Yājñavalkya Smṛti

The Yajnavalkya Smriti (IAST: Yājñavalkya Smṛti) is one of the many Dharma-related texts of Hinduism composed in Sanskrit. It is dated to between the 3rd to 5th-century CE, and belongs to the Dharmasastras tradition.[1] The text was composed after the Manusmriti, but like it and Naradasmriti, the text was composed in shloka (poetic meter) style.[2] The legal theories within the Yajnavalkya Smriti are presented in three books, namely achara-kanda (customs), vyavahara-kanda (judicial process) and prayascitta-kanda (crime and punishment, penance).[3]

The text is the "best composed" and systematic specimen of this genre, with large sections on judicial process theories, one which had greater influence in medieval India's judiciary practice than Manusmriti.[4][5][6] It later became influential in the studies of legal process in ancient and medieval India, during the colonial British India, with the first translation published in German in 1849.[7] The text is notable for its differences in legal theories from Manusmriti, for being more liberal and humane, and for extensive discussions on evidence and judiciousness of legal documents.[8]

Date

The text most likely dates to the Gupta period, between roughly the 3rd and 5th centuries of the common era. There is some debate as to whether it is to be placed in the earlier or later part of that time span.[note 1] Patrick Olivelle suggests the likely date may be in the 4th to 5th-century CE.[1]

Arguments for particular dating are based on the concise, sophisticated vocabulary found throughout the text and on the use of certain terms such as nāṇaka (a coin), and references to Greek astrology (which has been known in India since the 2nd century; see Yavanajataka). The argument arises when considerations are made as to who was exchanging the nāṇaka and when the level of Greek thought which the author understood is brought into question.[9]

Author

The text is named after the revered Vedic sage Yajnavalkya who appears in many major Upanishads of Hinduism as well as other influential texts such as the Yoga Yajnavalkya.[11] However, the text was composed more than a millennium after his life, and likely attributed to him out of respect, as has been common in the Hindu traditions.[11]

The text was likely composed in the Mithila region of historic India (in and around modern Bihar).[8]

Structure

The text is in classical Sanskrit, and is organized in three books. These are achara-kanda (368 verses), vyavahara-kanda (307 verses) and prayascitta-kanda (335 verses).[3][6] The Yājñavalkya Smṛti consists of a cumulative total of 1,010 ślokas (verses), and its presentation is methodical, clear and concise instead of the poetic "literary beauty" found in Manusmriti according to Robert Lingat.[6]

Ludo Rocher states that this treatise, like others in Dharmasastras genre, is a scholarly tradition on Dharma rather than a Law book, as understood in the western languages.[12] In contrast, Robert Lingat states that the text is closer to presenting legal philosophy and a transition from being Dharma speculations found in earlier Dharma-related texts.[12]

Content

The text is laid out as a frame story in which the sages of Mithila approach Yājñavalkya and ask him to teach them dharma.[13] The text opens its reply by reverentially mentioning ancient Dharma scholars, and asserting in verses 1.4-5 that the following each have written a Dharmasastra (most of these are lost to history) – Manu, Atri, Visnu, Harita, Yajnavalkya, Ushanas, Angiras, Yama, Apastamba, Samvarta, Katyayana, Brihaspati, Parashara, Vyasa, Samkha, Likhita, Daksha, Gautama, Shatatapa and Vashistha.[14][15] The rest of the text is Yājñavalkya's theories on dharma, presented under Ācāra (proper conduct), Vyavahāra (criminal law) and Prāyaścitta (expiation).

The Yajnavalkya Smriti extensively quotes the Manu Smriti and other Dharma-texts, sometimes directly paraphrasing passages from these, often reducing earlier views into a compendium and offering an alternate legal theory.[16] There are influential differences from the Manu Smriti and earlier Dharma texts, especially with regard to statecraft, the primary of attested documentary evidence in legal process, and in jurisprudence.[17]

1. Pioneered the structure which was adopted in future dharmaśāstric discourse:[19]

a)Divided dharma into fairly equally weighted categories of:
b)Subdivided these three further by specific topics within the major subject heading.

2. Documentary evidence as the highest foundation of Legal Procedure:[19]

Yājñavalkya portrayed evidence as hierarchical, with attested documents receiving the highest consideration, followed by witnesses, and finally ordeals (five types of verifiable testimony).[20][21]

3. Restructured the Courts:[22]

Yājñavalkya distinguished between courts appointed by the king and those which were formed by communities of intermediate groups. He then portrayed these courts as a part of a system of hierarchical appeals.

