is the, son begotten by the husband him- self of his legally married wife. The second is the son of a wife who is begotten on failure of the first, of a wife or widow duly authorised there to, by a kinsman. The third is an appointed daugliter.122

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Women In The Sacred Laws
About The Dharma Sutras
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