Gautama Dharmasūtra | 8

28.

1. INHERITANCE

1. After their father’s death, the sons may divide the estate, 2. or, if the father so wishes, even during his lifetime but after their mother has reached menopause.

3. Alternatively, the eldest son may inherit the entire estate,
and he should maintain the others just as the father.

4. When the estate is partitioned, however, ritual activities increase.

5. The additional share of the eldest son consists of 1/20 of the estate, a pair of livestock, a carriage yoked to animals with teeth in both jaws, and a bull.

6. The additional share of the middle son consists of animals that are one-eyed, old, hornless, and tailless, if there are more than one of these in the herd.

7. The additional share of the youngest son consists of sheep, grain, iron utensils, a house, a cart yoked with oxen, and one of each kind of livestock.

8. All the rest are to be divided equally.

9. Alternatively, the eldest son may take 2 shares, 10. and the others 1 each.

11. Or else, each son may take one kind of property, selecting according to seniority whatever he likes, 12. as also 10 heads of livestock, 13. but not of one-hoofed animals or slaves.

14. A bull is the additional share of the eldest, 15. while 15 cows and a bull are the additional share of the eldest son from the senior-most wife.

16. Alternatively, the eldest son born from a wife who is not the senior-most may receive a share equal to that of his younger brothers born from the senior-most wife.

17. Or else, the special shares are fixed within each group of brothers from the same mother.

2. Appointed Daughter

18. A father who has no son should offer an oblation to Fire and Prajāpati, proclaim ‘Your son is for my benefit’, and appoint his daughter.

19. According to some, he may appoint the daughter by his mere intention.
20. Because of this uncertainty, a man should not marry a girl who has no brother.

3. Property of a Sonless Man

21. The estate of a man who dies sonless is shared by those related to him through ancestry, lineage, or a common seer, and by his wife.

4. Levirate

22. Alternatively, the widow may seek to procure a son.

23. When her brother-in-law is alive, a son born to such a widow by another person does not share in the inheritance.

5. Women’s Property

24. The wife’s property goes to her daughters who are unmarried or indigent. 25. A sister’s dowry goes to her uterine brothers after her mother dies, 26. or, according to some, even before.

6. Inheritance after Partition

27. When a brother who, after partitioning, has not reunited dies, the eldest brother takes his estate. 28. When a brother who, after partitioning, has reunited dies, his coparcener takes his estate.

29. When a son is born after the partition, he alone inherits the paternal estate.

7. Estates of Coparceners

30. A learned coparcener, if he so wishes, does not have to give what he has earned on his own to his coparceners who are not learned, 31. whereas coparceners who are not learned should share equally what they have earned on their own.

8. Legal Heirs

32. A natural son, a son begotten on the wife, a son given in adoption, a contrived son, a son born in secret, and a son adopted after being abandoned by his birth parents –

- these share in the inheritance.

33. A son of an unmarried woman, a son born to a woman who was pregnant at marriage, a son born to a re-married woman, a son born to an appointed daughter, a son who hands himself over for adoption, and a purchased son –

- these share in the lineage 34. and receive 1/4 of the estate in the absence of the sons in the list beginning with the natural son.

35. A son born to a Brahmin by a Kṣatriya wife, if he happens to be the eldest and possesses good qualities, receives an equal share of the estate, 36. but he is not entitled to the additional share reserved for the eldest son.

37. When a Brahmin has sons by Kṣatriya and Vaiśya wives, the division takes place in the same way as between sons by Brahmin and Kṣatriya wives; 38. so also when a Kṣatriya has such sons.

39. When his father dies without heirs, even a son by a Śūdra wife may receive a share sufficient to maintain himself, if he has been obedient like a pupil.

40. According to some, even a son by a wife of the same class as the husband does not receive a share of the inheritance if he lives an unrighteous life.

41. When a Brahmin dies childless, Vedic scholars should divide his estate among themselves; 42. or, according to some, the king should take it.

43. Mentally retarded and impotent brothers should receive maintenance, 44. whereas a son of a mentally retarded brother receives a share of the inheritance.

45. When a man fathers sons through women belonging to a caste higher than his, they are to be treated like the sons by a Śūdra wife.

46. Sources of water, security measures, and cooked food are not to be divided, 47. as also women belonging to the family.

9. Resolving Doubts Regarding the Law

48. In matters that are unclear,
one should follow what is endorsed by a minimum of 10 persons
who are cultured, skilled in reasoning, and free from greed.

49. A legal assembly is said to consist of a minimum of 10 members –

- 4 who have mastered the 4 Vedas;
- 3 belonging to the three orders enumerated first;
- and 3 who know 3 different Legal Treatises.

50. When such persons are unavailable, however, one should follow in doubtful cases what is recommended by a learned and cultured Brahmin who knows the Veda, 51. because such a man is incapable of hurting or favouring creatures.

52. A man who knows the Law, by his knowledge of and adherence to the Law,
obtains the heavenly world to a greater degree than those who follow the Law.

53. That is the Law.

That concludes the Gautama Dharmasūtra