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Place of Dharmashastras in Hindu Worldview

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Introduction: Current Situation

Shastras play a central role in Hindu tradition and society. However, due to the effects of colonialism, Hindus have become deracinated and have lost touch with this core aspect of our civilization.

The deracination is so deep that while detractors of Hinduism with ideological agendas continue to use Hindu Shastras as a tool to undermine Hinduism, the response from the Hindu side has been clumsy, disoriented, and one that involves denouncement of our Shastras as not relevant and outdated.

A good example of this is how texts in the Dharmashastra tradition, especially the Manu-dharmashastra (popularly called Manusmriti) is often blamed by the detractors of Hinduism as the root cause of every ill they can find in current society. There are many such examples.

This narrative against Hindu Shastras is one which has been carefully cultivated and promoted in academia, media, and popular culture.  However, unfortunately, the typical Hindu response to this intellectual attack on Hindu Shastras is that these texts are outdated and we as a society have moved forward by reforming ourselves!

We can routinely find in the social media as well as in opinion pieces on media platforms following assertions about Hindu Shastras in general, about Dharmashastras in particular:

  1. Hinduism is a way of life. It is not a book-based religion like the Abrahamic religions.
  2. Hindus are not bound to any texts, real Dharma is in following tolerance and compassion. All religions teach these.
  3. We must be flexible and forward looking and not bound to any tradition or texts as they lead to dogmatism and orthodoxy. Texts like Manusmriti has no place in a civilized and cultured society.
  4. Manu & others Dharmashastra texts are Smritis which are based on time and place and hence are outdated today and no longer relevant. Instead, our constitution is the Smriti of today.
  5. Smritis are not central to Hinduism. Instead, it is the Vedas and Bhagavad Gita which are central to Hinduism. Therefore, what Smritis say does not matter.
  6. Most Hindus today keep Bhagavad Gita at home and not Dharmashastra texts like Manusmriti. Therefore what Dharmashastras say has no relevance today. A Hindu intellectual had apparently done a Twitter poll to ‘prove’ this.
  7. All problematic assertions in Smritis are later day interpolations done by some wily Brahmanas who deserve choicest of abuses and hence, these texts are not worth considering.
  8. Manu was never held in high esteem, nor was his text ever important. It was the British who brought Manusmriti on the central stage and did great distortions to it as part of colonial agenda.
  9. There is a great need to sanitize and purify our texts by removing all such interpolations by wily Brahmins, the British etc. For example: a book titled ‘Vishuddha Manusmriti’ was brought out a few years ago as part of such sanitization project.

The root cause of such clumsy & disoriented response from the Hindu side that often involves denouncement of our Shastras as not relevant and outdated is the ignorance and confusion regarding the place and role of Shastras in Hindu Dharma, in particular the role and function of texts like Manusmriti, Yajnavalkyasmriti etc. which are a genre of texts collectively called as ‘Dharmashastras’.

This essay seeks to understand the place of Dharmashastra texts in Hindu scheme of things.

Dharmashastra: A Definition

The term Dharmashastra contains two words: Dharma and Shastra.

The term ‘dharma’ can be variously understood to mean ethics, morality, law, justice, duty, righteousness etc. depending upon the context of its usage. In the context of an individual, dharma refers to the duties and the righteousness of actions. In the context of a society, dharma refers to social harmony and morality. In the context of governance, dharma refers to law and justice and in the cosmic context, dharma refers to cosmic order and balance.

Literally, dharma means that which upholds. Mahanarayana Upanishad (79.7) states that dharma supports the whole cosmos and removes all sins. Similarly, Lord Krishna in Mahabharata ((Karna Parva 69.58)) says that dharma is that which upholds all created beings.

