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.
Kaleadata Pita Vacyo Vacyascanupayanpatiha I
Mrte Bhartari Putrastu Vacyo Maturaraksita II IX / 2 II
Father not marrying off daughter, husband neglecting wife and son neglecting his widowed mother are condemnable.
Dereliction of responsibilities in general, is a deplorable conduct. Within confines of family, every individual is mandated to discharge his responsibilities towards his daughter, wife and widowed mother. Refusing to shoulder responsibility of marriage of daughter, neglecting wife in the capacity of husband and protecting mother after his father’s demise, are evil acts of omission. These omissions towards kin are deplorable and have been condemned by Maharsi Manu.
Suksmebhyoapi Prasangebhyaha Striyo Raksya Visesataha I
Dvayorhi Kulayoha Sokamavaheyuraraksitaha II IX / 3 II
Women must be protected from going astray lest they invite disrepute and agony to both families.
Women members of every family must be protected from being trapped into vicious holes or wandering into disrepute. Responsibility of providing protection lies with all male members of the family. Women must be looked after well to guard them from dubious onslaughts from undesirable elements.
Svam Prasutim Caritram Ca Kulamatmanameva Ca I
Svam Ca Dharmam Prayatnena Jayam Raksanhi Raksati II IX / 5 II
Those striving to protect their women alone are able to monitor conduct of their progeny, guard themselves, their clan and Dharma.
As women in a family and society at large, constitute foundation of well-being of family, society and nation at large, they must be protected zealously. When women are protected in a family, family prospers. So is true with society and nation. Hence, key to prosperity of all lies in safety and well-being of women members of family and society. When women are protected, children of the family do well and prosper, one is able to protect himself and family. Dharma is protected only in a society and nation wherein women are safe and secured. Scriptures have laid special emphasis on protection and liberty of women.
Na Kascidyositaha Saktaha Prasahya Pariraksitum I
Etairupayayogaistu Sakyastah Pariraksitum II IX / 8 II
No one can guard women from going astray under coercion but tactfully through these various means.
Women are human beings as much as are men. It is impossible to subjugate a human being for long. Power of coercion does not last long as it is power through persuasion that is effective most. Women cannot be protected by virtue of coercion. In the name of protection, women cannot be confined bereft of personal liberty. However, this protection may be effectively extended through persuasion and conciliation by adopting various means as detailed by Maharsi Manu hereinafter.
Araksita Grhe Ruddhah Purusairaptakaribhiha I
Atmanamatmana Yastu Rakseyustah Suraksitaha II IX / 10 II
Because even women confined within home by trustworthy father, mother, spouse etc. are not really secured unless capable of protecting themselves.
External security provided by even trustworthy and capable close relatives too, is not enough as even that may suffer miscarriage eventually. Grosser instincts or subdued vanities may occupy better half of a man any moment. Hence, foremost requirement for women is to know how to observe all essential security measures for themselves to pre-empt any eventuality from any quarter. They must be imparted necessary lessons too, in this regard. Securing oneself through own conscious efforts is the best measure of being safe.
Panam Durjanasamsargah Patya Ca Virahoatanam I
Svapnoanyagehavasaca Narisandusanani Sat II IX / 11 II
Consuming intoxicants, being in nefarious company, estrangement from spouse, wandering purposelessly and dwelling in other’s home desecrate women.
These are the measures that ruin women without fail and the scars that are left behind, may continue throughout one’s life. Maharsi Manu has cautioned women to refrain from all these vices so as to protect themselves effectively.
Prajanartham Mahabhagaha Pujarha Grhadiptayaha I
Striyah Sriyasca Gehesu Na Visesoasti Kascana II IX / 13 II
For procreation and advent of great fortune are women in homes brightening household, adorable as Laksmi, all being identical.
Laksmi is the highly venerable deity of wealth and fortune. Women have been identified as incarnates of Laksmi in our homes. They are abundantly adorable constituting foundation of our homes. Similarly, women are identified as harbinger of wealth and fortune, continuance of inheritance through procreation and the spark that brightens the entire household. Without women as fundamental base of a household, the household is unworthy of any significance. Prosperity of a family begins with joy and well-being of women members of the family alone. No family can flourish if women are neglected and derogated.
Yeaksatrino Bijavantaha Paraksetrapravapinaha I
Te Vai Sasyasya Jatasya na Labhante Phalam Kvacit II IX / 19 II
Those with seeds yet without field, sow in other’s field, certainly cannot claim ownership of the proceeds.
