This post is also available in Hindi at http://agniveer.com/manu-smriti-and-shudras-hi/
This post is also available in Gujarati at http://agniveer.com/manu-smriti-and-shudras-gu/
If Agniveer were to list the top two nuisances in India, it would undoubtedly be birth-based caste system and gender discrimination.
Yes, India is plagued by a plethora of challenges today – corruption, fundamentalism, terrorism, conversions, moral degradation, lack of education, health issues, sanitation problems and so many more. But despite all these problems and threats, the top two – by a wide margin – would remain casteism and gender discrimination.
This is because all the rest of the problems can be attributed in one way or the other to these two core disgraces of our otherwise glorious culture. And till these two problems – that remain the primary causes of almost all our miseries of past and present – are eradicated from root, the hope of a glorious future would remain nothing more than hallucinations of an insane.
In other words, a prosperous and powerful society cannot co-exist with casteism and gender-discrimination.
Please note that casteism and gender-discrimination are not specifically Hindu issues. On contrary, they are more of cultural issues. Gender discrimination has been a global phenomenon for ages. And casteism seems like a South Asian nuisance affecting all societies and religions that breed here.
However Hinduism being the oldest culture and fountainhead of all other religions has to accept the blame of polluting the source. Because these two nuisances were tolerated, the society was weakened and deluged with so many different cults and religions leading to further weaknesses. All leading to the present mess and all the messes of past that we know from history.
It is surprising to find even today, many a defenders of these two nuisances from otherwise intellectual and educated backgrounds. The virus of birth-based superiority is so strong that it renders even the most rational insane. Many of these virus-affected patients are considered among scholars and leaders of contemporary Hinduism!
They would innocently point to ancient scriptures that justify these nuisances and then attempt to prove the ‘science’ behind consuming this trash. The most popular scripture that is used as scapegoat is the Manu Smriti – the oldest text on social systems.
Some also attempt to allege casteism in Vedas as well. However we have already debunked these fake claims and established the Vedic view in the series on Vedas and Caste System. Refer http://agniveer.com/series/caste-system-3/
In this series of articles, we shall evaluate the Manu Smriti.
Now, Manu Smriti is among the most controversial texts of Vedic culture. It is not only known as the first codified text on ethics and laws in the world, but also as a text promoting blatant casteism. The entire Dalit movement of modern times is based on foundations of protesting against ‘Manuvaad’.
While Manu is hero for casteists, Dalit leaders typecast Manu as a great villain. Copies of Manu Smriti are burnt en masse to showcase love for backward sections of society by likes of Agnivesh, Mayawati and many more. Films have been made depicting Manu as a horned devil in guise of scholar forcing brutal atrocity on lower caste people to fulfill his perverted fetishes. Manu Smriti has become the favorite pasture for scavengers keen on bashing Hinduism and Vedas. This becomes among the most potent tools for promoting conversion away from Hinduism. And interestingly most of these Manu bashers perhaps never ever gave Manu Smriti a serious reading!
On other side, for sadist forces within Hinduism who want to fool themselves and others on basis of their so-called birth superiority, Manu Smriti is a religious text that gives them the divine authority to deny fair treatment to one section of population merely because they were not born special. They would quote from fake adulterated verses of Manu Smriti that smell of casteism and gender discrimination, conveniently ignoring plethora of shlokas that speak exactly the opposite.
The tussle between these two forces has not only shaped the current cheap politics of Bharat but has been a major factor leading to foreign invasions of last 1000 years. This wretched caste-system was the prime reason why we could not defend our nation against barbaric invaders. This illogical caste-system was the prime reason why India had to be partitioned in 1947. And this disgusting caste-system is the prime reason why despite so much of talent and intellectual treasure, India is still a sluggish meek spineless snail in the race towards prosperity and power.
Thus it becomes utmost necessary to review Manu Smriti and check what it actually stands for.
Three allegations on Manu Smriti
There are 3 major allegations on Manu Smriti:
1. Manu founded the caste-system based on birth.
2. Manu legalized harsh punishments for Shudras and special provisions for upper-castes and especially Brahmins.
3. Manu was anti-women and condemned them. He accorded inferior rights to women.
Let us now review these allegations using evidences from Manu Smriti itself.
In this article, we shall review the first allegation – that Manu was founder of birth-based caste system.