A more practical definition of Dharma that explicitly explains what this ‘upholding’ means is found in Vaishishika Sutra 1.1.2, which says: “That (i.e. those actions) which yields abhyudaya and nihshreyasa (of all) is dharma”. Here, ‘Abhyudaya’ means ‘material wellbeing’ and ‘nihshreyasa’ means ‘spiritual emancipation’. Therefore, in the context of an individual all those actions which lead to one’s overall wellbeing is Dharma and the opposite, those that lead to fall, bondage, and sorrow of the individual is Adharma.

The term ‘Shastra’ also has multiple meanings. According to major Sanskrit dictionaries:

  1. It can refer to an order, command, precept, or a rule.
  2. It can refer to teaching, instruction, direction, advice, or good counsel.
  3. It can refer to any instrument of teaching, any manual or compendium of rules, any book or treatise, any religious or scientific treatise.

Dr. Bharat Gupt in few of his talks defines Shastra as Shastram iti shasanopayam – a Shastra is an instrument to create Shasana or order within an area of human concern. That is, the purpose of the Shastra is to create order and systematically present different aspects of a particular field of knowledge. Shastra is thus, a scientific or a technical treatise which enumerates the fundamental principles governing a particular field, defines what success is, how to measure the same and how one can succeed that field. Every Shastra is written with a prayojana (purpose) in mind, for a kala or vidhya. It investigates a continuous process of achievement in its chosen field. They are written for the practitioner with the purpose of making prayoga (practice) reliable.

In Short, a ‘Shastra’ can be understood as a reference to ‘a body of teaching, scripture, science’. Ex. bhautikashastra “physics”, jīvashāstra “biology“, arthashastra “science of politics and economics”.  It is a body of work, which imparts knowledge about a field of study through the medium of words and sentences.

Combining Dharma and Shastra, we get Dharmashastra: a technical treatise on Dharma i.e. a treatise which reveals what actions are Dharma and hence beneficial to us and what actions are Adharma and hence not beneficial. They tell us what actions lead to happiness and what leads to sorrow. Any text which fulfills this criteria can be called a Dharmashastra. This view is in alignment with Bhagavan Krishna’s instruction in Gita 16.24, where he says that the Shastras are the basis which determines what actions should be performed and what actions should be avoided.

Hindu tradition recognizes 18 Vidyas (fields of knowledge) and 64 Kalas (fields of arts/skills) and Dharmashastra finds an explicit mention in the list. For example, Vishnu Purana 3.6.28-29 says:

अङ्गानि वेदाश्चत्वारो मीमांसा न्यायविस्तरः। पुराणं धर्मशास्त्रं च विद्या ह्येताश्चतुर्दश। आयुर्वेदो धनुर्वेदो गान्धर्वश्चेति ते त्रयः। अर्थशास्त्रं चतुर्थं तु विद्या ह्यष्टादशैव तु।।

The 18 Vidyas are: four Vedas, six Vedangas (Shiksha, Chhandas, Kalpa, Jyotisha, Vyakarana, Nirukta), Mimamsa, Nyaya, Dharmashastras, Puranas, Ayurveda, Dhanurveda, Gandharva-veda, and Arthashastra.

If all texts that impart Dharma can be called as Dharmashastras, what are the principal texts that come under it?

Manusmriti in verse 2.6 calls Veda as the very root of dharma and further in 2.10 says: “The Veda should be known as the Sruti and the Dharmaśāstra as the Smritis; in all matters, these two do not deserve to be criticised, as it is out of these that Dharma shone forth. That is, Sruti and Smriti are the primary texts that constitutes Dharmashastras. The term Smriti includes the six Vedangas as well as other Smriti texts like those of Manu, Yajnavalkya, etc. To the list given by Manu, Yajnavalkya Smriti (1.3) further includes Puranas (including Itihasas), Nyaya and Mimamsa texts.

Therefore, all these texts constitute source of knowledge for understanding Dharma. To fully understand and appreciate the function of Dharmashastra in understanding about Dharma, we must first understand Hindu epistemology or Hindu Theory of Knowledge about how Knowledge about any object arises.

