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The Minor Law Books (SBE33), by Julius Jolly, [1889], at

p. 315


1. 1 A forger of gems, pearl, or coral, one withholding a deposit, a ruffian, and an adulterer, shall be tested by oaths or ordeals in every case.

2. In charges relating to a heavy crime or to the appropriation of a deposit, the king should try the cause by ordeals, even though there be witnesses.

3. When a thing has happened long ago or in secret, or when the witnesses have disappeared long ago, or are perjured all of them, the trial should be conducted by having recourse to an ordeal.

4. 4 The balance, fire, water, poison, and, fifthly, sacred libation; sixthly, grains of rice; seventhly, a hot piece of gold, are declared (to be ordeals).

5. 5 The ploughshare is mentioned as the eighth kind, the ordeal by Dharma (and Adharma) as the ninth. All these ordeals have been ordained by the Self-existent (Brahman).

6. 6 Truth, a vehicle, weapons, cows, seeds, and gold, venerable gods or Brahmans, the heads of sons or wives:

7. By these have oaths been ordained, which are easy to perform and proper for trifling occasions.

8. 8 When a quarrel between two litigants has arisen regarding a debt or other charge, that ordeal

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must be administered which corresponds to the amount (of the sum in dispute) and to the (character or strength of the) individual (to be examined).

9. 9 (The ordeal by) poison should be administered when (property worth) a thousand (Panas) has been stolen; (the ordeal by) fire, when a quarter less than that (or 750, has been stolen).

10. When the charge concerns four hundred, the hot piece of gold should be administered. (When it concerns) three hundred, the grains of rice should be given; and the sacred libation, (when it concerns) half of that.

11. 11 When a hundred has been stolen or falsely denied, purgation by Dharma should be administered. Thieves of cows should be subjected by preference to the (ordeal by the) ploughshare by the judges.

12. 12 These figures are applicable in the case of low persons; for persons of a middling kind, double is ordained; and for persons of the highest, rank, the amount has to be fixed four times as high by persons entrusted with judicial affairs.

13. 13 The quantities (of various coins or weights), beginning with a floating particle of dust and ending with a Kârshâpana, have been declared by Manu. They are applicable both to ordeals and to fines.

14. 14 A Nishka is four Suvarnas. A Pana of

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copper is a Kârshika (having the weight of one Karsha). A coin made of a Karsha of copper has to be known as a Kârshika Pana.

15. 15 It is also called an Andikâ. Four such are a Dhânaka. Twelve of the latter are a Suvarna. That is also called a Dînâra (denarius).

16. 16 (The testimony of) witnesses is apt to become invalid, whether it be through affection, anger, or avarice. An ordeal properly administered never loses its validity.

17. 17 When a doubt arises with regard to a document or oral evidence, and when ratiocination also fails, purgation through ordeal (is the proper test).

18. 18 Let an ordeal be administered according to the established rule by persons acquainted with the rule of ordeals. If it is administered against the rule, it is ineffective as a means of proving what ought to be proved.

19. 19 If one who has been subjected to the ordeal by balance goes down on being weighed (for the second time), he shall be held guilty. If he remains level, he shall be balanced once more. If he rises, he gains his cause.

20. 20 Should the scale break, or the balance, or beam, or iron hooks split, or the strings burst, or the transverse beam split, he would have to be declared guilty.

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21. 21 (In the ordeal by water) he should immerse the individual in water and discharge three arrows.

22. 22 He is acquitted (in the ordeal by poison) who has digested poison, which has been given to him according to rule, without the application of spells or antidotes. Otherwise he should be punished and compelled to pay the sum in dispute.

23. 23 To whatsoever deity the accused happens to be devoted, let (the judge) bathe the weapon of that deity in water, and give him to drink three handfuls of it.

24. 24 He to whom no calamity happens, within a week or a fortnight, (either to himself or) to his son, wife or property, is innocent beyond doubt.

25. 25 Let a man chew grains of rice after having kept a fast and purified himself, at a time when the sun is not visible. He is acquitted if what he spits out is pure; but if it be mixed with blood, he must be (held) guilty.

