|Publisher||CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform|
|Publication Date||April 21, 2016|
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"The Laws of Manu" is the English designation commonly applied to the "Manava Dharma-sastra", a metrical Sanskrit compendium of ancient sacred laws and customs held in the highest reverence by the orthodox adherents of Brahmanism. The Brahmins themselves credit the work with a divine origin and a remote antiquity. Its reputed author is Manu, the mythical survivor of the Flood and father of the human race, the primitive teacher of sacred rites and laws now enjoying in heaven the dignity of an omniscient deity. The "Laws of Manu" consists of 2684 verses, divided into twelve chapters. In the first chapter is related the creation of the world by a series of emanations from the self-existent deity, the mythical origin of the book itself, and the great spiritual advantage to be gained by the devout study of its contents. Chapters two to six inclusive set forth the manner of life and regulation of conduct proper to the members of the three upper castes, who have been initiated into the Brahmin religion by the sin-removing ceremony known as the investiture with the sacred cord. First is described the period of studentship, a time of ascetic discipline devoted to the study of the Vedas under a Brahmin teacher. Then the chief duties of the householder are rehearsed, his choice of a wife, marriage, maintenance of the sacred hearth-fire, sacrifices to the gods, feasts to his departed relatives exercise of hospitality. The numerous restrictions also, regulating his daily conduct, are discussed in detail especially in regard to his dress, food, conjugal relations, and ceremonial cleanness. After this comes the description of the kind of life exacted of those who choose to spend their declining years as hermits and ascetics. The seventh chapter sets forth the divine dignity and the manifold duties and responsibilities of kings, offering on the whole a high ideal of the kingly office. The eighth chapter treats of procedure in civil and criminal lawsuits and of the proper punishments to be meted out to different classes of criminals. The next two chapters make known the customs and laws governing divorce, inheritance, the rights of property, and the occupations lawful for each caste. Chapter eleven is chiefly occupied with the various kinds of penance to be undergone by those who would rid themselves of the evil consequences of their misdeeds. The last chapter expounds the doctrine of karma, involving rebirths in the ascending or descending scale, according to the merits or demerits of the present life. The closing verses are devoted to the pantheistic scheme of salvation leading to absorption into the all-embracing, impersonal deity.
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