Hindu Epistemology or Theory of Knowledge

Epistemology i.e. the philosophical study of the nature, origin, and limits of human knowledge is a vast topic, but central to understanding any philosophical and theological school of thought. Hindu tradition has six Astika Darshanas (viz. Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Purva Mimamsa, and Vedanta) with each having its own theories of knowledge. While a detailed study of them is beyond the scope of this essay, understanding some basic principles that define Hindu epistemology is necessary for understanding the purpose and function of Shastras in Hindu scheme of things.

The fundamental questions that epistemology deals include:

What is knowledge?

How is the knowledge produced?

Whether the acquired knowledge is reliable or not?

And what determines the validity or otherwise of the acquired knowledge?

In Hindu epistemology, when it is said that we have acquired knowledge/cognized an object, there are four elements involved in the process: The subject/Knower called Pramata who perceives the cognitions. The object of knowledge called as Prameya. The method or means through which the knowledge was acquired called ‘Pramana’. And finally the knowledge itself. This knowledge is called ‘Prama’ or valid knowledge/valid cognition if it is a correct knowledge and ‘Aprama’ if it is invalid or erroneous knowledge.

The definition of Prama or valid knowledge is given in different ways in different Darshanas. Nyaya Darshana for example defines Prama as true presentational knowledge (yathartha-anubhava) which is definite and assured (asamdigdha). Vaisheshika Darshana adds ‘memory’ to this definition given by Nyaya as well. Samkhya Darshana defines Prama as the reflection of the self in the intellect as modified into the form of the object. In Bhatta Mimamsa, Prama is defined as primary and original knowledge (anadhigata). Prabhakara Mimamsa defines Prama as immediate experience (anubhuti). Vedanta (Advaita) defines Prama as knowledge that is original and uncontradicted by other means (anadhigata-abhadita). Simply put, Prama is knowledge of objects gained from a Pramana which is not contradicted by Pramanas. The Mimamsa & Vedanta definition are especially relevant as they are directly related to Veda. Nyaya definition is also likewise relevant as it forms the logical basis of all Vidyas.

Hindu Darshanas broadly accepted six Pramanas or sources of knowledge. Pramana can be defined as unique operative cause of Prama or valid knowledge. It is unique because, though for generation of Prama all the three, namely, Pramata, Prameya, and Pramana are required, existence of Pramata or Prameya in itself will not lead to Prama. However, existence of Pramana invariably will be accompanied by generation of Prama. Further, Pramana is the immediate antecedent from which knowledge flows. Therefore, Pramana is the special operating cause that gives rise to Prama or valid knowledge as against general conditions that facilitate this.

The six Pramanas identified in Hindu tradition are: Pratyakṣa (perception), Anumāṇa (inference), Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy), Arthāpatti (postulation, derivation from circumstances), Anupalabdhi (non-perception, negative/cognitive proof) and Śabda (word, testimony of past or present reliable experts). Of these, Nyaya Darshana accepts only Pratyaksha, Anumana, Upamana, and Shabda. Vaiseshika Darshana accepts only two: Pratyaksha and Anumana. Samkhya Darshana accepts three: Pratyaksha, Anumana, and Shabda. Prabhakara Mimamsa accepts five Pramanas: Pratyaksha, Anumana, Upamana, Arthapatti and Shabda. Only Bhatta Mimamsa and Advaita Vedanta accept all the six Pramanas.

However, what is common to all the Astika Darshanas irrespective of how they define Prama is their acceptance of Shabda, especially what is available to us as Veda as a Pramana that reveals true knowledge. Even Vaisheshika Darshana which accepts only two Pramana accepts Shabda as valid but as part of Anumana itself.

Shabda Pramana: The Source of Knowledge in the Form of Words

Shabda literally means ‘Verbal Knowledge’. It is the knowledge of objects derived from words and sentences. However, all verbal knowledge are not valid. Therefore, Nyaya Darshana defines Shabda as ‘Valid verbal knowledge’.

