The text has a strong bhakti
orientation, requiring daily puja to Lord Vishnu. It is also known for its handling of the controversial subject of the practice of sati (the burning of a widow on her husband`s funeral pyre). A Banaras pandit, Nadapandita, was the first to compile a commentary on the Vishnu smriti in 1622.
Vishnu smriti relies on previous Dharma sastra
texts for instance the Manu
and Yajnavalkya smritis. It is considered to be composed between 300BCE and 1000CE. It is argued that Vishnu Smriti is the work of a single Brahmin expert in Dharmasastra tradition who was also a devotee of Lord Vishnu.
This text is divided into one hundred chapters that consist of prose text. At the end of each chapter there is one or more verse included. It is a dialogue between Lord Vishnu and the goddess Earth. This story remains present throughout the text.
It begins when Lord Vishnu realizes that Earth is submerged underwater. He dives to rescue her. Earth is grateful to Vishnu but worries as to who would support her in the future. He assures her that she should not as there would be someone to support him. Thereafter he explains the teachings of dharma.
Content of Vishnu smriti
The following comprises of the themes that have been discussed in each of the hundred chapters:
I-Vishnu and the Goddess of the Earth
II-the Four Castes
III-Duties of the King
IV-Weights and Measures
V-Criminal and Civil Law
VI-Law of Debt
LVIII-LXX-Duties of a Householder
LXXI-Rules for a Snataka
XCVII-Meditation on Vishnu
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