MANU’S STRANGE PUNISHMENTS FOR BRAHMINS (Post No.7724)

WRITTEN BY LONDON SWAMINATHAN

Post No.7724

Date uploaded in London – 21 March 2020   

Contact – swami_48@yahoo.com

Pictures are taken from various sources for spreading knowledge; this is a non- commercial blog.

Let us continue with the eleventh chapter of Manu smriti. I covered the first 99 slokas/ couplets in my last post on Manava Dharma Sastra.

Let me give my comments on some interesting rules or injunctions –

Following punishments are imposed on brahmins and may be on other two castes in the twice born category.

Though most of these are academic, some interesting rules deserve our attention-

1.Couplets 11-101 and 11- 105 talks about death sentence for theft and sex offence. Some commentators say that the sentence is symbolic which is equivalent to death sentence. Normally brahmins are not punished with death sentence. They are banished.

2.Sins or divided into mortal sins and minor sins (Maha Patakas and Upa patakas).

3.Couplet 11-111 tells us about Virasana. It is interesting to note that Asanas were used in punishments a few thousand years ago.

4.If a student commits an offence then he is asked to ‘sacrifice’ a donkey and wear the donkey skin and beg. See slokas 11-119 and 11-123.

Donkeys are always used to insult someone. King Kharavela of Orissa and Tamil Kings of Sangam age ploughed the land of enemies with donkeys.

5.Sloka/ couplet 11-127 tells us about fractions ¼, 1/8, 1/16 . This type of tables existed even when I studied in school. Indian currency also went up in 3 pies, 6 pies, then 4 annas, 8 annas, 16 annas equal to 192 pies; then India followed the decimal system of one rupee worth of  100 paisas. Even in Indus valley weights, wee see the old system.

6.From 11-132 onwards we see punishments for killing animals. This shows that Ahimsa was valued

7.From 11-143 we read about punishments for cutting tress and destroying plants. Environmental awareness existed even at the time of Manu. The world is raising such slogans only now. Manu was a great thinker with foresight.

8.In slokas 11-148, 11-149, 11-160 etc he talks about herbal treatments. We don’t know the actual effect of them on human body. But use of Ayur Veda is revealed by these slokas.

9.Punishments for drinking, adultery and other sex offences are also listed by Manu. He has touched all aspects of life and prescribed punishment or atonement. He was very strict with Brahmins.

St Paul’s Cathedral in London

Now look at the translation of original slokas

GOLD THEFT

11-100. A Brahmana who has stolen the gold of a Brahmana shall go to the king and, confessing his deed, say, ‘Lord, punish me!’

11-101. Taking from him the club (which he must carry), the king himself shall strike him once, by his death the thief becomes pure; or a Brahmana may purify himself by austerities.

102. He who desires to remove by austerities the guilt of stealing the gold of a Brahmana, shall perform the penance prescribed for the slayer of a Brahmana, (living) in a forest and dressed in garments made of bark.

103. By these penances a twice-born man may remove the guilt incurred by a theft (of gold); but he may atone for connexion with a Guru’s wife by the following penances.

MAHA PATAKAS

DEATH SENTENCE FOR SEX OFFENCE

11-104. He who has violated his Guru’s bed, shall, after confessing his crime, extend himself on a heated iron bed, or embrace the red-hot image of a woman; by dying he becomes pure;

11- 105. Or, having himself cut off his organ and his testicles and having taken them in his joined hands, he may walk straight towards the region of Nirriti (the south-west), until he falls down dead;

106. Or, carrying the foot of a bedstead, dressed in garments of bark and allowing his beard to grow, he may, with a concentrated mind, perform during a whole year the Krikkhra (or hard, penance), revealed by Pragapati, in a lonely forest;

107. Or, controlling his organs, he may during three months continuously perform the lunar penance, (subsisting) on sacrificial food or barley-gruel, in order to remove (the guilt of) violating a Guru’s bed.

MINOR OFFENCES- UPA PATAKAS

11-108. By means of these penances men who have committed mortal sins (Maha pataka) may remove their guilt, but those who committed minor offences, causing loss of caste, (Upapataka, can do it) by the various following penances.

109. He who has committed a minor offence by slaying a cow (or bull) shall drink during (the first) month (a decoction of) barley-grains; having shaved all his hair, and covering himself with the hide (of the slain cow), he must live in a cow-house.

110. During the two (following) months he shall eat a small (quantity of food) without any factitious salt at every fourth meal-time, and shall bathe in the urine of cows, keeping his organs under control.

VIRASANA

11-111. During the day he shall follow the cows and, standing upright, inhale the dust (raised by their hoofs); at night, after serving and worshipping them, he shall remain in the (posture, called) virasana.