Nyayasutras of Akshapada Gautama 1.1.7 defines Word or the valid verbal knowledge as the instructive assertion of an ‘Apta’. A trustworthy person is called as ‘Apta’ and Vatsyayana in his commentary on the above verse defines Apta as one who has fully realized the tenets of Dharma and who is willing to communicate these tenets in the exact way that he has realized. Vatsyayana further says that the term ‘Apti’ refers to realization of the essence of Dharma and one who is endowed with ‘Apti’ is called an ‘Apta’. Nyaya Darshana further notes that it is not the perception of the words which impart knowledge of the objects, but it is the understanding of the meaning of those words and sentences which leads to knowledge of the objects. Therefore, ‘Prama’ or valid knowledge arises when the correct meaning of the statements of the Apta are understood.

Mimamsa Darshana on the other hand defines Shabda Pramana as that which provides true knowledge of the objects derived from an understanding of the sentences. They classify Shabda Pramana into two divisions: Paurusheya & Apaurusheya. Paususheya consists in words of trustworthy persons and Apaurusheya consists of words of the Veda.

Vedanta Darshana accepts Shabdha Pramana as a statement of an Apta and posit it as knowledge derived from an understanding of the sentences or propositions which assert a certain relation between things and is not contradicted in any way. Samkhya Darshana likewise accepts Shabda Pramana as being constituted by statements of trustworthy sources, and gives the knowledge of objects which cannot be known by perception and inference. For them, Shabda Pramana specifically refers to Veda.

In short, Shabda Pramana is a source of knowledge in the form of words and sentences wherein Prama or valid knowledge of objects arises from a correct understanding of the meanings of words and sentences subject to fulfilment of conditions like the verbal testimony being uttered by an Apta or trustworthy person, has its source in the Veda, is logically sound and relevant, and the listener is competent.

Nyaya Darshana classifies Shabda Pramana into ‘Drshtartha’ and ‘Adrshtartha’ on the one hand and into ‘Vaidika’ and ‘Laukika’ on the other hand. The former classification is adopted enunciated in Nyayasutra 1.1.8 and is adopted by early Naiyayikas, whereas the latter classification is adopted by later naiyayikas.

Drshtartha refers to knowledge regarding perceptible objects. Example: If a person describes about Himalayas, or about how good a book is, it is Drshtartha. It can be verified or falsified by empirical means. Adrshtartha refers to knowledge about imperceptible objects. Example: The Veda says, if one does a particular Yajna, it results in the performer attaining Svarga upon death. The results are not perceptible to our sensory organs and cannot be verified or falsified by empirical means. Likewise, Laukika refers to knowledge about worldly issues and Vaidika refers to the knowledge revealed by Veda.

Vedanta Darshana accepts the classification of Shabda Pramana into Vaidika and Laukika. Ramaraya Kavi notes in chapter 3 that Vaidika Vakya is of three kinds: those related to Vidhi or injunctions, those related to Nishedha or prohibitions, and those related to Brahman or ultimate reality. While Vidhi and Nisheda are belong to early portions of the Veda, the teachings about Brahman belong to the latter portions of Veda. Thus, Veda reveals two fold objects of knowledge: Dharma and Brahman. And these can be known through Shabda Pramana in the form of Veda alone and not through any other Pramanas.

All the Astika Darshanas accept Veda as ultimate Shabda Pramana when it comes to understanding non-perceptible objects like Dharma and Brahman. However, the way they understand the authoritativeness and trustworthiness of Veda is different. While Nyaya considers Veda as being authored by Ishwara, who is the most trustworthy source and hence without any faults or lacunae; Samkhya, Mimamsa and Vedanta consider Veda as ‘Apaurusheya’ i.e. impersonal, one which exists eternally and has not been authored by any being- human or divine, and hence is without any fault or lacunae, and possesses self-evident validity (Svatah-Pramana).