We would strongly recommend that the readers review our series on Caste System in Vedas to understand the context and definitions of Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra as per Vedas. Please review the series at http://agniveer.com/series/caste-system-3/
1. Manu Smriti hails from an era when even the concept of birth-based caste system did not exist. Thus Manu Smriti nowhere supports a social system based on birth. Maharshi Manu took inspiration from Vedas (refer Rigveda 10.10.11-12, Yajurveda 31.10-11, Atharvaveda 19.6.5-6) and proposed a social system based on qualities, actions and nature of the individual.
Manu Smriti and Caste System
2. This is called Varna System. Now the very word Varna derived from root word “Vrinja” means “Choice“. A similar usage happens in common used word “Varan” meaning “choosing” or “Var” meaning a husband chosen by the girl. This also shows that in Vedic system the girl had complete rights to choose her husband.
3. The biggest proof of Manu Smriti proposing Varna System and NOT Caste System is that in the first Chapter of Manu Smriti, there is mention of origin of 4 Varnas and no mention of castes or gotras. Had caste or gotra been important, Manu would have mentioned which castes belong to Brahmins, which to Kshatriyas, which to Vaishyas and which to Shudras.
This also means that those who feel proud in calling themselves Brahmins or upper-caste by birth have no evidence to prove so. They can at best prove that a few generations of their forefathers used to also call themselves upper-caste. But there is no way to prove that they were upper-castes since inception of civilization. And when they cannot prove so, what right do they have to allege that a so-called birth-based Shudra was also not a Brahmin several generations ago? And that they themselves were not Shudras a few generation ago!
4. In fact Manu Smriti 3.109 clearly states that one who eats by glorifying his Gotra or Family is considered an eater of his own vomit. Thus, as per the Manu Smriti that the self-proclaimed birth-based Brahmins or upper-castes believe in, the very act of glorifying their lineage or gotra to demand special privileges makes them deserving of condemnation.
5. Manu Smriti 2.136 states that one earns respect due to wealth, company, age, actions and knowledge in increasing order. There is no mention of family, gotra, caste, lineage and other non-factors to demand or earn respect.
Migration within Varnas
6. Manu Smriti 10.65 asserts that Brahmin can become Shudra and Shudra can become Brahmin. Similarly Kshtariyas and Vaishyas can also change their Varnas.
7. Manu Smriti 9.335: If a Shudra (uneducated) serves the educated ones, is polite, devoid of ego and stays in respectful company of knowledgeable ones, he/ she is considered as having a noble birth and stature.
8. There are several shlokas in Manusmriti that state that a person belonging to high Varna falls down to level of a Shudra (uneducated) if he does not conduct noble deeds. For example,
2.104: A person who does not worship the Supreme Lord twice daily should be considered a Shudra.
2.172. He who has not been initiated with teaching of the Vedas is a Sudra.
4.245: A Brahmin acquires brilliance through company of noble persons and avoiding bad company. On contrary, if he indulges in bad company, he becomes a Shudra.
Thus clearly, Brahmin refers to a scholarly person who conducts noble deeds. And Shudra refers to an uneducated person. This has nothing to do with birth in any manner.
2.168: A Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaishya who puts efforts in other areas except understanding and following the Vedic precepts becomes a Shudra and his future generations also suffer from ignorance of Vedas.
Thus, as per Manu Smriti, almost the entire population of India today, barring few exceptions, is Shudra because we do not abide by the Vedic concepts and are indulged in anti-Vedic activities – corruption, casteism, selfishness, superstitions, irrationality, gender-discrimination, sycophancy, immorality etc.
2.126: Even if he is a Brahmin otherwise, a person who does not politely respond to a greeting is actually a Shudra (uneducated person).
Even Shudras can teach
9. Though Shudra means an uneducated person, a Shudra can also become a teacher for specific knowledge that he has. For example,
2.238: One should acquire knowledge even from a person born in a low family otherwise. Similarly, one should accept a noble woman as wife even if her family is otherwise not up to mark.
2.241. If needed, one may acquire knowledge from one who is not a Brahmin; and that he shall follow and serve such a teacher, as long as the instruction lasts.
Status of Brahmin is acquired by deeds and not by name
10. As per Manu Smriti, one has to earn the qualification of Brahmin. During childhood, parents are supposed to send their children for specialized education of Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaishya depending on observed nature of children. So many Brahmin parents may desire that their children also become Brahmins. However that is not sufficient. One becomes Brahmin only if he completes the education and not merely by taking birth in a Brahmin family or taking admission in Brahmin course of a gurukul.
2.157: A Brahmin devoid of education is equivalent to an elephant made of wood or a deer made of leather. They are merely namesake and not real.
2.28: The body is made fit to be called Brahmin only through study of scriptures, discipline, noble selfless deeds, study of duties, science and meditation, charity and goal oriented actions.
