Open main menu

Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 25.djvu/36

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

two passages furnishes no stringent proof for the posteriority of the Manu-smriti to that which bears Vasishtha's name, that, on the contrary, it perhaps merely indicates the dependence of both works on a common source, be it on some older work or on the tradition current in the Brâhmanical schools. Such an objection would in most similar cases be perfectly legitimate, but in the present one it is, I think, barred by some peculiar circumstances. From the above-mentioned Hindu tradition, preserved by Govindasvâmin[1], we learn that the Vâsishtha Dharmasâstra originally belonged to a school of Rig-vedins who ascribed the settlement of their laws to the famous Vedic Rishi Vasishtha. The rule limiting the monthly interest on secured loans to one and a quarter per cent is found also in Gautama's Dharma-sûtra XII, 29, a work which, as has been shown elsewhere[2], is older than the Vasishtha-smriti. But neither there nor in any other work where it occurs[3] is its enunciation attributed to Vasishtha. Hence it is most probable that this addition was made by those who attributed their laws to Vasishtha, and who, therefore, had an interest in vindicating the invention of an important legal maxim for their spiritual head. If their law-book gives the rule in the form of a quotation, they probably do not mean to indicate that an older verse ascribing it to Vasishtha existed, but that the rule itself was an ancient one, and had been taken from a law-book or from the tradition of the Brâhmanical schools. With this explanation the mention of Vasishtha's name, made in Manu VIII, 140, still remains an indication that its author knew and referred to the existing Vâsishtha Dharmasâstra.

These passages are far too numerous to be set aside as possibly later interpolations, and there is, indeed, no circumstance connected with any of them which could lead to such a supposition. We must, therefore, admit that they clearly disprove the claim of the Manu-smriti to the first 

  1. See above, p. xx.
  2. Sacred Books of the East, vol. ii, pp. liii, liv.
  3. See e. g. Yâ. II, 37, and the texts of Brihaspati and Vyâsa quoted in Col. Dig. I, 26–27.