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.
Brahmam Praptena Samskaram Ksatriyena Yathavidhi I
Sarvasyasya Yathanyayam Krtavyam Pariraksanam II VII / 2 II
As learned as a Brahmana, govern and defend the state with fortitude and justice expected of a Ksatriya.
First essentiality for being a King, a Ksatriya must be as learned and scholarly as a Brahmana, must have completed Brahmacarya Asrama successfully as a Dvija. He is expected to be conversant with all scriptures and disciplines of knowledge to be able to effectively govern his state. King must possess sense of justice and fairness of the highest order as ordained by Maharsi Manu before acceding to the throne.
Arajake Hi Lokeasminsarvato Vidrute Bhayat I
Raksarthamasya Sarvasya Rajanamasrjatprabhuh II VII / 3 II
Prabhu created King for well-being of all without whom state would have been tormented with fear of insecurity.
Every state, society must not only be governed in an orderly manner but also be protected from dangers of marauders, invaders and plunderers from outside. Only a well-guarded society can prosper, live in peace and harmony. To meet this fundamental requirement of every state, Prabhu i.e. Param Brahma raised the institution of monarchy. Every state, society elect or select a competent and meritorious King for themselves to govern them effectively. In absence of a King, state is exposed to extreme anarchy and chaos.
Indranilayamarkanamagnesasca Varunasya Ca I
Candravittesayoscaiva Matra Nirhatya Sasvatih II VII / 4 II
King must have faculties of Indra, Vayu, Yama, Arka, Agni, Varuna, Candra and Vittesa profoundly.
These are the faculties of excellence which every King must possess to be a successful monarch as outlined by Maharsi Manu –
Indra is the deity of rains. As deity of rain quenches earth with outpourings of water leading to commencement of cultivation, a King should be generous, compassionate and charitable with his subjects.
Vayu exists throughout, within and out of all living beings. Vayu is the greatest wanderer too. King too, should exist throughout his domain, in the mind of his subjects through intelligence so as to know about all activities being undertaken, views and perceptions prevailing all over.
Yama is the deity of Dharma and Nyaya i.e. justice and retribution. Just as Yama administers Karmaphala i.e. proceeds of Karma-s enacted, to all Jivatma-s in a fair and judicious manner, King too is mandated to administer and govern justice to his subjects with highest standards of probity. King is regarded as an embodiment of Dharma in action, always.
Arka is sun who receives dedication of water through rays without disrupting cosmic harmony. King too, is mandated to collect taxes from his subjects without causing even mildest agony or deprivation to them.
Agni is fire that incinerates all impurities to consecrate with effulgence. King too, must be capable of destroying all impurities and other rejectables in any form whatsoever, to render his kingdom thriving in purity and values in all walks of life.
Varuna is immense expanse of water that ensnares gullible ones in it’s mighty waves and whirlpools. Similarly, King too is expected to incarcerate all disrupters and tormentors of society in a designated corner so as to allow all others survive and progress in life honourably.
Candra is the moon that provides solace and tranquillity. King is called upon to be an embodiment of peace, harmony and joy for the masses by appearing like full moon of Purnima to them. In this Dharma, King is expected to be fair to all with malice towards none.
Vittesa means wealthy. King must deploy entire state wealth for the benediction of his subjects.
Endowed with these qualities and attributes mandatory for every King, also affirmed by Veda-s, he shall be successful in governing the state.
Soagnirbhavati Vayusca Soarkah Somah Sa Dharmarat I
Sa Kuberah Sa Varunah Sa Mahendrah Prabhavatah II VII / 7 II
And he must exert influence like Agni, Vayu, Arka, Soma, Yama, Kubera, Varuna and Indra.
King ought to exercise his influence on his subjects like Agni when he eliminates enemies of civilised society; like Vayu when he is constantly in cognisance of all developments in the state; like Arka when he collects taxes without tormenting anyone; causing peace and tranquillity like Soma i.e. moon to all; administers justice with utmost integrity like Yama; when he is philanthropic like Kubera; imprisons all criminals, anti-socials like Varuna and rains prosperity, well-being like Indra for his subjects.
Tasyarthe Sarvabhutanam Goptaram Dharmamatmajam I
Brahmatejomayam Dandamasrjatpurvamisvarah II VII / 9 II
Isvara created institution of Danda i.e. retribution in the beginning, to be exercised by King for all beings.
