In this volume we enter the stage of the Dharmasutra codification of the
sacred law, followed by an age of commentators, and then of schools of interpretation,
authorities and digests.
In this professionally congenial field of manipulation of texts and
accommodation of novel usages by exceptions and revised definitions the legalists of all
nations would find themselves at home. A main factor in actual changes of practices
and mainspring in a progressive contraction of women's legal status, the authoress sees in
the unconditional religious requirement of a son to secure the beatification
and the continuity of the family.
Then there are the elaborate by rules concerning gotra pinda, etc.,
pseudo- scientific niceties, avoidances and omens: there is steady reduction of marriage
age and discouragement of the ancient condition of widow remarriage. Amid the limitations
of inheritance a fuller consideration than is usual is here given to the ancient
of appointment by a sonless father of a daughter to function as his son and heir, the
status of putrika historically important in at least a part of the Indian sphere.
The terrible approval of sati, for which the Greeks conceived a too
ingenious explanation, is here plausibly attributed to the domination by conquering
peoples from northern Asia.
In the concluding chapter 'Esprit des lois' are assembled epigraphical
evidences of comparatively free inter-caste marriages during mediaeval centuries : after
which are summarised the chief enactments of the British period. The concluding pages of
Miss shakuntala Rao's meritorious and well-inspired work are devoted to an exposition and
justification of the provisions of the new Hindu Code.