The immediate incentive to this undertaking was, a knowledge, or at least a strong impression, that a connected and explanatory translation of the rules of jurisprudence in the Dharma Śástra of Yájnavalkya was a practical want.
Such impression was coincided in, and therefore proved correct, by a long list of local subscribers eminently qualified, by position and experience, to decide.
Dr. Röer is responsible for the fidelity of the rendering, so far as depends on knowledge of the Sanscrit language and literature, of Hindu mythology and philosophy. Mr. Montriou has aided, so far as enabled by juridical acquirements and experience. The language of translation has, therefore, been a joint labour, often the result of much and anxious discussion, and, if not unfrequently but a choice of doubtful alternatives, yet, always a choice made with pains and circumspection.
The text we have generally followed is Stenzler's which is based on and selected from two MSS. in the royal library at Berlin and two editions published in Calcutta.
We have not neglected constant comparison with Stenzler's German translation as well as with the several detached passages as translated by Colebrooke and W. Macnaghten.
Words within brackets are not in the original text.
References to, and extracts from, the standard commentary upon Yájnavalkya, the Mitákshará, necessarily form the staple of our notes. All such extracts are distinguished by the initial (M.), and the author of the commentary we invariably refer to as, the Commentator.
At the same time, we have not blindly or implicitly followed this commentator. In some sense all Hindu glosses are untrustworthy guides. They assume the text to be the language of inspiration; and, as the several Dharma Śástras not merely differ, but often dispose of the same subject in a contradictory manner, Pandits deem it their duty to reconcile all discrepancies, how forced soever their interpretations may be. In passages so dealt with, we have endeavoured to give the plain meaning of the original text.
We gratefully acknowledge the obliging assistance, in research, enquiry, and suggestion, occasionally afforded, in the progress of our task, by Babus, Chandra Saikhur Dev and Shyámácharaṇa Sircar.
W. A. M.