Dharma-Sutra, or rules relating to the samayachara, 'conventional duties', hence also called samayacharita-sutra. More commonly they are spoken of as dharma-sutra, codes.' The latter term is also used collectively for the whole body of customary rules and observances governing. Hindu religious and social life. The terms dharma-sutra and dharma-shastra are used in a synonymous sense. The dharma-sutras are in prose, whereas the dharmashastras are in metrical versions of previously existing dharma-sutras.
The lawgivers and their texts run into almost three hundred names, mostly derived from the names of great rishis are in Apastamba (500BC-AD200).
The metaphysical basis of Hindu law is rita, the universal regularity and order of the whole cosmic process. From this comes the notion of dharma, which means law religion, morality and a great deal besides. The precepts of ethics are all comprehended in the concept of dharma.
The two chief sources of Hindu law are the shruti i.e. the Vedas particularly the Brahmanas which contain the main body of law, and the smriti especially the dharmashastras or law books.
The term Tharma Sutra' is strictly speaking, applied to those collections of legal aphorisms which form part of the body of sutras belonging to a particular branch (shakha) of the Veda. The Dharma Sutra which has been best preserved, and has remained free from the influence of sectarians or modern editors, is that part of Apastamba. It forms two of the thirty sections of the great Apastambakalpasutra or body of aphorisms concerning the performance of sacrifices and the duties of the three upper classes. It deals chiefly with the duties of the vedic student and of the house holder. While on the secular side, it touches upon the law of marriage, inheritance and crime only.
The Dharma Sutra is generally styled as Dharma Shastra in the manuscripts. The subjects dealt with in their Dharma Sutra are multifarious including the duties of four religious order, the mixed castes, various kinds of sacrifice, purification, penance, auspicious ceremonies, duties of kings, criminal justice, examination of witnesses, law of inheritance and marriage, the position of women etc.