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


1. 1 The rule regarding the number of witnesses and their respective characteristics has been thus communicated to you; now I will state in order the laws regarding documents.

2. 2 Within a sixmonth's time even, doubts will arise among men (regarding a transaction). Therefore the letters occurring in a writing were invented of yore by the Creator.

3. 3 Writings are declared to be of three kinds, those written by the king, those written in a particular place, and those written (by a person) with his own hand. Their subdivisions again are numerous.

4. 4 Writings proceeding from (ordinary) people are sevenfold, (viz.) a deed of partition, of gift, of purchase, of mortgage, of agreement, of bondage, of debt, and other (such deeds). The king's edicts are of three sorts.

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5. 5 Where brothers being divided in interests according to their own wish, make a deed of division among themselves, it is called a partition-deed.

6. When a person having made a grant of landed property, records it in a deed as being endurable as long as the moon and sun are in existence, and which must never be cut down or taken away, it is termed a deed of gift.

7. When a person having purchased a house, field or other (property), causes a document to be executed containing an exact statement of the proper price paid for it, it is called a deed of purchase.

8. When a person having pledged movable or immovable property, executes a deed stating whether (the property pledged) is to be preserved, or used, it is termed a mortgage-deed.

9. When (the people of) a village or province execute a deed of mutual agreement, (the purpose of) which is not opposed to the interests of the king and in accordance with sacred law, it is designed as a deed of agreement.

10. That document which a person destitute of clothes and food executes in a wilderness stating, 'I will do your work,' is termed a deed of bondage.

11. That contract of debt which a man having borrowed money at interest executes himself or causes to be written (by another), is called a bond of debt by the wise.

12. 12 Having given a tract of land or the like, the

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king should cause a formal grant to be executed on a copper-plate or a piece of cloth, stating the place, the ancestors (of the king), and other particulars,

13. 13 And the names of (the king's) mother and father, and of the king himself, (and containing the statement that) ‘This grant has been made by me to-day to N. N., the son of N. N., who belongs to the Vedic school N. N.

14. As being endurable while the moon and sun last, and as descending by right of inheritance to the son, grandson, and more remote descendants, and as a gift which must never be cut down or taken away, and is entirely exempt from diminution (by the allotment of shares to the king's attendants, and so forth),

15. Conveying paradise on the giver and preserver, and hell on the taker, for a period of sixty thousand years, as the recompense for giving and taking (the land).’

16. (Thus the king should declare in the grant), the Secretaries for peace and war signing the grant with the remark, 'I know this.'

17. (The grant) should be provided with (the king's) own seal, and with a precise statement of the year, month and so forth, of the value (of the donation), and of the magistrate. Such a document issued by the king is called a royal edict.

18. When the king, satisfied with the faithful services, valour or other (laudable qualities) of a person, bestows landed or other property on him, it

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is (called) a writing containing a mark of royal favour.

19. 19 That which establishes a claim, recording the four parts of a judicial proceeding and bearing the royal seal, is termed a document of success (or decree).

20. 20 Clever forgers acquainted with place and time will make a writing similar (to the original document). Such (writings) should be examined with great care.

21. Women, infants, the suffering, and persons unacquainted with the art of writing, are deceived by their own relations fabricating documents signed with their names. Such (forgery) may be found out by means of internal evidence and legitimate titles.

22. 22 A document executed by a madman, an idiot, an infant, one who has absconded through fear of the king, a bashful person, or one tormented by fear, is not invalidated (by an impossibility to produce its author).

23. 23 (But, as a rule) a document executed by a dying person, an enemy, one oppressed with fear, a suffering person, a woman, one intoxicated, distressed by a calamity, at night, by fraud, or by force, does not hold good.

24. Where even a single witness entered in a deed is infamous and reproached (by the public voice), or where its writer is held in such estimation, it is called a false document.

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25. 25 A writing being spoiled by fire, or executed a long time ago, or soiled with dirt, or intended for a very short period only, or containing (a number of) mutilated or effaced syllables, is reckoned as a false document.

26. 26 Let a man show (a document) on every occasion to (meetings of) families, associations (of traders), assemblies (of cohabitants), and other (bodies of persons), and read it out to them, and remind them of it, in order to establish its validity.

27. 27 The acquirer (of landed or other property) should establish the written title (under which he is holding it); his son should establish the fact of possession only. If (the father) has been impeached in a court of justice, the son also should be required to prove the written title.

28. 28 When a loan (recorded in a bond) is not expressly claimed from a debtor who has means enough (to discharge it) and is at hand, the bond loses its validity, as the debt is presumed to have been paid (in that case).

29. A writing which has neither been seen nor read out for thirty years, should not be recognised as valid, even though the (subscribing) witnesses be living.

30. 30 When a man does not produce the bond and omits to ask his debtor (to restore the loan), after

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his loan has ceased to yield interest, the bond becomes suspected.

31. 31 A document is certainly not overruled either by witnesses or by an oath (or ordeal), but its validity is diminished by neglect, if it is neither shown nor read.


304:1 VIII, 1. Vîram. p. 188.

304:2 Vîram. p. 188. Hiouen-Thsang (I, 71), the celebrated Chinese pilgrim, reports the Indian tradition that letters were invented by the deity Fan (Brahman). See Führer, Lehre von den Schriften in Brihaspati's Dharmasâstra, p. 27; Nârada I, 5, 70 (above, p. 58).

304:3 May. p. 16. The term written in a particular place' seems to relate to documents written by a professional scribe and attested by subscribing witnesses. See Nârada I, 10, 135 (above, p. 75).

304:4 May. p. 17. The term âdi, 'and other (such deeds),' is explained to denote deeds of purification, or of reconciliation, or regarding a boundary, or the rules of a corporation.

305:5 5-11. May. p. 16.

305:12 12-18. Vîram. p. 192. For specimens of royal grants precisely corresponding to the rules laid down here, see e.g. Dr. Burnell's Elements of South Indian Palaeography, pp. 87 foll.

306:13 All commentators explain that the name of the particular Veda, such as e.g. the Rig-veda, or the Katha branch of the Yagur-veda, should be given which the donee is studying.

307:19 Smritik., quoted by Burnell, Elements of South Indian Palaeography, p. 100.

307:20 20, 21. Vîram. p. 197.

307:22 Vîram. p. 198. The translation follows the gloss in the Vîramitrodaya.

307:23 23, 24. May. p. 20.

308:25 Aparârka and Smritik., quoted by Führer, No. 29.

308:26 Vîram. p. 200.

308:27 Vîram. p. 199.

308:28 28-30. Aparârka, quoted by Führer, loc. cit., Nos. 33-35 Smritik. ('Kâtyâyana'); Tod. In 28, I read suddharnasaṅkayâ, for suddhamsaṅkayâ, with Todarânanda.

308:30 The interest on a loan, according to the Indian Law of Debt, ceases on its becoming equal to the principal.

309:31 Smritik. and Aparârka, quoted by Führer, No. 38.

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