MANU ON WOMEN’S PROTECTION (Post No.6645)

WRITTEN BY London Swaminathan


swami_48@yahoo.com


Date: 18 JULY 2019


British Summer Time uploaded in London – 7-14 AM

Post No. 6645


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I have already covered the first 8 chapters of Manava Dharma Sastra, also known as Manu Smrti. Ninth chapter is used by Anti Manu lobby saying that Manu was anti women. But the lobbyists chose the slokas they like and hide the more important statements of Manu. There is no book in the ancient world that supports women like Manu.

Even in this chapter he compared women to Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Prosperity) and praised them as Lamps of Houses.

Manu’s statement in this chapter is translated by Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar in one or two couplets. Manu’s description of women as lamps is translated by Sangam Tail poets as well.

Manu’s words against bad women are found in all literatures and scriptures of the world. In fact we see such warnings even in the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in his warning about Kamini- Kanchana (temptation of women and gold).

Throughout Kamba Ramayana (in Tamil) also we read anti women statements. And in the verses of Arunagirinathar and Pattinathar we see more of such statements.

All those who criticised Manu hide all his praises for women:

“All body parts of women are pure.

If a woman cries in a family that family will be destroyed completely.

Brothers must buy their sisters clothes and jewels and keep them ever happy.

Husbands can’t do any rituals without wives.

Killing women is never allowed”.

There are many more such praises heaped on women by Manu. So one must read the slokas and interpret them in the right context. Following sloka/verse is oft quoted by anti Hindu politicians and socalled scholars.

पिता रक्षति कौमारे भर्ता रक्षति यौवने । 
रक्षन्ति स्थविरे पुत्रा न स्त्री स्वातन्त्र्यमर्हति ॥ 9-३ ॥

pitā rakṣati kaumāre bhartā rakṣati yauvane | 
rakṣanti sthavire putrā na strī svātantryamarhati || 9-3 ||

The father guards/protects her during virginity, the husband guards/protects her in youth, the sons guard/protect her in old age; WOMEN SHOULD NEVER BE LEFT UNGURADED/UNPROTECTED (literal translation- the woman is never fit for independence.—(9-iii)).

In the above verse ‘Rakshati = protected’ is used thrice. That shows that a woman should never be left un protected, should not be left in the lurch.

In fact, Tamils go further and say that the same man should be her husband in her following births.

(One Facebook friend joked on this- Oh my God; I have trained him all these years; that should not go waste; Please make him my husband in the next birth also!)

Tamils also say that a chaste woman who worships her husband can command nature. If a woman goes to bed later and gets up before her husband and worship him like God, she can command rain.(Tirukkural 55)

This is an echo of Manu 5-155

Tirukkural couplet 56 in Tamil is a translation of Manu 9-12

Now let us look at the verses in order and I will highlight the important ones.

MANU -Chapter- 9

9-1. I will now propound the eternal laws for a husband and his wife who keep to the path of duty, whether they be united or separated.

2. Day and night woman must be kept in dependence by the males (of) their families, and, if they attach themselves to sensual enjoyments, they must be kept under one’s control.

9-3. Her father protects her in childhood, her husband protects her in youth, and her sons protect her in old age; a woman is never left without support.

4. Reprehensible is the father who gives not his daughter in marriage at the proper time; reprehensible is the husband who approaches not his wife in due season, and reprehensible is the son who does not protect his mother after her husband has died.

5. Women must particularly be guarded against evil inclinations, however trifling they may appear; for, if they are not guarded, they will bring sorrow on two families.

6. Considering that the highest duty of all castes, even weak husbands must strive to guard their wives.

7. He who carefully guards his wife, preserves the purity of his offspring, virtuous conduct, his family, himself, and his means of acquiring merit.

Son is husband’s replica

9-8. The husband, after conception by his wife, becomes an embryo and is born again of her; for that is the wifehood of a wife (jaya), that he is born (jayate) again by her.

