The Vedas have been firmly established as the oldest knowledge known to us. The teachings of sage Manu are based on Vedic principles. The Vedas do not contain any reference to any place, person or event. Teachings of the Vedas are purely the principles laid down to make our lives better. In the early periods of human civilization, at some point a need was felt to create guidelines for the proper functioning of an individual, a family and humanity at large. Sage Svāyambhuva Manu, considered the most stable and wise man of his time, was approached to formulate such guidelines. He was a son of Brahmā, considered to be the sage who propagated the Vedas into the society. The Vaivasvata Manu was the descendant of Svāyambhuva Manu.
In Saṁskṛta literature, a description of seven Prajāpati, or the leaders of early society who guided social functioning, has been found. In the same dynasty, somewhere along the line, Ikṣavāku was the ruler and he may have started the Dynasty which came be known as the Sun Dynasty or the Sūryavaṁśī,. It is the same dynasty in which Śrī Rāma and Śrī Kṛṣṇa were born. The name Manu became so prestigious and famous that the entire humanity has become known as Mānava, or human.
The word Manuor name close to it has also been used in various other languages such as man in English, mann in German, mynos in Greek, etc. Several Western authors, including Manning in his writings, “The story of medieval and ancient India”, have commented that Manu is the father of mankind. It is clear from the ancient literature and inscriptions found in Greece, Iran, Cambodia, etc. that they considered Manu to be their ancestor as well. Greek literature gives a reference to the sun dynasty as well. Cambodia has been referred to by the name “Kambuj” in Saṁskṛta literature. In Thailand, even today, reference to Śrī Rāma and Śrī Rāmāyaṇa is very prevalent, such as in the names of the rulers, roads and cultural shows to name a few.
The sage Manu took Vedas as the sole source of his teachings. Nowhere in the Vedas there is any mention of caste system or negative comments about women. Teachings of Manusmṛti have been referred to in Rāmāyaṇa, Mahābhārata and Brāhmaṇa literature. This clearly makes Manusmṛti as the oldest source of knowledge after the Vedas, obviously predating all other scriptures. There are two schools of thought on the origin of Vedas. One is that the Vedas was the knowledge given to four deeply meditating ṛṣis, Agni, Vāyu, Āditya and Aṅgirā, who then decoded the knowledge to form the 4 Vedas. The other school of thought is that Vedas were a human creation. It is clear however that irrespective of whether the Vedas were of human creation or knowledge given by God, this seems to have been the earliest knowledge known to humanity. The Manusmṛti was created after that, followed by Brāhmaṇa, Āraṇyaka, Upaniṣad, the 6 books of philosophy, Rāmāyaṇa, and Gītā in that order. As per Ramayana, King Bali was killed by an arrow by Śrī Rāma. While dying, Bālī questioned “why have you shot me, what have I done wrong to you”. In that situation, Śrī Rāma gave a reference to the teachings of Manusmṛti, in which a śloka with the exact same statement has been found.
The Manusmṛti, which is available at present, contains many contradictory statements. This has resulted in a great deal of misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the teachings of Manu. Over the periods of time, many scholars including Balluck Bhatt have agreed that there are about 200 shlokas which have been added in the original text over the period of time. This adulteration has done tremendous injustice to the original intent of Sage Manu. This has made sage Manu appear as if he was trying to divide the society on the basis of caste and gender. This adulteration is similar to what has been done in Mahābhārata, Gītā, and Rāmāyaṇa. Professor Surendra Kumar, Vice Chancellor of Gurukula Kangdi, has championed this cause to bring back the reality and glory of teachings of Manusmṛti. Several arguments have been put forward to explain that there has been adulteration in Manu Smriti by various people throughout history to put their own ideology in a famous and popular scripture.
- Subject matter: Intermixed with the main subject matter are discussions about completely unrelated topics. Here are some examples:
- There is description of creation the way it should be and then it is stated that Brahma was born and hatched from an egg and then he in turn created the universe.
- At places, Manu has been praised a lot and in other shlokas, there is systematic criticism of Sage Manu.
- The Manusmriti has followed the Vedic teachings and has described the 16 sanskars and 4 stages of life appropriately. It is mentioned that a Brahmachari is supposed to live in a Gurukul away from home. There is, however, a shlokha that advises the Brahmachari to bow to parents and all family elders both morning and evening. Since the Brahmachari is already away from home, this is nonsensical as he does not have parents present there to bow to.
- The age of marriage is to be upon attainment of adulthood and in another place, it is mentioned that a 24 yr old man should marry an 8 yr old girl.
- If a Brāhmaṇa is married to a Brāhmaṇa girl and son is born, he gets 4 parts of property, if son is born from Kshatriya mother, 3 parts, if from a Vaishya mother, 2 parts and if from a shudra mother, 1 part. This makes no sense what so ever.