At the historic moment of reckoning when the universe was under creation and assemblage, Isvara i.e. Param Brahma raised the august institution of Danda i.e. retribution through which well-being and prosperity of all is ensured. The institution also ensures, offenders and tormentors of society are duly punished and isolated from all others so that others pursue their lives in peace and prosperity. King of the state was ordained and authorised by Isvara to govern and administer state judiciously through the institution of retribution.
Dandah Sasti Prajah Sarva Danda Evabhiraksati I
Dandah Suptesu Jagarti Dandam Dharmam Vidurbudhah II VII / 12 II
In reality, Danda alone governs, safeguards well-being of subjects, remains awake amidst slumber hence, regarded as conspicuous Dharma of King.
Maharsi Manu has propunded Danda as an institution of retribution that runs wheels of governance of state. Influence of Danda is far and wide. Danda protects, defends inhabitants of the state from marauders and oppression. It is power of Danda alone that warns and cautions inclined ones from undue indulgence being undertaken. Fear of Danda is so powerful that it survives even during slumber. Owing to the reach and effectiveness of Danda, the learned ones hold it as main Dharma of a King. Institution of Danda is the most potent instrument in hands of a King to govern and administer his state.
Dusyeyuh Sarvavarnasca Bhiddyeransarvasetavah I
Sarvalokaprakopasca Bhaveddandasya Vibhramat II VII / 14 II
Without Danda, all Varna-s are tormented, canons disrupted masses agonised.
With effect and influence of the institution of Danda explained, this one visualises the scenario of governance in absence of that. In absence of the system of retribution, all Varna-s may digress from their pre-ordained respective Dharma-s with no system to cause course correction, norms and standards of conduct prevalent in the state may lose their sanctity altogether. Such a state of adrift ultimately leads to state of anarchy in the state oppressive for all. Gradually it leads to destruction of society reversal from which may be a long drawn battle spanning decades and transcending generations. Thus, the institution of Danda is so much consecrated in it’s range and effect.
Dando Hi Sumahattejo Durdharascakrtatmabhih I
Dharmadvicalitam Hanti Nrpameva Sabandhavam II VII / 18 II
Danda, endowed with profound divinity, is impossible to be held by felonious and unlettered lest it otherwise decimates the King himself.
Administration of justice is a divine errand and minimum statutory norms laid down by Maharsi Manu must be religiously adhered to by the King. One who is not qualified and competent to administer justice ought not to fiddle with it lest he is visited by terrible consequences. Partial and casual administration of justice violates all human values, ethical issues, detrimental to the well-being of state. Danda is intelligent and institutional. If not handled judiciously, it handles the handler judiciously.
Sucina Satyasandhena Yathasastranusarina I
Pranetum Sakyate Dandah Susahayena Dhimta II VII / 20 II
Virtuous, righteous, conscientious, compassionate, pursuing established norms of high morals, stays in association with nobles alone is competent to administer justice.
In this Sutra, Maharsi Manu has explicitly laid down essentialities required for a King to administer justice. King must be a pious, virtuous, righteous, endowed with compassion for all and holds highest standards of conduct dear to his heart. King is mandated by the Maharsi to nurture and relish company of pious, noble ones so as to ensure constant enrichment of his personal values. Guided by piety, devoid of personal predudices, mind and intellect of a King holding Danda must be consecrated to the core.
Tebhyoadhigacchedvinayam Vinitatmapi Nityasah I
Vinitatma Hi Nrpatirna Vinasyati Karhicit II VII / 27 II
King endowed with humility, receiving lessons of wisdom from Guru-s everyday, is never enticed into self-destruction.
All virtues and pieties have to be incessantly practised, refurbished and rejuvenated. Guru alone is the fount of all virtues, wisdom and King ought to be in constant communion with him. Every King is mandated to receive lessons on virtues of life and governance from his Guru every day lest decrepitude sets in King’s foundation of culture and values. In absence of regular revivals, King may gradually turn adrift leading to disaster for self and state. A state is prosperous so long as the King pursues tenets of his Dharma religiously.
Traividyebhyastrayim Vidyam Dandanitim Ca Sasvatim I
Anviksikim Catmavidyam Vartarambhamsca Lokatah II VII / 28 II
Wisdom of Karma, Upasana and Jnana of all Veda-s, eternal knowledge of Danda, Nyaya and
Brahma as well as views and perceptions prevailing among masses.
These are disciplines of knowledge and wisdom that every monarch is ordained to be entirely conversant with by Maharsi Manu. Three sections of wisdom enshrined in all four Veda-s i.e. Karma, Jnana and Upasana every King is expected to learn exceedingly well to be eligible to become a King. Complete knowledge of Danda i.e. institution of administration of retribution, Nyaya i.e. justice and the wisdom of Param Brahma are equally essential for a King to be thoroughly familiar with. Through state machinery, King must always be aware of prevailing views and opinions on all matters of import among state subjects and maintain constant tab on that.