Anyone with seeds albeit without farmland shall be compelled to sow that in the field of someone else. In such a situation, owner of seeds cannot claim ownership of farm proceeds. At best, seed-owner may be compensated appropriately for the miniscule contribution to the field owner. Similarly, if a woman is constrained to procreate with the contribution of a man other than her husband, ownership of the child shall rest with the mother and her spouse alone.
Vidhavayam Niyogarthe Nirvrtte Tu Yathavidhi I
Guruvacca Snusavacca Varteyatam Parasparam II IX / 26 II
Once Niyoga is duly accomplished with a widow, she ought to be regarded as Guru-Patni or Putra-Vadhu as the case may be.
As soon as the objective of Niyoga is realised, widow in question must be treated as Guru-Patni i.e. Guru’s spouse in case of her being elder sibling’s wife or as Putra-Vadhu i.e. daughter-in-law in case of her being younger sibling’s wife. Core value innate in the injunction is that sanctity of relations before and after the task of Niyoga must be preserved under any circumstance as Niyoga has been devised to address only a set of special circumstances.
Yasya Mriyeta Kanyaya Vaca Satye Krte Patiha I
Tamanena Vidhanena Nijo Vindeta Devaraha II IX / 28 II
If a groom expires after betrothal, bride may be duly wedded to younger sibling of the deceased.
In case of the eventuality of bridegroom’s demise after betrothal, the bride affected may be betrothed to his younger sibling. Such an alliance is perfectly legitimate, as mandated by Maharsi Manu.
Vidhaya Prosite Vrttim Jivenniyamamasthita I
Prosite Tvavidhayaiva Jivecchilpairagarhitaiha II IX / 30 II
If one goes distant after arranging for livelihood, his woman must live and remain chaste. In absence of livelihood, she may go vocational to survive.
When one is compelled to move out in search of occupation, he is bound to arrange honourable livelihood for his wife during his prolonged absence. However, if such a means of livelihood fails to concretise, the woman enjoys liberty of selecting an honourable vocation for a dignified life to live.
Kamamamaranattisthedu Grhe Kanyartumatyapi I
Na Caivainam Prayacchettu Gunahinaya Karhicit II IX / 34 II
Even if she is constrained to survive as spinster in her father’s home, she must not be betrothed to an undeserving suitor.
So emphatic is Maharsi Manu in selecting right groom for a girl that he even goes to the extent of complete denial of alliance being equally acceptable in absence of suitable groom. Not only life with an unsuitable groom turns miserable but also may it invite grave risk to her safety and security. Remaining spinster for the rest of her life in her father’s home is perfectly acceptable in such an extra-ordinary situation.
Prajanartham Striyaha Srstaha Santanartham Ca Manavaha I
Tasmatsadharano Dharmah Srutau Patnya Sahoditaha II IX / 37 II
Women having been raised for procreation and men for continuance, mandated is in Sruti that both shall accomplish all rituals and errands pertaining to Dharma together.
Continuation of humanity is ensured by man and woman together through procreation. None of them is capable of accomplishing it solo. When complimentarity of both is so sacrosanct and undeniable, how can they perform sacred rituals separately ? According to the injunction, every sacred ritual pertaining to Dharma must be performed together, by both.
Anyonyasyavyabhicaro Bhavedamaranantikaha I
Esa Dharmah Samasena Jneyah Stripunsayoh Paraha II IX / 38 II
No violation of matrimonial sanctity and separation till death, be allowed with that being the essence of Dharma between man and woman.
Conjugal alliance between man and woman constitutes foundation of family, society and nation. That one reason alone consecrates this one relationship between man and woman as the most important one among all other relations viz. mother-son, father-daughter and brother-sister. All other relations in society originate from this relationship alone. Sanctity of the relationship must be held inviolable irrespective of circumstances or adversities. Maharsi Manu ordained it as cardinal element of Dharma between man and woman wherein separation occurs only with death.
Urdhvam Pitusca Matusca Sametya Bharatarah Samam I
Bhajeranpaitrikam Rikthamanisaste Hi Jivatoha II IX / 41 II
After demise of father and mother, all brothers may equally divide entire property bequeathed among themselves to which no claim of ownership is entertainable till they are alive.
Property bequeathed by parents is directed to be divided among all sons equally. So long as parents are alive, sons cannot stake claim of ownership on their property. This one is an abundant social security measure mandated by Maharsi Manu for parents growing old and helpless with passage of age and time in their own interest and well-being.
