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Daksha Smriti – Facts On Earliest Book On Hindu Law

Daksha smriti is attributed to Daksha Prajapati and is one of the earliest Hindu law givers. The book and the author is mentioned in Yajnavalkya Smriti.

Daksha Smriti Facts

  • It consists of 22 verses.
  • The book is divided into seven chapters.
  • The book was very popular as attested to by later dharmasastra (codes of law) commentators and digest writers. The latter frequently quote Daksha as an authority.
  • Most of the Dharmashastra topics are dealt with in Daksha Smriti.
  • The most important omissions being division of property (raya bhaga), sacraments or samskara and legal procedure or vyavahara.
  • The specific objective of the work is to set out the code of conduct for those in the four stages of life in Sanatana Dharma.

Chapter I identifies the four stages of life and chapter II sets out the daily routine of the people of various classes from morning to night. Alongside are found the do’s and don’ts and the things to be accepted and to be avoided. Appropriate penitences for atonement of different sins are also mentioned.

Chapter III, which is the most instructive in the work, analyses personal conduct into nine groups of nine items each. These nine groups relate to

  1. Conduct towards a guest
  2. Petty gifts
  3. Essential acts
  4. Acts to be avoided
  5. Items to be concealed from others – one’s age, wealth, domestic troubles, secret initiations into mantras, sexual tastes, personal medications, austerities, charity and dishonors suffered, and acts to be done publicly.
  6. Result-oriented gifts
  7. Non-productive gifts
  8. Sinful acts
  9. Things that should not be parted with

The chapter IV of Daksha Smriti deals with the duties of the wife. The wife is declared as one who helps get the three objectives of life – virtue, wealth and pleasure.

Chapter V deals with pollution and purification.

Chapter VI deals with personal impurities caused by births and deaths in family.

Chapter VII, the last chapter, gives practical directions o Yoga, meditation and ascetic life, and touches upon the dualistic and monistic tenets of Hindu philosophy.

Daksha declares emphatically – Without effort, no wealth; without wealth, no action; without action, no duty; without duty, no happiness. Now, the entire world yearns for happiness, and that grows only out of one’s performing one’s duty. Hence “Oh men do your duty. (Daksha Smriti Chapter III 22-23).