The Accounting Historians Journal Vol. 10, No. 2 Fall 1983
N. Choudhury LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE
VEDIC PARTNERSHIP RULES
Abstract: The law writers of ancient India (around 700 B.C.) devised, in a period of flourishing trade, rules for the administration of partnerships, formed as a means of combining capital and skills of individual entrepreneurs. These rules are indicative of the concern of the writers with partnership economics and equity—concepts which form an important part of present day partnership law.
The earliest systematic references to partnership arrangements and rules in ancient Sanskrit appear in the Smriti ("recollections") literature which probably originated around 700 B.C., reaching their present form some 1,000 years later.1 The Smritis, which were es-sentially codifications of custom, tradition and practice, constituted the law books of ancient India.2 The ordinances contained therein, however, owed much of their credence to being regarded also as deriving their legal force from the Divine word as depicted in the hymns of the Vedas, which form the genesis of Indian social and religious thought. The chronological sequence of the Smritis can-not be conclusively determined thereby precluding an evolutionary study of partnership law. However, a sequence suggested by Jolly3 appears to be widely accepted:
This paper uses Jha's4 collection of translated excerpts from the Smriti literature relating to partnership law. These excerpts include chapter and paragraph references to the original Sanskrit texts. Jha uses two digests (written in Sanskrit), the Smritichandrika and the Vivadaranatkara, in his interpreted translation into English which, in the main, is found to agree with other authoritative and more literal translations (for example, see Buhler, Derrett (1975), Dutt, Jolly and Kane (1933)).
Manu Smriti Yajnavalkya Smriti Narada Smriti Brhaspati and
2nd or 3rd century A.D. 4th century A.D. 6th century A.D.
7th century A.D.