Schools of Hindu Law

There are two main schools of Hindu Law, the Mitakshara and the Dayabhaga. The Mitakshara (literally means “a concise work”) is a running commentary on the code of Yajnavalkya. It has been written by Vijnaneshwar (11th century) and prevails in all parts of India, except in Bengal. The Dayabhaga School, which is followed mainly in Bengal, is not a commentary on any particular code, but is a digest of all the codes. It has been witten in Jimutavahana (12th century). It may also be noted that the Mitakshara is the orthodox school, whereas the Dayabhaga is the reformist school of Hindu Law. The Dayabhaga ia considered to be a dissident school of the old Benares School.

The Dayabhaga is not divided into any sub-schools. However, the Mitakshara is sub-divided into four schools prevailing in different parts of India. These different schools have the same fundamental principles, but differs in matters of details, especially with reference to the topics of adoption and inheritance. These four sub-schools are as follows:-

  1. The Benares School, which prevails in northern and north-western India except in rural Punjab where its authority has been considerably modified by customary law. The main authorities of the school are the Virmitrodaya and the Nirnaya Sindhu.
  2. The Mithila School, which has most of its followers in Bihar. The main authorities are the Vivada Chintamani, the Vivada Ratnakara, the Madana Parijata and the Vyavahara Mayukha.
  3. The Dravida or Madras School, which prevails in southern India. the principle authorities are the Smriti Chandrika, the Parashara Madhaviya, the Saraswati Vilasa and the Vyavahara Nimaya.
  4. The Maharashtra or Bombay School, which prevails in western India. The main principle authorities are the Viramitrodaya and the Nirhaya Sindhu.

Difference between the Mitakshara and Dayabhaga Schools

The fundamental points of difference between the Mitakshara and Dayabhaga Schools of Hindu Law may be summarised as follows:

As regards Joint PropertyRight to property by birth (of the claimant); hence the son is co-owner with the father in ancestral property. After the commencement of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, the daughter can also a coparcener.Right to property by death (of the last owner; hence son has no right in the ancestral property during father’s life time.
As regards AlienationMembers of joint family cannot dispose of their shares while undivided Any member of joint family may sell or give away his shares even when undivided.
As regards inheritanceThe principle of inheritance is consanguinity (i.e., blood relationship). But cognates are postponed to agnates.The principle of inheritance is spiritual efficacy (i.e., offering of pandas). Some cognates, like sister’s son are preferred to many agnates.
As regards Doctrine of factum valetA fact cannot be altered by hundred texts. It is recognised to a very limited extent.Doctrine of factum valet is fully recognised.

Besides the above points, the other bases of difference between Mitakshara and Dayabhaga arouse out of their differences in the meaning of the word “Sapinda”. According to Dayabhaga ‘Sapinda’ means the same ‘pinda’ means the ball of rice which offered by the Hindu as obsequies to their ancestors. The term ‘Sapinda’ thus connotes those related to the duty of one to offer ‘pinda’ to the other. On the other hand, Vijnaneswara defined ‘Sapinda’ relationship as the relationship arising between two persons through their being connected by particles of one body.

Thus fundamental difference in the term “Sapinda” resulted in the formation of law, which were in material respect quite distinct from each other.

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