9. As the male is to whom a wife cleaves, even so is the son whom she brings forth; let him therefore carefully guard his wife, in order to keep his offspring pure.

10. No man can completely guard women by force; but they can be guarded by the employment of the following expedients:

11. Let the husband) employ his wife in the collection and expenditure of his wealth, in keeping everything clean, in the fulfilment of religious duties, in the preparation of his food, and in looking after the household utensils.

9-12. Women, confined in the house under trustworthy and obedient servants, are not well guarded; but those who of their own accord keep guard over themselves, are well guarded. (Tirukkural 56 in Tamil say the same)

Six causes for women’s ruin

13. Drinking (spirituous liquor), associating with wicked people, separation from the husband, rambling abroad, sleeping (at unseasonable hours), and dwelling in other men’s houses, are the six causes of the ruin of women.

14. Women do not care for beauty, nor is their attention fixed on age; thinking), ‘It is enough that he is a man,’ they give themselves to the handsome and to the ugly.

15. Through their passion for men, through their mutable temper, through their natural heartlessness, they become disloyal towards their husbands, however carefully they may be guarded in this world.

Women are frail; men must protect them

16. Knowing their disposition, which the Lord of creatures laid in them at the creation, to be such, every man should most strenuously exert himself to guard them.

17. (When creating them) Manu allotted to women a love of their bed, of their seat and of ornament, impure desires, wrath, dishonesty, malice, and bad conduct.

18. For women no sacramental rite is performed with sacred texts, thus the law is settled; women who are destitute of strength and destitute of the knowledge of Vedic texts, (are as impure as) falsehood (itself), that is a fixed rule.

19. And to this effect many sacred texts are sung also in the Vedas, in order to (make) fully known the true disposition (of women); hear (now those texts which refer to) the expiation of their (sins).

20. ‘If my mother, going astray and unfaithful, conceived illicit desires, may my father keep that seed from me,’ that is the scriptural text.

21. If a woman thinks in her heart of anything that would pain her husband, the (above-mentioned text) is declared (to be a means for) completely removing such infidelity.

(Verses 20,21 are based on Grhya sutras and Srauta sutras)

22. Whatever be the qualities of the man with whom a woman is united according to the law, such qualities even she assumes, like a river united with the ocean.

Lowest caste woman became the most respected woman in the world

Arundhati is the most praised woman in Sangam Tamil literature and Puranas. She was known as Akshamala

9-23. Akshamala, a woman of the lowest birth, being united to Vasishtha and Sarangi, (being united) to Mandapala, became worthy of honour.

24. These and other females of low birth have attained eminence in this world by the respective good qualities of their husbands.

25. Thus has been declared the ever pure popular usage which regulates the relations between husband and wife; hear (next) the laws concerning children which are the cause of happiness in this world and after death.

Women are lamps of houses; women are Goddess Lakshmi

9-26. Between wives (striyah) who are destined to bear children, who secure many blessings, who are worthy of worship and irradiate their dwellings, and between the goddesses of fortune (sriyah, who reside) in the houses of men, there is no difference whatsoever.

Another translation of 9-26

There is no difference at all between the Goddesses of good fortune who live in houses and women who are the lamps of the houses, worthy of reverence and greatly blessed because of their children.

27. The production of children, the nurture of those born, and the daily life of men, (of these matters) woman is visibly the cause.

Wife is foundation

28. Offspring, the due performance on religious rites, faithful service, highest conjugal happiness and heavenly bliss for the ancestors and oneself, depend on one’s wife alone.

29. She who, controlling her thoughts, speech, and acts, violates not her duty towards her lord, dwells with him (after death) in heaven, and in this world is called by the virtuous a faithful (wife, sadhvi)

30. But for disloyalty to her husband a wife is censured among men, and (in her next life) she is born in the womb of a jackal and tormented by diseases, the punishment of her sin.

31. Listen (now) to the following holy discussion, salutary to all men, which the virtuous (of the present day) and the ancient great sages have held concerning male offspring.

