Gautama Dharmasūtra | 7



1. We have explained the Law pertaining to the social classes and the Law pertaining to the orders of life.

2. Justification of Penance

2. Now, a man here is tainted by foul actions, as, for example,

- by officiating at sacrifices of people for whom it is forbidden to officiate,
- by eating what is forbidden to eat, by saying what is forbidden to say,
- by failing to do what is enjoined, and by indulging what is forbidden.

3. There is a debate as to whether such a man is required to perform a penance or not:

4. - Some say that he is not required to do so, 5. arguing that an act can never be wiped out.

6. - The other, and correct, view is that he is required to do so, 7. as it is stated, ‘After offering the Punaḥ-stoma sacrifice, he gets to participate again in the Soma sacrifice’, 8. or after offering the Vrātya-stoma.

9. Likewise, ‘A man who offers a horse sacrifice overcomes all sins, he overcomes even the murder of a Brahmin’; 10. and, ‘A heinous sinner should be made to offer the Agniṣṭut sacrifice.

3. General Penances

11. The expiations for such a man are softly reciting prayers, austerity, ritual offering, fasting, and giving gifts.

12. - Upaniṣads; the conclusions of the Vedas (Vedānta);
- the Hymn-Collections of all the Vedas; the ‘Honey’ verses;
- Āghamarṣaṇa hymn; Atharvaśiras; Rudra hymn; Puruṣa hymn;
- the Sāmans. called Rājana, Rauhiṇi, Bṛhat, Rāthāntara,
- Puruṣa-gati, Mahānāmnī, Mahāvairāja, and Mahādivākīrtya;
- any of the    Jyeṣṭhā Sāmans; Vahishpavamāna Sāman; Kuṣmāṇḍa verses;
- Pāvamānī verses; and the Sāvitrī verse –   

– these are the purificatory texts.

13. Living on milk alone; eating only vegetables; eating only fruits; living on gruel made with one handful of barley; eating gold; consuming ghee; and drinking Soma juice –

- these are the cleansing activities.

14. All mountains; all rivers; sacred lakes; sacred fords; dwellings of seers; cow-pens; and temples –

- these are the appropriate places.

15. Observing chastity; speaking the truth; bathing at dawn, noon, and dusk; remaining in wet clothes after the bath; sleeping on the floor; and fasting –

- these are the austerities.

16. Gold; cow; garment; horse; land; sesame seeds; ghee; and food –
- these are the gifts.

17. One year; 6 months; 4 months; 3 months; 2 months; 1 month; 24 days; 12 days; 6 days; 3 days; and a day and night –

- these are the lengths of time.

18. When no specific penance has been prescribed, people may perform these optionally, 19. the heavier penances for grave sins and the lighter penances for minor sins.

20. The arduous penance, the very arduous penance, and the lunar penance
- are expiations for all types of sins.


4. Excommunication from Caste

1. A man should disown a father

- who assassinates a king; sacrifices for a Śūdra; uses a Śūdra’s money for a sacrifice; divulges the Vedas; is an abortionist; lives with very low caste men; or cohabits with a woman of a very low caste.

2. Assembling the father’s Vedic teachers and blood relations, they should perform on his behalf all the funerary rites, beginning with the offering of water, 3. and overturn his water pot.

4. A slave or a workman should bring a dirty pot from a garbage dump, fill it with water from a slave woman’s pot, and, facing the south, overturn it with his foot, pronouncing the man’s name and saying, ‘I deprive that man of water’.

5. All of them, their upper garments slung over their right shoulders and under their left arms and their topknots untied, should touch that slave, 6. while the Vedic teachers and blood relations look on.

7. They should then bathe and enter the village.

5. Contact with an Outcaste

8. Thereafter, if someone were to speak with that man, he should remain standing reciting the Sāvitrī verse for 1 night if it was done unintentionally 9. and for 3 nights if it was done intentionally.

6. Readmission into Caste

10. An excommunicated man may be purified by performing a penance, however,

and when he has been so purified, they should fill a golden pot with water from a very sacred lake or from a river and make the man take a bath with the water from that pot.

11. They should then give that pot to him.
Taking that pot, he should pray silently:

The sky is appeased, the mid-space is appeased
and auspicious, the earth is appeased.
I here take hold of the radiant one.

12. Reciting these Yajus formulas, as well as the Pāvamānī, Taratsamandī, and Kūṣmāṇḍa verses, he should offer ghee in the sacred fire.

