The Narada Smriti

Truth is said to be the one unequalled means of purification of the soul. Truth is the ladder by which man ascends to heaven, as a ferry plies from one bank of a river to the other…. The gods are truth simply, the human race is falsehood. He whose mind is persistent in truth, obtains a divine state in this world even. Speak truth and discard falsehood. It is through truth that thou shalt attain heaven. By uttering a falsehood thou wilt precipitate thyself into a most dreadful hellish abode. And in the hells the merciless attendants of Yama [the god of death], endowed with great strength, will cut off thy tongue and strike thee with swords, constantly.

The Narada Smriti is a work ascribed to divine sage Narada and deals exclusively with procedural and substantive law. It has become a touchstone for Hindu and Indian rulers, including the British Haj, as a way to negotiate the labyrinthine distinctions of dharma necessary for just and successful political governance. In fact, many English legal scholars see the Narada Smriti anticipating the principles of special pleading — that is, exemptions allowed by extenuating circumstances — which have become enshrined in current English law.

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