- Contradictory statements: While Manu is emphasizing and recognizing certain dogma or ideology at a given place in the text, the same ideology has been followed by a contradiction in the following shloka. For example; while discussing that if a married couple cannot have children, then the woman with the consent of her husband, can conceive with the brother in law. Next to it is a statement that doing so is not allowed. Similarly, while the text clearly emphasizes nonviolence, consumption of meat is advocated at another place in the text.
- Repetition of topics: There is repetition of topics, some appearing several times.
- Style: Each author has his/her style. One can clearly see at many places that some shlokas which don’t seem match with Manu’s style and intentions. The original Manusmṛiti seems to have been in the form of discourses or lectures rather than an essay or simple book. It appears that some other scholar such as Bhṛgu or some other follower of Sage Manu have integrated other material in the book. This conclusion seems logical since in the very beginning of the book, it is mentioned that the some wise men got together and asked Manu ji to explain about life. There is a subsequent statement that after educating Bhṛgu, Manu ji said that “now Bhṛgu will explain to you the whole subject. This seems to be an adulteration.
- Baseless arguments: There is a śloka that if a person urinates while facing sun, moon, cow, water, fire, air or a Brāhmaṇa, he/she will lose his/her intellect.
- Exaggerations: It is mentioned if a person gets even the thought of trying to kill a Brāhmaṇa he/she will go to hell for 100 yrs. If a person actually kills a Brāhmaṇa, he/she will be in hell for 1000 yrs.
- Favoritism: Brāhmaṇas are favored at many places in the text available at present. It is mentioned in one śloka that a 10 year old Brāhmaṇa will be like a father to even a 100 year old person of any other Varṇa (caste).
- Against the Vaidik (Vedic) principles: Although it is clear that Manu ji firmly followed the Vaidik (Vedic) principles, there are many ślokas which are contradictory to that ideology, for example, there is mention at places that women and Śūdras shouldn’t be allowed to recite Vaidik (Vedic) mantras and study Vaidik (Vedic) texts. This is quite against what has been propagated by the Vedas.
Contents of Manusmriti
Present Manusmṛti has 12 chapters with a total of 2,685 ślokas.
The first chapter deals with the creation and religion (dharma).
2nd deals with sacraments and celibacy.
3rd with marriage and family life as well as the responsibilities of married couple and includes the 5 Yajña.
4th chapter deals with human code of conduct.
5th chapter is about what should be eaten and what shouldn’t be, as well as what is clean and what is not.
6th chapter deals with Vānprastha and Sanyāsa, and the duties of a person in these stages of life.
Chapters seven through nine deal with governance and law.
Chapter 10 addresses Varṇa Vyavasthā, or the 4 groups of society.
Chapter 11 discusses penance.
Chapter 12 details the fruits of action, including the attainment of salvation.
Overall, the code of conduct, or Dharma proposed in Manusmṛti are eternal as far as the place, person, or period. These can be divided into Dharma, or the conduct of a person, family, society, and nation, including government and humanity. The makeup of different segments of society and the ability to change from one Varma to another Varṇa, were clearly based on a person’s desire and ability rather than by birth. This is no different from the social structure prevalent at present, such as have teachers, soldiers, businessmen, and workers who, based on their abilities, can always move from one position to another. The only difference in what is prevalent today and what was championed by Manu is that at present, the four groups are limited to their professional trade. Manu, however, had proposed the system to address the life of a person as a whole. It has also laid down clearly that women be respected, and those who are less fortunate, or less educated, be given utmost respect in society a concept which is contrary to the common belief about Manusmṛti today.
Here are the details about some of the topics discussed in Manusmṛti.
- Dharma: Some famous shlokas which define and detail dharma are as follows.
धृतिः क्षमा दमो-अस्तेयं शौचम् इन्द्रिय-निग्रहः ।
धीः विद्या सत्यम् अक्रोधो दशकं धर्म-लक्षणम् ॥मनुस्मृतिः 6.92॥
dhṛtiḥ kṣamā damo-Asteyaṁ śaucam Indriya-nigrahaḥ |
dhīḥ vidyā satyam Akrodho daśakaṁ dharma-lakṣaṇam ||manusmṛtiḥ 6.92||
Which means: patience, forgiveness, control over your mind, non-stealing, cleanliness of body, mind and soul, restrain on your senses, proper use of intellect, proper knowledge of God, soul and nature, honesty, and control over your anger. This probably is the most perfect definition of religion or Dharma. It is hard to believe that a sage who is advocating such high level of human conduct would try to divide the society.
Yet another perfect definition of Dharma has been given by Sage Manu in his teachings:
वेदः स्मृतिः सदाचारः स्वस्य च प्रियम् आत्मनः ।
एतत् चतुर्विधं प्राहुः साक्षाद् धर्मस्य लक्षणम् ॥मनुस्मृतिः 2.12॥
vedaḥ smṛtiḥ sadācāraḥ svasya ca priyam Ātmanaḥ |
Etat caturvidhaṁ prāhuḥ sākṣād dharmasya lakṣaṇam ||manusmṛtiḥ 2.12||
This shloka incorporates 4 principles, which if practiced constitutes dharma.
