Sources of Hindu law [Guide]

Let’s talk about Sources of Hindu law. With the most established known statute hypothesis on the planet, Hindu law alludes to the laws applied to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs in British India. While in modern scholarship it refers to the jurisprudence, legal theories, and philosophical reflections on the idea of law found in antiquated and archaic time Indian writings.

In Dharmasastra there is no word, for example, ‘Hindu’. It is an unfamiliar starting point. The word ‘Hindu’ appeared through Greeks who used to call the home of the Indus Valley country ‘Indoi’. Later it turned into a ‘Hindu’. This country came to be known as ‘Hindustan’ and its kin as Hindu. Ever, the word ‘Hindu’ shows a religion, however, it additionally demonstrates a country essentially. The Sources of Hindu law have been adjusted through hundreds of years and have been existing since the most recent 5000 years and have additionally kept on overseeing the social and good figure of Hindu life by following the various components of Hindu social life.


Source signifies the “premise from which law is developed”. A wellspring of law is a premise, which empowers the Court to decipher law. A wellspring of law is a technique by which the principles have been found or made. The wellspring of the law might be abstract or Material. In old occasions, Law was created by custom. Sources of Hindu law are of this sort. The Vedas (Shruti) were viewed as of Paramount position. The Smritis came next arranged by inclination and afterward Custom even at the current day a material wellspring of law. Hindus thought about Vedas as the material wellspring of all information. Hindu law isn’t just heavenly, yet is additionally sacred, sacred, and unchangeable. It can’t be addressed, tested, or disregarded.

Who is a Hindu according to Hindu law

An individual can be called a Hindu, who: 

1. Is a Hindu by religion in any structure. 

2. Is a Buddhist, Jaina, or Sikh by religion.

3. Is conceived by Hindu guardians.

4. Is certifiably not a Muslim, Parsi, Christian, or Jews and is not represented under Hindu law. 

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The Supreme Court of India in the milestone instance of Shastri versus Muldas explicitly characterized the term ‘Hindu’. This case is identified with the Swami Narayan sanctuary in Ahmedabad. There is a gathering of individuals called the Satsangi who were dealing with the sanctuary and they limited non-Satsangi Harijans to enter the sanctuary. They contended that Satsangi is an alternate religion and they are not limited by Sources of Hindu Law. The Supreme Court of India held that the Satsangi, Arya Samajis, and Radhaswami, all have a place in the Hindu religion since they are begun under the Hindu way of thinking. 

Hindu by Religion?️ 

On the off chance that any individual follows the religion by rehearsing it or by guaranteeing it very well may be called a Hindu. 

Transformation and Reconversion to Hinduism

Under the arranged Sources of Hindu law, any individual whenever changed over to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or Sikhism can be called a Hindu.

From the instance of Perumal versus poonuswami, we can say that an individual can be known as a Hindu by the transformation. 

In this situation, Perumal was the dad of Poonuswami who got hitched by an Indian Christian. Later on because of specific contrasts, they were living independently. Later on, the mother of Poonuswami requested Perumal for the offer from his properties. Perumal denied it and said, “marriage between a Hindu and a Christian is void”. The Supreme Court of India held that a genuine goal is adequate proof of transformation and no proper service of filtration is required (Conversion of Hinduism). So it isn’t void and Poonuswami would get an offer. 

For a change, the individual ought to have a bonafide expectation and shouldn’t have any motivation to be changed over. 

Reconversion fundamentally occurs, when an individual is Hindu and gets changed over to a non-Hindu religion and he will again get Hindu if he/she gets changed over into any four religions of Hindu. 

If an individual is conceived from a Hindu family, he/she is a Hindu. 

At the point when one of the guardians of a kid is Hindu and he/she is raised as an individual from a Hindu family, he/she is a Hindu.

If a kid is conceived from a Hindu mother and a Muslim dad and he/she is raised as a Hindu then he/she can be considered a Hindu. We can clarify that a youngster’s religion isn’t that of a dad. 

The classified Sources of Hindu Law sets out that an individual who is certainly not a Muslim, Parsi, Christian, or Jews is represented by Hindu Law as a Hindu.