13. He should then give gold or a cow to a Brahmin, 14. as well as to his teacher.

15. A man whose penance lasts until death, on the other hand, becomes pure only after he dies. 16. They should perform for him all the funerary rites beginning with the offering of water.

17. The same rite of bathing with water consecrated by the ‘appeasement’ formulas given above is to be performed for all secondary sins causing loss of caste.


Sins Causing Loss of Caste

7. Grievous Sins

1. - People who murder a Brahmin; drink liquor;

- have sex with the wife of an elder or with a woman who is related through his mother or father, or through marriage;

- steal gold; become infidels; habitually commit forbidden acts;
- refuse to disown someone fallen from his caste;
- or disown someone who has not fallen from his caste –

- these have fallen from their caste,
2. as also those who instigate sins causing loss of caste,
3. and those who associate with outcastes for a year.

8. Consequences of Falling from Caste

4. Falling from one’s caste entails

- exclusion from the occupations of twice-born people
5. - and going empty-handed into the next world.

6. Some call this condition ‘hell’.

9. Expiations

7. According to Manu, no expiation is possible for the first 1-3 sins. 8. Some maintain that a man does not fall from his caste by having sex with women other than the wives of his elders.

10. Fall of Women

9. A woman falls from her caste by carrying out an abortion and by having sex with a low-caste man.

11. Sins Similar to Grievous Sins

10. Giving false evidence, slanderous statements that will reach the king’s ear, and false accusations against an elder are equal to sins causing loss of caste.

12. Secondary Sins

11. - People who defile those alongside whom they eat and listed before a bald man;
- people who kill cows, forget the Veda, or recite sacred formulas for such people;
- students who break their vow of chastity;
- and those who let the time for their initiation lapse –

- these are guilty of secondary sins causing loss of caste.

12. One should disown an officiating priest or a teacher
who is ignorant or does not teach, or who commits a sin causing loss of caste.

13. If anyone disowns them for other reasons,
he falls from his caste, 14. as also, according to some, all those who receive him.

15. A man shall never deprive his father or mother of sustenance,
16. but he should not accept any share of their estate.

13. Other Sins

17. When someone accuses a Brahmin of a sin, he incurs a sin equal to it;
18. twice as large if the man he accuses is innocent.

19. When someone is hurting a weaker man,
if a person, although he is able, does not rescue him,
that person incurs a sin equal to that of the man causing the hurt.

20. A man will be excluded from heaven

- for a 100 years if he threatens a Brahmin in anger;
21. - for a thousand years, if he strikes;

22. - and, if he draws blood, for as many years as the number of dust particles that the spilled blood lumps together.


14. Description of Penances

1. Next, the penances:

15. Killing Humans and Animals

2. A man who has killed a Brahmin shall emaciate his body and throw himself into a fire 3 times, 3. or make himself a target during an armed battle.

4. Or else, for 12 years he should live a chaste life and, carrying a skull and the post from a bed-frame, enter a village only to beg for food while proclaiming his crime.

5. When he sees an Ārya, he should get out of the road.

6. In this manner he becomes purified, as he remains standing during the day and seated at night, and bathes at dawn, noon, and dusk.

7. He is purified also:

- if he saves a Brahmin’s life;

8. - if he is defeated 3 times while attempting to recover the property stolen from a Brahmin;

9. - or if he takes part in the ritual bath at the end of a horse sacrifice 10. or even of another sacrifice as long as it concludes with the Agniṣṭut offering.

11. The same penance applies to a man who makes an attempt on the life of a Brahmin, even if he does not kill him, 12. as also to one who kills a Brahmin woman soon after her menstrual period 13. or a Brahmin’s foetus whose sex cannot be determined.

14. If someone kills a Kṣatriya, he should observe the standard. vow of chastity for 6 years and give a 1000 cows together with a bull;

15. if he kills a Vaiśya, he should do so for 3 years and give a 100 cows together with a bull;

16. and if he kills a Śūdra, he should do so for 1 year and give 10 cows together with a bull, 17. as also when he kills a Brahmin woman who is not in her season.

18. The penance for killing a cow is the same as for killing a Vaiśya;

19. it is the same also for killing a frog, a mongoose, a crow, a chameleon, a rat, a mouse, or a dog, 20. and for killing a thousand animals with bones 21. or a cart-load of animals without bones.

