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Many contemporary groups (fundamentalist Christians and Muslims; secular liberals; Marxists) have denounced the "Manu Smriti" text as a source of discrimination against the "lesser castes" as well as against women. One researcher from the Arya Samaj has said that the "Manu Smriti" text has been altered (via addition of later shlokas) throughout the centuries in order to give economic and political power to the Brahmins and Kshatriyas. This same researcher states that the true and original verses of Lord Manu did not contain such discrimination and inequality.

What is the validity of such accusations and assertions? Please provide guidance to all the interested individuals of Hindu Dharma living abroad who don't have access to the primary textual sources of "Manu Smriti".

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    1) And what parts of Hindu scripture do they not condemn?? 2) Have you read the Manu Smriti? It is an ancient text, with many parts meant for people of that time. The Old Testament of the Bible gives directions as to how a man should treat his young female slaves - what about that? 3) The laws of Manu are smriti, they are not sruti. If parts of it conflicts with sruti then reject it. All modern Vedanta rests on three legs - the Upanishads, the Gita, and the Brahma Sutras - no matter what your sect. Don't get lost in secondary texts. – Swami Vishwananda Jul 4 '16 at 6:05
  • @ Swami Vishwananda , Well Said. – SwiftPushkar Jul 4 '16 at 7:41
  • Thank you for responding, Swami Vishwananda. I definitely liked the part about Sruti taking predence over Smriti. Vedanta views the Jivatma-Paramatma relationship as sacred. The Jivatma is given sanctity so this is a most egalitarian metaphysical doctrine. Can you suggest a good English-language translation of "Manu Smriti" (one which represents Lord Manu's intent for composing this Smriti)? If there are annotations in the translation, then these will help to give a context for the verses. – Nehal Patel Jul 4 '16 at 13:41
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    @SwamiVishwananda, i need advice on day-to-day matters - how to divide inheritance, how to choose a bride/groom, how to clean myself after nature's call, what direction to keep my head while sleeping etc. Do Vedas have these ? If so, can you show me where ? The philosophy 'reject smriti if conflicting with sruti' was made famous by Swami Vivekananda (I read almost full CW and Ramakrishna Kathamrita end-to-end), but he didn't sweep all age-old wisdom under 'irrelevant for today'-carpet, which has lead to disastrous consequences. If u can show which Manu Smriti verses are against Vedas, pls do. – ram Nov 5 '18 at 3:25
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    In the Dharma sastras such as Manu-smriti sages explained things which they learned from Sruti, and Itihasas, Pancaratras and sattvic Puranas such as Vishnu Purana and Bhagavatam are also written according to teachings of Sruti. – brahma jijnasa Nov 6 '18 at 15:40
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No Manusmriti is not altered.

  • The fault is in the eyes of those whose views have been brainwashed by the Abrahamic educational approach of the occidentals.

  • The fault is in the eyes of those who are trying to equate a pig and a cow(trying to equate a Chandala and a Brahmana).

  • The fault is in the minds of those who are propounding the Western notion that all men are born equal which is against the Vedas.

When a person obtains birth in a comparatively, lower class family or a high class family, it is for his own good and not an act of unjust because he is, merely, rewarded that jati due to his good or bad deeds in his previous birth. Now, he has an opportunity to ascend to higher stages in a sequence. Short-cut methods do not work in the Vedic system. So Manusmriti is correct when it degrade low caste people.

The super-imposed fraudulent notion that Manusmṛti has been mutilated and modified a number of times is just a myth created by Arya Samaj since they can't accept the original teachings of Hindu Dharma. Before the arrival of British in India(in 18th Century AD) no Hindus ever considered that his Vedic scriptures and texts are mutilated and modified. How can Manusmṛti be mutilated when Bhagavad Geeta cannot be? All verses of Geeta are, till now, accepted as comprising the original form of the text and all 20+ classical Sanskrit commentaries (by commentators belonging to diverse Vedic sects) on Geeta have accepted the same version of the text despite Gītā being written.

Similarly, when Manusmṛiti has more than 6 commentaries available till date and all the commentators have accepted the same version of the text and have shared same views in their interpretation with very trivial variance of opinion, it is, totally, idiotic to say that the text has undergone any mutilation. After all, these commentators were highly proficient scholars in the dharma- Shastra as trained by the Srauta and smartta traditions.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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Dr. Surendra Kumar of the Arya Samaj has written a concise and critical commentary of the "Manu Smriti". A scanned version can be located on-line via Google. In this commentary, Dr. Kumar states that spurious interpolations have been made to the original text of the "Manu Smriti" over time. The interpolated verses seem to be written in a different style of Sanskrit and they also tend to be "irrelevant and out of context but also thematically discordant". These interpolated verses were added to the original manuscript by various interpolaters throughout history who had vested interests in maintaining socio-economic and political power.

In his critical analysis, Dr. Kumar concludes that the original verses seem to embody Maharishi Manu as "a legal luminary and religiously righteous sage". These original verses embody "noble and just laws" of the time-period as well as displaying "due considerations to a man's potentialities, actions and abilities".

In brief, it seems as though the "Manu Smriti" discusses noble and well-balanced principles on the one hand, while other verses embody extremely objectionable principles (which seem quite anti-Manu in essence). These other verses also seem to be written in a different style of Sanskrit and seem out of context in the overall flow of the manuscript. Hence, the probability of interpolation of verses by vested groups is quite high.

In the end, I agree with Dr. Kumar's conclusions. Maharishi Manu was a stellar shastrakar and smritikar during the epoch of monarchy. I highly doubt that such a brilliant individual would include paradoxically contradicting verses within the same manuscript.

It is true that we cannot import all of the original verses of Maharishi Manu to our contemporary pluralistic society (founded on democratic principles). However, there is much within "Manu Smriti" which can be studied and emulated.

Dr. Surendra Kumar's arguments can be found in "Opposition to Manu: Why". It is published by the Arsh Sahitya Prachar Trust (Delhi). A copy of this concise booklet has been scanned online; one can find it easily via a Google search.

I'll end this response with a very relevant comment from Dr. Surendra Kumar (from the "Foreword" section of the booklet):

"No system in the world is completely foolproof or wholly acceptable. Even the present social and political system is not perfect. If some flaw creeps into the system then it can be remedied. Our ancient saints and sages have suggested to us a panacea for tackling such unwarranted situations: [Sanskrit verse quoted from Taittiriya Upanishad, I-II-2] This means that good actions of others should be embraced and imitated and not the rest."

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Manusmriti is not canonical scriptural text in shiava, vaishnava and shakt traditions.

Only in few smarta and other sects- manusmriti will be considered among religious scriptures. In those sects, also it is not primary source, but only secondary text.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    Manu smriti and other dharma shastras are also respected by the sects you have mentioned. The injunctions in the text are followed while doing nitya karmas (daily rituals). It is not right to say they don't consider Manu smriti as a religious text. – Sarvabhouma Nov 5 '18 at 4:03
  • Read commentaries on the Vedanta sutra by several Vaishnava traditions and they all quoted from Manu-smriti. It's accepted Dharma sastra scripture. – brahma jijnasa Nov 5 '18 at 5:03
  • I have mentioned that it is "not" canonical scripture – zaxebo1 Nov 7 '18 at 2:28
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    This seems like a comment. Please add some sources. – sv. Nov 7 '18 at 19:11

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