Post No.7942

Date uploaded in London – 8 May 2020   

Contact – swami_48@yahoo.com

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We have come to the last chapter of Manu Smrti. In this 12th chapter he deals with transmigration of souls. He is giving us an interesting list of who will become what if one commits sins. Some of the words he used are not at all understood clearly. If they are translated literally, they will sound very funny.

The interesting things in bullet points:–

*in the first nine couplets the sins done by Mano, Vak and Kaya are explained. This Thought, Word and Deed approach is typical Hindu. In other religions we see sinning. But Hindus show that even thinking bad is also a sin.

*Couplet explains Tri Dandin. Three-pronged attack on evils.

*Three Gunas etc are echoes of Bhagavad Gita.

*Other interesting is a long list of animals to show who are born as such animals.

*If we translate certain words given by Manu, hey will sound like the following:-

12-47 guhyakas- gnomes;

12-49 sadhyas – controlled by suggestion;

12-59 preta – dead body/ ghosts;

12-60 brahma rakshas – brahmin ghost;

12-63 tailapaka – oil drinker ; no commentator knows what it is. Winged animal? Or bird ? or cockroach?

12-71 ulkamukha – comet mouth

12-71 kuutapuutana  – false stinking;

12-72 maitarakshijyotika- ghost who sees with an eye in the anus;

12-72 cailasaka – moth eater

This shows Manu lived long ago and so no commentator can give correct interpretation.

Bhrigu narrated what he heard from Manu. Perhaps there was a big time gap between the two.


From 12-1 to 12-72 Manava Dharma Sastra


12-1. ‘O sinless One, the whole sacred law, applicable to the four castes, has been declared by thee; communicate to us now, according to the truth, the ultimate retribution for their deeds.’

2. To the great sages (who addressed him thus) righteous Bhrigu, sprung from Manu, answered, ‘Hear the decision concerning this whole connexion with actions.’

3. Action, which springs from the mind, from speech, and from the body, produces either good or evil results; by action are caused the various conditions of men, the highest, the middling, and the lowest.

4. Know that the mind is the instigator here below, even to that action which is connected with the body, and which is of three kinds, has three locations, and falls under ten heads.

5. Coveting the property of others, thinking in one’s heart of what is undesirable, and adherence to false doctrines, are the three kinds of sinful mental action.

6. Abusing others, speaking untruth, detracting from the merits of all men, and talking idly, shall be the four kinds of evil verbal action.

7. Taking what has not been given, injuring creatures without the sanction of the law, and holding criminal intercourse with another man’s wife, are declared to be the three kinds of wicked bodily action.

8. A man obtains the result of a good or evil mental act in his mind, that of a verbal act in his speech, that of a bodily act in his body.

9. In consequence of many sinful acts committed with his body, a man becomes in the next birth something inanimate, in consequence of sins committed by speech, a bird, or a beast, and in consequence of mental sins he is re-born in a low caste.



12-10. That man is called a (true) tridandin in whose mind these three, the control over his speech (vagdanda), the control over his thoughts (manodanda), and the control over his body (kayadanda), are firmly fixed.

11. That man who keeps this threefold control over himself with respect to all created beings and wholly subdues desire and wrath, thereby assuredly gains complete success.

12. Him who impels this corporeal Self to action, they call the Kshetragna the knower of the field); but him who does the acts, the wise name the Bhutatman (The Self consisting of the elements).

13. Another internal Self that is generated with all embodied (Kshetragnas) is called Giva, through which (the Kshetragna) becomes sensible of all pleasure and pain in (successive) births.

14. These two, the Great One and the Kshetragna, who are closely united with the elements, pervade him who resides in the multiform created beings.

15. From his body innumerable forms go forth, which constantly impel the multiform creatures to action.

16. Another strong body, formed of particles (of the) five (elements and) destined to suffer the torments (in hell), is produced after death (in the case) of wicked men.

17. When (the evil-doers) by means of that body have suffered there the torments imposed by Yama, (its constituent parts) are united, each according to its class, with those very elements (from which they were taken).

18. He, having suffered for his faults, which are produced by attachment to sensual objects, and which result in misery, approaches, free from stains, those two mighty ones.

19. Those two together examine without tiring the merit and the guilt of that (individual soul), united with which it obtains bliss or misery both in this world and the next.

