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.
Evam Grhasrame Sthitva Vidhivatsnatako Dvijah I
Vane Vasettu Niyato Yathavadvijitendriyah II VI / 1 II
After learning through Brahmacarya, restraining senses to become self-contained, completing Grhastha Asrama successfully, Dvija may now move onto Sannyasa Asrama.
Maharsi Manu announces arrival of third Asrama in one’s life i.e. Sannyasa i.e. life of asceticism and renunciation. Like other Asrama-s, this one too, cannot be preponed as particularly mentioned therein. It arrives only after learning has been completed in Guru’s hermitage while observing Tapa of Brahmacarya, then honouring all obligations and responsibilities in the capacity of a Grhastha i.e. householder. All these while, he must resolutely remain Jitendriya with all senses under perfect command of his Buddhi i.e. faculty of discriminative cognition. In contemporary times too, Sannyasa Asrama is absolutely imperative though it may be pursued at subtle, spiritual level with the same steadfastness as otherwise. It is impossible to ignore Sannyasa Asrama lest one lands himself in myriad complexities of life.
Sannyasa Asrama is destined for all the orders of Dvija i.e. Brahmana, Ksatriya and Vaisya. Only one order, of Sudra has been excluded because they opt to serve other three orders of Dvija as a measure of Tapa so long as they so desire.
Grhasthastu Yada Pasyedvalipalitmatmanah I
Apatyasyaiva Capatyam Tadaranyam Samasrayet II VI / 2 II
Grhastha may proceed to jungles once their skin is detached, hairline turned white and son too, is blessed with his son.
Opportune time for a Grhastha to renounce all fetters of the world is when ravages of advancing age have a bearing upon his entire persona particularly on skin and crown. That is the phase when his son is blessed with his own son i.e. third generation enters into the household. With rising household complexities and assertion for more liberty by the next generation, aging householder must renounce to ensure smooth passage of the family into immediate future. Son’s infant son demands and deserves more care and attention than his aging father. Any involvement in domestic affairs whatsoever, shall inevitably lead to friction and attrition in the household.
Veda-s too, have preached the same in their holistic wisdom.
Svadhyaye Nityayuktah Syadyanto Maitrah Samahitah I
Data Nityamanadata Sarvabhutanukampakah II VI / 8 II
Must always pursue Svadhyaya, remain self-contained, compassionate for all, philanthropic and decline favours.
Person practising Vanaprastha Asrama has been mandated by Maharsi Manu to pursue Svadhyaya i.e study of scriptures, discuss and conduct discourses too, on the same while dwelling in jungles. The Asrama calls upon to remain self-contained, satisfied with life led past, assiduously pursue universality by being compassionate towards all and thoroughly charitable. Vanaprastha Asrama does not allow one to accept gifts, benefits of any kind from anyone lest one strays away from the charted path inadvertently.
Rksestayyagrayanam Caiva Caturmasyani Caharet I
Turayanam Ca Kramaso Daksasyayanameva Ca II VI / 10 II
Naksatra Yajna, Caturmasya Yajna, Uttarayana Yajna, Daksinayana Yajna and Yajna with freshly harvested grains must be conducted.
Grand Naksatra Yajna is conducted during transit from one Naksatra to another. Naksatra-s number 27 viz. Aswini, Bharani, Krttika, Rohini, Mrgasirsa, Ardra, Punarvasu, Pusya, Aslesa, Magha, Purvaphalguni, Uttaraphalguni, Hasta, Citra, Swati, Visakha, Anuradha, Jyestha, Mula, Purvasadha, Uttarasadha, Sravana, Dhanistha, Satabhisaja, Purvabhadrapada, Uttarabhadrapada and Revati. Dawn of every Naksatra is welcomed and propitiated with oblations into sacred fire of Yajna to invoke salutary effects.
Caturnasya Yajna is conducted every fourth month at the dawn of Kartika, Phalguna and Asadha.
Uttarayana Yajna is conducted at the advent of sun into northern solstice while Daksinayana Yajna, at the advent of sun into southern solstice.