Manu and Other Smritis as Shabda Pramana for Dharma

While Veda is the ultimate Pramana for understanding Dharma as enunciated by Mimamsa Sutra 1.1.1, and has been accepted so by all the Astika Darshanas, we find Smriti texts as positing themselves and other texts as valid source for understanding Dharma as well. Manusmriti in verse 2.6 and again in 2.9-10 posits both Sruti and Smritis as Pramanas for gaining correct knowledge or Prama about Dharma. Yajnavalkya Smriti adds Puranas, Nyaya and Mimamsa texts to this list as well. Manu 2.10 goes to the extent of saying that when it is mentioned ‘Dharmashastras’ or treatises that enunciate about Dharma and Adharma, one must understand it as a reference to the Smritis. However, the Smritis are neither Apaurusheya in the sense that Mimamsa and Vedanta posit Veda to be, nor is it authored by Ishwara per se as understood by Nyaya.

How then does Hindu tradition establish the authoritativeness and trustworthiness of these Smritis with respect to their teachings on Dharma? The Astika Darshanas put forwards two main arguments to establish the authoritativeness and trustworthiness of the Smritis as a Shabda Pramaa:

  1. Smritis are teachings based on Vedas and hence, they are valid, because Veda being Apaurusheya is always valid. This is the argument put forward by the Mimamsakas.
  2. Smritis are teachings of trustworthy Rishis like Manu, Yajnavalkya, etc. who can be considered as Aptas as they have directly perceived what constitute dharma and what does not through yogic perception. This is the argument put forward by the Naiyyayikas.

Nyaya & Mimamsa Darshana provides extensive arguments to prove the authenticity and validity of Smritis as Shabda Pramana.

Nyaya Darshana argues that Smritis are valid because they have been revealed by Aptas or trustworthy people like Rishis. They prove the trustworthiness in three ways:

  1. The Rishis have directly perceived Dharma through Yogic perception and hence reliable.
  2. Agreement of other exemplary people
  3. Running a partial test where possible (as in assertions related to Drshartha) to test whether the assertions are verifiable.

Mimamsa Darshana on the other hand argues that Smritis are valid because they are based on Sruti or Veda. This they prove in two ways:

  1. By using Arthapatti or postulation which is a valid pramana. Mimamsakas note that the teachings of Manu and other rishis cannot be based on error, doubt, etc. which are Aprama or invalid knowledge because what they teach is not invalidated by any subsequent cognition. Further, since what Smritis reveal is unique and cannot be accessed through other Pramanas like Pratyaksha, by Arthapatthi we can arrive at the conclusion that Smritis are based on Veda.
  2. By reference to the fact that those who practice Vaidika Karmas also practice the stipulations of Smritis. Mimamsa successfully shows that Smritis cannot have any source other than Veda and that it is not a product of Raga-Dvesha using Arthapatti Pramana.

Further, Prabhakara Mimamsa holds that Veda are of two kinds: Pratyaksha (perceived) & Anumeya (inferred). Pratyaksha Veda refers to the branches of Veda which are available to us now. Anumeya Veda refers to those Vedic instructions whose presence is inferred by the instructions present in the Smritis. Therefore, Smritis are very much valid as a Shabda Pramana and enjoy the status of Anumeya Veda.

Take the case of Manusmriti for example. The text itself claims that it is valid because Manu is an Apta and that he is well-versed in Veda. The first chapter provides us with Divine origin of Manu as well as him being fully versed in Veda and its teachings, thus fulfilling all the reliability criteria defined in Mimamsa and Nyaya Darshanas. Further, we find praise for the authority of Manu as a teacher and authenticity of his teachings from other texts including the Veda. Taittiriya Samhita 2.2.10.2, for example, says that whatever Manu says is wholesome like medicine. The same text in verse 2.1.5.6 says that we are all children of Manu. Mahabharata Shanti Parva 336.38-46 speaks about Manu as promulgator of Dharma and how latter teachers of Dharma like Ushanas and Brihaspati composed their works based on the work of Manu. Likewise, Yajnavalkya is a prominent Rishi who imparts teachings in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

From this discussion, we can clearly see that in the Hindu scheme of things, Smritis and other Dharmashastras play an important role as ‘Shabda Pramana’ which reveal valid knowledge/Prama about Dharma, about what actions lead to Karmic merit and happiness and what actions lead to demerit and sorrow.

