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Manu Smrti: Not a Religious Book:

"The Seniority of Brahmanas is from Sacred Knowledge, that of Kshatriyas from valour, that of Vaisyas from wealth in grain, but that of Sudras is from age alone."  (Manu Smriti II, 155)

"Manu has declared that those Brahmanas who are thieves, outcasts, eunuchs, or atheists are unworthy to partake of oblations offered to gods and ancestors."   (Manu Smriti III, 150)

" A Brahmin who departs from the Rule of Noble Conduct, does not gain the fruit described in the Veda, but he who duly follows the Rule of Noble Conduct, will obtain the full reward."  (Manu Smriti I,109)

" He who possesses faith may receive pure learning even from a man of lower caste, the highest law even from the lowest, and an excellent wife even from a base family."   (Manu Smriti II, 238)

Manu Smrti which outlines the scheme of the four varnas (socio-economic classes) and four ashramas (stages of life of the individual) refuses a provide for the fifth varna. The four classes are adequate to cover all the sections of the society. Manu Smrti is a sociological treatise and not a religious or theological work. It has never been held on par with the Vedas and has never been claimed to be a Holy Book whose authority is unquestionable. Manu Smrti does not deal with the Absolute, a field specialized in by the Upanishads. Manu Smrti is as this-worldly as the Arthasastra is.  Manu was also only a Codifier (Documenter of the then-existing codes) of the Caste System and was not to be interpreted as the creator of the Caste System. 

" Only the British administrators and jurists who dominated the scene since 1757 found it expedient for their purposes to present it as a religious code binding all the Hindus. The original text of Manu Smrti has been tampered with is acknowledged by Sir William Jones who introduced it as the law book of the Hindus, as he agrees that ' it is accommodated to the improvements of a commercial age'. The extant text of Manu Smrti is a doctored version, doctored to benefit the commercial class of Britain which had sponsored the East India Company, the company for which he was serving as a judge at Calcutta." 

(source: Origins of Hindu Social System - By V. Nagarajan ISBN 81-7192-017-9 p 3-11).

Varnashrama Dharma, said to be the mainstay of the Hindu Social Order has no sanction in the Vedas. 

In ancient India, these divisions were not based on birth but based on qualifications. According to the Bhagavad Gita this Aryan family system broke down in India over three thousand years ago at the time of Krishna. Hence after three thousand years this system of determining natural aptitude has degenerated into the caste system which resembles it now only in form.

Manu made it clear that superiority is not by birth but by Conduct. This Principle was further emphasized later by Maharishi Veda Vyasa in Mahabharata. Manu himself says that if there is anything in his Smriti which is not acceptable to the conscience of any person, that person should reject it and act according to his/her own conscience.

"For choosing your course of conduct at any time and place, keep in view the instructions given first in Sruti (Vedas), then in Smritis, Itihaas (History of great personalities) and finally you act according to your conscience." 
(Manu Smriti, 11, 6).
 

"Just as a wooden toy elephant cannot be real elephant, and a stuffed deer cannot be a real deer, so, without studying scriptures and the Vedas and the development of intellect, a Brahmin by birth cannot be considered a Brahmin. "
 - Manu Smriti 11 - 157). 

***

Louis Francois Jacolliot (1837-1890), who worked in French India as a government official and was at one time President of the Court in Chandranagar, translated numerous Vedic hymns, the Manusmriti, and the Tamil work, Kural. His masterpiece, La Bible dans l'Inde, stirred a storm of controversy.

Manu – Hindoo Law 

The Hindoo law were codified by Manu more than 3,000 years before the Christian era, copied by entire antiquity and notably by Rome, which alone has left us a written law – the code of Justanian, which has been adopted as the base of all modern legislations.   

Jurisprudence 

“Observe, enpassant, this striking coincidence with French law, that the Hindoo wife, in default of her husband’s authority may release from her incapacity, by authority of justice. “  “The contract made by a man who is drunk, foolish, imbecile or grievously disordered in his mental condition….” Manu further adds – “What is held under comprehension – held by force is declared null.” 

