Primary Sources Of Hindu Law

Author: Shyam Gupta

Teerthanker Mahaveer University

BBA LLB (Hons)

Hindu law is basically based on the concept of the dharma, the concept of dharma is not properly defined in the Hindu law. It only talks about the way of living form birth till the death of the person. It only guide to force for the all Hindu about the proper conduct of person and perform your duties. As we all know that in ancient time, there were many Hindu kings their only work is to maintain the rules and follow the Vedas. Hindu law was launch for welfare of the people.

The ancient sources of Hindu law are Shruti, Smriti, Custom, Digest and Commentaries are discussed below :


Shruti is the primary source of Hindu law. The term shruti is derived form the word “shur” which mean to hear and the word for shruti is Vedas. There are four Vedas:

      1. Rig Veda is the collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns.
      2. Yajurva Veda is primarily  prose of  mantras for worship ritual.
      3. Sama Veda is the chants.
      4. Atharva Veda is the knowledge storehouse of atharvanas, the procedures for everyday life.


Smriti is derived from “smri” which means ‘to remember’. Basically, smriti contain those part of the shruti which is forgotten in their original form and written in their own language. There are 2 kinds of smriti :

      1. Dharma sutras talks about the rules regarding caste , the relationship between people , government etc. it is also known as early smriti.
      2. Dharma shastras talks about the rules regarding the moral code of conduct for Hindus. It is also known as later smriti.


Customs was superior to the written law. And also, the oldest form of the law-making. When the custom become the law then we have to follow the customs, it should be in continuity, large number of people follow the custom.

There are 4 types of customs :

      1. Local Customs: These are the customs that are followed by local locality.
      2. Family Custom: These are the customs that are followed by the members of the family.
      3. Caste and Community Custom: These are the custom followed by the particular caste person.
      4. Guild Custom: These are the custom followed by the traders.

Digests and Commentaries :

The most important source of law written by the various writers of Hindu law. It covers thousands of periods of time from 7th century to 1800 AD. Commentaries laid the foundation of various schools of Hindu law. It also contains the important aspects of all the smritis. The two famous smritis are :

      1. “Manusmriti” mean “new word” and the superior source of law.
      2. “Yajnavalkya”.

Relevant links : 


Disclaimer: This article is issued in the general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature and should research further or consult an expert in this regard.

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