Under the series of Smrtis collectively known as Dharma-sastra, Visnusmrti or Vaisnava Dharma-sastra occupies an unique place. There are many smrtis ascribed to the names of various Rsis like Vyasa, Parasara, Manu, Yajnavalkya, Atri etc. But visnusmrti is famous after the name of lord Visnu himself. This foremost of the Dharma Sastras ha been promulgated by the god himself.
It contains one hundred chapters in total. In the beginning of this treating, lord visnu felt a desire of creating creatures; knowing the earth to be under water, he, as in the cycle before, uplifted the earth supported upon the auspicious (figure of the) boar, delighting to sport in the water. The initial chapters after chapter one describe the duties of the four-casts, duties of the King and also laws relating to treasure-finds.
The subsequent chapters deal with the laws of purification, viz., Upakarman, Utsarga, Upanayan, Purifying Mantras from the Vedas etc. and penances, viz., Tarpana, Pitr rites. Apart from these rites, the code of Visnu elaborates about the duties of Brahmans, duties of owner and servant etc. It also mentions about the three kinds of Property of a house-holder and their comparative moral worths.
The present translation of Visnusmrti by M.N. Dutt is an authentic English translation with various notes at appropriate places for researchers. The Editor of the present book has further enhanced the English Translation by replacing older usage of English words with the corresponding modern words. He has done a good labour to put Sanskrit text and English translation side by side for the benefit of readers. Further, he has corrected various diacritical notations that were incorrectly used in the earlier edition. Also the text has been corrected at appropriate places for a better edition of Visnusmrti.