Would not this be thought a mere commentary on the Code of Napoleon? Of 4-5,000 years after “How far is all this from those barbarous customs of first ages, when every question was solved by violence and force, and what admiration should we feel for a people who, at the epoch at which Biblical fall would date the world’s creation, had already reached the extraordinary degree of civilization indicated by laws so simple and so practical.” 

(source: La Bible dans l'Inde - By Louis Jacolliot  p. 40 - 45). For more on Louis Jacolliot refer to Quotes61-80).

Caste system and Code of Manu

The Hindus have been an intensely practical people.  The magnificence of daring glimpses into the cosmos as their meditations or scientific investigations revealed to them, convinced them beyond doubt that the complexity of earthly existence could be reduced to some order and the march of human progress subjected to some form of control. They embraced in their researches such subjects as astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, ethics, logic, psychology, aesthetics, politics, economics, sociology, and metaphysics. Indeed, in sociology alone, they have left us over twenty treatises; and the Code of Manu, the subject of the present study, is only one of them. 

Manu, Manas, manava, all have the same philological root, man, to think. Manu’s Code, therefore, is a treatise of social relations for human beings. (Manava-dharma-shastra). It lays emphasis on reason, the thinking faculty (manas), in the ordering of man’s social relations. It stands for a planned society. Manu’s social theory is an art of life; it is a technique, not mere congeries of consistent concepts. 

An individual’s life is divided into four parts – 1. studentship, 2 householding 3. partial retirement or hermitage, 4. and complete retirement. Correspondingly, there are four groups: 1. the manual worker, 2. the merchant, 3. the warrior , and 4. the teacher. A unity of function ties each stage of individual life to the corresponding group. This unity, which lays emphasis on harmonious relations, is the dharma, or the ethics of Manu. There are thus presented four social institutions: 1. the educational, 2. the family-economic, 3. the political, 4. and the religious.

(source: Manu: A Study in Hindu Social Theory - by Kewal Motwani  p. 2 – 5).

Stable Human societies 

Alain Danielou says:

"The Hindus assert that their social formula meets the requirements of man’s individual and collective nature. The fact that the Hindu civilization has been able to survive over thousand of years, despite disorders caused by invasions, schisms, and internal wars, and has been capable of constant renewal, as demonstrated by one brilliant period after another, merits all our attention in the study of a social system whose longevity is unique in history."

(source: Virtue, Success, Pleasure, & Liberation : The Four Aims of Life in the Tradition of Ancient India - Alain Danielou p. 29).

***

Aryan Invasion Theory and Caste system

Guy Sorman visiting scholar at Hoover Institution at Stanford and the leader of new liberalism in France, writes:

"The Invasion theory has today become the standard explanation for the caste system, though it came up only in the 19th century. Besides, all we have to attest the Aryan invasion is a specious interpretation of the Mahabharata, which is like searching the origins of European aristocracy in the works of Homer! In any case, it is doubtful whether a single invasion, which was more likely a slow infiltration of the North, could have succeeded in structuring so perfectly Indian society along ethnic lines for over three thousand years. Finally, in South India the caste system among the dark, skinned Dravidians is as rigid as it is in the North, though the Aryans in all probability never reached there. 

The racial origin of caste hypothesis tells us little about India but it does tell us a great deal about the 19th century Westerners who invented the Aryan invasion theory.  It was at the same time that Sieyes and Augustin Thierry claimed that the French nobility was of Germanic stock, whereas the lower classes were of Gallic origin; so the 1789 Revolution was a race war rather than a class war! It was also in the 19th century that appeared the myth of the Indo-Europeans being at the source of all Western civilization and for this we have to thank British authors who were taken up with evolutionist theory. Indian historians trained in Europe have fallen victim to this myth but that does not make it any more authentic. Later on, at the beginning of the 20th century, it became fashionable to support the Marxist theory which replaced race with class, though its premises were just as shaky."

(source: The Genius of India - By Guy Sorman  ('Le Genie de l'Inde') Macmillan India Ltd. 2001. ISBN 0333 93600 0 p. 60-61). 

Refer to chapter on Aryan Invasion Theory. Watch An Invasion through Conversion - videoyahoo.com

Watch video - Brahmins in India have become a minority

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Tirupati Lord goes to Dalit village

On Wednesday evening, Lord Balaji, the diety at the famous Tirupati shrine in Andhra Pradesh, will make history.