- Vēdaḥ: this means that the code of conduct, or Dharma, of a person be according to Vaidik (Vedic) teachings. Since these teachings remain unchanged regardless of person place or situation and are eternal, so is the case with teachings of Manusmṛti. Take an example of how Sage Manu intended to help humanity at a very grassroots level.
ब्राह्मे मुहूर्ते बुध्येत धर्म-अर्थौ च-अनुचिन्तयेत् ।
कायक्लेशान् च तन्मूलान् वेदतत्त्वार्थम् एव च ॥मनुस्मृतिः 4.92॥
brāhme muhūrte budhyeta dharma-arthau ca-Anucintayet |
kāyakleśān ca tanmūlān vedatattvārtham Eva ca ||manusmṛtiḥ 4.92||
Manu ji says that if the rays of sun fall on a person who is sleeping, it is deleterious to his or her health. It has been well-established that waking up early is very good for physical and mental well-being of all of us.
- Smṛti: the second principle is that we should obey the teachings of Smṛti literature. The Vedas define and detail the overall code of conduct as it relates to humanity as a whole, whereas the Smṛti literature focuses primarily on the national level. It is however necessary that the citizens of a nation also follow the universal laws as well. If such a practice of human values is adhered to by all, there will be no wars and, therefore, no armies needed. The world would simply be a more harmonious place. It must be stated, however, that the local situation differs from country to country. Climate is one example and certain human behavior will be based on local conditions. Manusmṛti, while directing the overall social code of conduct, respects the given situation of a nation. It is clearly stated that no code of conduct of a person be contradictory to the constitution of their nation and be against their national interest.
- Sadācār: the conduct of good people be analyzed in-depth. Although the conduct of respected persons may be well-hearted, it should not come in the way of national progress, as well as should be in accordance with a given situation.
- Svasya Ca Priyaṁ Ātmanaḥ: A person should act according to his/her inner conscience especially in difficult situations. One should think first and then act righteously. This is the 4th and most important dogma of life. We should avoid actions that we would not wish upon ourselves. If everyone acts according to inner feelings based on the principle described above, a person’s life would be greatly improved, leading to better family, nation, and society. Manu has stated that people should live according to the highest state of righteousness.
आत्मनः प्रतिकूलानि परेषां न समाचरेत्।
Ātmanaḥ Pratikūlāni Parēṣāṁ Na Samācarēt।
This means that any act that brings fear, doubt and shame, cannot be, according to the desire of inner self.
Vedas are the root of whole practice of Dharma.
वेदो-अखिलो धर्ममूलं स्मृतिशीले च तद्विदाम् ।
आचारः च-एव साधूनाम् आत्मनः तुष्टिः एव च ॥मनुस्मृतिः 2.6॥
vedo-Akhilo dharmamūlaṁ smṛtiśīle ca tadvidām |
Ācāraḥ ca-Eva sādhūnām Ātmanaḥ tuṣṭiḥ Eva ca ||manusmṛtiḥ 2.6||
Honest interaction defined:
सत्यं ब्रूयात् प्रियं ब्रूयात् न ब्रूयात् सत्यम् अप्रियम् ।
प्रियं च न-अनृतं ब्रूयाद् एष धर्मः सनातनः ॥मनुस्मृतिः 4.138॥
satyaṁ brūyāt priyaṁ brūyāt na brūyāt satyam Apriyam |
priyaṁ ca na-Anṛtaṁ brūyād Eṣa dharmaḥ sanātanaḥ ||manusmṛtiḥ 4.138||
A person should speak the truth and do so pleasantly for the well-being of society and avoid what is untrue simply to please others. This is Sanātana Dharma, the Eternal Law. Also there is another verse that states one should never embarrass another who has a physical disability or lack of knowledge, among other conditions.
Never destroy Dharma:
धर्म एव हतो हन्ति धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः ।
तस्माद् धर्मो न हन्तव्यो मा नो धर्मो हतो-अवधीत् ॥मनुस्मृतिः 8.15॥
dharma Eva hato hanti dharmo rakṣati rakṣitaḥ |
tasmād dharmo na hantavyo mā no dharmo hato-Avadhīt ||manusmṛtiḥ 8.15||
Dharma destroys anyone who seeks to destroy It and Dharma protect anyone who protects It. Therefore, Dharma must never be destroyed for Dharma destroyed, destroys us.
Dharma is the only companion after death:
नामुत्र हि सहायार्थं पिता माता च तिष्ठतः ।
न पुत्रदारं न ज्ञातिः धर्मः तिष्ठति केवलः ॥मनुस्मृतिः 4.239॥
nāmutra hi sahāyārthaṁ pitā mātā ca tiṣṭhataḥ |
na putradāraṁ na jñātiḥ dharmaḥ tiṣṭhati kevalaḥ ||manusmṛtiḥ 4.239||
After death(amutra), neither father, nor mother, nor spouse(dar), nor children, nor any other relative (gyaati)or a friend remains a companion. Dharma alone remains with us.
