The Orthodox Synthesis
The ruling groups among these invading peoples, the Yavanas (=Greeks). Śakas and Pahlavas, are among those to whom a place is assigned in the Manusmṛti, in a process of accommodating the new social realities to the theoretical pattern. From the beginning of the Christian era the older Dharmasūtras. which had been closely linked to the ritual schools, were expanded and remodelled in verse form to become the group of texts known as the Dharmaśāstras. No longer tied to a particular Vedic school, the Dharmaśāstras aimed to prescribe rules which were authoritative for all of society with a consequent enlargement in their scope and content. The earliest and most famous of these texts is that of Manu, the Manusmṛti or Mānavadharmaśāstra, which probably attained its present form around the second century A.D. The work presents itself, not as the work of a named teacher like most of the Dharmasūtras, but as the dharma declared by Brahmā to Manu, the first man, and passed on by him through Bhṛgu, one of the ten great sages. This claim to divine origin made by all the Dharmaśāstras is intended to secure their general acceptance.
After an introductory chapter in which Manu at the request of the sages describes the creation of the world by Brahmā and his own birth, the Manusmṛti then expounds the sources of dharma and enumerates the main ceremonies from birth to the end of the student stage of life in the second chapter, followed by the householder in the next three, and the last two stages of life in the sixth chapter. Here already a development is seen. Although the Dharmasūtras recognise the four styles of life (āśramas), they do not make them successive but rather present them as the four possible modes of life open to the student after he has completed his basic education; indeed two of the Dharmasūtras reject the multiplicity of āśramas. However, with the growing importance of renunciation, attested to a limited extent in the Upaniṣads and very obvious in the heterodox movements, such rejection was impractical. But so too was the open-ended acceptance of it in other Dharmasūtras. A way