No text by the name ‘Vadhula Dharmasutra’ is known to
have ever existed, analogous to the Dharmasutras of Baudhayana, Apastamba
and other Taittiriya charanas. However, a Vadhula Smriti exists, and has
been published twice.
In 1988, Nag Publishers of Delhi published a collection of 56 Smrti texts,
in six volumes. Vadhula Smrti is number forty-six in this collection. The
edition gives no information on the manuscripts used, and no textual
variants are given. The text comprises of 224 shlokas.
Recently, a critical edition has been published [CHAUBEY 2000]. This edition
gives detailed information on the manuscripts used, and gives textual
variants in the footnotes. The division of the text into individual shlokas
is more correct, and therefore there are 233 shlokas instead of 224 in the
previous edition. The major reason for this discrepancy is that the new
edition considers 15 shlokas as comprising of 2 padas only, whereas the
previous edition uniformly considers each individual shloka as comprised of
4 padas. Either way, the Smrti is a fairly short text and is not subdivided
into chapters or other sections.
The following description of the text is based on this critical edition, and
the editor’s preface to the same.
Authorship of Vadhula Smrti:
The Vadhula Smrti does not appear to be the composition of Muni Vadhula
himself. It is a rather late text, composed by an adherent of the Vadhula
Taittiriya Sakha of Yajurveda. Several reasons lead us to this conclusion –
First, the Smrti refers to Muni Vadhula by name and as ‘dharmavit’ and ‘munisardula’.
While it is common in Indian textual tradition for the author to refer to
himself in the third person in his own texts, it is rather unusual to refer
to oneself in superlative terms of excellence.
Second, Vadhula Muni is one of the oldest authors of a Kalpasutra. This is
evidence from the archaic language and style of the text vis-à-vis other
Kalpasutra texts, and also from other literary evidence. Towards the
beginning of his Prayogaklrpti, the author Sivasrona quotes, from an
unknown source, a shloka according to which Apastamba was a grand-disciple
of Vadhula, and through Agnivesya. However, the Vadhulasmrti quotes a
differing opinion of Apastamba in verses 150-151. While it is not
impossible for one to quote differing opinions of a grand-disciple, it is
quite improbable nevertheless.
Third, the Vadhulas possess a grhya text named
Vadhulagrhyaagamavrttirahasya, which is authored by Acharya Narayana Mishra
of Sangamgrama. Numerous verses of the Vadhulasmrti are found as integral
part of the vrttirahasya, which according to CHAUBEY [2000:xvi], appears to
be older than the Vadhulasmrti. However, this is merely a conjecture, and no
certain conclusion can be made from this particular piece of evidence.
Fourth, Vadhulasmrti is often omitted in lists enumerating authoritative
smrtis. For instance, the tradition list of eighteen canonical Dharmasastras
do not mention Vadhulasmrti. Alberuni names twenty-six smrtis but does not
name Vadhula’s works. Numerous medieval Dharma-digests, such as the
Smrtichandrika (13th century C.E.) do not mention although verses occurring
in the Vadhulasmrti are cited but attributed to other Sages such as Manu,
Yajnavalkya, Yama etc. Again, this is merely an argumentum e silentio, and
is not conclusive, though suggestive. Curiously, P. V. Kane also does not
mention Vadhulasmrti in his magnum opus on the history of dharmashastra.
Perhaps, he was not aware of the existence of independent manuscripts of
Fifth, the Vadhulasmrti is distinctly a Vaishnava text. It directs the
pious to sing the praises of Lord Vishnu upon waking up in the morning (shloka
4), specific statements deal with the partaking of the washings of Sri
Vishnu’s icon (e.g., shloka 32), rules for different varnas for wearing the
tripundra (shloka 101ff.) are given in great detail, meditation on Sri
Vishnu during Brahmayajna together with a recitation of the Purushasukta (Rgveda
10.90) is enjoined (shloka 161) and so on.
Sixth, it relates some rules on untouchability, which are conspicuous by
their absence per se in ancient Smrtis.
Seventh, the Mahopanishad is cited as an authority for declaring the virtues
of wearing the Urdhvapundra (shloka 103). This Upanishad itself is typically
dated after 500 C.E.
Many other reasons could be cited, but the above are sufficient to conclude
that the Vadhulasmrti is a recent text, and is definitely not the
composition of the same Muni who is linked to the authorship of Vadhula
Relationship of Vadhulasmrti to Taittiriya Sakha:
Numerous conclusive indications are available that connect our text with
Taittiriya Yajurveda. From an examination of the text, it is certain that it
belongs to the Vadhula branch of Taittiriya Yajurvedins.
First, manuscripts of the text are found in conjunction with manuscripts of
other Vadhula texts (such as Vadhula Srautasutra).
Second, the three conditions whereby an ‘aatmarudha’ destroys his
interiorized sacred fires are derived from Vadhula Anvakhyana 6.15.8
Third, Vadhulasmrti rubricates numerous Vedic mantras for ablutions,
expiations and atonements etc., in verses 21, 79, 80, 81, 82, 85, 86, 88,
89, 90 etc. and all these mantras occur in the Taittiriya Aranyaka. Shloka
92 alludes to Apastamba Mantrapatha 2.20.23. Numerous other mantras are
cited from the Taittiriya Samhita. However, under one verse each, Vajasneyi
Samhita 2.34 (shloka 92), Maitrayani Samhita 1.4.3 (shloka 160) and Rgveda
8.93.4 (shloka 134) are also referred to.
