Showing posts with label Smritis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Smritis. Show all posts

Hinduism - What Is Manu Smrti?

 

("Manu's Laws") One of the smrtis, or "remembered" texts, a subset of shrutis, or "heard" scriptures, that is considered significant but not authoritative.

This smrti is attributed to the sage Manu and is an example of one of the Dharma Shastras, which are texts that prescribe principles for proper human conduct and ideal societal behavior.

The Dharma Shastras are often attributed to mythological sages, bolstering their authority.

Manu's treatise is by far the most important of the Dharma Shastras, and it is thought to have been written just before the Common Era began.

Manu's book clearly distinguishes the Dharma Sutras from the Dharma Shastras, since it is clearly designed as a model for a whole society rather than a collection of rules for a specific brah min sect.

The first chapter describes the formation of the world and the social order that resulted; the chapter concludes by summarizing the remainder of the volume's contents.

The following five chapters use material from the Dharma Sutras to discuss the four primary social groupings (varnas) and the four phases of life (ashramas).

In chapters seven through nine, Manu's topics dramatically deviate from earlier sources.

The responsibilities of a king are defined in Chapter 7.

Chapters eight and nine deal with a variety of legal issues that may be brought before the monarch for decision.

Manu tries to categorize everything into eighteen categories.

These chapters cover a wide range of criminal and civil law, from assault and theft to contract law and marriage obligations, putting forth a legal foundation for society's stable government.

The subsequent chapters are a little less unique.

The tenth chapter examines the many occupations that members of various varnas might engage in during times of suffering (apaddharma), when conventional social norms are no longer applicable.

The eleventh chapter discusses donations to brahmins and expiation ceremonies (prayashchitta), as well as being true to the Dharma Sutras.

The last chapter of Manu's book is more abstract and theoretical, focused on the workings of karma and discussing the effects of different good and wicked deeds.

Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty and Brian K. Smith, The Laws of Manu, 1991, are two translations of the text.


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