Sources of Hindu law

Comprehensively, there are following two kinds of sources of Hindu law: 

  • Traditional/Ancient sources.
  • Modern sources.


sources of hindu law

Ancient sources allude to those old Hindu general set of laws that represented the direction of Hindus in that specific time. The customary wellspring of Hindu law is the core value in the current framework additionally alongside certain alterations.

Therefore, there are 4 types:

  • Shruti (Vedas) 
  • Smritis
  • Digest and commentaries.
  • Customs


Veda implies Knowledge (from the root vid = to know). There are four Vedas: Rig; Yajur; Sama; and Atharvana. 

The four Vedas are the wellspring head of Hindu religion and law. The most seasoned of them is the Rig Veda Samhita (Collection of Hymn Veda). It comprises 1028 psalms masterminded into ten mandalas (gatherings) some of which are sub-separated into more modest gatherings the assemblage of each gathering being credited to some famous righteous writer cleric (Rishi) of old occasions. Yajur Veda (conciliatory Veda) is a formal course of action of the part of the psalms of the Rig Veda, with increases, for articulating suitably at conciliatory functions. 

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This Veda contains entries in the composition containing clarifications and headings for the direction of the clerics. It is gathered in two sections which are known as the “Dark Yaju’ (Taittiriya Samhita) and White Yaju (Vajasaneya Samhita). The third Veda, Sama Veda (Chant Veda) is likewise a ceremonial course of action of a portion of the songs of Rig Veda and is proposed to be recited at specific penances in which the juice of the Soma plant (organically known as the Asclepiassacida or Sarcostemma Viminalis) was the chief contributor. 

The fourth and last Veda, Atharvana Veda, alleged after the classes of clerics known as Atharvanas by whom it was assembled, has a few psalms from the Rig Veda alongside unique songs of a similar kind and comprises mostly of chants, spells, charms, and expulsions. 


Next in significance to the Sruti are the Smritis or optional sacred texts. These are the old holy law-codes of the Hindus managing the Sanatana-Varnasrama-Dharma. They enhance and clarify the ceremonial orders called Vidhis in the Vedas. The Smriti Sastra is established on the Sruti. The Smritis depend on the lessons of the Vedas. The Smriti remains next in power to the Sruti. It clarifies and creates Dharma. It sets out the laws that direct Hindu public, social, family, and individual commitments. 

The works which are explicitly called Smritis are the law books, Dharma Sastras. Smriti, from a more extensive perspective, covers all Hindu Sastras save the Vedas. 

The laws for directing Hindu society now and again are classified in the Smritis. The Smritis have set down positive standards and laws to manage the people and networks in their everyday lead and to control their habits and customs. The Smritis have given itemized guidelines, as per the states of the time, to all classes of men concerning their obligations throughout everyday life. 

The Hindu figures out how he needs to go through his entire time on earth from these Smritis. The obligations of Varnasrama and all services are given in these books. The Smritis endorse certain demonstrations and forbid some others for a Hindu, as per his introduction to the world and phase of life. The object of the Smritis is to sanitize the core of man and take him progressively to the preeminent residence of interminability and make him awesome and free. 

These Smritis have differed occasionally. The directives and forbiddances of the Smritis are identified with specific social environmental factors. As these environmental factors and fundamental states of the Hindu society changed occasionally, new Smritis must be aggregated by the sages of various ages and various pieces of India. 

The early smritis were named Dharma Sutras (800-200 B.C.). They were generally in composition structure and were composed by the instructors clarifying Vedas for their understudies. Gautama, Boudha-yana, Apasthamba, Vasishta, Vishnu, and Harita are the primary Dharma Sutra Karas. The later Smritis were named Dharma Sashtras which are more precise works than Dharma Sutras. The topic in these smritis is partitioned into Achara Vyavahara and Prayaschitta. The standards of law are generally covered under the part, Vyavahara. 