Education is true birth
11. As per Manu, actual birth happens after completion of education. All human beings are Shudras or uneducated when born. Those who complete their education are supposed to have a new birth. Thus they are called Dwija or Twice Born. Those who were unable to complete the education remain Shudra. This has nothing to do with birth or heredity. This is pure meritocracy.
2.148: When a teacher who is well-versed in Vedas teaches a student the science of Gayatri (that summarizes all principles of Vedas and rational living), then the actual birth of the student takes place. This birth is free from risks of death or destruction and leads the student to immortality.
Thus, forget about being a Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaishya, one is not considered even a human unless he/she receives education.
2.146: The teacher who provides education is a father who is much greater than the father who gave birth. The knowledge provided by the teacher remains with the soul even after the death and leads him to immortality. But the body provided by father destroys when death comes.
2.147: The birth that happens from womb of mother after parents desire for procreation is an ordinary birth. Real birth happens when the person completes his education.
Thus, citing lineage to showcase casteist superiority is an extremely foolish act as per Manu Smriti. Instead of quoting the clan, one becomes superior by showcasing that he is more educated.
10.4: Brahmin, Kashtriya and Vaishya take second birth after education. Shudra who could not complete education is fourth Varna. There is no fifth Varna among Arya or noble people.
This also means that merely because a person did not complete education does not make him a villain. He is still regarded as a noble person if his deeds are noble.
And if he completes the education, he can become a Dwija as well. Thus Shudra is an adjective and NOT a nomenclature for any castes.
Examples of Varna migration in ancient history
13. The concept of Varnas – Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra – being merit based and NOT birth based is not merely a theoretical concept. It was practiced in ancient era. The greatest misery befell on us when our misguided ancestors converted this scientific meritocracy into a foolish birth-based system causing all the miseries we face today.
Here are some examples:
a. Aitareya Rishi was son of a Daasa or criminal but became a Brahmin of highest order and wrote Aitareya Brahman and Aitareyopanishad. Aitareya Brahman is considered critical to understand Rigveda.
b. Ailush Rishi was son of a Daasi, gambler and of low character. However he researched on Rigveda and made several discoveries. Not only was he invited by Rishis but also made an Acharya. (Aitareya Brahman 2.19)
c. Satyakaam Jaabaal was son of a prostitute but became a Brahmin.
d. Prishadh was son of King Daksha but became a Shudra. Further he did Tapasya to achieve salvation after repenting. (Vishnu Puran 4.1.14)
Had Tapasya been banned for Shudra as per the fake story from Uttar Ramayan, how could Prishadh do so?
e. Nabhag, son of King Nedishtha became Vaishya. Many of his sons again became Kshatriya. (Vishnu Puran 4.1.13)
f. Dhrist was son of Nabhag (Vaishya) but became Brahmin and his son became Kshatriya (VP 4.2.2)
g. Further in his generation, some became Brahmin again (VP 9.2.23)
h. As per Bhagvat, Agniveshya became Brahmin though born to a king.
i. Rathotar born in Kshatriya family became a Brahmin as per Vishnu Puran and Bhagvat.
j. Haarit became Brahmin though born to Kshatriya (VP 4.3.5)
k. Shaunak became Brahmin though born in Kshatriya family. (VP 4.8.1). In fact, as per Vayu Puran, Vishnu Puran and Harivansh Puran, sons of Shaunak Rishi belonged to all four Varnas.
Similar examples exist of Gritsamad, Veethavya and Vritsamati.
l. Matanga was son of Chandal but became a Brahmin. (Mahabharat Anushasan Parva Chapter 3)
m. Raavan was born from Pulatsya Rishi but became a Rakshas.
n. Pravriddha was son of Raghu King but became a Rakshas.
o. Trishanku was a king but became a Chandal.
p. Sons of Vishwamitra became Shudra. Vishwamitra himself was a Kshatriya who later became a Brahmin.
q. Vidur was son of a servant but became a Brahmin and minister of Hastinapur empire.
r. Vatsa became a Rishi though born to a Shudra (Aitareya Brahman 2.19)
s. Many verses of adulterated Manu Smriti (10.43-44) state that certain castes were earlier Kshtariya but became Shudra later. These verses are adulterated but prove that concept of Varna migration did exist. The castes mentioned are: Paundrak, Audru, Dravid, Kamboj, Yavan, Shak, Parad, Palhava, Cheen, Kirat, Darad, Khash.
t. Mahabharat Anushasana Parva 35.17-18 adds the following to above list: Mekal, Laat, Kanvashira, Shaundik, Daarva, Chaur, Shabar, Barbar.
u. Several gotras are common across Brahmins, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Dalits implying that all of them hailed from same family but rather got entrapped in the stupid casteism.
