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The YAJNAVALKYA SMRITI (
IAST : YāJñAVALKYA SMṛTI) is one of the
The text is the "best composed" and systematic specimen of this
genre, with large sections on judicial process theories, one which had
greater influence in medieval India's judiciary practice than
* 1 Date * 2 Author * 3 Structure * 4 Content * 5 Commentary * 6 Influence * 7 Notes
* 8 References
* 8.1 Bibliography
* 9 External links
The text most likely dates to the
Arguments for particular dating are based on the concise,
sophisticated vocabulary found throughout the text and on the use of
certain terms such as nāṇaka (a coin), and references to Greek
astrology (which has been known in India since the 2nd century; see
ATTESTED WRITTEN LEGAL DOCUMENTS Every loan transaction, where any amount has been agreed to be repaid with interest by a contract entered into by mutual consent, should be reduced to writing and should be attested by witnesses. — Yajnavalkya Smriti 2.84
The text is named after the revered Vedic sage Yajnavalkya who appears in many major Upanishads of Hinduism as well as other influential texts such as the Yoga Yajnavalkya . However, the text was composed more than a millennium after his life, It was attributed to him because the text is a SMRITI. A smriti is a form of knowledge that is passed from one generation to other orally. Rishi Yajnavalkya had formed all these ideas and had then passed it down the line. That is why the text has been attributed to him.
The text was likely composed in the Mithila region of historic India (in and around modern Bihar ).
The text is in classical Sanskrit, and is organized in three books.
These are achara-kanda (368 verses), vyavahara-kanda (307 verses) and
prayascitta-kanda (335 verses). The
Ludo Rocher states that this treatise, like others in Dharmasastras
genre, is a scholarly tradition on
The text is laid out as a frame story in which the sages of Mithila
approach Yājñavalkya and ask him to teach them dharma . The text
opens its reply by reverentially mentioning ancient
Smriti extensively quotes the Manu
Smriti and other
Dharma-texts, sometimes directly paraphrasing passages from these,
often reducing earlier views into a compendium and offering an
alternate legal theory. There are influential differences from the
Smriti and earlier
Woman is to be respected by her husband, brother, father, kindred, mother-in-law, father-in-law, husband's younger brother, and the bandhus, with ornaments, clothes and food. — Yajnavalkya Smriti 3.82
1. Pioneered the structure which was adopted in future dharmaśāstric discourse: a)Divided dharma into fairly equally weighted categories of:
b)Subdivided these three further by specific topics within the major subject heading.
2. Documentary evidence as the highest foundation of Legal Procedure: Yājñavalkya portrayed evidence as hierarchical, with attested documents receiving the highest consideration, followed by witnesses, and finally ordeals (five types of verifiable testimony).
3. Restructured the Courts: Yājñavalkya distinguished between courts appointed by the king and those which were formed by communities of intermediate groups. He then portrayed these courts as a part of a system of hierarchical appeals.
4. Changed the placement of the discussion of
5. Focused on Mokṣa : Increased attention was given to a description of Mokṣa, dwelling on meditation and the transience of the worldly body. There is even an in-depth, technical discourse based on a medical treatise of the time.
Five medieval era bhasya (review and commentaries) on Yajnavalkya Smrti have survived into the modern era. These are by Visvarupa (Bālakrīḍā, 750-1000 CE), Vijanesvara (Mitaksara, 11th or 12th century, most studied, from the Varanasi school), Apararka (Apararka-nibandha, 12th-century, from the Kashmir school), Sulapani (Dipakalika, 14th or 15th century) and Mitramisra (Viramitrodaya, 17th-century).
The legal theories in this text were likely very influential in
medieval India, because its passages and quotes are found inscribed in
every part of India, and these inscriptions are dated to be from
around 10th to 11th century CE. The text is also widely commented
upon, and referenced in popular works such as the 5th-century
Panchatantra. The text is profusely quoted in chapters 253-258 of the
extant manuscripts of the
* ^ Patrick Olivelle suggests the latter part of this timeframe, while PV Kane favored an earlier date.
* ^ A B Patrick Olivelle 2006 , p. 176 with note 24. * ^ Patrick Olivelle 2005 , p. 20. * ^ A B Patrick Olivelle 2006 , p. 188. * ^ Robert Lingat 1973 , p. 98. * ^ Timothy Lubin, Donald R. Davis Jr & Jayanth K. Krishnan 2010 , pp. 59-72. * ^ A B C Mandagadde Rama Jois 1984 , p. 31. * ^ Robert Lingat 1973 , p. 97. * ^ A B Mandagadde Rama Jois 1984 , pp. 31-32. * ^ Winternitz 1986 , pp. 599-600. * ^ Mandagadde Rama Jois 1984 , p. 300. * ^ A B Robert Lingat 1973 , pp. 97-98. * ^ A B Ludo Rocher 2014 , pp. 22-24. * ^ Timothy Lubin, Donald R. Davis Jr & Jayanth K. Krishnan 2010 , p. 44. * ^ Timothy Lubin, Donald R. Davis Jr & Jayanth K. Krishnan 2010 , p. 51. * ^ Benoy Kumar Sarkar (1985). Hindu Sociology. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 192. ISBN 978-81-208-2664-9 . * ^ Charles Drekmeier (1962). Kingship and Community in Early India. Stanford University Press. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-8047-0114-3 . * ^ Timothy Lubin, Donald R. Davis Jr & Jayanth K. Krishnan 2010 , p. 45. * ^ SC Vidyarnava (1938), Yajnavalkya Smriti, Book 1, verse III.LXXXII, page 163 * ^ A B Olivelle, "Literary History," p. 21 * ^ Timothy Lubin, Donald R. Davis Jr & Jayanth K. Krishnan 2010 , pp. 45-46. * ^ Mandagadde Rama Jois 1984 , pp. 300-302. * ^ A B C Olivelle, "Literary History," p. 22 * ^ A B Sures Chandra Banerji (1999). A Brief History of Dharmaśāstra. Abhinav Publications. pp. 72–75. ISBN 978-81-7017-370-0 . * ^ Ludo Rocher (2008). Gavin Flood, ed. The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. John Wiley & Sons. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-470-99868-7 . * ^ A B Mandagadde Rama Jois 1984 , p. 32. * ^ A B John Mayne 1991 , pp. 21-22. * ^ Sures Chandra Banerji (1999). A Brief History of Dharmaśāstra. Abhinav Publications. pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-81-7017-370-0 .
* Mandagadde Rama Jois (1984). Legal and Constitutional History of
India: Ancient legal, judicial, and constitutional system. Universal
* Yájnavalkya Smriti with Vijnanesvara commentary, Book