20. If (the soul) chiefly practises virtue and vice to a small degree, it obtains bliss in heaven, clothed with those very elements.

21. But if it chiefly cleaves to vice and to virtue in a small degree, it suffers, deserted by the elements, the torments inflicted by Yama.

22. The individual soul, having endured those torments of Yama, again enters, free from taint, those very five elements, each in due proportion.

23. Let (man), having recognised even by means of his intellect these transitions of the individual soul (which depend) on merit and demerit, always fix his heart on (the acquisition of) merit.


12-24. Know Goodness (sattva), Activity (ragas), and Darkness (tamas) to be the three qualities of the Self, with which the Great One always completely pervades all existences.

25. When one of these qualities wholly predominates in a body, then it makes the embodied (soul) eminently distinguished for that quality.

26. Goodness is declared (to have the form of) knowledge, Darkness (of) ignorance, Activity (of) love and hatred; such is the nature of these (three) which is (all-) pervading and clings to everything created.

27. When (man) experiences in his soul a (feeling) full of bliss, a deep calm, as it were, and a pure light, then let him know (that it is) among those three (the quality called) Goodness.

28. What is mixed with pain and does not give satisfaction to the soul one may know (to be the quality of) Activity, which is difficult to conquer, and which ever draws embodied (souls towards sensual objects).

29. What is coupled with delusion, what has the character of an undiscernible mass, what cannot be fathomed by reasoning, what cannot be fully known, one must consider (as the quality of) Darkness.

30. I will, moreover, fully describe the results which arise from these three qualities, the excellent ones, the middling ones, and the lowest.

31. The study of the Vedas, austerity, (the pursuit of) knowledge, purity, control over the organs, the performance of meritorious acts and meditation on the Soul, (are) the marks of the quality of Goodness.

32. Delighting in undertakings, want of firmness, commission of sinful acts, and continual indulgence in sensual pleasures, (are) the marks of the quality of Activity.

33. Covetousness, sleepiness, pusillanimity, cruelty, atheism, leading an evil life, a habit of soliciting favours, and inattentiveness, are the marks of the quality of Darkness.

34. Know, moreover, the following to be a brief description of the three qualities, each in its order, as they appear in the three (times, the present, past, and future).

35. When a (man), having done, doing, or being about to do any act, feels ashamed, the learned may know that all (such acts bear) the mark of the quality of Darkness.

36. But, when (a man) desires (to gain) by an act much fame in this world and feels no sorrow on failing, know that it (bears the mark of the quality of) Activity.

37. But that (bears) the mark of the quality of Goodness which with his whole (heart) he desires to know, which he is not ashamed to perform, and at which his soul rejoices.

38. The craving after sensual pleasures is declared to be the mark of Darkness, (the pursuit of) wealth (the mark) of Activity, (the desire to gain) spiritual merit the mark of Goodness; each later) named quality is) better than the preceding one.


Devil on Indus Seals


12-39. I will briefly declare in due order what transmigrations in this whole (world a man) obtains through each of these qualities.

40. Those endowed with Goodness reach the state of gods, those endowed with Activity the state of men, and those endowed with Darkness ever sink to the condition of beasts; that is the threefold course of transmigrations.

41. But know this threefold course of transmigrations that depends on the (three) qualities (to be again) threefold, low, middling, and high, according to the particular nature of the acts and of the knowledge (of each man).

42. Immovable (beings), insects, both small and great, fishes, snakes, and tortoises, cattle and wild animals, are the lowest conditions to which (the quality of) Darkness leads.

43. Elephants, horses, Sudras, and despicable barbarians, lions, tigers, and boars (are) the middling states, caused by (the quality of) Darkness.

44. Karanas, Suparnas and hypocrites, Rakshasas and Pisakas (belong to) the highest (rank of) conditions among those produced by Darkness.

45. Ghallas, Mallas, Natas, men who subsist by despicable occupations and those addicted to gambling and drinking form the lowest order of conditions caused by Activity.

46. Kings and Kshatriyas, the domestic priests of kings, and those who delight in the warfare of disputations constitute the middling rank of the states caused by Activity.

47. The Gandharvas, the Guhyakas, and the servants of the gods, likewise the Apsarases, belong all to the highest rank of conditions produced by Activity.

48. Hermits, ascetics, Brahmanas, the crowds of the Vaimanika deities, the lunar mansions, and the Daityas (form) the first (and lowest rank of the) existences caused by Goodness.

