Gautama Dharmasūtra | 2



1. Argument of Opponents

1. He has a choice, some assert, among the orders of life:

2. 1. student, 2. householder, 3. mendicant, or 4. anchorite.

3. The householder is their source, because the others do not produce offspring.

2. Student

4. Among these, the rules of a student have already been given.

5. He shall remain subject to his teacher until death 6. and pray softly during any time that remains after attending to his teacher’s business.

7. When his teacher is no more, he should serve his son;
8. and if there is no son, an older fellow student or the sacred fire.

9. A man who conducts himself in this manner attains the world of Brahman and becomes a man who has mastered his senses.

10. All these rules of a student apply to people in subsequent orders as well,
so long as they are not inconsistent with the provisions specific to each.

3. Mendicant

11. A mendicant shall live without any possessions, 12. be chaste, 13. and remain in one place during the rainy season.

14. Let him enter a village only to obtain alms-food 15. and go on his begging round late in the evening, without visiting the same house twice 16. and without pronouncing blessings.

17. He shall control his speech, sight, and actions; 18. and wear a garment to cover his private parts, 19. using, according to some, a discarded piece of cloth after washing it.

20. He should not pick any part of a plant or a tree unless it has fallen of itself.

21. Outside the rainy season, he should not spend 2 nights in the same village.

22. He shall be shaven-headed or wear a topknot; 23. refrain from injuring seeds; 24. treat all creatures alike, whether they cause him harm or treat him with kindness; 25. and not undertake ritual activities.

4. Anchorite

26. An anchorite shall live in the forest, living on roots and fruits and given to austerities.

27. He kindles the sacred fire according to the procedure for recluses 28. and refrains from eating what is grown in a village.

29. He shall pay homage to gods, ancestors, humans, spirits, and seers 30. and entertain guests from all classes, except those who are proscribed.

31. He may also avail himself of the flesh of animals killed by predators.
32. He should not step on ploughed land 33. or enter a village.

34. He shall wear matted hair and clothes of bark or skin
35. and never eat anything that has been stored for more than a year.

5. Author’s Judgement

36. There is, however, only a single order of life, the Teachers maintain, because the householder’s state alone is prescribed in express Vedic texts.



6. Marriage

1. A householder should marry a wife who comes from the same class as he, who has not been married before, and who is younger than he.

2. A marriage can be contracted only between persons not belonging to a family with the same ancestral seer 3. and not related within 6 degrees on the side of the legal 4. or the biological father, 5. or within 4 degrees on the mother’s side.

7. Types of Marriage

6. When one dresses up a girl, adorns her with jewellery, and gives her to a man of learning, character, and virtue who has relatives, it is a ‘Brahma’ marriage.

7. At a ‘Prajāpati’ marriage, the nuptial formula is ‘May you jointly fulfil the Law’.

8. At a ‘Seer’s’ marriage, the bridegroom should give a bull and a cow to the father of the girl.

9. When one adorns a girl with jewellery and gives her to the officiating priest within the sacrificial arena, it is a ‘Divine’ marriage.

10. When a man on his own has intercourse with a willing woman, it is a ‘Gandharva’ marriage.

11. When a man courts the guardians of the girl with money, it is a ‘Demonic’ marriage.

12. When a man abducts her by force, it is a ‘Fiendish’ marriage.

13. When a man has intercourse with an unconscious girl, it is a ‘Ghoulish’ marriage.

14. The first 1-4 types are in accordance with the Law; 15. the first 6, according to some.

8. Mixed Classes

16. Children born in keeping with the natural order of classes

- from women of the class immediately below the man’s are Sāvarṇas, Ambaṣṭhas, and Ugras;
- from women two classes below the man’s, Niṣādas and Dauṣyantas;
- and from women 3 classes below the man’s, Pāraśavas.

17. Children born in the reverse order of classes

- from women of the class immediately above the man’s are Sūtas, Māgadhas, and Āyogavas;
- from  women 2 classes above the man’s, Kṣattras and Vaidehas;
- and from women 3 classes above the man’s, Chāṇḍālas.

18. From men of the 4 classes,

- a Brahmin woman gives birth respectively to Brahmins, Sūtas, Māgadhas, and Chāṇḍālas;

19. - from the same men, a Kṣatriya woman gives birth respectively to Mūrdhāvasiktas, Kṣatriyas, Dhīvaras, and Pulkasas;

20. - from the same men, a Vaiśya woman gives birth respectively to Bhṛjyakaṇṭhas, Māhiṣyas, Vaiśyas, and Vaidehas;

21. - and from the same men, a Śūdra woman gives birth respectively to Pāraśavas, Yavanas, Karaṇas, and Śūdras.

- That is the opinion of some.

22. By successively marrying persons of the higher or the lower class, in the 7th generation the offspring moves to the one or the other class; 23. in the 5th, according to the Teachers.

24. This is true also in the case of those born to parents belonging to different mixed classes.

25. Children born to parents in the reverse order of classes, on the other hand, are outside the Law, 26. as also those born to a Śūdra woman.

27. A child of a Śūdra man from a woman of a different class shall be treated like an outcaste, 28. the one listed last being the vilest.