Jyestha Eva Tu Grhniyatpitryam Dhanamasesataha I
Sesastamupajiveyuyathaiva Pitaram Tatha II IX / 42 II
Eldest son may inherit entire wealth bequeathed and all younger brothers may continue staying as they did with their father.
This one is an alternate disposition to the option of equal sharing among all sons. If eldest son is adored like a father figure by younger siblings and they agree to continue as before, eldest son may inherit all wealth and accept entire responsibility of his siblings as his father had done for all his sons. In this arrangement, younger sons continue live life as they did earlier with their eldest brother being their provider and guardian.
Svebhyonasebhyastu Kanyabhyah Pradadyurbhratarah Prthak I
Svatsvandasaccaturbhagam Patitah Syuraditsavaha II IX / 49 II
One fourth of every son’s share be allocated to spinster sister with refusal to comply with being condemnable.
For unmarried sister if any, all brothers are called upon to set aside one-fourth share to be assigned to her. Being unwedded, she enjoys the social status of son in the family and her brothers are primarily responsible for her well-being.
Yathaivatma Tatha Putrah Putrena Duhita Sama I
Tasyamatmani Tisthantyam Kathamanyo Dhanam Haret II IX / 52 II
Like one’s own Atma, is that of son and daughter too, is like son. With one’s own Atma like daughter, how can anyone else claim bequeathed wealth.
Son has always been regarded as one’s own Atma i.e. the Self. Maharsi Manu herein ordains that daughter is as much one’s own Atma as is one’s son. Hence in absence of son, daughter is as much worthy of inheritance as is son. In such a situation, entire inheritance must be bequeathed to daughter alone.
Matustu Yautakam Yat Syatkumaribhaga Eva Saha I
Dauhitra Eva Ca Haredaputrasyakhilam Dhanam II IX / 53 II
Mother’s possessions belong to daughter alone in addition to the wealth of maternal grandfather not having a son.
Whatever a woman receives from her parents and brothers, must be inherited by her daughter alone. Even possessions of maternal grand-father without being blessed with a son, also belong to her.
Upapanno Gunaih Sarvaih Putro yasya Tu Dattrimaha I
Sa Haretaiva Tadriktham Sampraptoapyanyagotrataha II IX / 56 II
An adopted son endowed with noble virtues and piety, is entitled to inherit legacy of his adopted father.
If an adopted son is well-accomplished and gifted with all attributes required to be a noble son, he deserves and entitled to inherit entire possessions of the person who had adopted him. Decision on inheritance ought to be guided and governed by merits of the person concerned and least by emotive considerations.
Yaaniyuktaany- atah Putram Devaradvaapyavapnuyat I
Tam Kamajamarikthiyam Vrthotpannam Pracaksate II IX / 59 II
Son born to a woman from other source or younger sibling of spouse without undergoing Niyoga is a lust child, unwanted and not entitled to inheritance.
What has been underscored herein is sanctity of social norms represented by Niyoga, purity and piety of relations. If a woman violates cardinality of Niyoga and procreates out of sheer lust, the procreation is deemed defiled and undesirable. Son born to such an alliance is unwanted and never entitled to lawful inheritance even if he is sired by younger sibling of her husband.
Sa Cedaksatayonih Syadgatapratyagataapi Va I
Paunarbhavena Bhartra Sa Punah Samskaramarhati II IX / 60 II
If chastity remains intact in spite of being betrothed and having been to his home, she is entitled to enter into an alliance afresh.
If a betrothal has not been carried out to it’s logical end, no sanctity remains and there is no merit in carrying on with the burden of relationship. Such a married woman is regarded as unmarried and absolutely eligible to undergo marriage again.
Adhyagnyadhyavahanikam- Dattam Ca Pritikarmani I
Mratramatrapitrapraptam Sadvidham Stridhanam Smratam II IX / 63 II
Six types of Stridhana gifted during matrimonial rituals, by her father while being sent to her spouse’ home, by spouse on occasions of joy, received from brother, mother and father, are in vogue.
Stridhana is the wealth and possessions that is exclusively owned by woman alone and not shared by anyone else in the family. This is the wealth woman owns exclusively and authorised to bequeath to anyone of her liking.