22. Or else, he may give some small amount for each animal with bones that he has killed.

23. If someone kills a eunuch, he should give a load of straw and a Māṣa of lead;

24. if he kills a boar, a pot of ghee; 25. if he kills a snake, an iron bar; 26. if he kills a wanton woman who is a Brahmin only in name, a leather bag; 27. and if he kills a prostitute,

- nothing at all.

16. Adultery, Drinking, and Other Sins

28. If someone frustrates the acquisition of a wife, food, or wealth, for each such offence

- he should observe a life of chastity for 1 year;

29. if he commits adultery, for 2 years;
30. and if he does so with the wife of a Vedic scholar, for 3 years.

31. If he has received anything from her, he should throw it away 32. or return it to its owner.

33. If someone employs ritual formulas on behalf of proscribed people,
he should observe a life of chastity for 1 year if the formulas contained 1000 words;

34. as also a man who extinguishes his sacred fires, neglects Vedic recitation, or commits a secondary sin causing loss of caste, 35. and a woman who goes against her husband. She should be kept under watch, however, and receive food.

36. If someone has sex with an animal other than a cow,
he should offer ghee in the sacred fire while reciting the Kūṣmāṇḍa verses.


1. They should pour hot liquor into the mouth of a Brahmin who has drunk liquor.
He is purified after he dies.

2. If he has drunk it inadvertently, he should subsist on hot milk, hot ghee, hot water, and hot air, for a period of 3 days each; this is the arduous penance.

After that he should undergo initiation.

3. The same penance should be performed when someone consumes urine, excrement, or semen, 4. as also a part of a predatory animal, a camel, or a donkey, 5. or of a village cock or pig.

6. If someone smells the breath of a man who has drunk liquor, he should control his breath and eat some ghee, 7. as also when he is bitten by an animal mentioned above.

17. Incestuous Sex

8. A man who has had sex with the wife of an elder should lie on a heated iron bed; 9. embrace a red-hot column; 10. or tear out his penis together with the testicles and, holding them in his cupped hands, walk straight toward the south-west until he collapses. 11. He is purified after he dies.

12. Sex with one’s female friend or sister, a woman belonging to one’s lineage, the wife of one’s pupil, one’s daughter-in-law, and a cow

- is equal to sex with the wife of an elder.

13. According to some, it is equal to a student’s breaking the vow of chastity.

18. Illicit Sex

14. If a woman has sex with a low-caste man,
the king should have her publicly devoured by dogs
15. and have the man executed, 16. or punish him in the manner stated above.

19. Breaking the Vow of Chastity

17. A student who has broken his vow of chastity should sacrifice a donkey to Nirṛti at a crossroad:

18. Wearing its skin with the hairy side out and carrying a red bowl, he should beg food from 7 houses while proclaiming his deed.

19. - He will be purified in a year.

20. If he discharges semen out of fear, because of an illness, or in sleep, or if he neglects to put wood into the sacred fire or to go begging for food,

- he should offer ghee or two pieces of firewood in the sacred fire reciting the two Retasyā verses.

20. Miscellaneous Sins

21. Someone who is asleep at sunrise should stand during that day, remaining chaste and without eating any food;

while someone who is asleep at sunset should stand during that night reciting the Sāvitrī verse.

22. When someone sees a sordid man, he should control his breath and look at the sun.

21. Eating Improper Food

23. If a man eats something unfit to be eaten or consumes an impure substance, he should rid himself of all the excrement 24. by not eating for at least 3 days; 25. or else he should subsist for 7 days on fruits that have fallen on their own without skipping any.

26. If he eats anything listed before the animals with 5 claws, he should throw up and eat some ghee.

22. Sins of Speech

27. If someone uses abusive words, tells a lie, or inflicts an injury,
he shall practise austerities for a maximum of 3 days.

28. If his words were true, however, he should offer a sacrifice
using the Vāruṇī formulas and the Mānavī hymns.

29. According to some, telling a lie at a marriage, during sex, in jest, or in grief is not a sin,

30. - but not if it concerns an elder,

31. because when a man tells a lie with regard to an elder even in his mind and even with respect to something trivial, he brings ruin upon himself and upon seven generations before him and after him.

23. Illicit Sex

32. If someone has sex with a low-caste woman,
he should perform an arduous penance for a year;
33. for 12 days, if he does it inadvertently;
34. for 3 days, if he has sex with a woman during her menstrual period.


