MANUSMRITI IS THE MOST ENLIGHTENED, PERFECT AND THE GREATEST CIVIL CODE EVER KNOWN TO HUMANITY.
In this series only those Sloka-s have been selected for exposition that confront all misgivings / untrue perceptions about the wisdom of Manusmrti prevailing all around and facilitate accurate interpretation.
Vedanadhitya Vadau Va Vedam Va Api Yathakramam I
Aviplutabrahmacaryo Grahasthasramamavaset II III / 2 II
With uninterrupted Brahmacarya, after completing study of four, three, two or one Veda, one may enter into Grihastha Asrama.
It is known as Samavartana wherein after completing studies, young Brahmacari enters into next phase of his life i.e. life of a householder. During his studies, he completes study of one, two, three or all the four Veda-s thoroughly while maintaining his Brahmacarya unravaged. Duration of Brahmacarya in Guru’s hermitage is prescribed to be 36, 18 or 9 years. It is also mandatory for a Dvija to master study of at least one Veda thoroughly. If he goes beyond one Veda, it is his solely his discretion.
Gurunanumatah Snatva Samavrtto Yathavidhi I
Udvahet Dvijo Bharyam Savarnam Laksananvitam II III / 4 II
After pursuing Brahmacarya meticulously, attaining education and taking bath with Guru’s concurrence, Dvija is directed to marry an accomplished woman of his Varna.
A Dvija who has completed his tenure at his Guru’s hermitage successfully, is now poised to get betrothed to enter into the next phase as a Grihastha i.e. householder. Herein, bath is a symbol of purification to be undertaken before entering into the next phase of life. Prospective groom is advised to marry preferably a well-accomplished woman of his Varna. Compatibility and harmony are better assured in marriages of identical Varna owing to the similarities in cultural values and other considerations. Indeed, composition of Guna-s between the two must be compatible for a successful matrimonial alliance.
Asapinda Ca Ya Maturasagotra Ca Ya Pituh I
Sa Prasasta Dvijatinam Darakarmani Maithune II III / 5 II
Woman not related within six matrilineal generations and does not belong to patrilineal Gotra, is the ideal one to marry for Dvija-s.
This rule laid down by Maharsi Manu is of utmost significance. To prevent any biological degradation, diseases, short life-span etc., considerable genetic diversity and genetic-distance must be ensured before selecting right matrimonial alliance. Prospectives must not be related to each other from mother’s side for at least six generations. They must not belong to the same patrilineal Gotra as members of same Gotra are declared to be sharing the same gene-pool. Violations to the rule have led to some unsavoury consequences severely affecting the generation born out of such alliances.
Mahantyapi Smraddhani Gojavidhanadhanyatah I
Strisambandhe Dasaitani Kulani Parivarjayet II III / 6 II
No matrimonial alliance be accepted into ten Kula-s mentioned asunder irrespective of their wealth of cows etc.
It is explicitly clear that wealth is not the fundamental criterion for deciding upon matrimonial alliances into clans of repute. It is certainly one of the criteria yet few among them have been barred too, as illustrated in the next one.
Hinakriyam Nispurusam Nischhando Romasarsasam I
Ksayyamayavyapasmarisvatrikusthikulani Ca II III / 7 II
Devoid of noble activities, noble man, erudite scholars or having long hair, diseases like piles, tuberculosis, poor gastric functions, epilepsy, leucoderma or leprosy.
These are profoundly undesirable traits and no matrimonial alliance should be permitted into clans, families having anyone of these. These are the proceeds of highly venal Karma-s whose effects ravage subsequent generations too. It is always desirable, rather mandated that aspirants of matrimonial alliances act wisely and align themselves with noble ones.
Avyangangima Saumyanamnima Hamsavaranagaminima I
Tanulomakesadasanam Mrdvangimudvahetsitryam II III / 10 II
But the one blessed with pleasing appearance and name, graceful in movement like Hamsa and elephant, having small teeth and hair may be acceptable for betrothal.
Pleasing appearance and deportation on the grosser plane of consciousness reflect noble and virtuous Samskara-s, that are proceeds of virtuous Karma-s enacted in past. Hence, noble external features mean a noble inner being to reckon with. Such noble women must be accorded priority for the purpose of matrimony.
Caturnamapi Varnanam Pretya Ceha Hitahitan I
Astavimansamasena Strivivahannibodhat II III / 11 II
All four Varna-s now listen to eight orders of acceptable and unacceptable alliances with women.