All these Yajna-s and rituals establish direct relation of the individual with other constituents of the cosmos.
Na Phalakrstamasniyadutsrstamapi Kenacit I
Na Gramajatanyartoapi Mulani Ca Phalani Ca II VI / 16 II
He is mandated not to accept anything grown after ploughing even if offered, fruits and vegetables harvested in a village even if famished.
Tapa to be undertaken during Vanaprastha Asrama is encumbered with stringent conditions. Such an ascetic is not permitted to accept anything produced in village howsoever fragile, emaciated his state of being may be. Purpose of the restraint is to preserve fundamental spirit of renunciation and sanctity of asceticism.
Aprayatnah Sukharthesu Brahmacari Dharasayah I
Saranesvamamascaiva Vrksamulaniketanah II VI / 26 II
Indifferent to comforts, pursues Brahmacarya, sleeps on ground at roots of trees devoid of affinity of any order whatsoever.
Those enjoying severity of Vanaprastha Asrama are innately indifferent to physical comforts so much so that deny themselves basic comfort of bed and sleep under tree. Even a trace of inclination towards physical comfort may eventually burgeon into full-fledged Bhoga of Visaya ravaging entire Vanaprastha. Lust and desire are impossible to be satiated through Bhoga i.e. enjoyment of objects of desire as they grow more with that. They can be satiated only through the arduous pursuit of Tapa and Sadhana.
Etascanyasca Sevet Diksa Vipro Vane Vasan I
Vividhascaupanisadiratmasamsiddhaye Srutih II VI / 29 II
Thus, while dwelling in jungles in pursuit of wisdom, must study Upanisad-s etc. to cognise Atma from Paramatma discriminatively.
Viveka Khyati i.e. Discriminative cognition is the most effective means to attain the Ultimate Abode of Param Brahmatma. Pursuit of discriminative wisdom, thereafter Param Brahma through that, ought to be the vocation Vanaprasthi i.e. practitioner of Vanaprastha Asrama obsessed with. Contemplative study of Upanisad-s and other scriptures facilitate attaining the goal of discriminative wisdom.
Vanesu Ca Vihratyaivam Tritiyam Bhagamayusah I
Caturthamayuso Bhagamtyaktva Sanganparivrajet II VI / 33 II
Thus, in jungles must wander during fourth phase as an ardent ascetic after completing third one.
Sannyasa Asrama is the fourth and last one in a human life-span after twelve to twenty-five years of Vanaprastha in jungles. In this Asrama, he is called upon to become completely ascetic, a detached hermit who wanders constantly in his cherished mission to serve others and live for all. Concluding years of the Asrama extend ample opportunities to improve and consolidate one’s spiritual merits from the stand point of next re-incarnation if yet unable to attain Moksa.
Adhitya Vidhivadvedanputranscotpadya Dharmatah I
Istva Ca Saktito Yajnairmano Mokse Nivesayet II VI / 36 II
After completing Vedic studies during Brahmacarya Asrama, after raising a son during Grhastha Asrama, after performing Yajna during Vanaprastha Asrama, strive for Moksa during Sannyasa.
In this one Sutra, Maharsi Manu has summarised entire human life-span sub-divided into four Asrama-s and the most conspicuous mandate to be honoured for each one individually. Sadhana for Moksa is the ultimate strive that is undertaken preferably after successfully honouring first three Asrama-s of Brahmacarya, Grhastha and Vanaprastha. First Asrama of Brahmacarya is characterised by assiduous study of Veda-s, second Asrama of Grhastha by raising family and successor, third Asrama of Vanaprastha by solemnising Yajna-s and other Vedic rituals while the fourth and last Asrama of Sannyasa, by the severe strive to attain Moksa.