- Different segments of society: Sage Manu ji advocated 4 divisions of society called Varṇa Vyavasthā, and it was based on the individual’s ability, rather than birth. These Varṇas were Bhraman, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya and Śūdra, which denoted the people who would be educators and spiritual guides, those who would maintain the economics and trade, those who would rule and protect, and finally those who would serve the above three segments in society. Anyone who would have a certain level of ability was free to move from one Varṇa to another. One such śloka is:
शूद्रो ब्राह्मणताम् एति ब्राह्मणः च-एति शूद्रताम् ।
क्षत्रियात् जातम् एवं तु विद्याद् वैश्यात् तथा-एव च ॥मनुस्मृतिः 10.65॥
śūdro brāhmaṇatām Eti brāhmaṇaḥ ca-Eti śūdratām |
kṣatriyāt jātam Evaṁ tu vidyād vaiśyāt tathā-Eva ca ||manusmṛtiḥ 10.65||
The meaning of this śloka is that based on the actions and ability, people would become Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya or Vaiśya and if they lack an ability required to become any one of these, they would remain as Śūdra. Even Bhagvad Gītā has mentioned the same social setup based on a person’s ability and actions.
चातुर्वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टं गुण-कर्म-विभागशः॥गीता4.13
Cāturvarṇyaṁ Mayā Sṛṣṭaṁ Guṇa-karma-Vibhāgaśaḥ| Gītā 4.13
Yaska Muni says every person is Śūdra by birth. Actions and ability are only cause to be Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya or Vaiśya.
जन्मना जायते शूद्रः संस्कारात् भवेत् द्विजः।
वेद पाठात् भवेत् विप्रः ब्रह्म जानाति-इति ब्राह्मणः॥यास्क मुनि॥
Janmanā Jāyate Śūdraḥ Saṁskārāt Bhavet Dvijaḥ|
Veda Pāṭhāt Bhavet Vipraḥ Brahma Jānāti-Iti Brāhmaṇaḥ||Yaska Muni||
All 4 segments of society have been assigned certain responsibilities. These are:
अध्यापनम् अध्ययनं यजनं याजनं तथा ।
दानं प्रतिग्रहं च-एव ब्राह्मणानाम् अकल्पयत् ॥मनुस्मृतिः 1.88॥
Adhyāpanam Adhyayanaṁ yajanaṁ yājanaṁ tathā |
dānaṁ pratigrahaṁ ca-Eva brāhmaṇānām Akalpayat ||manusmṛtiḥ 1.88||
प्रजानां रक्षणं दानम् इज्या-अध्ययनम् एव च ।
विषयेषु-अप्रसक्तिश् च क्षत्रियस्य समासतः ॥मनुस्मृतिः 1.89॥
prajānāṁ rakṣaṇaṁ dānam Ijyā-Adhyayanam Eva ca |
viṣayeṣu-Aprasaktiś ca kṣatriyasya samāsataḥ ||manusmṛtiḥ 1.89||
पशूनां रक्षणं दानम् इज्या-अध्ययनम् एव च ।
वणिक्-पथं कुसीदं च वैश्यस्य कृषिम् एव च ॥मनुस्मृतिः 1.90॥
paśūnāṁ rakṣaṇaṁ dānam Ijyā-Adhyayanam Eva ca |
vaṇik-pathaṁ kusīdaṁ ca vaiśyasya kṛṣim Eva ca ||manusmṛtiḥ 1.90||
एकम् एव तु शूद्रस्य प्रभुः कर्म सम्-आदिशत् ।
एतेषाम् एव वर्णानां शुश्रूषाम् अनसूयया ॥मनुस्मृतिः 1.91॥
Ekam Eva tu śūdrasya prabhuḥ karma sam-Ādiśat |
Eteṣām Eva varṇānāṁ śuśrūṣām Anasūyayā ||manusmṛtiḥ 1.91||
A Brāhmaṇa should teach without deceit and with affection and impart proper knowledge according to Vaidik (Vedic) teachings. A Kṣatriya should have the quality of protecting society in every conceivable way and give the gift of fearlessness while maintaining their daily lifestyle which includes performance of Agnihotra and control over senses. A Vaiśya should be able to carry on business while sharing a portion of earned wealth with the rest of society, as well as possess knowledge of Vedas and agricultural or other trades, and live a righteous life. A Śūdra should have a strong physical build and be able to serve without resentment.
A Brāhmaṇa can become a Śūdra if he/she fails to achieve true knowledge and propagate it in the society.
यो-अनधीत्य द्विजो वेदम् अन्यत्र कुरुते श्रमम् ।
स जीवन् एव शूद्रत्वम् आशु गच्छति स-अन्वयः ॥मनुस्मृतिः 2.168॥
yo-Anadhītya dvijo vedam Anyatra kurute śramam |
sa jīvan Eva śūdratvam Āśu gacchati sa-Anvayaḥ ||manusmṛtiḥ 2.168||
It is obvious that somewhere along the line, people who got a certain level of authority wanted to hold on to it, and the caste system came into being. There are many examples of transformation from one Varṇa to the other through the history. Some of these are: Sage Vishwamitra, Kavaśa Ailuśa, Vidura, Dvāpī, Mudgala, Satyakāma Jābāla, Pṛṣadhra, Nābhāga, Agnivēśya, mātaṁga and Rāvaṇa. There have been many reformers, including Swami Dayanand Saraswati, to bring different segments of society together. It is the selfish and misguided people who have not allowed this movement to be very effective.
