Dharmasastras are social laws that include codes of conduct for individuals to observe throughout their life. Most Hindu traditional households teach at least some basic principles of Dharmasastras. The Dharmasastra books have over 5000 titles, divided into three categories of sutras, smritis, Nibandas, and Vrittis. Besides this, the Nibandas and Vrittas are juridical work meant for legal advisors to apply in their practice. As a result, Dharmasastras became influential when the early British administration started considering it as the rule of the land. In this excerpt, we will understand the summary and history of dharmasastras in brief.
Manu’s dharmasastra, known as Manusmriti, is the primary dharmasastra books that apply to the entire Manvantara, which is until the appearance of the next Manu. Manusmriti forms the basis of Hindu Law. Additionally, the 18 specific dharma-sastras are applicable at different points in time.
Types of Dharmasastras
Moreover, the 18 dharmasastras take after their authors: –
Dharmasastra books are about the right course of conduct. It talks about the legal administration but also about the procedures and the correct way to do it. Hindus know some basic principles of the Dharmasastra book. These include the proposition that duties are more significant than rights, that women are under perpetual guardianship of their closest male relatives, and that the king (i.e., the state) must protect the subjects from all harm, moral as well as material.
The techniques of Dharmashastra are mainly to state the ancient text, maxim, or stanza; to explain its meaning. Also, to reconcile divergent traditions, if necessary by use of the traditional science of interpretation (Mimamsa). However, Dharmashastra books provide only the basic principles of the law. The actual administration of law, the equivalent of case law, was historically carried out by local councils of elders called Panchayats.