Na Nirharam Striyah Kuryuh Kutumbad Bahumadhyagat I
Svakadapi Ca Vittaddhi Svasya Bharturanajnaya II IX / 67 II
Women must not surreptitiously segregate wealth in fractions in a large family either for excessive conservation or profligacy as well as spending her own wealth without consent of her spouse.
If a woman is extravagant or too parsimonious with respect to her wealth, it is undesirable. She must not save or spend excessively which may compel her to deduct varying amounts of money from various members of her large family. Such a situation invariably leads to privation and gross inconvenience to all in her family which may finally culminate into an unenviable state of affairs to contend with, in the family.
Anansau Klibpatitau Jatyandhabadhirau Tatha I
Unmattajadamukasca Ye Ca Kecinnirindriyaha II IX / 69 II
Sterile, blind, deaf, insane, moron, dumb, incapable and disabled with an organ cannot claim share in wealth being incapable of it’s security or proper use.
Such persons with physical or mental disabilities may not be capable of looking after wealth if assigned to them. Also, they may not be able to deploy the wealth judiciously. It is always advisable not to assign any share to them and the responsibility to look after them must be accepted by the entire family.
Sarvesamapi Tu Nyayyam Datum Saktya Manisina I
Grasacchadanamatyantam Patito Hyadadbhavet II IX / 70 II
But the wise one must compulsorily provide food, clothes etc. appropriately otherwise regarded as the fallen one.
All those, wise and capable ones are called upon to act as providers and protectors for all those disabled ones, unable to fend for themselves. They are mandated to provide for the same and any dereliction in this regard shall amount to a reprehensible conduct.
Vidyadhanam Tu Yadyasya Tattasyaiva Dhanam Bhavet I
Maitryamaudvahikam Caiva Madhuparkikameva Ca II IX / 72 II
Wealth attained owing to knowledge, friendship, wedding and being adorable belongs to the receiver alone.
Nature of transaction of such a wealth is profoundly individualised as these are attained after individual’s own efforts and merits. It is earned through one’s knowledge, received from a friend or on the auspicious occasion of one’s wedding. Adorable personalities too, are often gifted with wealth for a cause. Such a wealth attained is beyond the domain of any claim of share whatsoever.
Vibhaktah Saha Jivanto Vibhajeranpunaryadi I
Samastatra Vibhagah Syajjayaisthayyam Tatra Na Vidyate II IX / 76 II
Once divided to re-join thereafter, everyone’s share is exactly equal with nothing extra for the eldest.
If after first round of division of wealth bequeathed by parents, inheriting brothers re-join to divide a second time, none of them is entitled to a special share for any reason or factor whatsoever. During second round of division, every sibling is entitled to equal share of the pooled wealth and no extra-ordinary claim is entertained. Such a mandate ensures, division is completed smoothly without any attrition of dispute whatsoever.
Sarva Eva Vikarmastha Narhanti Mrataro Dhanam I
Na Cadattva Kanisthebhyo Jyesthah Kurvita Yautakama II IX / 80 II
All those brothers engaged in evil acts have no claim to wealth inherited and eldest must not claim before delivering to younger siblings.
All brothers wasting themselves away in felonious acts are not entitled to stake claim to wealth bequeathed and inherited. Even if they stake any claim whatsoever, it must be denied forthwith. Eldest brother must first honour claims of share of his younger siblings before obliging himself with the same. Such a mandate ensures, sanctity of virtues, integrity and fair play is upheld.
Dyutam Samavhyam Caiva Raja Rastrannivarayet I
Rajantakaranavetau Dvau Dosau Prthiviksitam II IX / 86 II
King must cease Dyuta and Samavhaya in the state irrevocably as these may destroy kingdoms of kings.
Dyuta is the sport of gambling with material objects at stake while Samavhyaya is gambling with live ones. These two are potent vices capable of destroying individuals, families, societies, kingdoms and nations howsoever mighty that they may be. Hence, this vice must be banished from the state altogether irrevocably.
Dyutam Samavhyam Caiva Yah Kuryatkareta Va I
Tansarvanghatayedraja Sudransca Dvijalinginah II IX / 89 II
Those engaged themselves and engaging others in Dyuta as well as Samavhaya, also Sudra-s disguising themselves as Dvija-s, must be punished corporeally.
As Dyuta and Samavhaya are detrimental to the well-being of state and society, these have been mandated to be completely rooted out. Those who indulge with Dyuta and Samavhaya, must be deterred with severe punishment. Also be punished those who present themselves as Dvija-s in spite of beingSudra-s. Integrity is invoked to be maintained in the highest order in order to run the society smoothly and prevent social anarchy.