112. Controlling himself and free from anger, he must stand when they stand, follow them when they walk, and seat himself when they lie down.

113. (When a cow is) sick, or is threatened by danger from thieves, tigers, and the like, or falls, or sticks in a morass, he must relieve her by all possible means:

114. In heat, in rain, or in cold, or when the wind blows violently, he must not seek to shelter himself, without (first) sheltering the cows according to his ability.

115. Let him not say (a word), if a cow eats (anything) in his own or another’s house or field or on the threshing-floor, or if a calf drinks (milk).

116. The slayer of a cow who serves cows in this manner, removes after three months the guilt which he incurred by killing a cow.

117. But after he has fully performed the penance, he must give to (Brahmanas) learned in the Veda ten cows and a bull, (or) if he does not possess (so much property) he must offer to them all he has.

118. Twice-born men who have committed (other) minor offences (Upapataka), except a student who has broken his vow (Avakirnin), may perform, in order to purify themselves, the same penance or also a lunar penance.

ONE EYED ASS

11-119. But a student who has broken his vow shall offer at night on a crossway to Nirriti a one-eyed ass, according to the rule of the Pakayagnas.

120. Having offered according to the rule oblations in the fire, he shall finally offer (four) oblations of clarified butter to Vata, to Indra, to the teacher (of the gods, Brihaspati) and to Agni, reciting the Rik verse ‘May the Maruts grant me,’ &c.

121. Those who know the Veda declare that a voluntary effusion of semen by a twice-born (youth) who fulfils the vow (of studentship constitutes) a breach of that vow.

122. The divine light which the Veda imparts to the student, enters, if he breaks his vow, the Maruts, Puruhuta (Indra), the teacher (of the gods, Brihaspati) and Pavaka (Fire).

DONKEY SKIN

11-123. When this sin has been committed, he shall go begging to seven houses, dressed in the hide of the (sacrificed) ass, proclaiming his deed.

124. Subsisting on a single (daily meal that consists) of the alms obtained there and bathing at (the time of) the three savanas (morning, noon, and evening), he becomes pure after (the lapse of) one year.

125. For committing with intent any of the deeds which cause loss of caste (Gatibhramsakara), (the offender) shall perform a Samtapana Krikkhra; (for doing it) unintentionally, (the Krikkhra) revealed by Pragapati.

126. As atonement for deeds which degrade to a mixed caste (Samkara), and for those which make a man unworthy to receive gifts (Apatra), (he shall perform) the lunar (penance) during a month; for (acts) which render impure (Malinikaraniya) he shall scald himself during three days with (hot) barley-gruel.

¼ , 1/8 , 1/16

11-127. One fourth (of the penance) for the murder of a Brahmana is prescribed (as expiation) for (intentionally) killing a Kshatriya, one-eighth for killing a Vaisya; know that it is one-sixteenth for killing a virtuous Sudra.

128. But if a Brahmana unintentionally kills a Kshatriya, he shall give, in order to purify himself, one thousand cows and a bull;

129. Or he may perform the penance prescribed for the murderer of a Brahmana during three years, controlling himself, wearing his hair in braids, staying far away from the village, and dwelling at the root of a tree.

130. A Brahmana who has slain a virtuous Vaisya, shall perform the same penance during one year, or he may give one hundred cows and one (bull).

131. He who has slain a Sudra, shall perform that whole penance during six months, or he may also give ten white cows and one bull to a Brahmana.

PUNISHMENTS KILLING ANIMALS

11-132. Having killed a cat, an ichneumon, a blue jay, a frog, a dog, an iguana, an owl, or a crow, he shall perform the penance for the murder of a Sudra;

133. Or he may drink milk during three days, or walk one hundred yoganas, or bathe in a river, or mutter the hymn addressed to the Waters.

134. For killing a snake, a Brahmana shall give a spade of black iron, for a eunuch a load of straw and a masha of lead;

135. For a boar a pot of clarified butter, for a partridge a drona of sesamum-grains, for a parrot a calf two years old, for a crane (a calf) three years old.

136. If he has killed a Hamsa, a Balaka, a heron, a peacock, a monkey, a falcon, or a Bhasa, he shall give a cow to a Brahmana.

137. For killing a horse, he shall give a garment, for (killing) an elephant, five black bulls, for (killing) a goat, or a sheep, a draught-ox, for killing a donkey, (a calf) one year old;

138. But for killing carnivorous wild beasts, he shall give a milch-cow, for (killing) wild beasts that are not carnivorous, a heifer, for killing a camel, one krishnala.

