One thing that always struck me as odd about the Parashara smriti is how often it references Manu. The Vishnu Smriti is said by Vishnu, but in response to a desire to know what Kashyapa (reincarnated Manu), also known as ​Ariṣṭanemi, says. Is any dharma shastra not dependent on him?

This is especially problematic as without speech marks it is really hard to tell how much is quoted.

Some are sneaky with the reference. The Yājñavalkya Smṛti happens in Mithila, which was named after a king under Dasharatha (an incarnation of Manu). Thus, it seems all roads go to one end.

Even sneakier is the Vyasa Smriti. It makes it really hard to figure out which Vyasa is speaking. However, it does say his hermitage is in Varanasi and the only person that seems to be referenced as having a hermitage at Varanasi is the sun, Mārtaṇḍa, who is one of the Vyasas (specifically the fifth of Vaivasvata Manvantara).

Now, the translation says he remembered from the heart, but the actual Sanskrit wording uses the word for an embryo. So more literally it means he remembered from when he was an embryo. Guess who his father is. It is Kashyapa, tying the Vyasa Smriti, as with all the others examined so far, to Manu/Kashyapa.

Now the Apastamba Dharmasutra (which I doubt as a real dharma shastra but I'll cover it anyway for its popularity) just gives its source as an undescriptive agreement of those who know the law. In the Rig Veda, Kashyapa is described as knowing the law, so it could be him. It's kind of obvious from who they are that some of the authors know the correct law, but that is not the issue.

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    @mar Do you have a better way to describe something so needlessly hard to track down? Well, without being more acussatory. Commented Jan 19, 2022 at 2:42
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    @mar This is not about contradictions, it is about the source. Although any apparent contradictions is odd when they all come from the same guy. Commented Jan 19, 2022 at 2:50
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    @mar How is the progenitor of mankind a good thing here? Sure he is superpowered and very intelligent, but he has the personality of humans in general, as all humans come from him. Have you seen the personality of humans in general? Commented Jan 19, 2022 at 2:59
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    @mar He is not normal. He is still human though and thus pretty much has to have the personality of a human. People with the personality of a human don't tend to be trustworthy no matter how powerful they are. Commented Jan 19, 2022 at 3:06
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    @mar If you made the same thing true for a normal human, would you expect their nature to change on a fundamental level? Commented Jan 19, 2022 at 3:12

1 Answer 1


Completing the explanations of dharma shastras/dharma sutras, for at least the ones that both appear to be there completely and are in the Padma Purana canon, is the explanation of the Vāsiṣṭha Smriti/Dharma Sutra. It conveniently just tells you it's from Manu.

  1. Manu has declared that the (peculiar) laws of countries, castes, and families (may be followed) in the absence of (rules of) the revealed texts.

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