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Nibandhas - Prayogas

Nibandhas - Prayogas

The important source of law were the nibandha, commentaries or digests, which although purporting merely to interpret the smriti, have considerably modified the odd laws. It is to be noted that the commentaries are not all universally accepted as valid, but different commentaries are followed in different localities and have given rise to divergent schools. The digest, and other legal works of Hemadri were for long recognized as authoritative in certain parts of India; there are besides the Ratnakara books by Chandeshvara, grand uncle of Vidyapati, minister of Harisimha (14th century). The chintamani books by Vachaspati (15th century); and the encyclopaedic Tattva books by the sixteenth century jurist Raghunandana (also known as Smarta-Bhattacharya) who was a pupil of the logician Sarvabhauma, which are authoritative in Bengal. Of great importance for the understanding of the sacrificial ceremonial are the Prayogas ("Manuals and Paddhatis ("Guides"), of which a vast number exist in manuscript. These works represent both the Shrauta and the Grihya ritual according to the various schools. The Prayogas describe the course of each sacrifice and the functions of the different groups of priests, solely from the point of view of practical performance, while the paddhatis follow the systematic accounts of the Sutras and sketch their contents. There are also versified accounts of the ritual called karikas, which are directly attached to sutras or to paddhatis.

There are also elaborate ceremonies connected with death, the disposal of the dead, and the offering of a Shraddha (an offering given with 'faith', whence our word 'creed'), for securing the progress (gati) of the spirit in the world of the dead.

The sacrifices included the daily offerings, the special offering at the new and full moon, offering at the beginning of the rains offerings connected with the building of a house, and agricultural sacrifices at the proper seasons.

When the householder has fulfilled all duties as husband and father, it is open to him to become the forest dweller and ascetic. Life is still, in these cases, carefully regulated. There is a diminuendo about the prescribed regimen for the sanyasi which is particularly impressive.