Indriyanam Jaye Yogam Samatistheddivanisam I
Jitendriyo Hi Saknoti Vase Sthapayitum Prajah II VII / 29 II
Must regularly persue Yoga day, night to command Indriya-s to be capable of governing state and subjects.
King must effectively command his Indriya-s by regular pursuit of Yoga every day. If Indriya-s are not restrained, disciplined and introverted, these gravely influence all decision making faculties seriously eroding quality of governance. Indriya-s, Mana i.e. mind are inner subjects of Buddhi while inhabitants of the state presided over by a King are his external subjects. If a King fails to dominate his inner, subtle subjects, he shall not be able to govern his state and subjects properly as the cardinality of Dharma is gradually obliterated. Control over Indriya-s rises through rigorous pursuit and practice of Yoga alone.
Taih Sardham Cintayennityam Samanyam Sandhivigraham I
Sthanam Samudayam Guptim Labdhaprasamanani II VII / 41 II
He must contemplate on how to regularly confabulate with competent ministers by agreeing, disagreeing, by being quiet, silently defending state, invading foes amidst prosperity and affluence, guarding secretly held assets and establishing peace, prosperity in conquered states.
To ensure smooth governance, King is expected to continuously discuss and consult all his ministerial colleagues on various issues of governance. Consultation and confabulations are mandatory for every ruler lest he falters on sensitive issues and arrives at imperfect conclusion or flawed decision. Also, consultation with them does not allow them to feel ignored or presume the King to be supercilious. During such confabulations, King is at liberty to agree and accept some views, disagree and reject some, remain silent or indifferent to some etc. First and foremost mandate for a King is to protect the state under his domination from all inimical forces without letting anyone know of it. If it is necessary to invade another state for expansion of boundaries or for some other political objective, it must be conducted by the King when his state is on peak of prosperity and affluence. Such a strategy ensures, all possible losses and setbacks are absorbed by his state without extensive erosions. When a state is conquered and the King presides over merger into his own state, he must ensure, prosperity and affluence reach out to all in the conquered state too. King’s cardinal responsibilities also include protecting all precious assets of his state, hidden as well as open, defence related as well as normal from marauders of all sorts.
Duta Eva Hi Sandhatte Bhinatteyeva Ca Sanhatan I
Dutastatkurute Karma Bhiddyante yena Manavah II VII / 49 II
Because Duta may smoothen relations, strike them apart, plant dissent among united foes and among masses of an inimical state.
Duta is the royal messenger who carries importatnt messages from one state to another. In absence of direct communication links among Kings of various states, royal messengers had a very vital responsibility to accomplish. Properly communicating and explaining messeges does an important role in strengthening or ruining relations between two states. If a royal messenger is ill-intentioned or turns mischief-maker after receiving illegitimate gratification, he may well drive two states to the brink of a fierce war. A shrewd royal messenger may also plant seeds of dissensions, even mutiny among masses of a hostile state, weaken so as to be invaded and conquered comfortably. It is imperative for a Monarch to select right and deserving person to be commissioned as royal messenger of the state.
Sarvena Tu Prayatnena Giridurgam Samasrayet I
Esam Hi Bahugunyena Giridurgam Visisyate II VII / 54 II
After exerting all efforts, resort to Giri-Durga being the best in all others.
Giri-Durga is the fort constructed and situated on mountain top. Among all the four types of forts viz. Dhanva-Durga i.e. fort in desert, Mahi-Durga i.e. fort inside earth or a gigantic cave, Jala-Durga i.e. fort in the middle of a huge waterbody, Vrksa-Durga i.e. fort surrounded by dense forest, Nra-Durga i.e. fort guarded by army from all sides and Giri-Durga i.e. fort on a mountain top, it is Giri-Durga which is most secured and superior in all respects. So, every King is advised by Maharsi Manu to opt for Giri-Durga only after due deliberations.
Yajet Raja Krtubhirvividhairaptadaksinaih I
Dharmartham Caiva Viprebhyo Daddyabhdogandhanani II VII / 60 II
King must organise various Yajna-s of ample Daksina-s, donate possessions and wealth to erudite Brahamana-s for Dharma.
