This is a chicken-and-egg problem.

Did the dharma śāstras and smṛtis come first and then people started following them or people already had some unwritten rules and they were then codified into formal laws like the Manusmṛti?

Please note the tag below and answer this from a historical standpoint.


1 Answer 1


The Smritis or the Laws came first.

Parshara Smriti states that at the beginning of a new Kalpa Manu simply recalls the laws.

Na kashchitvedakartA cha vedam smritvA chaturmukham |
Tathaiva dharmAn smarati manuh kalpAntareantare ||

The author of the Veda there is none ; (he) the fourfaced (God), at each succeeding revolution of a Kalpa, recalls to mind the Veda ; and so does Manu remember the law (at each succeeding revolution of a Kalpa)

ParAshara Smriti 1.21

It does not say that Manu creates .. he simply recalls the already existing laws.

But human beings were created much later, by the descendants of Manu, as the following verse confirms:

Manu Smriti 1.61. Six other high-minded, very powerful Manus, who belong to the race of this Manu, the descendant of the Self-existent (Svayambhu), and who have severally produced created beings,

  • I was hoping for an answer that didn't involve kalpas/yugas/divinity. The history tag was a euphemism for that :) Feb 5, 2019 at 16:43
  • 2
    But if I can answer from scriptures, as I hv done, then I shd be allowed to do so... It is not a chicken-egg problem if u think human beings composed the laws .. coz then humans came first and then the laws .. But going by the scriptures it's the other way .. @sv.
    – Rickross
    Feb 6, 2019 at 6:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .