Schools of Hindu Law

There are basically two schools of Hindu law:

1. Mitakshara: The Mitakshara is a running commentary on the code of Yajnavalka. It has been written by an eleventh century jurist by the name of Vijnaneshwar and prevails in all parts of India (except parts of Punjab and West Bengal).

Mitakshara literally means “a brief compendium”.

Hindu law is divided into five sub-schools. These are:

  • Mithila
  • Benaras
  • Dravida
  • Maharashtra
  • Bengal

Mitakshara prevails in the Mithila, Benaras, Maharashtra and Dravida sub-schools while Dayabhaga law prevails in Bengal. All the four sub-schools governed by Mitakshara acknowledge Mitakshara as the supreme authority but give preference to specific treatises and commentaries controlling passages from mitakshara resulting in divergences between them.

2. Dayabhaga: The Dayabhaga School, which is followed mainly in Bengal and Bangladesh, is not a commentary or any particular code, but is a digest of all the codes. It has been written by Jimutavahana in the latter half of twelfth century. Jimutavahana’s doctrines of inheritance, succession and joint family system are contrary to some basic rules of Mitakshara. Without accepting the set of propositions laid down by other commentators, he deals with the subject of inheritance and succession as an objective science with a forthright and direct approach. He appeals to reason and logic.


The differences between the two schools of Hindu laws are as follows:

  Mitakshara Dayabhaga
1 The son, grandson, great grandson have a right in the joint family property having an equal interest with the father The son or grandson or great grandsons have no such right till the father is alive. After his death, property, whether ancestral or separate, devolves by inheritance or succession.
2 Sons can ask for a partition during the lifetime of father Sons have no right to ask for partition during the lifetime of father
3 Coparceners have community of interest and unity of possession Coparceners have specified and ascertained shares in the joint family property but have a unity of possession.
4 Coparceners have fluctuating interest in the coparcenary property The interest of coparceners do not fluctuate
5 Doctrine of survivorship is applicable No doctrine of survivorship
6 Mitakshara coparcenary is a creation of law and cannot be formed by agreement between parties Dayabhaga coparcenary stems from a desire of the coparceners to live together
7 The starting point of a Mitakshara coparcenary is the birth of a son The starting point of a Dayabhaga coparcenary is the death of the father
8 The members of a coparcenary cannot dispose of their shares Coparceners can alienate their share whenever they like

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