9. Sons

29. Virtuous sons purify:

30. - a son born from a ‘Seer’s’ marriage purifies 3 ancestors;
31. - a son born from a ‘Divine’ marriage, ten;
32. - a son born from a ‘Prajāpati’ marriage, also ten;

33. - while a son born from a ‘Brahma’ marriage purifies the 10 ancestors before him and the 10 descendants after him.


10. Rules of Sexual Intercourse

1. A man should have sexual intercourse with his wife when she is in her season, 2. or at any time, except on days when it is forbidden.

11. Ritual Duties

3. He shall pay homage to gods, ancestors, humans, spirits, and seers.

4. Every day he shall perform his private Vedic recitation,
5. the offering of water to his ancestors, 6. and other rites, according to his ability.

7. Let him set up his sacred fire either on the day of his marriage or upon the division of the paternal estate 8. and perform in it his domestic rites, as well as sacrifices to gods, ancestors, 9. and humans, private Vedic recitation, and Bali offerings.

10. Fire oblations are offered to Fire, Dhanvantari, All-Gods, Prajāpati, and Fire who makes the offering flawless.

11. Oblations are offered also

- to the guardian deities of the directions, each in his respective place
12. - to the Maruts at the doors to the house,
13. - to the guardian deities of the house after entering the house,
14. - to Brahman at the centre of the house,
15. - to the waters by the water pot,
16. - to space in the intermediate region,
17. - and to night-stalkers in the evening.

12. Gifts

18. He shall give alms-food after getting the recipient to wish him well and pouring water.

19. The same applies to other righteous (dharma) gifts:

20. - A gift bears an equal reward when it is given to a non-Brahmin,
- twice as much when it is given to a Brahmin,
- a thousand times as much when it is given to a Vedic scholar, and
- an infinite reward when it is given to one who has mastered the entire Veda.

21. Goods should be distributed outside the sacrificial arena:

- to those begging in order to pay the teacher’s fee, to perform a wedding, or to procure medicine,

as also to the indigent, to those preparing to perform a sacrifice, to students, to travellers, and to those who have offered the Viśvajit sacrifice.

22. When others come to beg, let him give them cooked food.

23. When a request is made for an unlawful (adharma) purpose, he should not give, even if he has already promised to do so.

24. Untrue statements made by people who are angry, jubilant, afraid, in pain, greedy, young, old, feeble-minded, drunk, or mad are not sins causing loss of caste.

13. Guests

25. He should give food first to guests, children, the sick, pregnant women, females in his household, and the old, as well as the menials.

26. When his teacher, father, or friend is visiting, however,
he should check with them before cooking the meal.

27. When his officiating priest, teacher, father-in-law, or paternal or maternal uncle visits him, he shall offer them the honey mixture:

28. It needs to be repeated only after the interval of a year; 29. but on the occasion of a sacrifice or a wedding, it should be repeated even if a year has not elapsed. 30. It should also be offered to a king and to a Vedic scholar.

31. To a Brahmin who is not a Vedic scholar, he should offer a seat and water; 32. but to one who is a Vedic scholar he should have water for washing the feet and the welcome water prepared, as also lavish food 33. or the normal food prepared in a special way.

34. To a Brahmin without Vedic learning but of good conduct, he should give average food; 35. but to one with the opposite qualities, just some straw and water, and a place on the floor, 36. or at the very least, a word of welcome.

37. He should show respect to the guest and not eat before him.

38. To those who are his equals or superiors, he should offer a room, bed, and seat as good as his; treat them hospitably; and follow them as they leave;

39. somewhat less than that if it is a man inferior to him.

40. A guest is defined as a man from a different village who comes when the sun is setting behind the trees to spend just one night:

41. He should ask him whether he is doing well; or whether he is in good shape; or whether he is in good health, in accordance with his class, 42. the last being used in the case of a Śūdra.

43. A non-Brahmin is never a guest of a Brahmin, unless he has come on the occasion of a sacrifice.

44. A Kṣatriya, however, should be fed after the Brahmins, 45. and the others should be fed together with his servants to show compassion.


14. Salutation

1-3. His mother and father, their relations, his older brothers, his teachers, and their teachers - each day when he meets them he should clasp their feet, as also when he returns from a journey.

4. When he meets several of them together, he should first clap the feet of the one who is most superior.

5. When he meets a knowledgeable person, he should greet him by stating his own name and saying, ‘I am so-and-so’.

6. Some say that there is no restrictive rule about salutation between husband and wife.

7. Except upon returning from a journey, there is no need to greet women other than his mother, paternal uncle’s wife, and his sisters; 8. nor should he clasp the feet of his brothers’ wives or his mother-in-law.

9. In the case of an officiating priest, a father-in- law, or a paternal or maternal uncle who is younger than himself, on the other hand, he should rise up to receive him but there is no need to offer a formal greeting.

10. An aged fellow townsman or even an 80-year-old Śūdra should be treated in the same way by a man young enough to be his son, 11. as also an Ārya even younger than himself, by a Śūdra.

