This āgama is a technical component in the ancient vyāvahāra-śāstra (vyavahara-sastra, scriptures of practical utility) or discourses of legal and judicial matters. The documents or legal papers containing proofs, signature of the witness etc. , are also called āgama. In the Yājñavalka-smṛti it is said, if there is no written āgama (documentation) on the things inherited, the heir’s ownership on those articles is not determined properly —
na hi āgamarahitād bhogād bhogye
bhoktuḥ svamitvaṁ śakyaṁ niścetum.
- This is written by the famous commentator Aparārka , while the original śloka (sloka; verse) of Yājñavalka was —
āgamotyadhiko bhogāt vinā purvakramāgatat
āgamepi valaṁ naiva bhuktiḥ stokāpi yatra no.
In the annotation of this śloka, Aparārka cites Nārada (Narada), and raises a point that, even if the documentation is ready and the witnesses are alive, the enjoyment of inherited property, if not immovable, is not very certain. It needs to be noted whether in the interval period, the property has been sold or donated. In all these matters, the final āgama is necessary and that āgama has to be ‘pure’ (viśuddha). It is because of a viśuddha āgama that the inherited property becomes worthy of enjoyment, as Nārada says —
vidyamāne’pi likhite jīvatsvapi sākṣiṣuḥ
viśeṣataḥ sthāvarāṇāṁ yatrabhuktaṁ na tatsthiraṁ.
āgamena viśuddhena bhogo yāti pramāṇtāṁ
aviśuddhāgamo bhogaḥ prāmāṇyaṁ nādhigacchati.
So, the enjoyment of inherited property, is certified only on the basis of a proof-ridden and ‘pure’ āgama. Manu says —
Where there is enjoyment of property, but no written documentation or ‘āgama’ can be found, it has to be taken for granted that āgama itself is the condition of enjoyment, and only enjoyment does not certify the ownership of property —
sambhoga yatra dṛśyeta na dṛśyetāgamaḥ kvacit /
āgamaḥ kāraṇaṁ tatra na sambhoga iti sthitiḥ //
Mahābhārata has said the same in a generalised way. It says — in the context of laukika (popular) dharma and practices, āgama has been founded in order to remain within the limits of such lokadharma, and it is good to follow the proof of āgama in such cases. Mahādeva (Mahadeva) says that there are śāstras (sastra; scriptures) that control the human ethics and practices. And the proof of their validity is the fact that those who follow these, are seen to be determined in the path of dharma —
āgamaḥ lokadharmāṇāṁ maryādā sarvanirmitāḥ
prāmāṇyenānuvartante dṛśyante ca dṛhavrata .
Here in fact the scriptural sense of āgama-prāmāṇya and the legal sense of āgama as proof have been one and the same.