24. Secret Penances

1. For sins unknown to the public, a man may perform a secret penance.

2. A person who yearns to accept
or actually accepts something that he is forbidden to accept
should stand in water and recite the 4 Taratsamandī verses,

3. while a person who yearns to eat food that is unfit to be eaten should sprinkle some earth on it.

4. A man who has sex with a woman during her menstrual period,
according to some, is purified by bathing,
5. while, according to others, this applies only when the woman is his wife.

6. The penance for performing an abortion is this:

He should live on milk for 10 days, on ghee for a second 10-day period, and on water for a third 10-day period, partaking of these only once a day in the morning.

During this period he should keep his clothes wet and make offerings of his hair, nails, skin, flesh, blood, sinews, bones, and marrow in the sacred fire, saying at the conclusion of each offering:

I offer in the mouth of the self, in the jaws of death.’

7. And this is another penance for it:

8. The observances are the same as above. 9. He should offer ghee in the sacred fire, while reciting the verse ‘You, O Fire, take us across... ’, the Great Calls, and the Kūṣmāṇḍa verses.

10. Alternatively, for the murder of a Brahmin, for drinking liquor, for stealing, and for having sex with the wife of an elder, a man may perform the same observance, tire himself out by controlling his breath, and silently recite the Āghamarṣaṇa hymn. This is equal to participating in the ritual bath at the end of a horse sacrifice.

11. Or else, a man may indeed purify himself by reciting the Sāvitrī verse one thousand times. By reciting the Āghamarṣaṇa hymn 3 times while standing in water a man is freed from all sins.


1. So, they ask: ‘Into how many does a student who has broken his vow of chastity enter?

2. - ‘Into the Maruts with his breaths; into Indra with his strength;
into Bṛhaspati with the splendour of his Vedic learning;
and into just the Fire with everything else.’

3. Such a student should kindle the sacred fire on the night of the new moon
and offer as penance 2 oblations of ghee, 4. while reciting:

‘O Lust, I have spilled semen! I have spilled semen, O Lust! To Lust, Svāhā!’ and
‘O Lust, I have been squeezed out! I have been squeezed out, O Lust! To Lust, Svāhā!’

He should then put a piece of firewood into the fire, sprinkle water around the fire, offer the Yajñavāstu oblation, come near the fire, and worship it 3 times, reciting the verse ‘May the Maruts sprinkle me...

5. There are 3 worlds here; he does this to conquer these worlds, to subjugate these worlds.

6. Some take this same rite to be a universally applicable penance, saying with regard to it:

A man who is in some way impure should make an offering and recite the ritual formulas in the above manner, giving a choice gift as the sacrificial fee.

7. When someone cheats, slanders, does forbidden things, eats forbidden foods;
when someone ejaculates his semen in a Śūdra woman or in any place other than the vagina;
or when someone performs witchcraft even intentionally –

- he should bathe, reciting the Abliṅga or Vāruṇī formulas, or other purificatory texts.

8. If someone commits an offence by speaking or thinking of something forbidden, he should recite the five Calls.

9. Alternatively, for all sins he may sip water in the morning reciting, ‘May the day and the sun purify me’, and in the evening reciting, ‘May the night and Varuṇa purify me.

Or else, by merely offering 8 pieces of firewood into the sacred fire while reciting the formulas ‘You are the expiation of sins committed against the gods... ’, one is freed from all sins.


25. Arduous Penances

1. Next we will describe the 3 types of arduous penances:

2. During 3 days a man should eat in the morning food fit for sacrifice
and not eat anything in the evening;

3. during the next 3 days he should eat only in the evening;
4. during the following 3 days he should not request food from anyone;
5. and during the final 3 days he should fast.

6. A person who wants the penance to act quickly

should remain standing during the day and seated at night;
7. speak the truth; 8. not talk with non-Āryas;
9. sing the Raurava and Yaudhājaya Sāmans every day;

10. bathe at dawn, noon, and dusk while reciting the verses ‘Waters, you are refreshing...’;

and dry himself while reciting the 8 purificatory verses ‘Golden-coloured, pure, and purifying...

11. Next, he offers libations of water, saying –

12. Homage - to the creator of ego- consciousness,
to the creator of illusion, to the giver of gifts, to the effacer of sins,
to the performer of austerities, to Punarvasu - Homage!

Homage - to the one worthy of Muñja grass offerings,
to the one worthy of water offerings, to the one who finds wealth,
to the one who finds all - Homage!