Raising of Putra i.e. son by a householder during Grhastha Asrama does not mean strictly male offspring. Maharsi Manu has called for succession of the householder through the expression of Putra which may be son or daughter. During Vedic period, women were as much active and accomplished as men, enjoyed equal status in society as well as all the rights and privileges that were extended to men. Just as Veda-s / Upanisad-s refer to Atma as Purusa which literally means “Man” though Atma has no gender at all, mention of Putra herein refers to succession alone and not gender of the succession.
Prajapatyam Nirupyestim Sarvavedas Daksinam I
Atmanyagninsamaropya Brahmanah Pravrajedu Grhat II VI / 38 II
To attain Param Brahma, a Brahmana migrates to Sannyasa Asrama from Grhastha directly after due diligence of Yajnopavita, Sikha and Prana-s.
For the one highly advanced spiritually owing to Sadhana accomplished in previous lives, migration to Sannyasa Asrama without going into Grhastha is acceptable. Being highly advanced in Jnana and Adhyatma, the erudite one is regarded as Brahmana who is required to renounce his Yajnopavita of sacred thread and Sikha i.e. tuft of hair on head before embracing Sannyasa. In addition to that, the Mumuksu i.e. Seeker is also mandated to vest five orders of Agni into Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana i.e. five orders of Prana-s before being initiated into Sannyasa.
It is explicitly established that four orders of Asrama-s are means to the end of attainment of ultimate glory of one’s supreme existence and not the end themselves. That is an eloquent tribute to the wisdom, farsightedness and inclusivity devoid of discrimination, of the wisdom of Manusmriti which remains as much relevant today as it had been thousands of years ago. The dynamism of wisdom has prevented Sanatana Dharma from drifting towards rigidity and fanaticism.
Ek Eva Carennityam Siddhyarthamasahayavan I
Siddhimekasya Sampasyanna Jahati Na Hiyate II VI / 42 II
Devoid of refuge, always wanders alone without disowning anyone or being disowned as peregrinations in solitude alone lead to emancipation.
Ultimate emancipation from shackles of Prakrti is invariably attained in the state of intensely meditative solitude alone, never collectively or in company of anyone whosoever. In active cognition of this reality, Mumuksu must not seek company of anyone at any moment or be desirous of refuge owing to any compulsion. Once absolutely detached, Mumuksu does not have to undergo the turmoil of being disowned by anyone or the agony of being compelled to disown someone already attached. It is a state of freedom of mind and intellect to ensure, strive towards absolute and ultimate emancipation continues smoothly, unhindered till the final state of being redeemed into the Absolute One. The spiritual solitude also ensures, mind and intellect of the Mumuksu remains resolutely vested in the Absolute Reality incessantly, a cardinal and essential condition to attain Absolute Liberty.
Anagnirniketah Syat Gramamannarthamasrayet I
Upeksakoasankusuko Munirbhavasamahitah II VI / 43 II
Bereft of all Agni-s, hearth and home, depends on village for grain and clothes, indifferent to evil ones, resolutely meditative in Param Brahma, wanders the Mumuksu.
After having renounced all the three orders of Agni-s viz. Garhapatya, Ahavaniya and Daksina, home, surviving on food and clothes donated by villagers, wanders around in service of others while resolutely meditating on Param Brahma, an ardent Mumuksu religiously avoids company of evil ones. While steadfastly striving for attainment of ultimate emancipation, Mumuksu must render remaining years of existence purposeful through service unto all others without losing his sight on the ultimate objective of his entire existence.
Abhipujitalabhanstu Jugupsetaiva Sarvasah I
Abhipujitalabhaisca Yatirmuktoapi Baddhayate II VI / 58 II
Utter indifference towards gains and alms received with excessive adoration be observed lest the Mumuksu is fettered again.
During his peregrinations as a Mumuksu, quite possibly he may come across adorers who may serve him extravagantly if not lavishly out of sheer reverence, deep and intense. Maharsi Manu has warned Mumuksu-s not to allow themselves be involved emotionally or otherwise in these adorations howsoever sacred or genuine that may be. Such adorations may act as strong deterrants from attaining the supreme objective of ultimate emancipation. Such temptations must be completely renounced at subtle level resolutely.
