Gautama Dharmasūtra | 1



1. The source of Law is the Veda, 2. as well as the tradition and practice of those who know the Veda.

3. Transgression of the Law and violence are seen in great men. They do not constitute precedents, however, on account of the weakness of the men of later times.

4. When injunctions of equal force are in conflict with each other, there is an option.


2. Time of Initiation

5. A Brahmin’s initiation shall be performed in his 8th year, 6. or, if performed with an objective in mind, in his 9th or 5th year. 7. The years are counted from conception.

8. The initiation is a second birth.

9. The teacher is the man from whom one receives initiation 10. or instruction in the Veda.

11. A Kṣatriya’s initiation shall be performed in his 11th year, and a Vaiśya’s in his 12th.

12. In the case of a Brahmin, the time for the Sāvitrī does not elapse until the 16th year,
13. in the case of a Kṣatriya until the 22nd year,
14. and in the case of a Vaiśya until two years after that.

A Student’s Code of Conduct

3. Insignia

15. Their girdles are a cord of Muñja grass, a bowstring of Mūrvā, or a cord of thread, respectively; 16. and their skins are that of a black antelope, a spotted Rurū antelope, and a billy goat, respectively.

17. The garments of all students, irrespective of class, are made of hemp, flax, tree bark, or a woollen blanket, 18. or else of raw cotton; 19. some even allow dyed cotton – 20. dyed with tree resin for a Brahmin, 21. and with madder and turmeric for the other two, respectively.

22. A Brahmin’s staff is made of wood-apple or Palāśa wood, 23. and those of the other two of banyan and Pīlu wood, respectively.

24. Alternatively, for all students, irrespective of class, the staff may be made of any wood suitable for use in a sacrifice.

25. Staffs should be undamaged, bent in the manner of a sacrificial post, and have their barks intact. 26. They should reach the crown of the head, the forehead, and the tip of the nose, respectively, for each class.

27. Students may shave their heads completely, wear their hair matted, or keep just the topknot matted.

4. Purification

28. If, while holding something in his hand, he happens to become impure, he should sip water without laying it down.

29. The cleansing of things

- articles made of metal, clay, wood, and cloth are cleaned by scrubbing, scorching, scraping, and washing, respectively.

30. - Stone, gem, shell, and mother-of- pearl are cleaned in the same way as metal;
31. - bone and mud, in the same way as wood – 32. mud also by plastering;
33. - and ropes, wicker, and skin, in the same way as cloth.

34. Articles that have become extremely unclean, on the other hand, should be thrown away.

35. He should commence his personal purification facing either the east or the north.

36. Seated on a clean spot, placing his right arm between his knees, and wearing his upper garment over his left shoulder and under his right arm, he should wash both his hands up to the wrists.

Then, he should silently sip 3 or 4 times an amount of water sufficient to reach his heart, wipe his lips twice, sprinkle water on his feet, rub water on the cavities of his head, and place his hand on the crown of his head.

37. After sleeping, eating, and sneezing, he should sip water over again.

38. Bits of food sticking between the teeth are like the teeth themselves, unless they are touched with the tongue 39. or, according to some, until they get detached.

40. When they get detached, a person should know that he is cleansed of them by simply swallowing, just like saliva.

41. Saliva spattering from the mouth does not make a man impure unless it falls on his body.

42. In the case of filthy substances, purification consists in removing their stains and smell 43. by washing first with water and then with earth and water, 44. which is done also when urine, excrement, or semen falls on a person, or when one is stained with the remnants of food.

45. In cases covered by Vedic rules, purification is carried out in the manner prescribed in the Veda.

5. Rules of Study

46. Clasping the teacher’s left hand - excluding the thumb - with his right,
the pupil should address the teacher: ‘Teach, Sir!

47. Focusing his eyes and mind on the teacher, 48. the pupil should touch his vital organs with Darbha grass, 49. control his breath three times for fifteen more each, 50. and sit on a bed of grass with the tips of their blades pointing east.

51. The five Calls should begin with OṀ and end with ‘Truth’.

52. The pupil shall clasp the teacher’s feet each morning 53. and also when he begins and ends his Vedic recitation. 54. When he is given permission, he should sit at the teacher’s right facing the east or the north.

55. And he should repeat after the teacher the Sāvitrī verse 56. when he first begins to receive instruction in the Veda, 57. while the syllable OṀ should be recited also at other times.