Maharsi Manu has expounded eight orders of alliances with women out of which four i.e. Asura, Gandharva, Raksasa and Paisaca are deplorable and unacceptable. One must go only for the forms of alliances that are acceptable conforming to the principles laid down by Maharsi Manu.
Brahmadisu Vivahesu Catusrvevanupurvasah I
Brahmavarcasvinah Putra Jayante Sistasamata II III / 21 II
Brahma etc. being orders of alliances that lead to procreation of virtuous, noble ones conversant with Veda-s and other wisdom.
Four orders of acceptable alliances are Brahma, Daiva, Arsa and Prajapatya. These conform to the principles enshrined in scriptures hence, Maharsi Manu has held them sacrosanct. Such alliances lead to birth of progenies that are noble souled, virtuous and inclined to learn Vedic wisdom smoothly. Such noble ones grow into great individuals who contribute enormously to the overall well-being and advancement of society.
Aninditaih Strivivahairanindya Bhavati Praja I
Ninditairnindita Nrnam Tasmannindyanvivarjayet II III / 24 II
Betrothal between nobles leads to procreation of pious ones while condemned ones, of felons. Hence, condemnable alliance be avoided.
Conjugal alliance between two noble, virtuous individuals conforming to injunctions of Sruti, cause upliftment of society through procreation of pious, virtuous individuals. Such alliances are blessed by the celestial deities in addition to by the kin of both sides. On the contrary, an alliance between incompatible, impious ones causes procreation of individuals with felonious traits and degradation of society.
Society is called upon to observe all mandates prescribed in Sruti while deciding upon matrimonial alliances. Betrothal guided by venal considerations is certain to bring about disaster not only for the couple, families concerned but also entire society.
Pitrabhibhratrabhiscaitah Patibhirdevaraistatha I
Pujya Bhusayitavyasca Bahukalyanmipsubhih II III / 35 II
Pita, Bhrata, Pati and Devara are called upon to adore, protect and support their Putri, Bhagini, Bharya and Bhabhi respectively, in all respects.
Pita, Bhrata, Pati and Devara happen to be father, brother, husband and husband’s younger brother respectively. Similarly, Putri, Bhagini, Bharya and Bhabhi happen to be daughter, sister, wife and wife of elder brother respectively. All male members of a family in various capacities are mandated by Maharsi Manu to adore and protect their women family-members. They must not be agonised in any manner and every freedom must be available to them for strive for progress and elevation of themselves and their families.
Yatra Naryastu Pujyante Ramante Tatra Devata I
Yatraitastu Na Pujyante Sarvastatraphalah Kriyah II III / 36 II
Wherein women are adored, dwell in deities and prosperity; where they are not adored, every strive is rendered futile.
Women are Sakti-incarnate, constitute foundation of a family and spinal column of every member’s strength. If Sakti is worshipped, prosperity and well-being for all members of a family, are the proceeds. If Sakti of a family in the manifest of it’s women, is derogated and progress denied, entire family is destroyed in due course of time. No family, no community, no nation can progress unless womenfolk are allowed to prosper without hindrance, unless women are allowed to live honourably with dignity.
Quite contrary to the widely held canard, Maharsi Manu enjoins upon all to adore and protect their women family members.
Socanti Jamayo Yatra Vinasyatyasu Tatkulam I
Na Socanti Tu Yatraita Vardhate Taddhi Sarvada II III / 37 II
Wherein women are anguished, the family is destroyed soon. Wherein they are joyous and adored, family advances unhindered.
With the intent to corroborate further unequivocally, Maharsi Manu mandates that if womenfolk in a family, community are tortured, agonised or anguished for whatever reasons, unmitigated disaster is the inevitable proceed. In the events that proceed, entire family or community is destroyed completely in due course of time. Thus, to ensure entire family is secured and prosperous, it is absolutely necessary that the women members are first secured and allowed to prosper full of dignity and joy.
Adhyapanam Brahmayajnah Pitrayajnastu Tarpanam I
Homo Daivo Balirbhauto Nryajnoatithipujanam II III / 46 II
Brahmayajna being study and teaching, service unto parents being Pitrayajna, offering oblations being Devayajna, serving all others being Bhutayajna or Balivaisvadevayajna and service unto visitors being Nriyajna or Atithiyajna.