4. Changed the placement of the discussion of Ascetic Orders:[22]

Forest hermits and renouncers are discussed within the section regarding penance (prāyaścitta). In previous texts, description of ascetics followed the discussion of Brahmins and framed them in opposition to householder Brahmins. The placement of ascetic orders within penance remained in subsequent texts following the general acceptance of the Yājñavalkya Smṛti.

5. Focused on Mokṣa:[22]

Increased attention was given to a description of Mokṣa, dwelling on meditation and the transience of the worldly body. There is even an in-depth, technical discourse based on a medical treatise of the time.

Commentary

Five medieval era bhasya (review and commentaries) on Yajnavalkya Smrti have survived into the modern era.[23] These are by Visvarupa (Bālakrīḍā, 750-1000 CE), Vijanesvara (Mitaksara, 11th or 12th century, most studied, from the Varanasi school), Apararka (Apararka-nibandha, 12th-century, from the Kashmir school), Sulapani (Dipakalika, 14th or 15th century) and Mitramisra (Viramitrodaya, 17th-century).[23][24]

Influence

The legal theories in this text were likely very influential in medieval India, because its passages and quotes are found inscribed in every part of India, and these inscriptions are dated to be from around 10th to 11th century CE.[25][26] The text is also widely commented upon, and referenced in popular works such as the 5th-century Panchatantra.[25] The text is profusely quoted in chapters 253-258 of the extant manuscripts of the Agni Purana, and in chapters 93-106 of the Garuda Purana.[26][27]

Notes

  1. ^ Patrick Olivelle suggests the latter part of this timeframe, while PV Kane favored an earlier date.

References

  1. ^ a b Patrick Olivelle 2006, p. 176 with note 24.
  2. ^ Patrick Olivelle 2005, p. 20.
  3. ^ a b Patrick Olivelle 2006, p. 188.
  4. ^ Robert Lingat 1973, p. 98.
  5. ^ Timothy Lubin, Donald R. Davis Jr & Jayanth K. Krishnan 2010, pp. 59-72.
  6. ^ a b c Mandagadde Rama Jois 1984, p. 31.
  7. ^ Robert Lingat 1973, p. 97.
  8. ^ a b Mandagadde Rama Jois 1984, pp. 31-32.
  9. ^ Winternitz 1986, pp. 599-600.
  10. ^ Mandagadde Rama Jois 1984, p. 300.
  11. ^ a b Robert Lingat 1973, pp. 97-98.
  12. ^ a b Ludo Rocher 2014, pp. 22-24.
  13. ^ Timothy Lubin, Donald R. Davis Jr & Jayanth K. Krishnan 2010, p. 44.
  14. ^ Timothy Lubin, Donald R. Davis Jr & Jayanth K. Krishnan 2010, p. 51.
  15. ^ Benoy Kumar Sarkar (1985). Hindu Sociology. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 192. ISBN 978-81-208-2664-9.
  16. ^ Charles Drekmeier (1962). Kingship and Community in Early India. Stanford University Press. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-8047-0114-3.
  17. ^ Timothy Lubin, Donald R. Davis Jr & Jayanth K. Krishnan 2010, p. 45.
  18. ^ SC Vidyarnava (1938), Yajnavalkya Smriti, Book 1, verse III.LXXXII, page 163
  19. ^ a b Olivelle, "Literary History," p. 21
  20. ^ Timothy Lubin, Donald R. Davis Jr & Jayanth K. Krishnan 2010, pp. 45-46.
  21. ^ Mandagadde Rama Jois 1984, pp. 300-302.
  22. ^ a b c Olivelle, "Literary History," p. 22
  23. ^ a b Sures Chandra Banerji (1999). A Brief History of Dharmaśāstra. Abhinav Publications. pp. 72–75. ISBN 978-81-7017-370-0.
  24. ^ Ludo Rocher (2008). Gavin Flood (ed.). The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. John Wiley & Sons. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-470-99868-7.
  25. ^ a b Mandagadde Rama Jois 1984, p. 32.
  26. ^ a b John Mayne 1991, pp. 21-22.
  27. ^ Sures Chandra Banerji (1999). A Brief History of Dharmaśāstra. Abhinav Publications. pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-81-7017-370-0.

