Author: Shivashankar Rao (Bangaloor, India)
DharmashAstras have three aspects-
Dharmasootras, Smritis and Nibandhas (digests).
NirNayasindhu of Kamalakara Bhatta mentions a hundred smritis and three hundred nibandhas.
Among the more important ones, mention may be made of Chaturvarga ChintAmanNi which is an encyclopaedic work by HemaAdri, Kalpataru of Laksmidhara, Smritichandrika of Devanna Bhatta, Smritikaustubha of AnantadEva, SmritiratnAkara of ChandEswara, Smrititatva of Raghunandana and VeeramitrOdaya of Mitramishra.
Among the more important commentaries available, mention could be made of the following:-
1. On Goutamadharmasootras:- commentaries by Haridatta, Maskarin, Asahaaya etc.,
2. On Manusmriti:- By MEdhAtithi, Kulluka etc.,
3. On YAjnavalkya smriti:- By Vishwaroopa, VijnanEswara, ShoolapANi etc.,
4. On ParAshara smriti:- MAdhavAcharya(Vidyaranya), Nandapanditha etc.,
Two important topics- Rajadharma and VyavahAra discussed in the Dharmashaastras are dealt with by Kautilya in his arthashAstra. MAdhava Yajvan and Bhattaswamin have written commentaries on these subjects based on ArthashAstra and these are Nayachandrika and Pratipadapanchika.
The Hindu society which had a chequered career over the long history has preserved the unity and solidarity by preserving the basic values, stressing on duties and responsibilities and more importantly by making necessary adjustments to suit the changing times.
The principles of Kalivarjya and Aapaddharma prove that our ancestors knew that any rule disliked by the majority of the people should be replaced with a more agreeable one.
Post independence, drastic changes have been made in the laws also.