The Manu-smrti stands foremost among the principal works of its class. It has always been a work of universal authority. It has served as a veritable storehouse of information for social, cultural, political and religious life of the people. It contained the very essence of later Hinduism. Its study is imperative for the proper understanding of Indian culture. In fact the period represented by the Manusmrti holds a key to the understanding of the entire and subsequent social history of India. Indian society in the days of Manu on account of its elasticity, vigour and adaptability stood the best of external pressure and retained its distinctive character even in trying political and economic situations.
Manu's importance in Indian history lies in the fact that was he who gave the stamp of sanctity and permanence to the socio-political institution of the land and left to the Indian world the first code of civil and criminal laws. It serves as the chief authority on Hindu jurisprudence.
In the present day, when a lot of controversies are being razed around some of the views expressed in this great work of Manu, on varna, women, politics, and social justice etc., a need was felt to understand its precepts more clearly and rationally. Sanskrit scholars can read and interpret its injunctions and comments contained in its various commentaries written by Medhatithi and others at different point of time. But those who were not familiar with Sanskrit could not understand it. For the convenience of such people who were interested in knowing the views of Manu on social, political and other topics, M.N. Dutt brought out two separate volumes containing text and translation with notes.
Since the researchers and the readers of the Manusmrti faced the problem of consulting the text and the translation in two separate volumes, so in order to remove this shortcoming, an attempt is being made in the present edition of the Manusmrti, to place the text and translation side by side in a single volume. It is hoped that the present endeavour will be well received by the world of scholars and general readers.
- The holy sages interrogate Manu about the sources of law. Manu's reply to them. Cosmogony. Bhrugu expounds the law by the order of Manu. Different cycles of time. Duties of the four social orders. General plan of the book discussed
- The four proofs of virtue. Rules of the order of Brahmacarin. Duties of pupils. The mode of saluting the preceptor, etc.
- Rules of marriage for the members of the four social orders. Eight forms of marriage and their descriptions, the five daily great (household) sacrifices. Hospitality to guests and chance arrivals in the house. The eternal merit of Sraddha offerings, etc.
- Rules for the guidance of householders, etc. Household duties.
- Descriptions of commendable and forbidden food. Periods of uncleanness. Purifications of defiled articles. Duties of wives, etc.
- Duties of the different social orders
- Duties of kings. Expedients for the protection of a kingdom
- Composition of tribunals of justice, law suits, sources of litigation, law relating to evidence, to punishment, exculpiating nature of punishment, etc.
- Duties of men and women, law of inheritance, gambling, appehension of thieves, duties of Vaisyas and Sudras
- Origins of mixed castes. Means of subsistence of the members of the four castes in times of distress
- Expiatory penances
- Rebirths, knowledge and self emancipation
About the Author:
Dr. R.N. Sharma did M.A. in Linguistics from Delhi University and did his Ph.D. from Kurukshetra University. Dr. Sharma conducted many studies in linguistics in Himachal Pradesh. He has taught linguistics in US and many other developing countries. He has authored many books in linguistics and he writes regularly in various national and international journals.