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Jala Sakshya – Method to Prove Innocence as per Dharmasutras

Jala Sakshya is a method mentioned in the Dharmasutras, laws in ancient Hindu world, to prove one’s innocence. The accused person takes a dip with all parts of the body in water. An archer then shoots an arrow to a distance. The person stays under water until a runner fetches an arrow shot by an archer. If all parts of the accused is under water when the runner returns with the arrow, then he would be pronounced as innocent.

The accused person enters the water and offers worship to Varuna, the Lord of seas and water, before taking the dip necessary for Jala Sakshya.

As per Vishnu Dharmasutra, the accused person should hold on to the legs of another person while taking dip.

Yajnavalkya Smriti states that he should hold on to a sacrificial post.

This was a rigorous ordeal.

As per Sage Narada, Jala Sakshya should not be forced on women and weak men. It should not be done during winter.

As per Pitamaha, another name associated with Dharmasutras, those accused having respiratory diseases should not be forced to perform the method.

As per Katyayana, the runner needs to only run up to where the arrow drops – he need to return with it. The arrow should not be shot in the direction of the wind. Accused should stand in clean water. The water should not be infested with leeches or other dangerous amphibians. Jala Sakshya should not be performed in a swift flowing river.