Learned, erudite Brahamana-s are the ones who are incessantly engaged in activities to strengthen and consolidate pursuit of Dharma. They are the beacons and pillars of Dharma. It is Dharma of every King to protect and promote them so that society is never uprooted to languish in delusion and directionlessness. Brahamana-s are propitiated through Daksina at the end of Yajna conducted by them. King must regularly organise Yajna-s for the benediction of his subjects, propitiate Brahamana-s through Daksina-s i.e. offerings and donations, consolidate and nourish roots of Dharma. When Dharma is strong, state and subjects are invincible.
Ahavesu Mithoanyonyam Jighansanto Mahiksitah I
Yudhyamanah Param Saktya Svargam Yantyaparangamukhah II VII / 65 II
Kings who battle out fearlessly to the best of their abilities intending to slay, are attained to heaven.
Defending the state from marauders is an obligatory responsibility of every King. To honour such an onerous responsibility involves meeting marauders and invaders in battlefield. Every battle on battlefront is fraught with the live possibility of King or anyone else being slain either directly or indirectly. If a King does not honour his mandate of protecting his state, entire citizenry is rendered vulnerable to severe atrocities and heavy dis-possession of hard-earned wealth after which it may appropriate generations before they are able to comfortably live in dignity. Hence, King is mandated by the wisdom of Maharsi Manu in Manusmrti to protect and defend his subjects irrespective of the magnitude of risks involved.
King must be prepared to be consumed by the rigours and ravages of the battle for the purpose of defending his state. When a King follows his Sva-Dharma i.e. his own obligatory Dharma fearlessly and slain in eventually, he is certainly attained to higher planes of subtle existence.
Alabdham Caiva Lipset Labdham Raksetprayatnatah I
Raksitam Vardhayeccaiva Vrddham Patresu Nihksipet II VII / 74 II
Must strive to acquire the unacquired, guard the already acquired, nurture the guarded and deploy augmented wealth for Vedic learning, strengthening Dharma, welfare of disciples, Vedic preachers and orphans.
Continuing with the mandatory obligations of King, Maharsi Manu ordains that a conscientious King must engage himself to acquire more assets for his state, protect what already is in possession of the state and develop guarded assets to render them more beneficial for the subjects. As wealth of the state burgeons, King is called upon to utilise state wealth for promotion of Vedic learning, Gurukula education, consolidation and nourishment of Dharma among masses, welfare of Vedic teachers and their disciples as well as orphans. King is expected to be benefactor for all, particularly the deprived ones.
Nasyam Chhidram Paro Vidyadvidyacchidram Parasya Tu I
Guhetkurma Ivangani Raksedvivaramatmanah II VII / 80 II
His vulnerabilities be unknown to foes while knowing that of foes. Just as turtle hides his limbs, weaknesses be unknown when enters the foe.
It is code of governance that every King ought to pursue religiously. For the security of his state, to ensure uninterrupted prosperity of the state, vulnerabilities and weak points of the state must not be known to enemies while knowing entirely well, all their vulnerabilities and entry points. Intelligence machinery of the state must be well-nourished to accomplish such a task deftly. Turtoise hides all his limbs under his carapace when confronted by uncertainties. When an enemy enters his kingdom, all weak links of the state must be hidden from the hostile prying eyes of the foe.
Sarirakarsanatpranah Ksiyante Praninam Yatha I
Tatha Rajnamapi Pranah Ksiyante Rastrakarsanat II VII / 86 II
By weakening the state and subject, King is ultimately destroyed just as Prana is reduced by tormenting gross body.
When Prana is reduced and weakened by tormenting physical body over a prolonged period of time, possibility to survival is remote. Similarly, if a King is engaged in tormenting and undermining his subjects, he is duly destroyed in due course of time. King remains strong and safely ensconced in his throne only when his subjects are strengthened and looker after well. Strength of state subjects alone is the real strength of a King.
Ye Karyikebhyoarthameva Grhniyuh Papacetasah I
Tesam Sarvasvamadaya Raja Kuryatpravasanam II VII / 96 II
If evil minded, corrupt courtesans accept gratification from aggrieved ones, King must confiscate their entire wealth and banish them from Kingdom.
As a measure of manifestation and invocation of the institution of Danda, Maharsi Manu has ordained that all such employees of a Kingdom who happen to be ill-intentioned, corrupt, accepting illegitimate gratification from citizens of the Kingdom, must be banished from the boundaries of the state. Corrupt and evil ones must not be allowed to continue staying in the Kingdom and their entire assets be confiscated by the state before the expulsion. Severe retribution alone assures satisfactory level of deterrence to dissuade pliable ones from dalliance with governance.