Bibliography

Further reading

  • Yajnavalkya (2019). Patrick Olivelle (ed.). Yajnavalkya - A Treatise on Dharma. Murty Classical Library of India 20. Translated by Patrick Olivelle. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-27706-9.

External links

Bhāruci

Bhāruci's commentary (bhashya) on the Manu Smrti, or Laws of Manu, is part of the corpus of Dharmaśāstra texts available to us today. It is the oldest commentary on Manu that we know of, and is one of the sources used by Medhātithi, another major commentator on the Manu Smṛti.

Dhupa

Dhupa (धुप) is, in Indian religions (such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, etc.), the ritual offering of incense during puja to an image of a deity, or other object of veneration. It is also the Sanskrit word for incense or perfume itself.

The Thai language also borrows this word from Sanskrit to call joss sticks or incense sticks, by omitting "a" in the word Dhupa. So, the word retains the Sanskrit form when it is written in the Thai alphabet as "Dhup" (ธูป). However, Sanskrit's ⟨dh⟩ ([dʱ]) is pronounced as an aspirated [tʰ] in Thai so that the word is normally pronounced or transliterated as "Thup" ( [tʰûːp]). Incense burning before images, in temples and during prayer practice is also found in many parts of Asia, among followers of Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Taoism.

The very idea of offering dhupa is personified in the dakini Dhupa, who is said in the Bardo Thödol to appear on the third day.

Durbalnath

Saint Durbalnath was an nineteenth century Indian Hindu saint. He was born at "Bichgaav" of Alwardistrict in Rajasthan. Durbalnath ji is considered as"kulguru" of Hindu Khatik community. Many temples of Durbalnath ji are situated all across India, but the most famous temple is situated at Bandikui town of dausa district in Rajasthan. Every year "Gyanoprakash mahautsav" is celebrated on Kartik purnima at Bandikui temple.

Ekakshara Upanishad

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History of Indian cuisine

The history of Indian cuisine consists of cuisine from the Indian subcontinent, which is rich and diverse. As a land that has experienced extensive immigration and intermingling through many millennia, the Indian subcontinent has benefited from numerous food influences. The diverse climate in the region, ranging from deep tropical to alpine, has also helped considerably broaden the set of ingredients readily available to the many schools of cookery in India. In many cases, food has become a marker of religious and social identity, with varying taboos and preferences (for instance, a segment of the Jain population consume no roots or subterranean vegetable; see Jain vegetarianism) which has also driven these groups to innovate extensively with the food sources that are deemed acceptable.

One strong influence over Indian foods is the longstanding vegetarianism within sections of India's Hindu and Jain communities. At 31%, slightly less than a third of Indians are vegetarians.

Jabali Upanishad

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List of ancient Indian writers

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Mahavakya Upanishad

The Mahavakya Upanishad (Sanskrit: महावाक्य उपनिषत्, IAST: Mahāvākya Upaniṣad) is a Sanskrit text and one of the minor Upanishads of Hinduism. It is attached to the Atharvaveda, and is classified as one of the 20 Yoga Upanishads.

The text describes the nature of Atman (self, soul) and Brahman (ultimate reality), then asserts that they are identical and liberation is the state of fully understanding this identity.

Mitākṣarā

The Mitākṣarā is a vivṛti (legal commentary) on the Yajnavalkya Smriti best known for its theory of "inheritance by birth." It was written by Vijñāneśvara, a scholar in the Western Chalukya court in the late eleventh and early twelfth century. Along with the Dāyabhāga, it was considered one of the main authorities on Hindu Law from the time the British began administering laws in India. The entire Mitākṣarā, along with the text of the Yājñavalkya-smṝti, is approximately 492 closely printed pages.

Mukhya Upanishads

Mukhya Upanishads, also known as Principal Upanishads, are the most ancient and widely studied Upanishads of Hinduism. Composed between 800 BCE to the start of common era, these texts are connected to the Vedic tradition. While some early colonial era Indology listed 10 Upanishads as Mukhya Upanishads, most scholars now consider the Principal Upanishads to be thirteen.