- Place of women in society. In several ślokas:
Manu has clearly laid down that those societies which provide respect and dignity to women flourish with nobility and prosperity. On the other hand, those who don’t do so, face miseries and failure (verse 3.56).
यत्र नार्यः तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवताः ।
यत्र-एताः तु न पूज्यन्ते सर्वाः तत्र-अफलाः क्रियाः ॥मनुस्मृतिः 3.56॥
yatra nāryaḥ tu pūjyante ramante tatra devatāḥ |
yatra-Etāḥ tu na pūjyante sarvāḥ tatra-Aphalāḥ kriyāḥ ||manusmṛtiḥ 3.56||
Societies where women are honored are blessing with people with divine qualities but where they are not respected, those societies fail to flourish.
पितृभिः भ्रातृभिः च-एताः पतिभिः देवरैः तथा ।
पूज्या भूषयितव्याः च बहु-कल्याणम् ईप्सुभिः ॥मनुस्मृतिः 3.55॥
pitṛbhiḥ bhrātṛbhiḥ ca-Etāḥ patibhiḥ devaraiḥ tathā |
pūjyā bhūṣayitavyāḥ ca bahu-kalyāṇam Īpsubhiḥ ||manusmṛtiḥ 3.55||
This verse states that those who desire prosperity should ensure that women in their family are always happy. (Verse 3.55).
शोचन्ति जामयो यत्र विनश्यति-आशु तत् कुलम् ।
न शोचन्ति तु यत्र-एता वर्धते तद् हि सर्वदा ॥मनुस्मृतिः 3.57॥
śocanti jāmayo yatra vinaśyati-Āśu tat kulam |
na śocanti tu yatra-Etā vardhate tad hi sarvadā ||manusmṛtiḥ 3.57||
Families in which women live in grief, disintegrate rapidly, while in those families where women are happy, prosper forever.
तस्माद् एताः सदा पूज्या भूषण-आच्छादन-अशनैः ।
भूति-कामैः नरैः नित्यं सत्कारेषु-उत्सवेषु च ॥मनुस्मृतिः 3.59॥
tasmād Etāḥ sadā pūjyā bhūṣaṇa-Ācchādana-Aśanaiḥ |
bhūti-kāmaiḥ naraiḥ nityaṁ satkāreṣu-Utsaveṣu ca ||manusmṛtiḥ 3.59||
Men who seek (their own) welfare, should always honor women on holidays and festivals with gifts ornaments, clothes, and other things.
संतुष्टो भार्यया भर्ता भर्त्रा भार्या तथैव च ।
यस्मिन् एव कुले नित्यं कल्याणं तत्र वै ध्रुवम् ॥मनुस्मृतिः 3.60॥
saṁtuṣṭo bhāryayā bhartā bhartrā bhāryā tathaiva ca |
yasmin Eva kule nityaṁ kalyāṇaṁ tatra vai dhruvam ||manusmṛtiḥ 3.60||
In that family, where the husband is pleased with his wife and the wife with her husband, will be blessed with lasting happiness.
प्रजनार्थं स्त्रियः सृष्टाः संतानार्थं च मानवः ।
तस्मात् साधारणो धर्मः श्रुतौ पत्न्या सह-उदितः ॥मनुस्मृतिः 9.96॥
prajanārthaṁ striyaḥ sṛṣṭāḥ saṁtānārthaṁ ca mānavaḥ |
tasmāt sādhāraṇo dharmaḥ śrutau patnyā saha-Uditaḥ ||manusmṛtiḥ 9.96||
Women should be able to participate in and conduct various religious ceremonies and those who deny Vedas or Vaidik (Vedic) rituals to women are anti-religion and anti-humanity.
अर्थस्य संग्रहे च-एनां व्यये च-एव नियोजयेत् ।
शौचे धर्मे-अन्नपक्त्यां च पारिणाहि-अस्य वेक्षणे ॥मनुस्मृतिः 9.11॥
Arthasya saṁgrahe ca-Enāṁ vyaye ca-Eva niyojayet |
śauce dharme-Annapaktyāṁ ca pāriṇāhi-Asya vekṣaṇe ||manusmṛtiḥ 9.11||
It also states that women should be provided autonomy and leadership in managing finances and conducting other responsibilities in life (verse 9.11).