The most established Smriti is the Manusmriti. The Code of Manu in its current type of 2694 Slokas dates from 200 B.C. as per Max Muller. The Code manages numerous issues, yet the part bearing upon law manages the subject under 18 titles; obligations, promises, deals, stores, organization, blessings, compensation, arrangements, limit, debates, expert and worker, a couple, segment, and legacy, wagering and betting, attack, criticism, burglary, theft, and infidelity. 

Manu appointed that “Law is the lord of rulers” and he perceives the heavenly force of rulers to implement the law through Danda. He offered significance as a wellspring of Dharma. In his different principles, he was unforgiving towards ladies and Sudras. 

Other Smrities to which a reference might be made are

The Narada Smriti (fourth Century A.D.) and Brihaspati Smriti manage legitimate subjects. The Smriti of Brihaspati is fragmentary and must be gathered from the reference to that smriti in different discourses on other smrities. Since Brihaspati is alluded to as smritikarta by Yajnavalkya, the smrities of Brihaspati should be more seasoned than the Yajnavalkya smriti. Narada smriti perceived the force of the lords to make laws without going past the orders of Vedas. He offered paramountcy to custom in any event, abrogating sacrosanct Laws. He was liberal in managing ladies and Sudras.

Digest and commentaries

Digest and commentaries came after smrities during the seventh century to 1800 A.D. During prior stages editorials depended on smritis however in the later period, the works resembled digests containing different smrities and clarifying and accommodating different logical inconsistencies. The advancement of various schools of Hindu law is a consequence of these overviews and analyses as these reviews and discourses are understandings of the Smriti and subsequently the distinction of assessment will undoubtedly happen. Attributable to this explanation, various schools of Hindu law arose. 

It was simply after 200 AD, the majority of the work was done uniquely on the current material given in Smrtis. The work done to clarify a specific Smriti is known as analysis. Discourses were created in the time frame following 200 AD. Summaries were composed after that and fused and clarified material from all the smritis. 

A portion of the noticeable critiques incorporates Manubhashya, Manutika, and Mitakshra. Quite possibly the main review is Jimutvahan’s Dayabhaga which is relevant in Orissa and Bengal. 

Mitakshara is one of the notable and incomparable sources of law in India. It depends on the analyses composed by Vijayneshwara on the code of yajanvalkya while Dayabhaga graduate school depends on the editorials of Jimutvahana. Dayabhaga and Mitaksara are two principle wellsprings of Hindu law in India. 

The fundamental goal of these writings is to accumulate the dispersed material accessible as smrities and shrutis and to gather it in a more exhaustive structure for the improvement of society. In this manner, these were a lot of intelligent and direct in their methodology. 

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(a) Authority of Custom: 

Manu perceived custom to be transcendent law: ACHARAHA PARAMODHARMAHA Yajnavalkya characterizes custom as “That which an individual practice if it is Dharma since it is the use of the country” He certainly says that an individual ought not to practice even what is appointed by the Smriti on the off chance that it is against custom. 

The Privy Council likewise has perceived the preeminent authority of custom in Hindu Law. In the renowned Ramnad case, 12 MIA 397, the inquiry emerged whether in the Dravida country (South India) a widow could make a selection even without express authority from her better half. 

Models such standard practices were given to show that with the authority of perished spouse’s Sapindas a legitimate selection could be made by the widow. The applicable content of the Sage Vasishta was such that a lady ought not to embrace besides with her significant other’s consent. 

The Privy Council brought up that it was not open to the appointed authorities to set out upon an autonomous inquiry into the significance of the Dharma Sastra text. The content is to be seen uniquely in the light of genuine practice. Sir James Colville saw this situation: “Under the Hindu System of law away from of utilization will exceed the composed content of the law.” 

(b) Different sorts of customs (Sources of Hindu Law)

(I) Local Custom: 

This is a custom winning in a specific territory. The Ramnad Case managed a custom of this sort. In the Dravida country, it was demonstrated all things considered that widows can receive however that they can do so just with the assent of the perished spouse’s Sapindas. 

