Manu Dharma S'astra: A Sociological and Historical Study

Manu Dharma S'astra: A Sociological and Historical Study

Manu Dharma S'astra: A Sociological and Historical Study

Manu Dharma S'astra: A Sociological and Historical Study

Excerpt

The following pages present a connected, over-all picture of the teachings of Manu, contained in his Dharma Śāstra. The Dharma Śāstra is usually described as the Code of Laws of Manu, but actually it is a treatise that deals with the social life of man. There is nothing in the title to suggest that the teachings were intended to be a Code of Laws for any particular group, inhabiting any specific geographical region. To be sure, the Dharma Śāstra came to occupy a place of high authority among the Hindus of India and its injunctions even acquired the authority and status of legal enactments. But, fundamentally, the Dharma Śāstra contains a statement of principles of social life of man applicable at all times and in all climes, and therefore has a universal significance: its teachings are aimed at the homo sapiens, the human race, the mānavas, as a whole, and they emphasise the element of the permanent, the eternal in the life of man and society.

Notwithstanding the great contribution made by Manu towards uplifting of the human race, as we shall see in the following pages, he is not so well known to the world at large. An average student of world-history is undoubtedly familiar with the name of Gautama, the Buddha, as one of the towering figures in the line of the ancient Teachers and Prophets of mankind. If this student happens to be an Indian, he will have heard the name of Manu also, but with special reference to his "Laws," which continue to govern the social relationships of the Hindus in a legal or juristic sense. Forms and . . .

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