49. Sacrificers, the sages, the gods, the Vedas, the heavenly lights, the years, the manes, and the Sadhyas (constitute) the second order of existences, caused by Goodness.

50. The sages declare Brahma, the creators of the universe, the law, the Great One, and the Undiscernible One (to constitute) the highest order of beings produced by Goodness.

51. Thus (the result) of the threefold action, the whole system of transmigrations which (consists) of three classes, (each) with three subdivisions, and which includes all created beings, has been fully pointed out.

52. In consequence of attachment to (the objects of) the senses, and in consequence of the non-performance of their duties, fools, the lowest of men, reach the vilest births.

53. What wombs this individual soul enters in this world and in consequence of what actions, learn the particulars of that at large and in due order.

54. Those who committed mortal sins (mahapataka), having passed during large numbers of years through dreadful hells, obtain, after the expiration of (that term of punishment), the following births.


tiger women on Indus seals

BIRTH AS DOG, PIG, ASS ………………………..

12-55. The slayer of a Brahmana enters the womb of a dog, a pig, an ass, a camel, a cow, a goat, a sheep, a deer, a bird, a Candala, and a Pukkasa.

56. A Brahmana who drinks (the spirituous liquor called) Sura shall enter (the bodies) of small and large insects, of moths, of birds, feeding on ordure, and of destructive beasts.

57. A Brahmana who steals (the gold of a Brahmana shall pass) a thousand times (through the bodies) of spiders, snakes and lizards, of aquatic animals and of destructive Pisakas.

58. The violator of a Guru’s bed (enters) a hundred times (the forms) of grasses, shrubs, and creepers, likewise of carnivorous (animals) and of (beasts) with fangs and of those doing cruel deeds.

59. Men who delight in doing hurt (become) carnivorous (animals); those who eat forbidden food, worms; thieves, creatures consuming their own kind; those who have intercourse with women of the lowest castes, Pretas.

60. He who has associated with outcasts, he who has approached the wives of other men, and he who has stolen the property of a Brahmana become Brahmarakshasas.



12-61. A man who out of greed has stolen gems, pearls or coral, or any of the many other kinds of precious things, is born among the goldsmiths.

62. For stealing grain (a man) becomes a rat, for stealing yellow metal a Hamsa, for stealing water a Plava, for stealing honey a stinging insect, for stealing milk a crow, for stealing condiments a dog, for stealing clarified butter an ichneumon;

63. For stealing meat a vulture, for stealing fat a cormorant, for stealing oil a winged animal (of the kind called) Tailapaka, for stealing salt a cricket, for stealing sour milk a bird (of the kind called) Balaka.

64. For stealing silk a partridge, for stealing linen a frog, for stealing cotton-cloth a crane, for stealing a cow an iguana, for stealing molasses a flying-fox;

65. For stealing fine perfumes a musk-rat, for stealing vegetables consisting of leaves a peacock, for stealing cooked food of various kinds a porcupine, for stealing uncooked food a hedgehog.

66. For stealing fire he becomes a heron, for stealing household-utensils a mason-wasp, for stealing dyed clothes a francolin-partridge;

67. For stealing a deer or an elephant a wolf, for stealing a horse a tiger, for stealing fruit and roots a monkey, for stealing a woman a bear, for stealing water a black-white cuckoo, for stealing vehicles a camel, for stealing cattle a he-goat.

68. That man who has forcibly taken away any kind of property belonging to another, or who has eaten sacrificial food (of) which (no portion) had been offered, inevitably becomes an animal.



12-69. Women, also, who in like manner have committed a theft, shall incur guilt; they will become the females of those same creatures (which have been enumerated above).

70. But (men of the four) castes who have relinquished without the pressure of necessity their proper occupations, will become the servants of Dasyus, after migrating into despicable bodies.

71. A Brahmana who has fallen off from his duty (becomes) an Ulkamukha Preta, who feeds on what has been vomited; and a Kshatriya, a Kataputana (Preta), who eats impure substances and corpses.

12-72. A Vaisya who has fallen off from his duty becomes a Maitrakshagyotika Preta, who feeds on pus; and a Sudra, a Kailasaka (Preta, who feeds on moths).

To be continued……………………….

tags – – Manu 12th Chapter, Transmigration, Ten sins

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