Contents of Vadhulasmrti -
Hindu tradition views a pious Brahmin as teacher to laypersons, as a bearer
of the sacred word, as an living embodiment of holiness, as a guide to the
rulers, and as an authority on Dharma. He is naturally expected to lead a
life full of austerities, to be pure in word, thought and deed, and to
remain immersed in his pious vocations at all times. His entire life is
therefore designed to be an endless holy rite, a prayer, a meditation, an
offering to the devatas, and as a shining light to others. In order to be an
exemplar to others, and be faithful to his privileged duties, the Brahmin
must take utmost care throughout his life to be pure. The day is a basic
unit of one’s life, and Vadhulasmrti attempts to prescribe the methods and
techniques whereby all pious Hindus, and those of Brahminical vocation in
particular, can lead a dharmic life by regulating even their small daily
actions, day after day. Many of these regulations are clearly impractical in
The Vadhulasmrti is a very short text of only 233 shlokas. It commences in
the usual manner, in which various saints and sages approach Vadhula Muni
with reverence and request him to expound the tenets of religious
The Vadhulasmrti deals merely with the daily, and optional rites of a Veda
reciting Brahmnin from the Braahmamuhurta (early morning) to the Sandhya
performed at sunset. The day starts with meditation on Sri Vishnu. Each act
– bathing, discharging urine, cleaning teeth etc., is accompanied with a
pious act such as recitations of mantras, or observance of certain
precautions or offering of water to the devatas, one’s ancestors and so on.
Cleanliness or purity is considered two-fold: external as well as internal.
The morning Sandhya is performed a little before sunrise, the mid-day around
noon, and the last one is performed when the sun has set partially. The
three Sandhyas are respectively called Gayatri, Savitri and Sarasvati. Each
Sandhya is accompanied by sacred recitations (japa).
Pranayama (physical and spiritual exercises dealing with control of breath
and life-forces) is also enjoined for the pious, and various rules to be
observed for the same are listed. Regular study of the Veda, and performance
of Homa are mandatory for the pious, and Vadhulasmrti enjoins the proper way
of doing these.
A few quotations from Vadhulasmrti:
The verses cited below are not representative of the text. They are quoted
only if they are of relevance to lay Hindus. My selection is bound to be
idiosyncratic, decided by my own preferences.
“Purification is of two types- external and internal. External purification
is achieved through water and clay. Internal purification results from
cleansing of one’s inner thoughts (and emotions).” Shloka 19
(This verse occurs in several Smritis)
“He who eats without offering oblations (to devatas), eats worms (so to
He who eats before feeding others, eats poison (so to speak).” Shloka 76
“As many phenomes/letters of the Veda one employs to earn money,
he gets tainted with the sin of that many killings of Brahmins.” Shloka 162
“The following persons are chandalas – who indulges in violence against
others, cruel, who cohabits with another’s wife, he who seizes the
possessions of others, and he who lacks compassion.” Shloka 177
“Sruti and Smrti are the two eyes of Brahmins. He who is bereft of one is
one eyed, and if bereft of both, is completely blind – thus it is said.”
“Devatas consider him alone a Brahmin, who is fearful of quarrels as he
would be of a snake, who is afraid of honor as if it were death, and who is
afraid of (sexual relations with) women, i.e., is celibate, as he would shun
a corpse.” Shloka 199
“I consider such a person alone as a Brahmin, who is of a peaceful nature,
gentle, who has conquered anger, who has conquered his soul and who has
conquered his sense organs. All others are but Sudras.” Shloka 200
“The body of a Brahmin is not meant for enjoyment of pleasures. It is meant
to forbear great austerities in this life, so that infinite bliss (of moksa
or salvation) may result upon death.” Shloka 201
CHAUBEY, Braj Bihari. 2000. Vadhula-Smrti, Critically edited with Hindi
translation, detailed Introduction and several Indices. Katyayan Vaidik
______. 2001. Vadhula-Anvakhyanam, Critically edited with detailed
Introduction and Indices. Katyayan Vaidik Sahitya Prakashan: Hoshiarpur
 Manuscript no. 923 at the Government Oriental Manuscript Library,
Chennai, p. 377. This text deals with the Srauta sacrifices in the Vadhula
tradition, and is cited by CHAUBEY [2000:xv]
 The Grhyasutra of Agnivesya also exists and has been published.
 The difference of opinion pertains to the precautions that should be
observed by an ‘aatmarudha’ Brahmin. If a Brahmin establishes the sacred
fires and then needs to travel, he establishes the sacred fires inside
himself symbolically. Such an ‘ahitaagni’ person is then termed as ‘aatmarudha’.
According to Vadhulas (verse 150), such a person should not take a bath,
should not talk to a sinner and should not cohabit with his wife except in
acceptable periods, or else his interiorized sacred fire gets extinguished.
According to the differing opinion of Apastamba (verse 151) however, no such
restrictions need to be observed because an aatmarudha is always ritually
 A Vadhulagrahyasutra also exists in manuscript, and is being edited by
Yasuke Ikari from Japan.
 This is hardly surprising, because numerous Sri Vaishnava scholars from
Tamil Nadu and elsewhere belong to the Vadhula gotra.