About the Book
Shri Vishnudharmottara is of an encyclopaedic nature, consisting of three khandas.
In this khanda, it contains short treatise’s on Dharma and Rajanits. The rules and regulations regarding four Ashramas are given in full details. It deals not only with various stories, myths and legends but also with varied subjects, viz., cosmology and cosmogony, geography, astronomy and astrology, division of time. geneologies (mainly of kings and sages), manners and customs, penances, results of actions, rules about vrata and shraddha, praise of various kinds of donations, law and politics, sciences of war, anatomy. medicine, treatment of diseases of human beings and animals, cookery, manufacture of perfumes, horticulture.
It deals with the duties of men and women as householders so Panchamatha Yajnas are given. It treats with rituals, omens, manners and customs, Rules of ceremonial bathing and minute rules of daily life and occasional rituals are also discussed.
About the Author
Dr. Priyabala Shah is a wellknown scholar in the field of architecture, sculpture, icnography etc. Her dedicated academic pursuit is responsible for this publication. Besides this, she has published many important works in English as well as in Gujarati. She has edited many works on dancing from the rare manuscripts of Sanskrit.
Shree Vishnudharmottara. a work of absorbing interest, attracted my attention, while studing Indian Culture. A part of the study gave me the dectorate, but the interest in the work went on increasing.
The work is of an encyclopredic nature so it deals with not only the rituals, omens, manners and customs but foods and drinks, horticulture and animal husbandary, selection of horses, elephants etc. It deals with the duties of men and women as householders So panch-Mahajnas, rules of ceremonial bathing and minute rules of daily life and occasional rituals are also discussed. For these the astrological requirements of selection of time, day and Muhurtas are discussed. For this purpose astronomical knowledge is essential, so chapters on astronomy that deal with movements of sun moon, planets etc. are also discussed therein.
The physical welfare of the individuals and the society are also detailed in the ayurvedic parts that deal with child- birth, medicines, nursing treatment of diseases, rites for the welfare, so that the men and women could lead a healthy life.
The relationship of man with animal world is also fairly well discussed in the Vishnudharmottara It deals with the diseases of animals and their treatment. The periods of impurity, daily duties of a householder viz. answering the call of nature, cleansing the mouth, bathing etc. are given. So also the duties of four castes and mixed castes, marriages, intercaste marriage are discussed Method of worshipping God Visnu and selection of flowers for the purpose in shown. Names and descriptions of hells and results of stealing different articles are shown. Description of various kinds of heavenly atmosphere are given. It deals with both astrology and astronomy is good details. This part is in prose. It is a dialogue between Brahma and Bhrgu.
Thus this Vishnudharmottara has a Character of compilation. It contains summaries of and extracts and isolated verses from some of the early works of different branches of Sanskrit literature like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavadgita, Upanishads, Manusmritis etc Its chapters on Astronomy and Astrology constitute a distinct section called ‘Paitamaha Siddhanta.’ The Sanskrit text is very corrupt. This second Khanda of Shree Vishnudharmottara treats the customs and rituals of its time i. e. the fifth century A. D. It is very interesting to note here that the rituals which we find in this work are still prevailing in the society without much change. I am regretfully aware of the fact that inspite of best care a few mistakes of proof-reading have crept into the work. I crave the indulgence of the scholars for these lapses.
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