Different traditions of this sort are experienced in the law of marriage. In the South, the standard as to restricted degrees in marriage is impressively loose by custom. Consequently, the marriage of the maternal uncle’s little girl and fatherly auntie’s girl is allowed. (See Note 3.4 in Law of Marriage) 

(ii) Family Custom: 

A custom may oversee just a single specific family. In this manner, the episodes of impartibility and devolution by primogeniture of certain Zamindaries were owing to family custom. 

(iii) Caste Customs: 

There are a few traditions that win among specific stations, e.g., Brahmins, Sudras, and so on Hence in the law of appropriation, among Brahmins a Homam is essential for reception however among Sudras giving and taking of the kid is adequate. (See Law of Adoptions). 

(c) Essentials of Custom: 

A legitimate custom needs to fulfill the accompanying lawful prerequisites— 

(I) Antiquity: 

A substantial custom ought to be old. In Ramalakshmi v. Sivanatha, (1872) 14 MIA 585, the Privy Council obser­ved: 

“It is of the embodiment of extraordinary utilizations changing the conventional law of progression that they ought to be antiquated and constant and it is further fundamental that they ought to be set up to be so by clear and unambiguous proof”. 

All things considered, a zamindari was asserted by two children by various spouses of the late zamindar. One inquirer laid his case on the ground that he was brought into the world before. The other inquirer laid his case on the ground that his mom was hitched before to the zamindar than the mother of his opponent petitioner. 

The inquiry was whether need in the birth of children or need in the marriage of the mother was to administer progression to the domain. The assertions of a few zamindars were inspected as proof however it was lacking “to demonstrate the presence of an old and constant custom in the region”. The overall custom of the main brought into the world taking the impartible Raj was offered impact to as the family custom of devolution upon the oldest child of the senior-most Ranis was not demonstrated. 

(ii) Certainty: 

The proof should build up unambiguously the use set up. The choice for Ramalakshmi’s situation, (1872) 14 MIA 570 above considered shows that when the proof is clashing, a uniform custom isn’t set up.

Modern source

Current sources of Hindu law alludes to those sources which are relatively new sources that arose after some time and developed in the current structure. It consists of 3 types

  • Equity justice and good conscience
  • Legislation
  • Precedent

Equity justice and good conscience

The standards of equity, justice, and good conscience have been the solid wellspring of Hindu Law. Practically the presentation of this manner in Hindu law can be authorized to the modem English adjudicators. The need was felt by the adjudicators to embrace certain standards of reasonableness and equity in those situations where law turned out to be a lot muddled because of clashing writings or complete nonappearance of law or legal points of reference on specific parts of Hindu law. Rules of equity, value, and great still, small voice were, consequently made appropriate in the organization of Hindu Law to cases not represented by Smritis and the Commentaries. 

In Kanchava v. Girimalappa, (before the death of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956). it was set somewhere near the Privy Council that the killer was excluded from acquiring the property of the person in question. The standard of English law was applied to Hindu on grounds of equity, value, and great heart, and this was legally perceived in the Hindu Succession Act, of 1956. 

It is, notwithstanding, to be noticed that the standards of equity, value, and great heart found due acknowledgment in the early Hindu Smriti time. A backhanded reference to the standards of value was found in Manu’s and Yajnavalkya’s portrayal of wellsprings of law where “what is pleasant to one’s spirit (acceptable soul)” has been proposed as the appointed establishment of law. 

Brihaspati announced that there would be the disappointment of equity if the choices are given simply as indicated by the letters of Shastras and the standards dependent on explanation are not contemplated. Narada, then again, said that in the event of contention between writings of Dharmashastras on specific focuses what is sensible and hitting home with still, the small voice should be taken as law. 

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Kautilya in his Arthashastra has plainly said that if Dharma text is discovered restricted to legal thinking, the Dharma text fizzled and the authority of reason won. Hence the Dharmashastra scholars have perceived the significance of the standards of value for the development of Sources of Hindu Law.


The enactment is a demonstration of parliament that assumes a significant part in the arrangement of Sources of Hindu law. The enactment is frequently viewed as an instrument for social change. The enactment gives a base and realness to the laws. After the autonomy of India, there has been a lofty expansion in enactment concerning the codification of individual laws. 

