The present edition of the Laghu-Harita-Smrti, along with its Introduction, English translation and note is not doubt an incomparable and a novel contribution to the hitherto published Dharmasastra literature, from the pen of a scholar of Purana literature.
Here is a small book on the “Laghu-Harita-Smrti” edited and translated with notes by Dr. Siddheswar Jena, Reader in Sanskrit, N.C. Autonomous College, Jajpur (Orissa). He is a scholar, famous for his research in Puranic-studies, especially on the Narasimha Purana. His three books on the Narasimha Purana and one more, incorporating his articles on legends in Puranas have already been published.
Harita, a celebrated ancient sage and a philosopher is also an ancient authority in the field of Dharmsastra. The digests and commentaries on Dharmsastra have profusely quoted sutras and verses, ascribed to this great sage. Some Smrti-texts, entitled “Harita Samhita”. “Laghu-Harita-Smrti”, and Vrddha-Harita-Smrti are available with his name in the printed collections of Smrtis. Here is a small book on the “Laghu-Harita-Smrti” edited and translated with notes by Dr. Siddheswar Jena, Reader in Sanskrit, N.C. Autonomous College, Jajpur (Orissa). He is a scholar, famous for his research in Puranic-studies, especially on the Narasimha Purana and one more, incorporating his articles on legends in Puranas have already been published.
While pursuing his research on the Narasimha Purana Dr. Jena got interested in the Laghu-Harita-Smrti, since the text of the said Purana had verses, similar to those found in the said Smrti-text. He once presented one paper on this comparative problem. Naturally, he first consulted one edition of the Laghu-Harita-Smrti. But Mm. P.V. Kane’s reference that the text contains 250 verses in the Jivananda edition, inspired him to make more search in the matter. He then consulted all the available editions of the Smrti and found that excepting a few variants, there is no difference in the total number of verses. All these activities of the scholar have resulted in the outcome of the present book. For making the text of the Laghu-Harita-Smrti more authentic and critical, he has consulted all the available seven editions of the text. Numerous manuscripts of the text are found in different manuscript-collections, but the editor has solely depended upon the printed editions for the present text, since the former are generally base upon them.
The editor has dealt with the important aspects like Harita, his date and his Smrtis and specifically discussed the problem of its correlation and textual similarity with the Narasimha Purana. Against Dr. Hazra, he has opined that the Narasimha Purana is the borrower and the Laghu-Harita-Smrti may be of an earlier date. Generally, Puranas seem to have assimilated and intergrated into their corpus, the Smrti-verses, which may be of earlier period.
The editor has given the text of the Laghu-Harita-Smrti in devanagari, along with verse to verse English translation. He has also presented detailed notes, incorporating discussion on the variant readings and explanations of some words, from the point of view of Dharmasastra. In all these aspects he has tried to be as perfect and accurate as was possible to him with the help of available resources. The verse-index and the Bibliography given at the end of the book would be found useful.
The present edition of the Laghu-Harita-Smrti, along with its Introduction, English translation and notes is no doubt an incomparable and a novel contribution to the hitherto published Dharmasastra literature, from the pen of a scholar of Purana literature.
Years back in 1980-81 when I was working on my dissertation “Narasimha Purana –A Study with Critical Introduction and Translation, I got interested in a Smrti- text called “Laghu-Harita-Smrti. The redactor of the Narasimha Purana has appropriated a large number of verses from the Laghu-Harita-Smrti. So since then I had an earnest desire to bring out its critical edition provided opportunity favours me.
As far as I remember correctly, the P.G. Department of Sanskrit, Utkal University organized a state-level Seminar on Smrti and Karmakanda on 8th May, 1998. There I presented a paper on the Laghu-Harita-Smrti which was highly appreciated. Thereafter my young friend Dr. Subash Chandra Dash, Lecturer in Sanskrit, Utkal University used to encourage me for bringing out an authentic edition of this Smrti-text. And it is because of his constant inspiration and insistence that the text in its present shape is going to be published after so many years.
This edition of the Laghu-Harita-Smrti is based upon seven printed texts available at present. In the History of Dharmasastra Vol. I, part I, p. 134 Kane maintains that in Jivananda’s collection Laghu-Harita-Smrti contains about 250 verses, but in course of my investigation when I came across Jivananda’s text where there is no numbering, I found that the total lines amount to 392 and they can be safely converted into 194 slokas like other texts in my possession. So I am sure, Laghu-Harita-Smrti has 7 Chapters and 194 verses in all. Though Pancanana Tarkaratna has translated this text into Bengali in Bangabda 1300, M.N. Dutt into English in the year 1906 and Pt. Mihir Chand into Hindi [published in Astadasa Smrti (pp. 80-113), Nag Publishers, Delhi, 1990], I differ from them in the interpretation of some verses. Moreover, the numbering of verses by Mihir Chand is very defective particularly in Chapters III and IV. So a reliable edition of the Laghu-Harita-Smrti was a desideratum of our time.
At the outset this humble attempt contains an Introduction focusing the importance of this Smrti, its connection with Harita-Gita and the Narasimha Purana. A possible date for this text has also been added. It is then followed by the genuine text with English translation and exhaustive notes. In the end, index of slokas, bibliography and the index of important words are appended for the benefit of Sanskrit scholars and general readers.