Conflict Between Sruti & Smriti

Today, a big issue is made about the apparent conflict between Sruti & Smriti. This is a convenient argument used to discredit Smritis because we find some of its teachings inconvenient to our so-called modern mind.

However, Jayanta Bhatta, the renowned Nayyayika from 9th century CE notes in his Nyayamanjari that such contradictions are rarely found and in case, they are found, he suggests three ways to resolve them. These three ways of resolving apparent theological and philosophical contradictions have been arrived at after many centuries of Debates and discussions in Mimamsa & Nyaya Darshanas. They are:

  1. There is no real contradiction, since the seeming contradictory prescriptions in fact
    apply to different types or groups of people.
  2. One can opt for the one or the other i.e. they are both valid alternatives.
  3. The Veda overcomes the Smritis.

In most cases, the so-called contradictions can be easily resolved using first and secong options above. Only when both Sruti & Smriti contradict on a specific issue with respect to specific context and cannot be alternatives, then and only then, Veda is considered to override the Smriti injunction. This being the case, the modern attitude to jump into Option three, without even deliberating upon Option one and two, can only be considered as a result of preconceived bias.

Function and Purpose of Smritis in Hindu Society

As we noted earlier, the primary function of Smritis is to act as Pramana Shastras that reveal knowledge about Dharma, a knowledge which cannot be known from any other Pramanas like Pratyaksha, Anumana, etc.

Kulluka Bhatta in his commentary on Manusmriti gives two examples to illustrate this:

Example 1: While everyone indulges in sexual intercourse, only Smritis reveal in what context and time does such sexual intercourse constitutes Dharma and imparts Punya (Karmic merit) and when it does not constitute Dharma and hence leads to Papa (Karmic demerit).

Example 2: While everyone practices one or the other job so as to earn livelihood and maintain families, it is only Dharmashastras which reveal about what kind of livelihood options are both materially and spiritually beneficial to which group of people.

As Pramana Shastra, the Smritis are concerned only with revealing knowledge about dharma, especially about the connection between Karma & Karmaphala. They are not law-books or constitution which were literally & hegemonically imposed upon the society in the past, nor are they books of commandments in a biblical sense as it is made out to be in modern scholarship.

The content of Dharmashastra is broadly divided into three subjects: Achara (practice), Vyavahara (Jurisprudence), and Prayaschitta (expiation). Neither Achara nor Prayashchitta are related to law and hence, Smritis cannot be lawbooks or constitution in strict sense. However, this does not mean they had no relevance in legal matters. They did. Dharmashastras formed the ethical and theoretical basis of law. Legal principles were derived from these texts. For example, on the question of inheritence, pre-colonial India largely followed the legal stipulations of Mitakshara of Vijnaneshwara and Dayabhaga of Jimutavahana.

The Dharmashastras were never imposed in a Biblical sense with respect to practices and morals of people. However, they formed the ethical backbone of the society. They provided the material, knowledge & tools to negotiate with reality and handle challenging issues. An example of how Dharmashastra formed the backbone of society with respect to socio-cultural-ethical issues can be found during the time of Marathas. Dipamba, the wife of Ekoji-the half-brother of Shivaji and the founder of Maratha Empire in Tanjore, commissioned Raghunatha Pandita to compose texts on Stri-dharma so that Hindu women who have strayed away from Hindu Dharma under Islamic influence can find proper guidance regarding their duties and spiritual practices.