अरक्षिता गृहे रुद्धाः पुरुषैः आप्तकारिभिः ।
आत्मानम् आत्मना याः तु रक्षेयुः ताः सुरक्षिताः ॥मनुस्मृतिः 9.12॥
Arakṣitā gṛhe ruddhāḥ puruṣaiḥ Āptakāribhiḥ |
Ātmānam Ātmanā yāḥ tu rakṣeyuḥ tāḥ surakṣitāḥ ||manusmṛtiḥ 9.12||
Freedom, rather than restrain, of women has been championed as well. The protection of women has been advocated, but this protection does not mean restriction (9.12).
कामम् आमरणात् तिष्ठेद् गृहे कन्या ऋतुमति-अपि ।
न च-एव-एनां प्रयच्छेत् तु गुणहीनाय कर्हिचित् ॥मनुस्मृतिः 9.89॥
kāmam Āmaraṇāt tiṣṭhed gṛhe kanyā Ṛtumati-Api |
na ca-Eva-Enāṁ prayacchet tu guṇahīnāya karhicit ||manusmṛtiḥ 9.89||
It is better to keep a women unmarried rather than force her to marry an undeserving person. (9.89)
त्रीणि वर्षाणि-उदीक्षेत कुमारी-ऋतुमती सती ।
ऊर्ध्वं तु कालाद् एतस्माद् विन्देत सदृशं पतिम् ॥मनुस्मृतिः 9.90॥
trīṇi varṣāṇi-Udīkṣeta kumārī-Ṛtumatī satī |
Ūrdhvaṁ tu kālād Etasmād vindeta sadṛśaṁ patim ||manusmṛtiḥ 9.90||
He also says that a women should be able to choose her own husband after she attains maturity. (9.90-9.91).
यथा-एव-आत्मा तथा पुत्रः पुत्रेण दुहिता समा ।
तस्याम् आत्मनि तिष्ठन्त्यां कथम् अन्यो धनं हरेत् ॥मनुस्मृतिः 9.130॥
yathā-Eva-Ātmā tathā putraḥ putreṇa duhitā samā |
tasyām Ātmani tiṣṭhantyāṁ katham Anyo dhanaṁ haret ||manusmṛtiḥ 9.130||
मातुः तु यौतकं यत् स्यात् कुमारीभाग एव सः ।
दौहित्र एव च हरेद् अपुत्रस्य-अखिलं धनम् ॥मनुस्मृतिः 9.131॥
mātuḥ tu yautakaṁ yat syāt kumārībhāga Eva saḥ |
dauhitra Eva ca hared Aputrasya-Akhilaṁ dhanam ||manusmṛtiḥ 9.131||
Property rights of the son and daughter should be equal (9.130-9.131)
पुरुषाणां कुलीनानां नारीणां च विशेषतः ।
मुख्यानां च-एव रत्नानां हरणे वधम् अर्हति ॥मनुस्मृतिः 8.323॥
puruṣāṇāṁ kulīnānāṁ nārīṇāṁ ca viśeṣataḥ |
mukhyānāṁ ca-Eva ratnānāṁ haraṇe vadham Arhati ||manusmṛtiḥ 8.323||
Those who harm women should be punished in the harshest way.(8.323-8.352)
परदारा-अभिमर्शेषु प्रवृत्तान् नॄन् महीपतिः ।
उद्वेजनकरैः दण्डैः छिन्नयित्वा प्रवासयेत् ॥मनुस्मृतिः 8.352॥
paradārā-Abhimarśeṣu pravṛttān nṝn mahīpatiḥ |
Udvejanakaraiḥ daṇḍaiḥ chinnayitvā pravāsayet ||manusmṛtiḥ 8.352||
Men who commit adultery against women other than their wives will be punished severely.
- Punishment for a crime: It is a common belief that Manu has advocated protection to the higher segment of society, especially the Brāhmaṇas. On examining the text, reverse seems to be the case. Much more severe punishments have been advocated for those who are more educated and belong to the higher segment of society. For example, when a punishment for an ordinary citizen is one cent, the punishment for those in the ruling class would be 1000 cents, or 1000x (8.336).
कार्षापणं भवेद् दण्ड्यो यत्र-अन्यः प्राकृतो जनः ।
तत्र राजा भवेद् दण्ड्यः सहस्रम् इति धारणा ॥मनुस्मृतिः 8.336॥
kārṣāpaṇaṁ bhaved daṇḍyo yatra-Anyaḥ prākṛto janaḥ |
tatra rājā bhaved daṇḍyaḥ sahasram Iti dhāraṇā ||manusmṛtiḥ 8.336||
अष्टापाद्यं तु शूद्रस्य स्तेये भवति किल्बिषम् ।
षोडश-एव तु वैश्यस्य द्वात्रिंशत् क्षत्रियस्य च ॥मनुस्मृतिः 8.337॥
Aṣṭāpādyaṁ tu śūdrasya steye bhavati kilbiṣam |
ṣoḍaśa-Eva tu vaiśyasya dvātriṁśat kṣatriyasya ca ||manusmṛtiḥ 8.337||
ब्राह्मणस्य चतुःषष्टिः पूर्णं वा-अपि शतं भवेत् ।
द्विगुणा वा चतुःषष्टिः तद्-दोषगुणविद् हि सः ॥मनुस्मृतिः 8.338॥
brāhmaṇasya catuḥṣaṣṭiḥ pūrṇaṁ vā-Api śataṁ bhavet |
dviguṇā vā catuḥṣaṣṭiḥ taddoṣaguṇavid hi saḥ ||manusmṛtiḥ 8.338||
It is stated in the above verses of Manusmṛti that if one conducts a theft willingly and with full knowledge of the implications of such a conduct, the person should be penalized 8 times more compared to the person doing the same crime who belongs to a Śūdra Varṇa. In other words, the punishment should be directly proportional to the knowledge and social status of the criminal. The bottom line is that a birth-based caste system does not fit the code of conduct laid down by sage Manu. If the society and the governments all follow the penal system and the social system proposed by Manusmṛti, the world would be free from corrupt people, politicians and others, and simply be a better place to live in. It is the responsibility of every individual practicing Arya Samaj principles that they clearly understand the reality of teachings of Manusmṛti and propagate those in the society.
