Why does Manu Smriti say that by killing certain Animals one should perform the same penance that must be done for killing a Sudra?

Manu 11.131 - Having killed a cat, an ichneumon, a blue jay, a frog, a dog, an iguana, an owl and a crow,—he shall perform the penance of the ‘Śūdra-killer.

Are Sudras so worse as Animals according to Smritis?

  • 6
    That's what I don't like about any dharma Shastraes. All of them put shudra equal to animals. Apr 17, 2021 at 15:53
  • 6
    Same here brother @DarkKnight Apr 17, 2021 at 15:55
  • 1
    @learner, yes but there’s an overlap of farming between Vaishyas and Shudras. We can say the ones who rear cattle, own cowsheds and landowners are Vaishyas. But the ones who do the farming etc maybe shudras thought historically they too held land. But never made a full fledge business per say. Wherever money is involved it’s vaishya. Also shudras include carpenters and sculptors, actors, artists, washermen, barbers (the ones that serve the other 3 I.e. service sector) etc. Some say all the Varna sankara jaati are Shudras only. - no scriptural reference for these, still trying to discover.
    – Adiyarkku
    Apr 17, 2021 at 18:27
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    In an another viewpoint one asks: "what is special in these animals that one has to perform the penance of the Sudra-killer?"
    – Second
    Apr 17, 2021 at 18:32
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    @DarkKnight - Dharmena Hinah Pashubhi Samanah - One who lives without following dharma is equal to animal, because they too don't follow dharma. Animals also sleep whenever, eat whatever, sex with whomever etc. If a human does the same things, how are they different ? Sethu - Most of your questions seem to be aimed at defending Hindu religion from attackers who say it is anti-shudra, anti-women etc. First realize that by apologizing for your ancient traditions, you're actually losing both dharma and the battle with debaters.
    – ram
    Apr 21, 2021 at 8:29

2 Answers 2


There is this following verse (11.140) which supports the commentator's interpretation (mentioned in this answer), that when a number of animals have been killed, one must perform the penance of killing a human being viz: a Shudra.

Manu 11.140. But for destroying one thousand (small) animals that have bones, or a whole cart-load of boneless (animals), he shall perform the penance (prescribed) for the murder of a Sudra.

In general, the penances for killing men from the four Varnas are mentioned below:

Manu 11.126. One fourth (of the penance) for the murder of a Brahmana is prescribed (as expiation) for (intentionally) killing a Kshatriya, one-eighth for killing a Vaisya; know that it is one-sixteenth for killing a virtuous Sudra

So, we can't conclude from these verses that Shudras are considered by the Manu Smriti as equal to animals.

  • 1
    Manu further goes on to prescribe prayashchitt for other animals like horses etc which are much lower than that of these animals, when killed in thousands.
    – Adiyarkku
    Apr 18, 2021 at 9:11
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    Yes, noticed that those penances are less severe in comparison @Archit
    – Rickross
    Apr 18, 2021 at 12:06
  • @Rickross aren't there legal punishments though? I am confused
    – Haridasa
    Mar 23 at 1:33
  • No legal punishments as far as I know @Haridasa
    – Rickross
    Mar 23 at 11:41
  • @Rickross so murder has no punishment to it, are you sure from what I know the king does punishment.
    – Haridasa
    Mar 23 at 12:37

Medhatithi in his commentary for this verse says:

Inasmuch as the expiation prescribed is a heavy one, it should be understood as applying to a case where all these animals have been killed.

The purpose of this verse is to enjoin the type of penance that must be done for killing all these animals together.

So, the verse is saying that the penance (prayaschitta) that is to be done for killing a shudra is to also be done when all these animals are killed.

It's not saying that shudras are on the same level as animals.

  • These are expiations usually performed to get rid of sin on personal level. Punishment is dealt separately. It can even be death penalty in killing of a 4V. Apr 18, 2021 at 4:35

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