Examine the various kinds of Sutras as a part of Kalpa tradition of ancient Indian literature.

Published: May 1, 2016

Kalpa means Ritual Canon. It contains the sacrificial practice and systematic sutras. There are three kinds of Sutras which form part of Kalpa:

  • Śrautasūtras, which are based on the Shruti, and teach the performance of the great sacrifices, requiring three or five sacrificial fires.
  • Smartasūtras, or rules based on the Smriti or tradition. The Smartasūtras have two classes-
    • Grhyasutras, or domestic rules.
    • Dharmasutras or customs and social duties.

Dharmasutra can be called the guidebooks of dharma as they contain the rules of conduct and rites as practiced in the Vedic schools. They discuss about the duties of people at different stages of life like student life, householding, retirement and renunciation. These stages are also called āśramas. They also discuss about the rites and duties of kings, judicial matters, and even personal practices like the regulations in diet, offenses and expiations, daily oblations, and funerary practice. There are four Dharmasutras  are Apastamba’s Dharmasutra, Gautama’s Dharmasutra, Baudhāyana’s Dharmasutra and Vāsiṣṭha’s Dharmasutra.

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