- Donation and giving: The gift of knowledge is superior to any other giving.
सर्वेषाम् एव दानानां ब्रह्मदानं विशिष्यते ।
वारि-अन्न-गो-मही-वासस्-तिल-काञ्चन-सर्पिषाम् ॥मनुस्मृतिः 4.233॥
sarveṣām Eva dānānāṁ brahmadānaṁ viśiṣyate |
- Restraining your senses: Like a driver restraining his horses, a wise man must strive to restrain his senses.
इन्द्रियाणां विचरतां विषयेषु-अपहारिषु ।
संयमे यत्नम् आतिष्ठेद् विद्वान् यन्ता-इव वाजिनाम् ॥मनुस्मृतिः 2.88॥
Indriyāṇāṁ vicaratāṁ viṣayeṣu-Apahāriṣu |
saṁyame yatnam Ātiṣṭhed vidvān yantā-Iva vājinām ||manusmṛtiḥ 2.88||
A person should make every effort to control the senses, which are trying to drag the mind and soul towards improper actions, just like a skilled charioteer keeps the horses in control.
- Power of control of Mind: Once Mind has been subdued, then all our senses come under control.
एकादशं मनो ज्ञेयं स्वगुणेन-उभय-आत्मकम् ।
यस्मिन् जिते जितौ-एतौ भवतः पञ्चकौ गणौ ॥मनुस्मृतिः 2.92॥
Ekādaśaṁ mano jñeyaṁ svaguṇena-Ubhaya-Ātmakam |
yasmin jite jitau-Etau bhavataḥ pañcakau gaṇau ||manusmṛtiḥ 2.92||
- Human desires: Through enjoyment, desire merely becomes stronger, like fire fed with fuel.
न जातु कामः कामानाम् उपभोगेन शाम्यति ।
हविषा कृष्णवर्त्म-इव भूय एव-अभिवर्धते ॥मनुस्मृतिः 2.94॥
na jātu kāmaḥ kāmānām Upabhogena śāmyati |
haviṣā kṛṣṇavartma-Iva bhūya Eva-Abhivardhate ||manusmṛtiḥ 2.94||
- Attachment: Desire to seek pleasures only increases as people indulge deeper in sensual gratification.
यथा यथा निषेवन्ते विषयान् विषय-आत्मकाः ।
तथा तथा कुशलता तेषां तेषु-उपजायते ॥मनुस्मृतिः 12.73॥
yathā yathā niṣevante viṣayān viṣaya-Ātmakāḥ |
tathā tathā kuśalatā teṣāṁ teṣu-Upajāyate ||manusmṛtiḥ 12.73||
- How to achieve lasing happiness and aananda:
Only be pursuit of True knowledge. Also a knowledgeable person should be able to withstand constructive criticism with pleasure and should react to criticism in a mature and peaceful manner.
न तथा-एतानि शक्यन्ते संनियन्तुम् असेवया ।
विषयेषु प्रजुष्टानि यथा ज्ञानेन नित्यशः ॥मनुस्मृतिः 2.96॥
na tathā-Etāni śakyante saṁniyantum Asevayā |
viṣayeṣu prajuṣṭāni yathā jñānena nityaśaḥ ||manusmṛtiḥ 2.96||
- Respect to teacher and elders and those who have acquired true knowledge:
ब्रह्म-आरम्भे-अवसाने च पादौ ग्राह्यौ गुरोः सदा ।
संहत्य हस्तौ-अध्येयं स हि ब्रह्म-अञ्जलिः स्मृतः ॥मनुस्मृतिः 2.71॥
brahma-Ārambhe-Avasāne ca pādau grāhyau guroḥ sadā |
saṁhatya hastau-Adhyeyaṁ sa hi brahma-Añjaliḥ smṛtaḥ ||manusmṛtiḥ 2.71||
A student must offer salutations to the teacher with clasped palms and touch the teacher’s feet before the lesson begins.