139. For killing adulterous women of the four castes, he must give, in order to purify himself, respectively a leathern bag, a bow, a goat, or a sheep.

140. A twice-born man, who is unable to atone by gifts for the slaughter of a serpent and the other (creatures mentioned), shall perform for each of them, a Krikkhra (penance) in order to remove his guilt.

141. But for destroying one thousand (small) animals that have bones, or a whole cart-load of boneless (animals), he shall perform the penance (prescribed) for the murder of a Sudra.

142. But for killing (small) animals which have bones, he should give some trifle to a Brahmana; if he injures boneless (animals), he becomes pure by a suppressing his breath (pranayama).

PUNISHMENTS FOR CUTTING TREES

11-143. For cutting fruit-trees, shrubs, creepers, lianas, or flowering plants, one hundred Rikas must be muttered.

144. (For destroying) any kind of creature, bred in food, in condiments, in fruit, or in flowers, the expiation is to eat clarified butter.

145. If a man destroys for no good purpose plants produced by cultivation, or such as spontaneously spring up in the forest, he shall attend a cow during one day, subsisting on milk alone.

146. The guilt incurred intentionally or unintentionally by injuring (created beings) can be removed by means of these penances; hear (now, how) all (sins) committed by partaking of forbidden food (or drink, can be expiated).

PUNISHMENTS FOR DRINKING

11-147. He who drinks unintentionally (the spirituous liquor, called) Varuni, becomes pure by being initiated (again); (even for drinking it) intentionally (a penance) destructive to life must not be imposed; that is a settled rule.

11-148. He who has drunk water which has stood in a vessel used for keeping (the spirituous liquor, called) Sura, or other intoxicating drinks, shall drink during five (days and) nights (nothing but) milk in which the Sankhapushpi (plant) has been boiled.

11-149. He who has touched spirituous liquor, has given it away, or received it in accordance with the rule, or has drunk water left by a Sudra, shall drink during three days water in which Kusa-grass has been boiled.

150. But when a Brahmana who has partaken of Soma-juice, has smelt the odour exhaled by a drinker of Sura, he becomes pure by thrice suppressing his breath in water, and eating clarified butter.

151. (Men of) the three twice-born castes who have unintentionally swallowed ordure or urine, or anything that has touched Sura, must be initiated again.

152. The tonsure, (wearing) the sacred girdle, (carrying) a staff, going to beg, and the vows (incumbent on a student), are omitted on the second initiation of twice-born men.

153. But he who has eaten the food of men, whose food must not be eaten, or the leavings of women and Sudras, or forbidden flesh, shall drink barley (-gruel) during seven (days and) nights.

154. A twice-born man who has drunk (fluids that have turned) sour, or astringent decoctions, becomes, though (these substances may) not (be specially) forbidden, impure until they have been digested.

URINE DRINKING

11-155. A twice-born man, who has swallowed the urine or ordure of a village pig, of a donkey, of a camel, of a jackal, of a monkey, or of a crow, shall perform a lunar penance.

156. He who has eaten dried meat, mushrooms growing on the ground, or (meat, the nature of) which is unknown, (or) such as had been kept in a slaughter-house, shall perform the same penance.

157. The atonement for partaking of (the meat of) carnivorous animals, of pigs, of camels, of cocks, of crows, of donkeys, and of human flesh, is a Tapta Krikkhra (penance).

158. If a twice-born man, who has not returned (home from his teacher’s house), eats food, given at a monthly (Sraddha,) he shall fast during three days and pass one day (standing) in water.

159. But a student who on any occasion eats honey or meat, shall perform an ordinary Krikkhra (penance), and afterwards complete his vow (of studentship).

HERBAL TREATMENT

11-160. He who eats what is left by a cat, by a crow, by a mouse (or rat), by a dog, or by an ichneumon, or (food) into which a hair or an insect has fallen, shall drink (a decoction of) the Brahmasuvarkala (plant).

161. He who desires to be pure, must not eat forbidden food, and must vomit up such as he has eaten unintentionally, or quickly atone for it by (various) means of purification.

162. The various rules respecting penances for eating forbidden food have been thus declared; hear now the law of those penances which remove the guilt of theft.

11-PUNISHMENTS FOR THEFT

163. The chief of the twice-born, having voluntarily stolen (valuable) property, grain, or cooked food, from the house of a caste-fellow, is purified by performing Krikkhra (penances) during a whole year.

164. The lunar penance has been declared to be the expiation for stealing men and women, and (for wrongfully appropriating) a field, a house, or the water of wells and cisterns.

165. He who has stolen objects of small value from the house of another man, shall, after restoring the (stolen article), perform a Samtapana Krikkhra for his purification.

