A CIPHER OF HUMANITY: MANU SMRITI

manusmriti
“one who steals trifling and mediocre articles or flowers, roots or fruits shall be made to pay double the value of the article or a fine of five krsnalas” a verse from Manu Smriti.

At Indian law info, I would like to enunciate some of the useful and unknown facts about Manu Smriti. Popularly known as “MANAVA-DHARMA-SHASTRA”, Manusamriti translated as “The Laws Of Manu” or the “Institutions Of Manu” is the paradigm and authoritative Hindu Law book(Dharmashastra) which served as a bulwark for Hindu Law and Hindu jurisprudence in ancient times at least 1500 years back.

Written in the post-Vedic period after the fall of the Mauryan Empire, Manu Smritis are based on Dharma Sutras and Sir William Jones translated this in 1794. More than fifty manuscripts of the Manu Smritis are not discovered, but the most translated and preserved is the “Calcutta manuscript with Kulluka Bhatta Commentary”.

It is presumed that the actual human author of this compilation used the eponym ‘Manu’, which has led the text to be associated by Hindus with the first human being and the first king in the Indian tradition. Although no details of this eponymous author’s life are known, it is likely that he belonged to a conservative Brahman class somewhere in Northern India.

Manu Smriti is a code of conduct compiled by Brahmins mainly for the upper-caste communities or the king. Hindus think that to make life productive and meaningful, they have to pursue four goals simultaneously: be socially responsible (Dharma) generate and distribute wealth(Artha) indulge in pleasure(Kama), and don’t get attached to anything (Moksha).

The original text of Manu Smriti had no dimension of chapters but the modern verse has been divided into 12 Adhyayas (chapters). The ancient text covers different topics and is unique among Indian texts in using transitional verses. The text is bifurcated into four parts and each is of a different length.

Manu Smriti presents about Varna viz. Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Shudra and not caste. it advocates the system by stating the qualities of a person. It has numerous verses on duties a person has towards society and thus includes various moral, ethical and legal codes

Manu Smriti as a code that has been subjected to a lot of criticism by great personalities. Dr Br Ambedkar asserted that this code is responsible for the caste system in India. Mahatma Gandhi opposed the book… Mr. Gandhi argued that the text recognizes different callings and professions, and defines not one’s rights but one’s duties, he felt that the text and verses in the Manu Smriti are contradictory and are inconsistent with the world prevailing, he felt that the text is lofty.  He was of the opinion that the text and verses which are in consonance should be followed and the ones which go against a person should be left as it is without taking them into the limelight.

To conclude one can say that Manu Smriti is a full-fledged book that has considered the life of a man in-depth.

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