A Companion to Dharmasastra

Sures Chandra Banerji, D K Printworld, 1998, xiv, 265 p, ISBN : 8124600988, $20.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

A Companion to Dharmasastra/Sures Chandra Banerji

Contents: Preface. 1. Introduction. 2. Political, social and religious background of Dharmasastra. 3. Authors. 4. Works. 5. Aspects of society in ancient and medieval India: reflected in Smrti-Sastra. Appendices. Glossarial index of Smrti literature. Select bibliography.

"Dharmasastra is not just a corpus of scriptural texts. It is rather a genre, in its own right, of writings comprising prescriptive codes of righteous conduct in different spheres: whether familial, societal, ritualistic, legal, or even political. For the first time, this book offers a quintessential view of the dharmasastra (smrti) literature. Which today, along with its digests and commentaries, looks like a vast reservoir of literary works that have been accumulating over the centuries since their legendary beginnings with Manu.

Designed primarily for reference, this Companion is styled and structured to bring forth the dharmasastra-essentials in the quickest time. Listed here, alphabetically, are the major authors with their biographical sketches. And, these besides, the titles, together with descriptive details of their thematic content, dates/probable dates of their composition, published editions and commentaries their upon. Also included here are as many as 12 appendices which, in their totality, embody dharmasastra-based information on geography, flora and fauna, mixed castes/tribes, neo-smrti schools, and the kind of relation smrti literature has with the Mahabharata, Puranas, and tantra, among other aspects.

Professor Banerji’s book not only tries to show how dharmasastra works are representative of the ancient/medieval political, social and cultural milieus, but is also a painstaking attempt to gauge their influence in conditioning the Indian way of life and psyche. Supported by an extensive glossarial index of smrti literature, it is indisputably a valued companion to the dharmasastra-specialists, indologists and the scholars of ancient/medieval Indian sociology." (jacket)

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