The Dharmasutra of Āpastamba forms a part of the larger Kalpasūtra of Āpastamba. It contains thirty praśnas, which literally means ‘questions’ or books. The subjects of this Dharmasūtra are well organized and preserved in good condition. These praśnas consist of the Śrautasūtra followed by Mantrapāṭha which is used in domestic rites and is a collection of ritual formulas, the Gṛhyasūtra which deals with domestic rituals and lastly the Śulvasūtra which are principles of geometry needed for vedic rituals.
Authorship and Dates
Āpastamba is from a family of Brahmins of the Taittirīya branch Vedic school dedicated to the study of the KRISHNA Yajurveda. It is believed that the entire Kalpasūtra was written by Āpastamba, but, Kane states that there is difference of opinion among scholars regarding this issue. Kane assigns this Dharmasūtra an approximate date between 450-350 BC.
Several ancient commentaries were written on this Dharmasūtra. Among the most famous and the only one that survives is that of Haradatta. He commented on the praśnas of Āpastamba’s Gṛhyasūtra and Mantrapāṭha and Gautama’s Dharmasūtra. Haradatta belonged to South India, and Kane dates him to 1100-1300 CE.
Organization and contents
This Dharmasūtra is well organized and is divided into two books. The first is devoted to the student and deals in related topics like general rules, initiation, studentship, a student who has returned home, the study of the Veda, saluting, purification, eating, and forbidden food, lawful livelihood, and penance. The second book is devoted to the householder tradition. It deals in topics like the duties of a householder, inheritance, funeral oblations, the four orders called āśramas, and the king.
- Patrick Olivelle, Dharmasūtras: The Law Codes of Ancient India, (Oxford World Classics, 1999), p 3.
- Robert Lingat, The Classical Law of India, (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt Ltd, 1993), p 20.
- Patrick Olivelle, Dharmasūtras: The Law Codes of Ancient India, (Oxford World Classics, 1999), p xxxi.
- Patrick Olivelle, Dharmasūtras: The Law Codes of Ancient India,gg (Oxford World Classics, 1999), p 4-6.
- O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Apastamba", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews. (discussion of his Sulbasutra)
- Introduction to Apastamba (Hindu scriptures website)