शय्यासने-अध्याचरिते श्रेयसा न समाविशेत् ।
शय्यासनस्थः च-एव-एनं प्रत्युत्थाय-अभिवादयेत् ॥मनुस्मृतिः 2.119॥
śayyāsane-Adhyācarite śreyasā na samāviśet |
śayyāsanasthaḥ ca-Eva-Enaṁ pratyutthāya-Abhivādayet ||manusmṛtiḥ 2.119||
A student must not sit on a bed or seat that is occupied by someone senior to him in age and knowledge. While sitting on a bed or seat, he should rise and give that seat to one who is senior.
आयुष्मान् भव सौम्य-इति वाच्यो विप्रो-अभिवादने ।
अकारः च-अस्य नाम्नो-अन्ते वाच्यः पूर्व-अक्षरः प्लुतः ॥मनुस्मृतिः 2.125॥
Āyuṣmān bhava saumya-Iti vācyo vipro-Abhivādane |
Akāraḥ ca-Asya nāmno-Ante vācyaḥ pūrva-Akṣaraḥ plutaḥ ||manusmṛtiḥ 2.125||
- Dwij/Rebirth: The first birth is by the mother and the second is from the teacher’s womb through education received through Upanayana ceremony, Vedārambha and Samāvartana or a graduation at the completion of education.
- Freedom, its importance: freedom has been stressed that independence brings success while dependence brings misery and difficulty.
- Vegetarianism: Manu has considered it criminal to slay and be involved in the process of the animal’s death, sale and consumption.
- Purity: body can be cleaned by soap and water, mind by truthful behavior, soul by following Dharma, and intellect is cleansed by knowledge.
अद्भिः गात्राणि शुध्यन्ति मनः सत्येन शुध्यति ।
विद्या-तपोभ्यां भूत-आत्मा बुद्धिः ज्ञानेन शुध्यति ॥मनुस्मृतिः 5.109॥
Adbhiḥ gātrāṇi śudhyanti manaḥ satyena śudhyati |
vidyā-tapobhyāṁ bhūta-Ātmā buddhiḥ jñānena śudhyati ||manusmṛtiḥ 5.109||
- The four stages of life:
According to Manu there are four stages of life in Vaidik Dharma:
- The First Ashrama – “Brahmacharya” or the Student Stage
- The Second Ashrama – “Gṛhastha” or the Householder Stage
- The Third Ashrama – “Vānaprastha” or the Hermit Stage
- The Fourth Ashrama – “Saṁnyāsa” or the Wandering Ascetic Stage
The role of a householder is the centerpiece of all 4 stages of life and it is the passages through these stages that makes one achieve the highest stage in life, including eternal bliss.
वेदानधीत्य वेदौ वा वेदं वा-अपि यथाक्रमम् ।
अविप्लुत-ब्रह्मचर्यो गृहस्थ-आश्रमम् आवसेत् ॥मनुस्मृतिः 3.2॥
vedānadhītya vedau vā vedaṁ va-Api yathākramam |
Avipluta-brahmacaryo gṛhastha-Āśramam Āvaset ||manusmṛtiḥ 3.2||
(A student) who has studied in due order the three Vedas, or two, or even one only, without breaking the (rules of) studentship, shall enter the order of householders.
यथा वायुं सम्-आश्रित्य वर्तन्ते सर्वजन्तवः ।
तथा गृहस्थम् आश्रित्य वर्तन्ते सर्व आश्रमाः ॥मनुस्मृतिः 3.77॥
yathā vāyuṁ sam-Āśritya vartante sarvajantavaḥ |
tathā gṛhastham Āśritya vartante sarva Āśramāḥ ||manusmṛtiḥ 3.77||
As the entire humanity depends on air to live, humans in all stages of life should be dependent upon support of the householder.
यस्मात् त्रयो-अपि-आश्रमिणो ज्ञानेन-अन्नेन च-अन्वहम् ।
गृहस्थेन-एव धार्यन्ते तस्मात् ज्येष्ठ-आश्रमो गृही ॥मनुस्मृतिः 3.78॥
yasmāt trayo-Api-Āśramiṇo jñānena-Annena ca-Anvaham |
gṛhasthena-Eva dhāryante tasmāt jyeṣṭha-Āśramo gṛhī ||manusmṛtiḥ 3.78||
[Because men of the three (other) stages of life are daily supported by the householder with (gifts of) sacred knowledge and food, therefore (the stage of) householders is the most excellent stage.]
स संधार्यः प्रयत्नेन स्वर्गम् अक्षयम् इच्छता ।
सुखं च-इह-इच्छता-अत्यन्तं यो-अधार्यो दुर्बल-इन्द्रियैः ॥मनुस्मृतिः 3.79॥
sa saṁdhāryaḥ prayatnena svargam Akṣayam Icchatā |
sukhaṁ ca-Iha-Icchatā-Atyantaṁ yo-Adhāryo durbala-Indriyaiḥ ||manusmṛtiḥ 3.79||
[(The duties of) this stage, which cannot be practised by men with weak organs, must be carefully observed by him who desires imperishable (bliss in) heaven, and constant happiness in this (life).]