Īśā (IsUp), Yajurveda

Kena (KeUp), Samaveda

Kaṭha (KaUp), Yajurveda

Praṣna (PrUp), Atharvaveda

Muṇḍaka (MuUp), Atharvaveda

Māṇḍūkya (MaUp), Atharvaveda

Taittirīya (TaiUp), Yajurveda

Aitareya, (AiUp), Rigveda

Chāndogya (ChhUp), Samaveda

Bṛhadāraṇyaka (BṛUp), Yajurveda

Shvetashvatara Upanishad

Kaushitaki Upanishad

Maitri UpanishadThe first ten of the above Principal Upanishads were commented upon by the 8th century scholar, Adi Shankara. The adjective mukhya means "principal", "chief", or "primary". The Mukhya Upanishads are accepted as śruti by all Hindus, or the most important scriptures of Hinduism.The Principal Upanishads (1953) by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan gives the text and English translation of a total of eighteen Upanishads, including the 13 listed by Hume (1921), plus Subāla, Jābāla, Paiṅgala, Kaivalya, Vajrasūcikā (Muktika nos. 30, 13, 59, 12 and 36).

Puruṣārtha

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Rajas

Rajas (Sanskrit: रजस्) is one of the three Guṇas (tendencies, qualities, attributes), a philosophical and psychological concept developed by the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy. The other two qualities are Sattva (goodness, balance) and Tamas (destruction, chaos). Rajas is innate tendency or quality that drives motion, energy and activity.Rajas is sometimes translated as passion, where it is used in the sense of activity qua activity, without any particular value and it can contextually be either good or bad. Rajas helps actualize the other aforementioned two gunas.

Sattva

Sattva (Sanskrit: सत्त्व) is one of the three guṇas or "modes of existence" (tendencies, qualities, attributes), a philosophical and psychological concept developed by the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy. The other two qualities are rajas (passion and activity) and tamas (destruction, chaos). Sattva is the quality of goodness, positivity, truth, serenity, balance, peacefulness, and virtuousness that is drawn towards Dharma and Jnana (knowledge).

Savitri Upanishad

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Shrivatsa

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Smriti

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Vachanamrut

The Vachanamrut (Gujarati: વચનામૃત vacanāmṛta) of Swaminarayan is the most sacred and foundational scripture of the Swaminarayan spiritual tradition. It contains the profound wisdom of the Vedas, Upanishads, Brahma Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavata Purana, dharmashastras like the Yājñavalkya Smṛti, Vidurniti, and epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata (Vachanamrut Gadhadha II-28). Swaminarayan says in Gadhadha II-28, "What is this discourse which I have delivered before you like? Well, I have delivered it having heard and having extracted the essence from the Vedas, the shastras, the Purans and all other words on this earth pertaining to liberation."The Vachanamarut is not only a sacred shastra in the Swaminarayan faith, but a shastra of every day study. All the literate followers read it daily and the illiterate listen to at least a page every day. It is read and elaborated upon daily in Swaminarayan temples the world over. It is a landmark shastra, philosophically and in all other aspects. It is the first modern Gujarati prose work which the noted Gujarati critic and poet, Shri Uma Shankar Joshi, acclaimed as the very pinnacle of Gujarati prose.

The Vachanamrut, a compilation of 273 spiritual discourses, is divided into 10 sections. The discourses were delivered by Swaminarayan in the last decade of his life, between 1819 and 1829 CE in Gujarati. They were mostly delivered in ashram-like ambience in secluded places like Ahmedabad, Gadhada, Sarangpur, Kariyani, Loya, Panchala, Vadtal, Aslali, and Jetalpur.

The book records the dialogues and conversation between the master and his disciples, answering philosophical and religious questions, explaining doctrines, and formulating terminology concerning both theoretical and practical points of view in daily life and spiritual sadhana.

Vedic wedding ceremony

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Yajnavalkya

Yajnavalkya (Sanskrit: याज्ञवल्क्य, Yājñavalkya) was a Hindu Vedic sage. He is mentioned in the Upanishads, and likely lived in the Videha kingdom of northern Bihar approximately between the 8th century BCE, and the 7th century BCE. Yajnavalkya is considered one of the earliest philosophers in recorded history, after Aruni. Yajnavalkya proposes and debates metaphysical questions about the nature of existence and impermanence, and expounds the epistemic doctrine of neti neti ("not this, not this") to discover the universal Self and Ātman. His ideas for renunciation of worldly attachments have been important to Hindu sannyasa traditions.Yajnavalkya is credited for coining Advaita (non-dual, monism), another important tradition within Hinduism. Texts attributed to him, include the Yajnavalkya Smriti, Yoga Yajnavalkya and some texts of the Vedanta school. He is also mentioned in various Brahmanas and Aranyakas.He welcomed participation of women in Vedic studies, and Hindu texts contain his dialogues with two women philosophers, Gargi Vachaknavi and Maitreyi.

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