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Apastamba Smriti In Hindu Religion

In Hindu religion, Apastamba Smriti is one of the major Smritis. Apastamba Smriti, the moral code of Apastamba, (to be distinguished from the earlier comprehensive work, Apastamba Dharmasutra) is a short work of 196 verses in 10 chapters. The work primarily deals with Shuddhi (purification) and prayaschitta (expiation). Topics like rajadharma (politics), vyavahara (law), samskara (sacrament) and achara (conduct), which are elaborated in other major texts, do not find any place in it. As such, this is no more than an upa-smriti (a minor code).

Apad-dharma or the code of conduct during exigencies, forms the main subject of Apastamba Smriti. In reply to the queries of other sages, the teacher Apastamba clarifies a number of points relating to pollution and purity, sin and exoneration. He also indicates possible relaxation in normal rules in extraordinary situations. Thus, even a Brahmin might pursue the profession of lower castes such as agriculture and trade; action of children, women and old people do not attract penalty; and eating polluted food or drinking polluted water in dire circumstances is to be condoned.

The work states that atonements are not necessary and prescribes reduced measures for violating rules inadvertently, in cases such as touching polluted persons or objects, eating unholy or leftover food, drinking water from prohibited sources, and the like. The work also shows how things get polluted and how they can be purified through water, sunlight and holy ash, and how polluted person can be purified by bath, meditation, repentance, and even by the passage of time. The work also speaks of the food that is edible and the gifts that can be received. It identifies persons, things, and places that are inherently pure, by resorting to which one does not incur impurity.

The last chapter of the work is significant in that it indicates the worth and value of sense control, absence of anger, patience, solitude, chanting and oblation in fire.