Raja Karmasu Yuktanam Strinam Presyajanasya Ca I
Pratyaham Kalpayeduvrttim Sthanam Karmanurupatah II VII / 97 II
King must decide on compensation, place of activity for men, women and attendants engaged in activities of governance based on nature of activity and hierarchy.
As governance involves multitudes of activities of various degrees of complexity, quantum of compensation and place of activity must be decided by the King very carefully and thoughtfully. Not only every employee of the Kingdom is adequately compensated by the King but also it must not lead to grievances or indifference towards occupational work. Every worker should be included in the compensation plan in a hierarchical manner and his / her skills deployed appropriately.
Yathalpalpamadantyadyam Varyokovatsasatpadah I
Tathalpalpo Grhitavyo Rastradrajnabdikah Karah II VII / 101 II
King may collect revenues and taxes as minutely as leech, calf and bees suckle often.
Governance of a state involves expenses for which King collects taxes and revenues periodically. Quantum of taxes levied must be based on a rational formula acceptable to all in such a way that it does not hurt anyone. Rather, taxpayers never ever realise that taxes are being collected from them. In this context, the simili proferred by Maharsi Manu is quite meaningful. Leeches suck blood, calves suckle milk and bees sip flowers so quietly that they do not disrupt anyone or anything and nothing ever appears to have been taken away. Tax collection by a King must also be a subtle activity so as to ensure, no one is hurt. Periodicity of taxes to be collected must also be based on convenience of all. Even if frequent at short intervals, it must not hurt anyone.
Amatyamukham Dharmajnam Prajnam Dantam Kulodgatam I
Sthapayedasane Tasminkhinnah Karyeksane Nrnam II VII / 108 II
When unwell, King must allow wisest, knower of Dharma with restrained senses and venerable descendence, most senior minister be enthroned for continuation of governance.
King may be unwell at times yet the process of governance cannot be halted even momentarily for the sake of masses and state. When incapacitated briefly, King must appoint and allow his most able in all respects, senior minister to be ensconced in his throne and conduct all affairs of governance smoothly so long as the King is unable to shoulder the responsibility himself. The officiating minister must be a wise one with complete command over his senses and a respectable family history. Even if for a brief period, officiating one must be a well accomplished one, as much as the King himself.
Sandhim Ca Vigraham Caiva Yanamasanmeva Ca I
Dvaidhibhavam Samsrayam Ca Sadgunascintayetsada II VII / 125 II
King must often contemplate over Sandhi, Vigraha, Yana, Asana, Dvaidhibhava and Samsraya.
Sandhi is a measure of compromise / understanding with foe not to invade each other. Sandhi may also be an agreement among states having common enemy to jointly move into war.
Vigraha is a war cry or conspiring to raise discomfort level within the territory of inimical state by creating trouble in various ways.
Yana is actually invading the enemy with full preparation.
Asana is the strategy of lurking around the enemy surreptitiously without troubling or provoking them waiting for the right moment to inflict grievous damage.
Dvaidhibhava is the strategy of dividing army into two sub-groups to surround them or forcing invading army to sub-divide into groups to weaken them.
Samsraya is move of conceding refuge and protection from a powerful Monarch as a meaure of long or short term strategy.
Those are various types of survival strategies which must be contemplated upon, may be invoked by a King to conduct affairs of the state in secured surroundings.
Yada Prahrsta Manyeta Sarvastu Prakrtobhrasam I
Atyucchritam Tathatmanam Tada Kurvita Vigraham II VII / 135 II
An enemy may be invaded when all are prosperous, joyous and strengthened including King too.
Enemy must be invaded from the poise of strength and invincibility. When the entire state is performing well, thriving in prosperity, brimming with joy while King identifies himself too with them, it is the opportune moment to invade an enemy for whatever purpose that may be. Offence must always be carried out from a position of strength while defence strategies are chalked out when state is mired in plethora of deficiencies or hamstrung by leadership crisis.
Samna Damena Bhedena Samastairathava Prthak I
Vijetum Prayatetarinna Yuddhena Kadacana II VII / 160 II
King must attempt to conquer enemies through Sama, Dama and Bheda by invoking all simultaneously or separately. Direct invasion should not be the first move.
A wise King would never resort to direct attack as maiden attempt to conquer enemies as it involves high measure of risk to life and property. War ought to be the last resort. King must first strive to win over an enemy through softer strategies of Sama, Dama and Bheda. These may be invoked concurrently or individually as the case may be. Only when these fail to achieve the desired goal, King may gear up to battle them out in a war-field. In that situation alone, enormous risk to life and economy may be justified.
All these injunctions and mandates are entirely Varna-neutral.