(v) the history of the Solar and Lunar royal dynasties.
None of the eighteen main Puranas date earlier than the Gupta period,
although much of the legendary material is older. The names of the eighteen
Puranas are Vishnu, Agni, Bhavishya, Bhagavata, Naradiya, Garuda,
Padma, Varaha, Matsya, Kurma, Linga, Siva, Skanda, Brahma,
Brahmananda, Brahmavaivarta, Markandeya and Vamana. In some lists the
Vayu is substituted for the Agni Purana, and in others for the Siva Purana.
The Vayu Purana is perhaps the oldest; some others may be as late as the 15th
or 16th century, but all appear to have undergone much revision.
Puranas greatly aided the dissemination of Upanishadic teaching to) the
illiterate, and to the majority of women to whom education was deliberately
Dharmasastras or Smritis
Their contents include:
the sources of dharma,
the duties of the four varnas and asramas;
various samskaras of man;
the avocations of the four varnas in life;
the duties and responsibilities of the king, rules for taxation, ownership,
guardianship, witnesses, moneylending, payment of debts and deposits,
punishments for various crimes, partition, inheritance, and different kinds of
impurities of birth, death, and other causes;
different kinds of sraddhas, rules about food, duties of women and their
property, niyoga (levirate) and its conditions; and
sins and their expiations, and penances and their conditions.
The Smritis deal with these topics in an analytical and systematised form
under three main head—sachara (rites), vyavahara (dealings), and
The main Smritis are given as under.
(a) The Manu Smriti is the most ancient and authoritative among them. It
has twelve chapters dealing with achara, vyavahara, and
prayaschitta. It is looked upon as having served as a model to all the