26. 26 Let (the person) take a hot piece of gold out of (a mixture of) well-heated oil and butter.

27. 27 He whose fingers’ ends do not tremble, and who does not become blistered, is acquitted according to law, as has been declared by Pitâmaha.

28. 28 Iron twelve Palas in weight should be formed into what is called a ploughshare. It should be eight Aṅgulas long by four Aṅgulas broad.

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29. (The ploughshare) having been made red-hot in fire, a thief should be made to lick at it once with his tongue. If he is not burnt, he obtains acquittal. Otherwise he loses his cause.

30. 30 (Images of) Dharma and Adharma, one black and the other white, should be painted on two leaves. Then they should be invoked with prayers producing life or others, and with the Gâyatrî or other Sâmans,

31. And should be worshipped with perfumes and with white and black flowers, sprinkled with the five products of a cow, and enclosed in balls made of earth afterwards.

32. After having been made equal in size, they should be placed unobserved in a fresh jar. Then the person should take one ball out of the vessel at the bidding (of the judge).

33. If he takes out Dharma, he is acquitted, and should be honoured by the (appointed) examiners.


315:1 X, 1-3. Vîram. p. 114.

315:4 M. Macn. X, I, 2 (uncertain); Vîram. p. 225.

315:5 Vîram. p. 225. For a description of the ordeal by Dharma and Adharma, see the laws of Pitâmaha.

315:6 6, 7. Vîram. p. 226. See Manu VIII, 114; Nârada I, 19, 248 (above, p. 100).

315:8 Tod. rinâdishu to kâryeshu visamvâde parasparam | divyam samkhyânvitam deyam purushâpekshayâ tathâ ||

316:9 9-12. Vîram. p. 230. I read, with Smritik., katuhsatâbhiyoge in 10, and sabhyaih phâlam prayatnatah in 11.

316:11 Dharma, 'test of right and wrong,' is the ordeal, which consists of drawing lots or slips of white and black paper.

316:12 'Eminent persons,' through their birth, qualities, or virtue. The same interpretation applies to the two other terms. Vîram.

316:13 Vîram. p. 233. See Manu VIII, 131-138.

316:14 14, 15. Vîram. p. 234. I read kândikâ for kândrikâ in 11, with Vîramitrodaya.

317:15 Nearly identical with Nârada, Appendix, 62 (p. 232).

317:16 Vîram. p. 242.

317:17 Smritik. likhite sâkshivâde ka samdeho yatra gâyate | anumâne ka sambhrânte tatra daivam visodhanam ||

317:18 Tod. yathoktavidhinâ deyam divyam divyavisâradaih | ayathoktapradattam tu na satyam sâdhyasâdhane ||

317:19 Vîram. p. 253.

317:20 Vîram. p. 254.

318:21 Vîram. p. 271.

318:22 Vîram. p. 276.

318:23 Vîram. p. 280.

318:24 Vîram. p. 281.

318:25 Vîram. p. 282. The Todarânanda attributes to Brihaspati another text identical with Nârada I, 25, 342 (above, p. 119).

318:26 Vîram. p. 283.

318:27 Vîram. p. 284. The same text occurs in the Nepalese Nârada.

318:28 28, 29. Vîram. p. 285. Some texts relating to this kind of p. 319 ordeal are found in the Nepalese Nârada as well, but they are very incorrectly given in the MS. 'The judge, after having placed a ploughshare of the size stated in the text into a fire kindled for that purpose, should perform the whole general rite of ordeals, beginning with the invocation addressed to Dharma and ending with the fixing of a writing on the head of the person. Then, after addressing the fire with the text previously quoted (of Pitâmaha), "Thou, O Agni," &c., and after causing the person to address the fire with the text previously quoted, "Thou, O Agni, (livest) in all beings" (Yâgñavalkya II, 104), he should cause the person to lick (at the ploughshare).' Vîram., Smritik.

319:30 30-33 Vîram. p. 286. 'Prayers producing life,' such as e.g. Rig-veda X, 57, 1; Vîram.

Next: XI. The Law of Debt