sources of hindu law

India is a country where the number of the population is very large and different sectors of these populations practice different religions like Hindu, Islam, Christianity and etc. When we talk about Hindu law then the first question that comes to our mind is who are Hindus?

So the definition of Hindu is nowhere defined as who Hindus are and what they are all about. It is very difficult to define who are Hindus but it is easy to define those who are not Hindus. So it is mentioned under Hindu Marriage Act 1955 that if a person is not Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew then the person is considered to be Hindu. Sikh, Buddhist and Jains are ‘Deemed Hindus’.

Hindu law is the most ancient law of the world. It follows the principle of ‘Dharma’. All the Hindus and ‘Deemed Hindus’ are governed under this law. It is a personal law. There are different sources from which the Hindu law is made. So now let’s discuss the different sources of Hindu law.

Sources of Hindu Law are:

There are two sources of Hindu law-

  1. Ancient sources
  1. Shruti
  2. Smriti
  3. Customs
  4. Digests and commentaries

2. Modern sources

  1.  Equity, Justice and Good conscience
  2. Precedent
  3. Legislation

Ancient sources

  1. SHRUTI

It is the major and the primary source of Hindu law. Another name of Shruti is ‘Veda’. Shruti is derived from the root word “shru” which means “to hear”. Shruti is something which was heard, as at that time there was no written material by which the knowledge can be imparted. So the sages used to orally communicate knowledge to their families and the members of the family used to carry it forward.

Shruti is made up of four Vedas and earlier there were three Vedas only and Atharvaveda was added later. The Vedas are:

  1. Rigveda – It is a collection of Hymns (1,028) and 10 books (Mandalas)
  2. Yajurveda- It is also known as sacrificial Veda. It is an upgradation of Rigveda. It is further divided into black and white Yajurveda.
  3. Samaveda – It is the Vedas of melodies and chants.
  4. Atharvaveda- It is the procedure for everyday life.

2. SMRITI

It is derived from the word ‘smri’ which means ‘to remember’. Shruti’s are the foundation of smritis.

3. CUSTOMS

Customs are basically superior to the written laws. Customs should be certain, reasonable and in continuity. Different types of customs are there like local custom, family custom, caste and community customs and international customs.

4. DIGESTS and COMMENTARIES

Digests means to gather the scattered material in form of Shruti’s and smritis and to complete it in a comprehensive form.

Commentaries are basically the opinion of a person given to explain.

Modern sources

  1. EQUITY, JUSTICE and GOOD CONSCIENCE

Equity means fairness and clarity.

Justice is given by following the principle of equity and good conscience.

  1. PRECEDENTS

The doctrine of precedent is based on the principle of treating like cases alike.

  1. LEGISLATION

 Legislation is an act of parliament that plays an important role in the formation of Hindu law.

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