Yajnavalkya Smriti was written during the rule of Gupta Empire
. It reflects a superior vocabulary. Its exact date of composition could not be ascertained. It was probably composed between the third and fifth centuries. The text became a well-known member of the dharma sastra
tradition by the last few centuries of the first millennium.
Source of Yajnavalkya smriti
Yajnavalkya drew heavily on the works of Manu
. Some of it has been rephrased into his own words. Some influential changes with regard to statecraft and judicial system has been made.
It has pioneered the structure which was adopted in future discourse. Dharma
has been divided into three categories. These three has been further subdivided.
The Legal Procedure has also been changed. The courts have been restructured. He distinguished between courts appointed by the king and those which were formed by communities of intermediate groups. He portrayed these courts as a part of a system of hierarchical appeals. The placement of the Ascetic orders has been changed. Forest hermits and renouncers are discussed under penance. Moksha
has been emphasized highly.
Structure of Yajnavalkya smriti
The Yajnavalkya smriti consists of 1,010 verses. The text is laid out in a manner of a story in which the sages of Mithila approach sage Yajnavalkya and ask him to teach them dharma. Yajnavalkya describes dharma that ahs been divided into three subtopics: Achara (proper conduct), Vyavahara (judicial procedures) and Prayaschitta
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