Understanding Scriptures - Part 1

Summary: through this question I would like to gain as much insight as possible about the original Dharmashastra of Manu containing 1,00,000 verses and also try to understand the current Manusmriti and it’s link to the original 1,00,000 versed one as well as the abridged 4000 versed one by Sumati and also the nature of interpolation from Sumati’s version


The Original Dharmaśāstra of Manu Prajapati

The Dharmashastra is supposed to be one of the four upāṅgas (sub-limbs) of the Vedas. The Matsya Purāṇa 3.2 describes that the Veda alongwith its limbs and sub-limbs came from Brahmaji, of which one of the upāṅgas, as aforementioned, was the treatise (shastra) on dharma. As per the current Manusmriti 1.58 itself, this upāṅga, namely Dharma, was originally given to Manu who then revealed it to other sages and as stated in this answer, we can see that in every kalpa, Prajapati Manu is the propounder/ original authority on the Dharma created by and learnt from Brahmaji. As per this answer the Taittiriya Samhita too hints at Prajapati Manu as the highest, originally authority on the upāṅga of Dharma.

Further details of this original upāṅga of Dharma by Prajapati Manu are provided in the first chapter (introduction) of the Narada Smriti:

The venerable Manu Prajapati composed for the benefit of all human beings a book founded upon custom and law, which consisted of twenty-four divisions ... It contained a hundred thousand ślokas. Prajapati having composed this book, which was arranged in a thousand chapters, delivered it to the divine sage Ndrada. He then read it and thought by himself, “This book cannot be studied easily human beings on account of its length." Therefore he abridged it in twelve thousand ślokas and delivered it to Sumati, the son of Bhrigu. He too read it and bethought himself, what human capacity had been brought to through the successive lessening of life; wherefore he reduced it to four thousand. It is this second abridgement by Sumati which mortals read, whilst the gods, gandharvas, and so on, read the original code consisting of a hundred thousand ślokas.

The 24 divisions had been enumerated but for the sake of brevity I’ve left them out.

There’s another detail as per this site which says the Mananava Dharmashastra had 4 Samhitas attributed to Bhrigu, Narada, Brihaspati and Angiras.

A brief opinion about the current Manusmriti

The current Manusmriti in circulation contains roughly 2700 (as opposed to 4000) verses under 12 (instead of 24) major heads and in fact seems to be a slight modification of the Yajnavalkya Smriti, with some purposeful verses, one step beyond Yajnavalkya. This Manusmriti is widely disputed and considered interpolated. It seems like the Yajnavalkya Smriti was copied and sprinkled with certain elements of Manu like creation, etc. and rules hardened with some additional glaringly obvious interpolations. Hence I ask Q 2-5.

(Despite Q2-5 being so overbearing, the focus of the question is related mainly to Q1- deriving as much information about the original Manava dharmashastra of 1,00,000 verses)

  1. Are/ Were there any known copies of the original 1,00,000 versed Dharmashastra of Manu in the mortal world or at least any other famous/ reputed quotes, important matter from it? Besides, it would be nice if as many facts of this original Dharmashastra are mentioned, beyond what’s asked here in Q1.
    Example 1:,
    something like: like the Naradasmriti, do any other Smritis or Dharmshtras or other scriptures, mention this original Dharmashastra or the one by Sumati or do any of them talk of deriving their matter from Manu himself (instead of saying something like Dharma is found in Vedas) and
    Example 2: further details of the 4 Samhitas of the Manava Dharmashastra

  2. Can it be said that the ‘Manusmriti’ which is/was widely celebrated is/was the 4000 versed one by Sumati (as per the above verses) which was prevalent in the mortal world, since the current Manusmriti mentions nothing of the sort?

  3. If answer to Q2 is affirmative, in what way did Sumati reduce the size? Did he omit subjects (since the current Manusmriti in circulation contains only 12 heads) or write only important verses but included all 24 chapters and the current interpolated one contains 12 chapters?

  4. Irrespective of the answer to Q2 and especially if the answer is negative, do we have Sumati’s roughly original manuscript copy of 4000 verses carefully stored anywhere or in circulation?

  5. Unlinked to the above, for the current one in circulation can it be said that Yajnavalkya was copied, rules hardened and elements from Sumati’s Manusmriti were put to make it look authentic?

Note: Some questions may not be answerable from scriptures but I’d prefer not having answers from biased people like Dr. Julius Jolly (who has published the Naradasmriti) who are not absolutely well acquainted with Indian society and are hell bent upon enforcing their incorrect conclusions to denigrate Hindu society.

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