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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 2, p. 262.

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Legal Several legal treatises of the type of the Dharma Sitras were
literature. composed in the post-Vedic period, the most important being
the Vishnu-smriti, which, in its final form at least, cannot be
earlier than about A.D. 200. The regular Sanskrit law-books
are, however, distinguished from their predecessors by two
characteristics. They are metrical in form, and are much
Code of wider in the scope of their subject-matter. The chief and
Manu. oldest of them is the Manava-dharma-sastra, or 'Code
of Manu,' which probably assumed its present shape soon
after A.D. 200. It contains 2,684 glokas, a large proportion
Code of of which it has in common with the Mahdbhdrata. Next
valkyaa- comes the YdjiiavaZkya-dharma-sastra, which seems to have
been composed about A.D. 350. It is much more concise than
Manu, containing only i,oo9 slokas. Its author probably
Nareada- belonged to Mithilg, the capital of Videha (Tirhut). The
Smyriti. third great law-book, the Narada-smriti, was the first to limit
the subject of dharma to law in the strict sense. It is much
more voluminous than the two earlier codes, as it extends to
Iz,ooo , lokas in length. Founded apparently on Afanu for
the most part, it dates probably from about A.D. 500.
The legal The commentaries form the second stage of Sanskrit legal
commen- literature. The oldest surviving one is that of Medhatithi on
taries. Manu (c. A.D. 900). The best known commentary on Manu
is, however, that of Kulluka-bhatta, composed at Benares in
the fifteenth century. The most famous commentary on
Yij'l4az'alk;'a is Vijfinanesvara's Afiakshara (c. A.D. oo00). It
early attained to the position of a standard work nearly all over
India. In the nineteenth century it acquired great importance
in the practice of the Anglo-Indian law courts through Cole-
brooke's translation of the section on the law of inheritance.
Legal corn- A third stage is represented by the legal compendia
pendia. called Dharma-nibandhas, a multitude of which were composed
after A.D. IIoo. The most imposing of them is Hemadri's
voluminous Chaturvarga-chintdmani (r. A.D. 1300). Another,
Jimitavahana's Dharma-ratna, dating probably from the
fifteenth century, deserves mention because it contains the
famous treatise on the law of inheritance entitled Ddyabhdga,
which, as the chief work of the Bengal school on the subject,
was translated by Colebrooke. It is to be noted that the
Indian law-books occupy a different position from those of
other nations, because they are the work of private individuals.
They were, moreover, written by Brahmans for Brahmans,
whose caste pretensions they consequently exaggerate. Hence
it is important to check their statements by outside evidence.

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