Respect for Shudras
14. Manu was a great humanitarian. He knew that not all Shudras miss their education deliberately. He also understood that just because one ignored education in early part of his life does not mean that he should be penalized for that mistake for entire life. Thus he ensured that even Shudras get their due respect in society. Thus he never used any insulting adjective for Shudras. On contrary their are several instances of Manu using respectful adjectives for Shudras.
Being vulnerable due to lack of education, Shudras deserve greater sensitivity in treatment from rest of the society as per Manu. We have seen some examples of these earlier.
Here are some more:
3.112: If a Shudra or Vaishya comes as a guest, the family should feed him with due respect.
3.116: A householder should eat from remaining food only after he has fed the scholars and servants (Shudras) to their satisfaction.
2.137: A very old Shudra deserves more respect than anyone else regardless of their wealth, company, age, actions or knowledge. This special provision is accorded only to Shudra.
Vedas are foundation of Manu Smriti
15. No text apart from Vedas is free from potential for interpolations. To understand why Vedas are immune to tampering, please review http://agniveer.com/2697/why-vedas-cannot-be-changed/
That is why Vedas are accorded such high importance in our culture. Vedas form the foundation of everything else and hence if Vedas are conserved, other texts can be derived by seers in future as well.
16. Thus the benchmark for interpreting any other scriptural text is the Vedas. They are to be interpreted and accepted only to extent they comply with Vedas. This is true for ALL texts including Smritis, Brahmans, Mahabharat, Ramayan, Geeta, Upanishads, Ayurveda, Neeti Shastra, Darshans etc.
17. Manu himself announces in the Manu Smriti that Vedas alone form the foundation of Dharma. Refer 2.8-2.11
(Manu 2.8: A learned man after fully scrutinising all this with the eye of knowledge, should, in accordance with the authority of the Vedas, intent on the performance of his duties.)
Thus, it becomes clear that Manu Smriti has to be interpreted ONLY in lines with Vedas.
Shudras have right to study Vedas and conduct Vedic rituals
18. Vedas very clearly provide right to Shudras (and women) – in fact entire humanity – to study Vedas and conduct Vedic rituals like Yajna. Refer Yajurveda 26.1, Rigveda 10.53.4, Nirukta 3.8 etc. Also refer our series on Vedic Caste System at http://agniveer.com/series/caste-system-3/
Thus Manu Smriti also supports the same Vedic truth. That is why nowhere in the context of Upanayan (education initiation) does Manu forbid Upanayan or sacred thread for Shudras. On contrary, one who refuses to accept Sacred Thread of education is called a Shudra!
19. In lines with Vedas, Manu also orders the ruler to ensure that the salary and perks of Shudras be never reduced in any circumstance. (7.125-126, 8.216)
To summarize, the assumption of Manu formulating a birth-based caste system is baseless. On contrary, Manu Smriti is vehemently against any reference to family or birth to judge a person. The Varna system of Manu is a pure meritocracy.
Each human has all the 4 Varnas – Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. Manu attempted to organize the predominant Varna of each individual in social context in a manner that aids individual and collective uplift.
We shall review the other two allegations on Manu prescribing harsh punishments for Shudras and preferential treatment for Brahmins; and being anti-woman in subsequent articles.
But we would like to conclude this part from what Manu himself said about fraud and wrong practices.
He says in 4.30 that frauds, wrong practices, deceit, perversion and falsehood should not be respected even by words.
Caste system based on birth is one of the most disgusting fraudulent deceitful perverted and false practices to exist among civilized human beings. And thus, as per Manu and as per Vedas, one should work to destroy this criminal practice by all means – harshest words and strongest actions. To show soft corner to birth-based caste system even in words is against Manu.
Wait Wait Wait Agniveer!
Before you end, I demand you to explain those perverted verses of Manu Smriti that are quoted everywhere to justify birth-based casteism and gender discrimination. I can provide hundreds of such shlokas from Manu Smriti.