32. They (all) say that the male issue (of a woman) belongs to the lord, but with respect to the (meaning of the term) lord the revealed texts differ; some call the begetter (of the child the lord), others declare (that it is) the owner of the soil.

Men are seeds- women are fields

33. By the sacred tradition the woman is declared to be the soil, the man is declared to be the seed; the production of all corporeal beings (takes place) through the union of the soil with the seed.

34. In some cases the seed is more distinguished, and in some the womb of the female; but when both are equal, the offspring is most highly esteemed.

35. On comparing the seed and the receptacle (of the seed), the seed is declared to be more important; for the offspring of all created beings is marked by the characteristics of the seed.

36. Whatever (kind on seed is sown in a field, prepared in due season, (a plant) of that same kind, marked with the peculiar qualities of the seed, springs up in it.

37. This earth, indeed, is called the primeval womb of created beings; but the seed develops not in its development any properties of the womb.

38. In this world seeds of different kinds, sown at the proper time in the land, even in one field, come forth (each) according to its kind.

39. The rice (called) vrihi and (that called) sali, mudga-beans, sesamum, masha-beans, barley, leeks, and sugar-cane, (all) spring up according to their seed.

9-40. That one (plant) should be sown and another be produced cannot happen; whatever seed is sown, (a plant of) that kind even comes forth.

41. Never therefore must a prudent well-trained man, who knows the Veda and its Angas and desires long life, cohabit with another’s wife.

42. With respect to this (matter), those acquainted with the past recite some stanzas, sung by Vayu (the Wind, to show) that seed must not be sown by (any) man on that which belongs to another.

43. As the arrow, shot by (a hunter) who afterwards hits a wounded (deer) in the wound (made by another), is shot in vain, even so the seed, sown on what belongs to another, is quickly lost (to the sower).

Prithivi/ husband  and Pruthu/ wife

9-44. Sages, who know the past call this earth (prithivi) even the wife of Prithu; they declare a field to belong to him who cleared away the timber, and a deer to him who (first) wounded it.

45. He only is a perfect man who consists (of three persons united), his wife, himself, and his offspring; thus (says the Veda), and (learned) Brahmanas propound this (maxim) likewise, ‘The husband is declared to be one with the wife.’

46. Neither by sale nor by repudiation is a wife released from her husband; such we know the law to be, which the Lord of creatures (Pragapati) made of old.

47. Once is the partition (of the inheritance) made, (once is) a maiden given in marriage, (and) once does (a man) say,’ I will give;’ each of those three (acts is done) once only.

48. As with cows, mares, female camels, slave-girls, buffalo-cows, she-goats, and ewes, it is not the begetter (or his owner) who obtains the offspring, even thus (it is) with the wives of others.

49. Those who, having no property in a field, but possessing seed-corn, sow it in another’s soil, do indeed not receive the grain of the crop which may spring up.

Bull and Calves Simile

50. If (one man’s) bull were to beget a hundred calves on another man’s cows, they would belong to the owner of the cows; in vain would the bull have spent his strength.

51. Thus men who have no marital property in women, but sow their seed in the soil of others, benefit the owner of the woman; but the giver of the seed reaps no advantage.

52. If no agreement with respect to the crop has been made between the owner of the field and the owner of the seed, the benefit clearly belongs to the owner of the field; the receptacle is more important than the seed.

53. But if by a special contract (a field) is made over (to another) for sowing, then the owner of the seed and the owner of the soil are both considered in this world as sharers of the (crop).

Seed and Field Simile

54. If seed be carried by water or wind into somebody’s field and germinates (there), the (plant sprung from that) seed belongs even to the owner of the field, the owner of the seed does not receive the crop.

55. Know that such is the law concerning the offspring of cows, mares, slave-girls, female camels, she-goats, and ewes, as well as of females of birds and buffalo-cows.

56. Thus the comparative importance of the seed and of the womb has been declared to you; I will next propound the law (applicable) to women in times of misfortune.

–to be continued

–subham–

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