You must have heard the name of Manusmriti many times. When we hear this name, the first question that comes to our mind is what is this Manu Smriti? Well, Manu Smriti is considered the first constitution of humankind. Consequently, Maharishi Manu is considered the writer of Manusmriti and is the first writer of a human constitution. Manusmriti written by Manu is a very significant scripture. According to beliefs, human beings are called Manav (or humans) only because they are the children of Manu.
Of all the creatures in the world, only humans have the power of thought. Manu Smriti also called Manu Samhita has made rules made by Manu for running the society. There are various questions related to Manusmriti Granth, like what is the history of Manusmriti? Or what is written in Manu Smriti. Let us try to find answers to these questions through this article.
What is Manu Smriti?
Manu Smriti is a human constitution, written thousands of years ago. This scripture contains the description of the working & functioning of the society. It also contains information about the statecraft, civics, administration and the judicial system. Manu Smriti is very ancient but in recent times, there is discontent among some people regarding some parts of Manu Smriti.
According to some scholars, Manu Smriti promotes the caste system and reinforces the distinctions of the high and low. But this would be a one-sided view on Manusmriti. According to many others, when the caste system was created, it was set up like a division of labour. Owing to the caste system, India was able to achieve the highest level of production and excellence in the world. Of course, the development of untouchability & high-low distinctions were unfortunate expressions & developments of the earlier, non-hereditary varna system.
As for the case that Manu Smriti or Manu Shastra glorifies any caste (section of people) in particular, then Manu Smriti also gives primary importance to good conduct and good karma. It is stated that by bad conduct, a Brahmin will denigrate to the qualities of lowness and by the virtues of good conduct, a Sudra will upgrade to the higher levels of social & spiritual existence.
When Manu Smriti was created, the basis of caste was karma. But things were twisted over centuries and the content of Manu Smriti was altered. Manu Smriti has been useful to society for ages.
The History Of Manu Smriti
Manusmriti is the basis of all Manu’s ideas as he is Manusmriti author. But it is very difficult to say when Manusmriti was composed. It is said that the verses and thoughts of Manusmriti are mentioned in the Mahabharata at various places. If we consider that the facts of Manu Smriti were mentioned in the Mahabharata, then Manusmriti is a very ancient book.
However, there is no doubt here that various additions have been made in Manu Smriti over time. There are differences among scholars regarding when Manusmriti was composed. As per some scholars, Manu Smriti was originally composed around 1,800 BC or 1,900 BC.
The present Manusmriti has a total of 12 chapters and 2,694 verses which are composed in simple and flowing style. Its grammar is mostly Panini-agreed, in terms of language, grammar and principles, there is a lot of similarity between Kautilya’s Arthashastra and Manusmriti.
What Is There In Manu Smriti?
Manu Smriti is called the world’s first human constitution. In Manu Smriti, we can find rules related to governance, administration, public policy, justice and punishment. We can understand Manu Smriti through its literature.
The Chapters Of Manu Smriti
- The First Chapter of Manu Smriti – Origin of the world
- The Second Chapter of Manu Smriti – Sacrament method, fasting, treatment
- The Third Chapter of Manu Smriti – (Holy) bathes, daraghigamvan, vivah lakshan, mahayagya, shradhkalp
- The Fourth Chapter Of Manu Smriti – Vrittilakshan, snatak vrat (graduation vow)
- The Fifth Chapter of Manu Smriti – Bhakshyabhashya, Shauch, Ashuddhi, Streedharma
- The Sixth Chapter of Manu Smriti – Grihasthasrama, Vanaprastha, Moksha, Sannyas
- The Seventh Chapter of Manu Smriti – Criminal system, Responsibilities of ruler, taxation etc.
- The Eighth Chapter of Manu Smriti – Question Method of Witnesses
- The Ninth Chapter of Manu Smriti – Laws relating to duties of men and women, division of property
- The Tenth Chapter of Manu Smriti – Vibhag Dharma, Dhoot, Kantakshodhan
- The Eleventh Chapter of Manu Smriti – Narrow caste,objection
- The Twelfth Chapter of Manu Smriti – Atonement for the removal of sin, etc.
- The Thirteenth Chapter of Manu Smriti – Sansargati, Karma, Karmagunadosh, Deshajati, Kuldharma, Nishreyas.
The Importance Of Manu Smriti
Manusmriti is an ancient book of Hinduism. It is also known as Manusahhita. It is in the form of a sermon, given by Maharishi Manu to other sages. With the passage of time, Manusmriti came to be accepted as a reference by theologians and scholars and its knowledge spread throughout the world. In India, Manusmriti is a highly recognized scripture. The book contains rules for the four varnas, the four ashrams, sixteen rites and the creation of the world, the system of the state, the king’s duties, all kinds of disputes, the management of the army, etc.
Manu Smriti is the foremost law code of Hinduism. It is one of the most significant manual of Hindus, directing people into how should they live and what should they practice and what should they eschew.