Homage - to the one who assures success,
to the one who assures total success,
to the one who assures great success,
to the one who best assures success - Homage!

Homage - to Rudra, to the Lord of cattle, to the Great God,
to the Three-eyed God, to the Lone Itinerant, to the Supreme Lord,
to Hari, to Śarva, to Īśāna, to the Dread God, to the Wielder of the Thunderbolt,
to the Violent God, to the Matted God - Homage!

Homage - to the Sun, to Āditya– –Homage!

Homage - to the Blue-necked God, to the Dark-throated God - Homage!

Homage - to the Black God, to the Brown God - Homage!

Homage - to the First-born God, to the Best God, to the Eldest God,
to Indra, to the Yellow-haired God, to the Continent God - Homage!

Homage - to the True God, to the Purifying God, to the Fire-coloured God,
to Passion, to the God whose form is passion - Homage!

Homage - to the Brilliant God, to the God of brilliant form - Homage!

Homage - to the Fiery God, to the God of fiery form - Homage!

Homage - to Sobhya, to the Fine Man, to the Great Man,
to the Middle Man, to the Highest Man, to the Chaste Student - Homage!

Homage - to the God who wears the moon on his forehead,
to the God who wears a skin - Homage!

13. The worship of the sun is carried out in the very same manner,
14. as also the offering of ghee in the sacred fire.

15. At the end of the 12 days, he should cook an oblation of milk rice
and offer it in the sacred fire to the following deities, saying,

16. ‘To Fire Svāhā! To Soma Svāhā! To Fire and Soma Svāhā!
To Indra and Fire Svāhā! To Indra Svāhā! To All-gods Svāhā! 
To Brahman Svāhā! To Prajāpati Svāhā!
To Fire who makes the offering flawless Svāhā!’

17. After that he should gratify the Brahmins.

18. These very rules explain the procedure of the very arduous penance,
19. at which he should eat only as much as he can take in a single mouthful.

20. Taking only water is the 3rd type of arduous penance,
and it is called the ‘penance beyond the very arduous penance’.

21. By performing the first, a man becomes pure,
cleansed, and fit to engage in the occupations of his class.

22. By performing the second, he is freed from all
except the grievous sins causing loss of caste.

23. By performing the third, all his sins are wiped away.

24. By performing all 3 types of arduous penances, he becomes a bath-graduate with respect to all the Vedas, he becomes known to all the gods – 25. so also a man who knows this.


26. Lunar Penance

1. Next, we will describe the lunar penance.
2. To it also apply the rules given under arduous penance.

3.  A person who performs this as a penitential vow should shave his head.
4. On the day before the full moon he should fast.

5. He should offer libations of water, offer ghee in the sacred fire, consecrate the sacrificial oblation, and worship the moon using the following formulas:

Swell up... ’, ‘May the juices unite in you... ’, and ‘Being born, it becomes ever new... ’.

6. He should offer ghee in the sacred fire, reciting the 4 verses
O gods, whatever offence we have committed against the gods... ’,

7. and at the end put pieces of firewood into the fire, reciting the formulas
You are the expiation for sins committed against the gods...

8. The mouthfuls of food should be consecrated
by mentally reciting these formulas, one for each mouthful:
OM! Earth! Mid Space! Sky! Austerity! Truth! Fame! Prosperity!
Vigour! Refreshment! Strength! Lustre! Male! Law! Auspicious!

9. or else he may consecrate all of them, saying ‘Homage Svāhā!’

10. The mouthfuls shall be of such a size as not to distend the mouth.

11. The sacrificial oblations are:

milk rice, alms-food, barley flour, husked grain, barley gruel, vegetables, milk, curd, ghee, roots, fruits, and water,

- each succeeding being more excellent than each preceding.

12. On the full-moon day he should eat 15 mouthfuls, and during the fortnight of the waning moon reduce the amount of food by one mouthful a day.

13. On the new-moon day he should fast, and during the fortnight of the waxing moon increase the amount of food by one mouthful a day.

14. Some invert this procedure. 15. This is a month of the lunar fast.

16. A man who completes one such month
becomes free from sin, free from evil; and he wipes out all offences.

17. A man who completes a second such month
purifies his 10 ancestors and 10 descendants,
with himself as the twenty-first, and also those alongside whom he eats.

18. A man who completes one year in this manner will dwell in the same world as the moon.