Pranayama Brahmanasya Trayoapi Vidhivatkrtah I
Vyahrtipranavairyukta Vijneyam Paramam Tapah II VI / 70 II
Three orders of Pranava being assiduously pursued by the Brahmana as highest Tapa.
Herein Brahmana is the one who pursues Param Brahma and Pranava is Omkara, pursued through Pranayama i.e. by regulating inhalations and exhalations. Sannyasa is the state of being of Brahamana who is now an ardent renunciant, wandering in jungles completely immersed in intense meditation on Param Brahmatma. Brahamana i.e. Sannyasi is ordained to practise at least three Pranayama of his liking otherwise Bahya, Abhyantara and Stambhaka are the three orders of Pranayama generally followed. Through Pranayama, Brahmana effectively focuses on Pranava i.e. Omkara, monosyllable divine Sabda of Param Brahmatma before being poised to be attained into Him. Intake of Prana is regulated through the pursuit of Pranayama that lead to stillness and tranquillity in mind and intellect. As mind is rendered more and more serene and tranquil, intensity of Dharana and Dhyana are augmented, more and more proximate is the objective of ultimate emancipation. Thus, Pranayama has been declared Tapa of the highest order by Maharsi Manu.
Dahyante Dhmayamananam Dhatunam Hi Yatha Malah I
Tathendriyanam Dahyante Dosah Pranasya Nigrahat II VI / 71 II
Because all Samskara-s of Mana and Indriya-s are dissolved just as all impurities of metal turn into ashes when incinerated in fire.
Metals exist in nature in the form of minerals heaped in impurities and the process of their extraction requires burning away all impurities in intense fire. Similarly on the plane subtle existence, Samskara-s i.e. impressions of Karma-s enacted in past yet unredeemed, are the impurities that cover mind, intellect and senses. Samskara-s as subtle impurities, do not allow Mana and Buddhi to contemplate, meditate on Param Brahmatma in the strive to attain ultimate emacipation. Pranayama is most effective of all spiritual strives in obliterating subtle impurities of Samakara-s by creating extremely subtle modulations that penetrate Samskara-s, implode them and dissolve. In addition to that, it is the fastest way of dissolving impurities of Samskara-s too.
Anena Kramayogena Parivrajati Yo Dvijah I
Sa Vidhuyeha Papmanam Param Brahmadhigacchati II VI / 85 II
Thus, Dvija who pursues Sannyasa in the order ordained, is attained to Param Brahma by bequeathing entire sins here.
By following the order of four Asrama-s i.e. Brahmacarya, Grhastha, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa, a Dvija is liberated from all fetters of Maya and poised to attain supreme and ultimate state of existence. However, order of Asrama-s as detailed, is not mandatory in exceptional cases as we have already perused in some of the aforesaid Sloka-s. Pursuit of Sannyasa renders all Karma-s enacted in past, redeemed and the Sannyasi, consecrated by being bereft of entire spectrum of Samskara-s. With Citta of the Sannyasi thus, rendered crystal clear and serene, is liberated and attained into Param Brahma. And purpose of human existence thus, realised.
Brahmacari Grhasthasca Vanaprastho Yatistatha I
Ete Grhasthaprabhavascatvarah Prthagasramah II VI / 87 II
Brahmacarya, Grhastha, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa Asrama-s have originated from Grhastha Asrama alone.
Through this Sloka, Maharsi Manu has established primacy of Grhastha Asrama and origin of other three Asrama-s. Householder alone is the one who works to generate wealth for the survival and sustenance of entire society. Those who pursue Grhastha Asrama, nourish and sustain Gurukula-s for Brahmacarya Asrama. Followers of Vanaprastha and Sannyasa Asrama-s are sustained by householders through Dana i.e. charity and Bhiksa i.e. alms.
In absence of Grhastha Asrama, other three Asrama-s are rendered worthless. In absence of Grhastha i.e. householder, existence of entire society is jeopardised.
All these injunctions and mandates are entirely Varna-neutral.