That is the point my friend. How can the same Manu Smriti have both verses defending as well as rejecting birth-based casteism? This means that Manu Smriti demands a closer scrutiny. We shall also do the same in a future article. But in summary:
a. The current Manu Smriti is full of interpolated/ adulterated verses that were added much later for various reasons. Almost 50% of Manu Smriti is actually fake.
b. Interpolation is not a problem with Manu Smriti. Apart from Vedas – that are preserved through a unique Patha and Swara method – all other texts of almost all belief systems are prone to modifications, interpolations and deletions. These include Ramayana, Mahabharat, Bible, Quran. Not to talk of texts like Bhavishya Puran that continued to be modified till printing press arrived!
c. Three editions of Ramayan are available today – Dakshinatya, Pashchamottariya and Gaudiya which are different. Even Geetapress Gorakhpur has indicated many chapters as adulterated (Prakshipta). Most scholars agree that Balkanda and Uttarkanda are grossly adulterated.
Similarly Mahabharat is known to be a grossly interpolated text. Garud Puran Brahmakanda 1.59 states that in Kaliyuga many frauds are posing as Brahmins to remove certain shlokas and add new ones in Mahabharat.
Mahabharat Shantiparva 265.9, 4 itself states that Vedic texts clearly prohibit alcohol, fish and meat. All these have been propagated by frauds who have added such verses in scriptures through deceit.
Original version of Bible does not exist today! We only have translations of translations of some translations of the original Bible which no one has ever seen.
Quran also is claimed to be a modified version of original teachings of Muhammad. Refer http://satyagni.com/3118/miracle-islam/
Thus no wonder Manu Smriti – the oldest text on social systems – is also prone to modifications. More so because Manu Smriti historically had the greatest influence in day to day life of each citizen as well as politics of the nation. After all it was like the constitution for centuries. Thus the incentives for a crooked one to interpolate Manu Smriti were very high.
d. When we review Manu Smriti, we find 4 kinds of interpolations: to bring completeness, for selfish reasons, to exaggerate and to bring defects. Most of these interpolations are blatantly obvious. Dr Surendra Kumar has written a detailed translation of Manu Smriti in Hindi that analyzes each shloka on various parameters to weed out those verses that are obviously interpolated.
He has deduced that of the 2685 shlokas of Manu Smriti, at least 1471 shlokas are adulterated. He has classified the adulterations as :
- out of subject
- out of context
- difference in usage and style
- blatant contradiction with Vedas
We recommend all keen students of Vedic texts to procure a copy of Manu Smriti by Dr Surendra Kumar (published by Aarsh Sahitya Prachar Trust, Delhi) from www.vedicbooks.com which would make this point as transparent as air.
e. Dr Surendra Kumar is not the only person to point out adulterations in Manu Smriti. Even many a western indologists like Macdonnell, Keith, Buhler etc have expressed the same.
f. Even BR Ambedkar accepted that ancient scriptures have been adulterated. He has alleged adulterations in Ramayan, Mahabharat, Geeta, Purans and even in Vedas. He cited contradictory verses from Manu Smriti. But he tactfully desisted from calling these verses of Manu Smriti as adulterated.
This myopic act of Ambedkar did make him a hero of Dalit movement. It did stir up an anti-Manu movement and created political careers for many a politicians including Ambedkar himself. But this selective honesty only worsened the caste-based hatred and made Manu – a true hero – a popular villain.
Even so-called Arya Samaji Sanyasis like Agnivesh burnt copies of Manu Smriti and disgraced the great Rishi only to score political brownies. Though he very well knew that Swami Dayanand himself had asserted that Manu Smriti has been interpolated but the unadulterated verses of Manu Smriti form the foundation of his Vedic ideology.
And now people expect such enlightened people to be instrumental in eradicating corruption from the nation by being masterminds of Anna Hazare movement! We seem to never learn from history! But thats a different story.
Manu Smriti has been subject to significant adulterations. However the adulterated verses are easy to identify and trash. The rest of the Manu Smriti is an excellent text that establishes the foundations of a meritocracy based rational society that values each individual and ensures collective success.
Vedas form the foundation of original Manu Smriti.
The existing movement against Manu Smriti is purely a political game led by those who never reviewed Manu Smriti in first place.
True Manuvaad refers to complete outright rejection of birth-based caste system and heavy punishment for those who justify discrimination on basis of birth. It also refers to refusal of word ‘Dalit’ or ‘crushed one’ for certain people who are completely equal to rest of the humanity in all aspects.
Let us all work to install this Manuvaad in our society by working towards a completely casteless and merit-based society. This is the only way to save humanity and the nation.
Let us follow the true Dharma – that is same for all human beings regardless of caste, birth, gender, geography, religion and other baseless parameters.
Manu Smriti 8.17: Dharma or noble deeds is only one true friend that accompanies one ever after death. All others desert one as soon as death has overtaken.
References: Works of Dr Surendra Kumar, Pt Gangaprasad Updhyaya, and Swami Dayanand Saraswati