12. Such a person, moreover, should refrain from saying the other’s name, 13. as also a royal officer who has not studied the Veda, the name of the king.

14. A friend born on the same day as oneself should be addressed ‘Mister!’ or ‘Sir!’,

15. - as also a fellow townsman 10 years older than oneself;
16. - an artist 5 years older;
17. - a Vedic scholar of one’s own Vedic branch who is 3 years older;
18. - an ignorant Brahmin following the occupations of a Kṣatriya or a Vaiśya;
19. - and a man consecrated for a sacrifice before the purchase of Soma.

15. Rules of Precedence

20. People should be honoured on account of wealth, relatives, occupation, birth, learning, and age, but each succeeding one is more important than each preceding, 21. but Vedic learning is the most important of all, 22. because it is the source of Law 23. and because it is so stated in the Vedic texts.

24. One must yield the way to people in vehicles, extremely old people, the sick, women, bath-graduates and kings; 25. and a king to a Vedic scholar.


16. Times of Adversity

1. These are the rules for times of adversity:

A Brahmin may receive Vedic instruction from a non-Brahmin, 2. walk behind him, and obey him. 3. Once the study is completed, however, the Brahmin becomes the more honourable of the two.

4. One may teach, officiate at the sacrifices of, and receive gifts from people of all classes, 5. each preceding occupation being more honourable.

6. When these occupations are unavailable, one may live by the occupations of a Kṣatriya, 7. and when even these are unavailable, by the occupations of a Vaiśya.

8. One may not trade in the following goods:

9. perfumes, condiments, prepared foods, sesame seeds, hemp or linen cloth, skins, 10. garments that are dyed red or washed, 11. milk and milk products, 12. roots, fruits, flowers,

medicines, honey, meat, grass, water, poisons, 13. and animals for slaughter; 14. and, under any circumstance, human beings, barren cows, heifers, and pregnant cows.

15. According to some, one may also not trade in land, rice, barley, goats, sheep, horses, bulls, milk-cows, and oxen.

16. One is restricted to bartering 17. condiments for condiments 18. and animals for animals; 19. but not salt, prepared food, or 20. sesame seeds.

21. One may, however, exchange uncooked food for an equal amount of cooked food for immediate use.

22. When none of this is possible, however, one may sustain oneself by any occupation except that of a Śūdra; 23. some permit even that when one’s life is at stake.

24. - Even then, however, one is not allowed to mix with that class or to eat forbidden food.

25. When his life is at stake, even a Brahmin may live by the use of arms, 26. and a Kṣatriya may resort to the occupations of a Vaiśya.


17. The Brahmin and the King

1. There are in the world 2 who uphold the proper way of life –
- the king and the Brahmin deeply learned in the Vedas.

2. And on them depend the life of the fourfold human race and of internally conscious creatures that move about, fly, and crawl; 3. as well as their increase, protection, non-intermixture, and adherence to the Law.

4. He alone is deeply learned in the Vedas

5. who knows the secular sciences, the Vedas, and the Vedic Supplements;
6. who is well read in the dialogues, epics, and Purāṇas;

7. who relies on them and patterns his conduct after them;
8. who has been sanctified by the 40 sacramentary rites;
9. who is devoted to the 3 occupations 10. or to the 6;
11. and who has been trained in the accepted customary Laws.

12. The king should exempt such a man from 6 things: 13. he should not be subjected to corporal punishment, imprisonment, fines, banishment, upbraiding, and abandonment.

18. Sacramentary Rites

14. Impregnation rite, quickening a male foetus, parting the wife’s hair, birth rite, naming, first feeding with solid food, tonsure, and initiation;

15. the 4 vows associated with Vedic study; 16. bath at the conclusion of study, marrying a helpmate in fulfilling the Law, and performing the 5 sacrifices to gods, ancestors, humans, spirits, and Veda;

17. as well as of the following:

18. the 7 kinds of sacrifices using cooked food, viz., ancestral offerings on the 8th day after the full moon, offerings on full-moon and new-moon days, ancestral offerings, and offerings on the full-moon days that open a 4-month season;

19. the 7 kinds of sacrifices with burnt offerings:

viz., setting up the Vedic fires, daily fire offering, new- and full-moon sacrifices, sacrifice of first fruits, seasonal sacrifices, Nirūḍhapaśubandha, and Sautrāmaṇī;

20. the 7 kinds of Soma sacrifices:

viz., Agniṣṭoma, Atyagniṣṭoma, Ukthya, Ṣoḍaśin, Vājapeya, Atirātra, and Āptoryāma –  

21. – these are the 40 sacramentary rites.

19. Virtues

22. Next, the 8 virtues of the self:

23. 1. compassion towards all creatures, 2. patience, 3. lack of envy, 4. purification, 5. tranquillity, 6. having an auspicious disposition, 7. generosity, and 8. lack of greed.

24. A man who has performed the 40 sacramentary rites but lacks these 8 virtues does not obtain union with or residence in the same world as Brahman.

25. A man who may have per- formed only some of the 40 sacramentary rites but possesses these 8 virtues, on the other hand, is sure to obtain union with and residence in the same world as Brahman.