Hinduism - What Are The Dharma Sutras?

("dharma aphorisms") The first works particularly dedicated to dharma—moral responsibilities, rights, and obligations for distinct social groupings. 

These were produced between the seventh and second centuries B.C.E. as collections of aphorisms, some of which are so concise that they almost demand interpretation. 

The Dharma Sutras, according to hypothesis, were the third and last section of a Kalpa Sutra (complete manual of religious practice) that also included instructions for Vedic rituals (Shrauta Sutras) and household ceremonies (Grhya Sutras). 

Each Kalpa Sutra was theoretically linked to one of the four Vedas, the earliest Hindu sacred writings, and hence belonged to the brahmins (priests) associated with that Veda. 

A certain Dharma Sutra was identified with a specific set of brahmins and served largely as a behavior handbook for them. 

Since more than twenty collections of Dharma Sutras have been unearthed, the true picture is significantly more complicated, albeit the most important are attributed to sages and authors Apastamba, Gautama, Vasishtha, Baudhayana, and the divinity Vishnu. 

These Dharma Sutras attempted to offer an orderly way of life by defining each person's rights and responsibilities in relation to his or her social standing (varna) and life stage (ashrama). 

Later Dharma Shastras (treatises on religious obligation) were based on these works, which enlarged the sutras, placed them into poetry, and were meant to serve as a real rule of law for the community's members. 

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