After codification, any point managed by the systematized law is conclusive. The authorization supersedes all earlier laws, regardless of whether dependent on custom or in any case except if an express saving is accommodated in the actual establishment. In an issue not explicitly covered by the systematized law, the old literary law contains to have application. 

In current culture, this is the best way to acquire new laws. The parliament, as per the requirements of society, comprises new laws. For instance, another method of performing Hindu relationships in Tamil Nadu that disposed of ceremonies and ministers was dismissed by the SC on the premise that new traditions can’t be created. Nonetheless, TN later passed a demonstration that perceived these relationships. 

Instances of enactments incorporate the Hindu marriage act,1955, Hindu progression Act, Hindu minority and guardianship act, Hindu selection and upkeep act, and so on 

Additionally, the greater part of the Sources of Hindu law has now been classified as referenced before all else.


The teaching of gaze decisis began in India from the British principle. All cases are presently recorded and new cases are chosen dependent on existing case laws. 

After the foundation of British standards, the chain of command of Courts was set up. The regulation of point of reference-dependent on the standard of dealing with like cases the same was set up. Today, the judgment of SC is restricting on all courts across India and the judgment of HC is restricting on all courts in that state, aside from where they have been changed or modified by the Supreme Court whose choices are restricting on all the Courts aside from itself. 

Point of reference is called to be a wellspring of Hindu law in two detects – 

First – essentially all the significant standards and rules of Hindu law have now been encapsulated on the off chance that law. In such matters, a plan of action to the source isn’t important. Reference to the main choice is sufficient. 

Also, – Precedent is a wellspring of law as in by the motivation behind legal understanding, teachings, standards, and rules of law stand altered or by and large new standards, principles, and rules have been presented in the group of Sources of Hindu law. For these standard conventions and rules, the wellsprings of power are Precedent. 

Thusly, different sources cumulate and join in one to frame a wide and dynamic Sources of Hindu law.

Hindu marriage act

Hindu Marriage alludes to kanyadan which means gifting a young lady to the kid by the dad with all the conventions and ceremonies or customs. Hindu marriage is an antiquated custom that is winning from the Vedic time frames to the cutting-edge world with various changes that have happened recently. There are 16 holy observances in Shastri Hinduism in which marriage is one of the significant ceremonies of Hinduism. 

Section 2 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 states that this demonstration applies to any individual who is a Hindu by birth or who has changed his/her religion to either any of its structures, for example, Virashaiva, a Lingayat, or a supporter of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj. Any individual who is a Buddhist, Jain, or Sikh likewise goes under this demonstration.

Ideas and legitimacy of Hindu Marriage 

For an extensive period, Hindu marriage rituals have been changed in like manner because of the necessities and accommodation of individuals now and again. It is the connection among a couple. As indicated by Hinduism, this holy observance is quite possibly the main ceremony out of 16 holy observances in Hinduism. It is a holy tie that can’t be broken. It is a relationship from birth to birth, it is a bond that proceeds after resurrection and demise. As per Veda, a man is inadequate until he gets hitched and meets with his accomplice. 

The idea of Marriage: Sacrament or Contract 

Hindu marriage is “a strict ceremony where a man and a lady are bound in a perpetual relationship for the physical, social and otherworldly need of dharma, multiplication and sexual joy.” 

There are three attributes of the consecrated idea of marriage: 

  • It is a suffering obligation of the couple which is lasting and tired even after death and they will stay together after the demise. 
  • When it is tied can’t be unfastened. 
  • It is a strict and sacred association of the lady of the hour and the lucky man which is important to be performed by strict services and rituals. 

Section 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 sets out that when one’s assent isn’t gotten, the marriage is viewed as void. It shows that notwithstanding the nonattendance of assent of the lady, the marriage is legitimate and lawful. 

The idea of current marriage is authoritative. Accordingly, it acknowledges the possibility of correspondence and freedom. It has been embraced because of western Ideas. There should be an arrangement of willfully going into it by the two players. 

Consequently, the Hindu marriage isn’t an agreement nor is it a holy observance. Be that as it may, it tends to be said it is a similarity to both.


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