166. (To swallow) the five products of the cow (pankagavya) is the atonement for stealing eatables of various kinds, a vehicle, a bed, a seat, flowers, roots, or fruit.

167. Fasting during three (days and) nights shall be (the penance for stealing) grass, wood, trees, dry food, molasses, clothes, leather, and meat.

168. To subsist during twelve days on (uncooked) grains (is the penance for stealing) gems, pearls, coral, copper, silver, iron, brass, or stone.

169. (For stealing) cotton, silk, wool, an animal with cloven hoofs, or one with uncloven hoofs, a bird, perfumes, medicinal herbs, or a rope (the penance is to subsist) during three days (on) milk.

PUNISHMENTS FOR SEX OFFENCES

11-170. By means of these penances, a twice-born man may remove the guilt of theft; but the guilt of approaching women who ought not to be approached (agamya), he may expiate by (the following) penances.

171. He who has had sexual intercourse with sisters by the same mother, with the wives of a friend, or of a son, with unmarried maidens, and with females of the lowest castes, shall perform the penance, prescribed for the violation of a Guru’s bed.

172. He who has approached the daughter of his father’s sister, (who is almost equal to) a sister, (the daughter) of his mother’s sister, or of his mother’s full brother, shall perform a lunar penance.

173. A wise man should not take as his wife any of these three; they must not be wedded because they are (Sapinda-) relatives, he who marries (one of them), sinks low.

174. A man who has committed a bestial crime, or an unnatural crime with a female, or has had intercourse in water, or with a menstruating woman, shall perform a Samtapana Krikkhra.

175. A twice-born man who commits an unnatural offence with a male, or has intercourse with a female in a cart drawn by oxen, in water, or in the day-time, shall bathe, dressed in his clothes.

176. A Brahmana who unintentionally approaches a woman of the Candala or of (any other) very low caste, who eats (the food of such persons) and accepts (presents from them) becomes an outcast; but (if he does it) intentionally, he becomes their equal.

ADULTERY

11-177. An exceedingly corrupt wife let her husband confine to one apartment, and compel her to perform the penance which is prescribed for males in cases of adultery.

178. If, being solicited by a man (of) equal (caste), she (afterwards) is again unfaithful, then a Krikkhra and a lunar penance are prescribed as the means of purifying her.

179. The sin which a twice-born man commits by dallying one night with a Vrishali, he removes in three years, by subsisting on alms and daily muttering (sacred texts).

180. The atonement (to be performed) by sinners (of) four (kinds) even, has been thus declared; hear now the penances for those who have intercourse with outcasts.

181. He who associates with an outcast, himself becomes an outcast after a year, not by sacrificing for him, teaching him, or forming a matrimonial alliance with him, but by using the same carriage or seat, or by eating with him.

182. He who associates with any one of those outcasts, must perform, in order to atone for (such) intercourse, the penance prescribed for that (sinner).

183. The Sapindas and Samanodakas of an outcast must offer (a libation of) water (to him, as if he were dead), outside (the village), on an inauspicious day, in the evening and in the presence of the relatives, officiating priests, and teachers.

184. A female slave shall upset with her foot a pot filled with water, as if it were for a dead person; (his Sapindas) as well as the Samanodakas shall be impure for a day and a night;

185. But thenceforward it shall be forbidden to converse with him, to sit with him, to give him a share of the inheritance, and to hold with him such intercourse as is usual among men;

186. And (if he be the eldest) his right of primogeniture shall be withheld and the additional share, due to the eldest son; and his stead a younger brother, excelling in virtue, shall obtain the share of the eldest.

187. But when he has performed his penance, they shall bathe with him in a holy pool and throw down a new pot, filled with water.

188. But he shall throw that pot into water, enter his house and perform, as before, all the duties incumbent on a relative.

189. Let him follow the same rule in the case of female outcasts; but clothes, food, and drink shall be given to them, and they shall live close to the (family-) house.

190. Let him not transact any business with unpurified sinners; but let him in no way reproach those who have made atonement.

191. Let him not dwell together with the murderers of children, with those who have returned evil for good, and with the slayers of suppliants for protection or of women, though they may have been purified according to the sacred law.

192. Those twice-born men who may not have been taught the Savitri (at the time) prescribed by the rule, he shall cause to perform three Krikkhra (penances) and afterwards initiate them in accordance with the law.

193. Let him prescribe the same (expiation) when twice-born men, who follow forbidden occupations or have neglected (to learn) the Veda, desire to perform a penance.

tags- Manu, Brahmins, Death sentence, Cutting trees, Killing animals

TO BE CONTINUED…………………………….

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