For the collection of different printed editions of Laghu-Harita-Smrti, I am indebted to Prof. M.L. Wadekar and Dr. (Mrs) Sweta Prajapati, Oriental Institute, Baroda, Prof. B.K. Swain, Sri Jagannatha Sanskrit University, Puri and Dr. Niranjan Jena, C.A.S.S., Poona. During the period when this work was in rapid progress, it is Prof Wadekar who has actually helped me a lot. In fact I have no words to express my gratitude to him. In spite of his busy schedule he has spared sometime for me to go through it; and he has obliged me by writing a foreword to my work. Once again I extend my heart-felt thanks to him for his kind gestures shown to me. I am also thankful to Prof. G.K. Dash, Department of Sanskrit, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar for correctly interpreting three ambiguous verses of the Laghu-Harita-Smrti. I put on record the ungrudging help and assistance of my former student Dr. Sulok Sundar Mohanty, now Reader-in-Sanskrit, N.C. College, Jajpur who, being a scholar of Smrti literature has met my queries on certain dubious Smrti-works and has offered very considered and cogent suggestions on some debatable Smrti problems.
Lastly Mr. C. P. Gautam M/S Bharatiya Kala Prakashan, Delhi deserves all praise and admiration for taking up the publication of this work in right earnest and for bringing it out in time.
Sruti or Veda is a sum total of Mantras and Brahmanas (Mantra-Brahmanayor Veda-namadheyam). Mantra means a hymn addressed to some natural force or divinity. The collection of Mantras is called Samhita. The Samhitas are four in number-Rk, Sama, Yajuh and Atharva. They are compiled for the smooth performance of the Vedic sacrifices.
The Brahmanas, unlike the Mantras are written in prose. They are the elaboration of the complicated rituals of the Vedas. They deal with rules and regulations for the practical performance of the rites and sacrifices. The Mantras and the Brahmanas are called the Karmakanda as they deal with the sacrificial rituals. On the other hand, the Aranyakas and the Upanisads are called the Jnana-kanda as they deal with the knowledge of the Self. Of the six systems of Indian philosophy, the Mimamsa is connected with Karmakanda. It deals with earlier portion of the Vedas i.e. Mantra and Brahmana and is, therefore, called Purva-Mimamsa. In contrast to Vedanta philosophy which deals with Brahman, it is related to Dharma and hence it is rightly called Dharma-Mimamsa.
Smrti is connected with Dharma. It reflects the socio-religious life of the Indian people through centuries. The historical evolution of the socio-religious life of the different people living in different parts of India and swearing allegiance to various forms of religion can be traced in the different Smrti-texts composed at different periods of time. Smrti literature in general records the activities of the Aryans so far as their every day life is concerned. For a proper understanding of the evolution of social and religious institutions through the ages, study of Smrti literature is, in fact, indispensable. History of Dharmasastra Vols I-VIII by P.V. Kane is a monumental work in this regard.
In Smrti-texts generally the manners and conduct are dealt with as they constitute the very essence of a cultured life. The major Smrti-works are divided into three sections –acara (duties in general), vyavahara (kingly duties and laws of punishment) and prayascitta (expiation). The section on acara or duties in general is treated as the basis of social conduct. It also includes the discussion of social and ethical codes. Vyavahara stands for kingly duties and laws of punishment. It involves civil and criminal law and judicial procedure. The prayascitta or expiationis, however, a major issue with all the Smrti-texts. They describe in detail the various types of sins and their consequences so that people may abstain from sins and take recourse to right path. The method of expiation for each type of sin or evil deed is elaborately treated in the Smrtis.
The Manu-Smrti and Yajnavalkya Smrti are regarded as authoritative Smrti-works on all the three aspects discussed above. Some Smrtikaras like Baudhayana, Vyasa and Asvalayana attach importance only to varnasrama-dharma and expiation. In short, the aim and purpose of all the Smrits is to provide people with a general social code of conduct which enables them to follow a pious and cultured way of life.
Coming to the law-maker Harita we may say that Harita was an ancient Sutrakara on Dharma. He was profusely quoted by Baudhayana, Apastamba, and Vasistha as an authority in their respective Dharmasutras. As Kane mentions, it is Pt. Vamansastri Islampurkar who discovered a manuscript of Harita-Dharmasutra at Nastik. It consists of 30 Chapters and from its contents and language it appears to be ancient. In this text the prose is mixed up with verses in Anustubh and Tristubh metres and the Kashmirian word Kaphella is cited here. From numerous quotations from Harita in the Nibandhas it seems that like other Dharmasutrakaras he deals exhaustively with the same topics such as sources of dharma, two types of brahmacarin, snataka, house-holder, forest-hermit, prohibitions about food, impurity on birth and death, sraddha, general rules of conduct, the five yajnas, Vedic study, holidays and so on.
Harita not only refers to Vedas, Vedangas and Dharmasastras, but also to many other branches of knowledge. As he quotes from each and every Veda, he does not belong to any specific Veda. And it is because of this that though Kumarila assigns Apastamba and Baudhayana to the Taaittiriya school, he does not assign Harita to any particular school. He only takes the latter to be an ancient Dharmasutrakara.
Kane describes at length the quotations from Harita by various texts. The Krtya-Kalpataru of Laksmidhara (1125-1145 A.D.) many a time quotes prose and verses from Harita. The brahmacarikanda guotes over 50 times and the vyavahara kanda guotes over 70 times. It is Apararka who makes both prose and verse quotations from Harita over 110 times. Thus it leads Kane to remark-“The Dharmasutra of Harita appears to have been a very extensive one and was in mixed prose and verses.
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