The Dharmasastra texts were written in poetic verses. Unlike the Vedas, they are not considered to be the direct outcome of revelations from the Divine and, as such, are not regarded as perfect. They are smriti, not shruti.
Some scholars advise that there are many aspects of the Dharmasastra texts that seem incongruous and undesirable in a modern egalitarian society; for instance, details about maintaining the caste system. They attempt to provide a framework for human conduct and an outline for how to live a moral life.
The main texts that comprise the Dharmasastra include the following:
- The "Manusmriti" (from about the 2nd to 3rd century C.E.) is the text most often studied from the Dharmasastra by Hindus. It has particular influence on medieval Buddhism and Hinduism in Cambodia and Indonesia.
- The "Yajnavalkya Smriti" (from about the 4th to 5th century C.E.) is considered the best crafted text of the Dharmasastra tradition
- The "Naradasmriti" (from about the 5th to 6th century C.E.) is a juridical text as opposed to a text about righteous conduct
- The "Visnusmriti" (from about the 7th century C.E.) details the bhakti tradition rather than dharma directly