Mahabharata and Manu Smriti on Constitutional Amendments (Post 11,684)


Post No. 11,684

Date uploaded in London – –  18 JANUARY 2023                  

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Laws are not permanent. Indian constitution has been amended over hundred times by the parliament. Laws aren’t applicable to everyone. In India all castes except Brahmins are demanding that they should be declared lowest castes. They want more concessions in everything. Even Ambedkar was ignored who said that concessions should be given only for first 25 years. In the United States, you will be sentenced to death for a few crimes only in some states. I can give you umpteen examples like this.

In my younger days we used to enjoy some jokes. A few of my friends are in the habit of drinking liquor. In those days, my state Tamil Nadu had prohibition. So people who wanted to drink liquor will cross the state border and go to Kerala state, stand in front of Tamil police across the border and drink and dance mocking at them. Only if they cross the border in drunken condition, Tami l police can arrest them. Now everything is changed.

Even Kashmir had special status until Modi government boldly changed it.

Same sex marriage, abortion, drugs , prostitution, tax evasion are debated every day. Some countries allow these things. Indian politicians keep their money in remote islands or Switzerland to dodge taxes.

To cut it short, laws are changeable and it will be never same for every one. The wonder of wonder is that Manu Smrti and Mahabharata said it several thousand years ago.

In the Yaksha Prasna section of the Mahabharata, Yuthisthira makes it clear.

In the Mahabharata the Yaksha asks Yudhishthira about Dharma,

What is the path?

Yudhishthira answered “Arguments and futile revelations conflict. No single Rishi has told the whole truth . The truth of Dharma is mysteriously hidden inside the cave (of the heart). What great men have followed that is the path, Oh, Yaksha of the waters”

– Yaksha Prasna, Vana Parva, Mahabharata

Ancient India had many law books including Manu Smrti. Since Manu was the first law giver in the world, a pre Hammurabian, we always quote Manu. It has been amended and lot of unwanted materials have been interpolated. He makes it very clear in the very second chapter that the laws are enacted or decided by the scholars of that age. And he, beautifully conclude that your conscience will tell you what is wrong and what is right. We see the same basic virtues in all the religious books around the world. That is fundamental and cannot be questioned.

Be Honest, Speak the Truth, Don’t harm others, Don’t kill, Don’t covet others wealth are basic rules.

एतद्देशप्रसूतस्य सकाशादग्रजन्मनः ।

स्वं स्वं चरित्रं शिक्षेरन् पृथिव्यां सर्वमानवाः ॥ २.२०॥ Manu 2-20

All inhabitants (born) of this earth should learn about living and building character from the ancient sages and seers who took birth in this land.

Following is George Buhler’s translation

Manu 2-20. “From a Brahmana, born in that country, let all men on earth learn their several usages”.

विद्वद्भिः सेवितः सद्भिर्नित्यमद्वेषरागिभिः ।

हृदयेनाभ्यनुज्ञातो यो धर्मस्तं निबोधत ॥ २.१॥ Manu 2-1

Manu2.1. Learn that sacred law which is followed by men learned (in the Veda) and assented to in their hearts by the virtuous, who are ever exempt from hatred and inordinate affection.

वेदोऽखिलो धर्ममूलं स्मृतिशीले च तद्विदाम् ।

आचारश्चैव साधूनामात्मनस्तुष्टिरेव च ॥ २.६॥

Manu 2.6. The whole Veda is the source of the sacred law, next the tradition and the virtuous conduct of those who know the (Veda further), also the customs of holy men, and (finally) self-satisfaction/ your conscience..

In short, as Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, Kama, Krodha and Lobha are the three gateways to Hell.

In London I used to visit prisons to see  Hindu prisoners. I used to chat with prisoners from other religions or atheists during those visits. I used to wonder how beautifully Krishna brought all these people under three categories. All the prisoners were suffering from Anger or Greediness or illegal Sex.

So, criticising Manu Smrti today is like beating a dead snake again and again. I see them as political jokers, not heroes.


Let us see some more beautiful couplets,

“Changes of Time and Place and Circumstance always cause changes in the duties too. The law for men is one in time of peace and quite another in calamity .

“There is no single custom that holds good always.

Therefore Dharma depends on circumstances.

No special law and manner have ever been found

Which gives help to everyone and hurt to none.

Therefore, it is changed for one that seems better

More suited to the different conditions.

Hence do we see the great variety

In laws and customs of humanity

—–Mahabharata, Shanti Parva

In Sanskrit,

Desha Kaala nimittaanaam

Bhedair dharmo vibhidyate;

Anyah dharmah samasthasya

Vishama sthasya aparah

Na hi eva aikaantiko dharmah;

Dharmo hi aavasthikah smrtah

Na hi sarva hitah kaschid

Aachaarah Sam pravartate

Tasmaad anyah pra bhavati;

Sah aparam baadhate punah

Aachaaraanaam an aikaagryam

Tasmaat sarvatra lakshaye

Shanti Parva, Mahabharata


And Manu says in one sloka

Anye krta Yuge dharmah , Tretaayaam Dvaapare apare

Anye Kali yuge nriinaam yuga hraas aanu ruupatah

As men change character and ways of life

So change the laws their elders make for them.

Both vary, side by side, from age to age

One law is for the Golden Age of Truth

And ready doing of loved elders words

Another for the Age of Infant Sin;

Yet another for the Age of Equal Strife

Twixt well grown Vice and Virtue; and a fourth

Is needed for the Time when Discord reigns

Manu banned overseas travel of Brahmins. But we see two great Brahmins Agastya and Kaundinya took a Pandya king named Thiru Maaran to Vietnam 2000 years ago and established the greatest Hindu Empire which lasted for 1500 years throughout South East Asia. Both of them violated the rules of Manu. Tamil women are banned going abroad by Tolkappiam , but we see Tamil women in 200 countries today.

 So it is an accepted fact that laws are not static. Our forefathers knew that stagnant pools would stink. They allowed complete freedom to general public to change the rules within the framework of Dharma.


Tags- Constitution, Amendments, Manu Smriti, Ambedkar, Mahabharata, Laws, Change, 

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