Kitavankusilavankruran Pakhandasthansca Manavan I
Vikarmasthamchhaundikansca Ksipram Nirvasayetpurat II IX / 90 II
Gamblers, cruel despots, charlatans, evil doers, those who earn through vulgar dances, brew and sell liquor must be banished from state.
They are the felonious ones who are unlikely to improve even after punishment howsoever severe or embarrassing that may be. Hence, compulsive gamblers, those with despotic dispositions, earning through dancing to vulgarity, devious and disguised ones, liquor makers and sellers must be expelled from the boundaries of state to ensure well-being of all others and the state.
Ye Niyuktastu Karyena Hanyuh Karyani Karyinam I
Dhanosmana Pacyamanastannih Svankarayennrapaha II IX / 94 II
Employees of state unable to digest heat of wealth, damaging state assignments of responsibility, must be deprived of all their possessions.
Employees of state hold very responsible positions of authority, responsibility and accountability. State and their subjects expect high standards of integrity and conduct from state employees. If some of them are unable to resist their desires of vanity, fall into indulgence, then King must act immediately and dis-possess them of all their assets as a measure of stringent retribution as well as deterrence for others.
Nahi Dandaddyate Sakyah Kartum Papavinigrahaha I
Stenanam Papabuddhinam Nibhratam Caratam Ksitau II IX / 112 II
Felonious deeds of known thieves, thieves in disguise, other offenders and those with evil dispositions cannot be restrained without retribution. Hence, efforts at retribution must not slacken.
Evil deeds may never be restrained or prevented without awarding every act of offence with the justice that it deserves. Justice dispensed and duly served for a crime is also justice in anticipation for a crime prevented. Hence, every act of evil deed must be acted upon by the King, justice awarded and the offender duly punished. Dispensation of justice is a divine engagement described earlier as an institution of Danda. It must be administered with utmost seriousness that brooks no slackening of efforts whatsoever.
Svamyamatmau Puram Rastram Kosadandau Suhratttatha I
Sapta Prakrtayo Hyotah Saptangam Rajyamucyate II IX / 137 II
Swami, Mantri, Durga, Rastra, Kosa, Danda and Mitra are the seven royal traits and the state endowed with these, Kingdom of seven appellations.
Swami is an enlightened Guru competent to guide and advise the King; Mantri is an outstanding minister deft in running the affairs of his state; Durga is the invincible fort as a bastion of might of the Kingdom; Rastra is the nation-state endowed with rich, ancient, imperishable heritage; Kosa is treasury of the state; Danda is the institution of justice, equity and fair play while Mitra is friend and well-wisher of the state. A sovereign state is endowed with all these appellations as marks of distinction.
Kalih Prasupto Bhavati Sa Jagrad Dvaparam Yugam I
Karmasvabhyudyatastreta Vicaranstu Kratam Yugam II IX / 145 II
His being in the state of slumber is marked by Kali Yuga, ordinarily awake by Dvapara Yuga, ever engaged in discharging state’s responsibilities by Treta Yuga and finally, zealously engrossed in development of subjects and the state, by Satya Yuga.
When a King is inactive and indifferent towards affairs of the state, it is akin to Kali Yuga characterised by inertia. When the King is ordinarily active and attending affairs of the state, it is akin to Dvapara Yuga, era of beginning of decline of Dharma before advent of Kali Yuga. Treta Yuga is marked by the rule wherein King is constantly engaged in honouring all commitments and responsibilities of the state while Satya Yuga, by intense development of the state and subjects in all aspects, perspectives. In this rule, King has a well-defined vision for all round development of all accompanied by renaissance of Satya i.e. truth and Dharma i.e. righteousness.
Indrasyarkasya Vayosca Yamasya Varunasya Ca I
Candrasyagneha Prithivyasca Tejovrttam Nrapascret II IX / 146 II
King must deport himself in harmony with Indra, Surya, Vayu, Yama, Varuna, Candrama, Agni and Prthvi alone.
Indra, Surya, Vayu, Yama, Varuna, Candrama, Agni and Prthvi are Deva-s i.e. celestial deities who have individualised characteristics and celestial roles to enact. While discharging their celestial obligations, they adhere to the highest conceivable norms of conduct and interactions. Every King is expected to emulate highest canons of conduct while managing affairs of the state and dealing with subjects.
All these injunctions and mandates are entirely Varna-neutral.