The Dharmashastras thus constituted the Knowledge bank of Hindu society that provided theoretical frameworks like Purusharthas, Varna-ashrama Dharma, Apad-dharma, Prayashchitta, Raja-Dharma, Vyavahara, etc. These Dharmic principles derived and interpreted to the needs of the society guided the society and acted as its socio-religious-cultural-legal backbone.

The tenets of Dharma in the form of ‘Vidhi’ (prescribed) and ‘Nisheda’ (Prohibited) enunciated in Manu and other Smritis are generic and broad guidelines and are binding only in one sense: that a particular Karma or action gives rise to a particular kind of result and that particular result could be favourable leading to Sukha (happiness) or unfavourable leading to Dukka (sorrow) based on whether they are Dharma or Adharma. It is for this reason, Bhagavan Krishna in Bhagavad Gita 16.24 says: “The Shastras are the means to understand what actions to be performed and what actions to be avoided. Knowing thus the guidelines in Shastras, one should perform actions in the world.”

However, it is important to note that, the role of the text itself is limited to imparting this knowledge about action and results for the benefit of mankind. This also implies Smritis reveal first principles of dharma which are eternal and which will always remain valid no matter what socio-political changes occur in society. The latter, i.e. socio-political changes only influence the different applications of dharma in practice and not the first principles of dharma itself.

Whether one chooses to follow it or not, or how much one is able to follow it, or how one would interpret and contextualize the teachings to one’s situation is ultimately dependent upon one’s own discretion and exertion of free-will. Whether we approach them for knowledge, or for caricaturing them is up to us. The texts themselves stand tall and unaffected as Pramana Shastra

Final Words

  • Today we are living in a very challenging times wherein Hindu identity and what it means to be a Hindu facing immense attacks from within and without.
  • Because of the colonial dismantling of Hindu education institutions and long term foreign occupation has resulted in Hindus becoming deracinated form their roots.
  • We face immense challenges with the faster and faster developments in technological fields as well as the narrative war that is being waged against Hindu civilization, especially in the field of education, politics, and socio-cultural-religious issues.
  • On our part, we are blindly imitating the West and adopting their discourses and frameworks to understand our own society and to negotiate with rising challenges. Obviously there can be only one end result of this: dismantling & complete destruction of Hindu civilization.
  • The only solution to this is to revive Hindu knowledge traditions, institutions, and discourses. One important areas in such a revival has to be “Dharmashastras tradition”.
  • The Vidyasthana of Dharmashastra forms the socio-cultural backbone of Hindu civilization. Without it, we will be a value-less society and importantly, we will be analysing and negotiating with socio-cultural issues like abortion, adultery, domestic violence, etc. using alien frameworks unsuitable to Hindu society.
  • A correct understanding of Smritis & their function in society, followed by the revival of study, discussion, and interpretative tradition of Dharmashastras will go a long way in resurgence of Hindu civilization.

 

Works Consulted

Chatterjee, S (2015). The Nyaya Theory of Knowledge. New Delhi: Rupa publications.

Freschi, E., & Kataoka, K. (2012). Jayanta on the validity of sacred texts (other than the Veda). South Asian Classical Studies, Vol 7, 1-55. {This is a translation of Sarvāgamaprāmāṇya section of book four of Nyaya-Manjari of Jayanta Bhatta}

Jha, G. (Trans.) (1920). Manusmriti with the ‘Manubhashya’ of Medhatithi, Volume 3, English Translation, Part 1, Discourses I & II. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited.

Sandal, M L. (Trans.) (1923). The Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini. In The Sacred Books of the Hindus, Volume 27, Part I-VIII. Allahabad: Panini Office.

Sridhar, N. (2019). Samanya Dharma. Hubli: Subbu Publication.

Vidyabhushana, S C. (Trans.) (1913). The Nyaya Sutras of Gotama. In The Sacred Books of the Hindus, Volume 8. Allahabad: Panini Office.

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