He will be spending the night in a Dalit colony at the Thallapaka village.

 

Lord Balaji

The Lord will be spending the night in a Dalit colony at the Thallapaka village.

***

This is part of a programme called Dalita Govindam, initiated by the Tirupati Devasthanam, to fight caste prejudices.

Temple priests will perform sacred rituals at the colony and the colony residents will also be accorded treatment, ususally reserved for important devotees visiting the Tirupati temple. Thallapaka has witnessed several clashes in the past between Dalits and upper caste Hindus over entry into the Tirupati temple.

(source: Tirupati Lord goes to Dalit village - ibnlive.com).

Thousands of Hindus vow to end caste divide
Truth and Reconciliation Conference

New Delhi, March 10 IANS:  Railway porters in their trademark red uniform, Hindu holy men in saffron robes, social activists, large numbers from the middle class...all joined hands here as spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar launched a campaign to end centuries of discrimination against Dalits.  

Leaders of several social groups from within the Hindu community, the Dalits included, were among the 4,000 who gathered at the open air theatre in Pragati Maidan here Friday evening and took a pledge to end the caste divide that Ravi Shankar warned would harm India 's progress in the long run.   A seven-point action plan that Ravi Shankar unveiled at the meeting and which the thousands of men and women accepted with their right hands outstretched included an immediate end to the ban on the entry of Dalits into Hindu temples in parts of India .  The other aspects of the 'action plan' are ending the practice of keeping separate utensils for the use of Dalits in eateries and also providing religious and spiritual education to Dalit children.  

'The anger of the past should not engulf us and divide the country. The fear and communication gap between communities is what is keeping us apart,' he said in a brief address, first in English and then in Hindi. 'We must accept the reality and reconcile the differences.  

'What we have started today will resonate across the country and unite the people. When leaders come together and take a vow, the people will follow them,' he added. 'My main concern is how to bring people together.'  

The organisers pointed out that months of painstaking hard work had gone into the conference, with Ravi Shankar - whose Art of Living Foundation has millions of followers across the world - reaching out to the leaders and activists of a wide variety of social groups in the Hindu fold.  

Present at the 'Truth and Reconciliation Conference' were representatives of the Bhumihar, Valmiki, Brahmin, Dalit, Gujjar, Vanniar, Kayastha, Kshatriya, Kurmi, Mahar, Majhabi, Marwari, Meena, Mushar, Paswan, Raigar, Rajput, Thakur, Thevar, Pasi, Mala, Vaish, Valmiki, Verma and Yadav communities.  

Ravi Shankar pointed out that many were unaware that Dalits had contributed immensely in the development of Hindu scriptures.  

'Historically, many of the revered rishis were Dalits. The authors of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, Maharishis Valmiki and Vyas respectively, were Dalits. The narrator of the Puranas, Soot Maharishi, was a Dalit...We need to make the people realise that discrimination is not sanctioned by religion.'  

Despite legislation making discrimination against Dalits a crime, the offence continues in large parts of India . Many young Dalits have today joined the ranks of Maoists in sheer disgust, convinced that mainstream India does not care for them. Speaker after speaker at the conference praised Ravi Shankar for his initiative and promised to spread the 'action plan' in their areas of influence.  

But Udit Raj, a civil servant-turned-social activist, cautioned that it would need more than a public pledge to end caste discrimination. 'The fact is that the Dalit community to which I belong has no representation in the capital market, in the share market. There is hardly any Dalit among the leading journalists in this country. Can I forget all that?' he said, describing the state of a community that for centuries was considered 'untouchable' by high caste Hindus and made to do demeaning work.  'The wound goes very deep,' Udit Raj said. 'The media calls me a Dalit leader. Why? Do they call Atal Bihari Vajpayee a Brahmin leader? Do they call L.K. Advani a Sindhi leader?  ' India cannot be a superpower unless caste discrimination does not end. I see so many (middle class) volunteers from the so-called upper castes here. But will they attend my rallies too? They won't.' He quickly added: 'But this is the beginning.

(source: Thousands of Hindus vow to end caste divide - haindavakeralam.org).

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