58. If someone passes between the teacher and the pupil, this preparatory ceremony should be repeated:

59. If a dog, a mongoose, a snake, a frog, or a cat passes between them, he should observe a fast for 3 days and spend some time away from the teacher’s house, 60. whereas if it is some other animal, he should control his breath and consume some ghee.

61. He shall do the same if he happens to recite the Veda in a cemetery.


6. Uninitiated Children

1. Before his initiation, a child may behave, speak, and eat as he pleases.

He may not partake of ritual offerings and should observe chastity.
He may void urine and excrement whenever he has the urge.

2. The set of rules regarding sipping water and other rituals of purification do not apply to him, other than wiping, washing, and sprinkling with water, 3. and no one is made impure by his touch.

4. No one should ever employ him to make fire oblations or Bali offerings,
5. and he should not be made to recite the Veda, except for uttering ‘Svadhā’.

7. General Rules

6. Restrictive rules come into force from the time a person is initiated.
7. The rule of chastity has already been given.

8. He shall put wood into the sacred fire, beg his food, speak the truth, bathe – 9. only after the beard-shaving rite, according to some -, 10. and perform the twilight worship outside the village.

11. Controlling his speech,

he should remain standing during the morning twilight worship
from the time the stars are still visible until the sun comes into view,

and remain seated during the evening
from the time the sun is still visible until the stars come into view,
12. without ever gazing directly at the sun.

13. He should abstain from the following:

eating honey and meat; wearing perfumes and necklaces;
sleeping during the day; applying oil and collyrium; travelling in carriages;
using shoes and umbrellas; lust, anger, greed, perplexity, and squabbling;
playing musical instruments; bathing and cleaning the teeth;
excitement, dancing, singing, calumny, and dangers;
14. wrapping his neck; sitting cross-legged,
leaning against something, or stretching out his feet within sight of his elders;
15. spitting, laughing, yawning, and cracking his fingers;
16. looking at or touching a woman if there is a hint of sexual intimacy;
17. gambling, degrading services, taking what is not given,
and causing injury to living beings;
18. uttering the names of his teacher, the teacher’s sons and wives,
and of persons consecrated for a sacrifice; 19. and speaking harsh words.

20. If he is a Brahmin, he should always abstain from liquor.

21. He shall occupy a bed and seat lower than his teacher’s,
get up before and go to bed after him,
22. and keep his tongue, arms, and stomach under strict control.

8. Conduct towards the Teacher

23. He should utter the personal and lineage names of his teacher with respect 24. and behave in the same manner towards revered people and his superiors.

25. He should answer his teacher after getting up from his bed or seat 26. and go to him when he calls, even if he is out of sight.

27. If he sees his teacher standing or sitting on a lower place or answering the call of nature, he should get up.

28. If the teacher is walking, he should walk behind him, apprising him of the things to be done and reporting to him what has been done.

29. Let him recite the Veda only when he is called upon to do so
30. and apply himself to doing what is pleasing and beneficial to his teacher.

31. He shall behave in the same manner towards his teacher’s wife and sons, 32. with the exception of eating their leftovers, assisting them with their bath or dressing, and washing, rubbing, or clasping their feet.

33. When he returns from a journey, he should clasp the feet of his teacher’s wives; 34. some maintain that a pupil who has reached the legal age should not do so in the case of young wives.

9. Food

35. Alms-food may be obtained from people of all classes, excepting heinous sinners and outcastes.

36. The word ‘Madam’ should be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of the request, respectively, according to the class.

37. If he does not receive any elsewhere, he may beg from the house of his teacher, a relative, or an elder, or from his own house; 38. let him, however, avoid having to beg from ones given earlier in the list.

39. He should eat the alms-food after announcing it to his teacher and with his permission, 40. and, in the absence of the teacher, to his wife or son, or to a fellow student or a virtuous person.

41. Placing some water at his side, let him eat silently and contentedly, but without craving.

10. Punishment

42. A pupil shall be disciplined without resorting to corporal punishment, 43. or, if that is not viable, with a slender rope or cane. 44. If the teacher strikes with anything else, the king should punish him.

11. Conclusion of Study

45. To study a single Veda, he should live as a student for 12 years, 46. and to study all the Vedas, 12 years each 47. or until he has grasped them.

48. After completing his studies, he should present the teacher with a gift. 49. After he has done that or after obtaining the teacher’s permission, he may take the concluding bath.

50. The teacher is the foremost of his elders; 51. according to some, the mother.