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Yajnavalkya Smriti

Unraveling the Ancient Legal Treatise on Family Law, Inheritance, and Sacrificial Rites

Author Name :

Sage Yajnavalkya.

Time Period :

Estimated to have been composed around 200-500 CE.

Source when Found :

Yajnavalkya Smriti is one of the texts in the Dharmashastra genre and has been preserved in ancient manuscripts and commentaries.


The Yajnavalkya Smriti, attributed to the esteemed sage Yajnavalkya, is an ancient legal treatise that delves into various aspects of family law, inheritance, and sacrificial rites. This profound text provides invaluable insights into the social and legal norms of ancient India. In this article, we will explore the origins, key themes, and enduring significance of the Yajnavalkya Smriti, highlighting its contributions to the understanding of family dynamics and religious practices in Hindu society.


The Yajnavalkya Smriti stands as a revered legal treatise in Hindu literature, attributed to the renowned sage Yajnavalkya. Composed in classical Sanskrit, this text serves as a comprehensive guide on family law, inheritance, and rituals associated with Vedic sacrificial rites. It addresses various aspects of societal conduct and offers valuable guidance for individuals and communities in ancient India.

Origins and Context:

The Yajnavalkya Smriti is believed to have been composed during the period of 200 BCE to 200 CE, although its oral tradition likely predates its written form. It is part of the Dharmashastra genre, which deals with the laws and duties governing individuals in Hindu society. The text consists of 1,020 verses and is structured in the form of a dialogue between Yajnavalkya and his wife, Gargi.

The context of the Yajnavalkya Smriti lies in the Vedic era, where society was primarily organized around ritualistic practices, family structures, and adherence to dharma (righteous duty). It emerged as a legal guide for Brahmins, the priestly class, but its teachings and influence extended to other sections of society.

Key Themes and Teachings:

Family Law and Inheritance:

The Yajnavalkya Smriti expounds on various aspects of family law, such as marriage, divorce, adoption, and succession. It provides guidelines on how to conduct marriages and outlines the principles of inheritance to ensure the smooth transfer of property and lineage.

Duties and Responsibilities:

The text emphasizes the duties and responsibilities of individuals according to their varna (social class) and stage of life (ashrama). It delineates the obligations of kings, priests, householders, students, and ascetics in society.

Sacrificial Rites and Rituals:

Yajnavalkya Smriti elaborates on Vedic rituals and sacrificial rites, elucidating the correct procedures, mantras, and offerings to be performed during religious ceremonies.

Women’s Rights and Status:

The text addresses the rights and status of women in society, emphasizing the importance of respecting and protecting their interests.

Enduring Significance:

The Yajnavalkya Smriti holds enduring significance in Hindu legal tradition and offers a glimpse into the social norms and religious practices of ancient India. Its teachings continue to be studied and referenced by scholars and practitioners interested in understanding the intricacies of family law, inheritance, and Vedic rituals.

The text’s emphasis on dharma, duties, and ethical conduct remains relevant, providing a moral compass for individuals seeking to lead righteous lives. Its treatment of women’s rights, though rooted in the context of ancient society, still contributes to contemporary discussions on gender equality and social justice.


The Yajnavalkya Smriti, attributed to the sage Yajnavalkya, stands as a significant legal treatise that offers valuable insights into family law, inheritance, and Vedic rituals. Its teachings provide a comprehensive guide for individuals and communities, reflecting the social norms and religious practices of ancient India. While some aspects may appear archaic in the contemporary context, its enduring significance lies in its influence on shaping Hindu legal traditions and the understanding of dharma and moral conduct. The Yajnavalkya Smriti remains a treasured text, continuing to inspire scholarship and discussions on legal and religious matters in Hindu society.

Editor – Kaalchakra Team

[ Note – Before Concluding anything as a Finale, Please Go through Original Scriptures of Vaidik Literature Written in Sanskrit and Also with Meaning of That time of Language. Because English is a Limited language to Explaining the Deeper Knowledge of Vaidik Kaal. ]