In this Sutra, Maharsi Manu has expounded all five orders of Yajna-s that one is ordained to pursue faithfully. The first one is Brahmayajna which involves self-study and teaching of scriptures as well as extending adorations unto celestial deities regularly. Looking after parents and satisfying all their needs is Pitrayajna. Offering oblations into sacred fire every morning and evening constitutes Devayajna. Bhutayajna, also known as Balivaisvadevayajna is the pursuit of offering food to insects, birds, animals, less fortunate ones and all others who may require. Finally, looking after guests and visitors with food etc. is the Yajna known as Nriyajna or Atithiyajna. Indeed, these five Yajna-s are the minimum pursuits that every house-holder is mandated to observe lest he invites opprobrium and retrograde on the path of spiritual advancement.
Kuryadaharahah Sraddhamannadyenodakena Va I
Payomulaphalairvapi Pitrabhyah Pritimavahan II III / 58 II
With foodgrain, water, milk, fruits and vegetables, parents and other elders be served and cared for with utmost respect and sentiments.
It is a sacrosanct responsibility of every householder to look after his parents and other elder family members with all the basic material required for an honourable and comfortable living. They must never be put to any discomfort or agony lest the household invites least desired, expected destiny for all. It is mentioned in Sruti that a householder who neglects women family members, young lads of his family, sick ones, elders and guests, is certain to be destroyed in due course of time.
It is obvious, institution of family enjoys supreme importance in expositions of Maharsi Manu. He holds it sacrosanct and the foundation of a healthy society.
Ekaratram Tu Nivasannatithirbrahmanah Smrtah I
Anityam Hi Sthito Yasmattasmadtithi Rucyate II III / 71 II
Atithi being the erudite one who does not stay beyond one night with no reason or arrival, planned before hand.
Atithi is a learned one who comes without any proper planning, as a part of the itinerary of propagation of wisdom, conducting discourses or some other religious activity. They do not stay even a single night more than required for the purpose of arrival. In addition to these, Atithi’s arrival is uncertain without even information in advance.
It has always been a common practice and tradition for the wandering Maharsi-s and Siddha Yogi-s to be itinerant for the purpose of propagation, resurgence and refurbishment of Dharma. Even today, the practice is followed widely. For the mendicants to preserve their sanctity impeccable and unravaged by attachment of any kind whatsoever, such injunctions have been mandated by the ancient law-maker, Maharsi Manu to be followed religiously. Here again, it is obvious that Varna of the Atithi does not matter with respect to according hospitalities and services. Every Atithi must be honoured and accorded all the services irrespective of his Varna and social status.
Upasate Ye Grhasthah Parapakambuddhayah I
Tena Te Pretya Pasutam Vrjantyannadidayinam II III / 73 II
If an unwise householder desires to subsist on other’s food, invites incarnation of being their animal in successive lives.
Householder is ordained to be provider of food to Atithi-s, Yogi-s and visiting mendicants. Householder himself is not allowed to desire surviving on other householder’s grains to save his own, an act that is reprehensible as it invites birth of being an animal with a householder. It is in consonance with the exposition of Sri Krsna in Bhagvadgita to the effect that He allows ample opportunities repeatedly to all to satisfy their desires to the verge of satiation. So the desire to survive on other’s grains is best satiated by being the householder’s domesticated pet ! Hospitality in the form of food and shelter is permissible for Atithi-s alone. Mandate for the householder is well-defined and very well laid out in Manusmriti.
Na Vai Svayam Tadasniyadatithim Yanna Bhojayet I
Dhanyam Yasasyamayusyam Svargyam Vaatithipujanam II III / 75 II
Food offered by householder to Atithi-s be the same meant for himself. Adoration of Atithi invites fortune, fame, longevity of life and prosperity.
Householder must not discriminate against his Atithi. He should be offered the same food that the householder ingests himself along with his family. An Atithi visiting a household must be accorded full respect and served honourably. Service rendered unto an Atithi is a noble deed that earns prosperity, fame and well-being for self as well as entire family. It is stated in scriptures that Atithi should be adored like Isvara Himself. Households that do not serve and honour Atithi-s, decline to miseries.
Bhuktavatsvatha Vipresu Svesu Bhrtyesu Caiva Hi I
Bhunjiyatam tatah Pascadavasistam Tu Dampati II III / 80 II
Householder couple may take meals only after serving Atithi-s and their attendants.
Learned Atithi-s and servants working in the household must first be served food before a householder and his family are allowed to feed themselves. Sutra goes a long way to emphasise highest order of sterling cultural values that Manusmriti prescribes for the householder.
All these injunctions and mandates are entirely Varna-neutral.