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Manava Dharma Saastra popularly known as Manusmiriti is considered as the well codified law of the Hindus. It had been the treatise for the governance for all kings throughout the Indian sub-continent since the 4th century A.D.

periyar 340Aryans were seriously engaged in the rituals like yagaas and yagnaas and propagating the Varnaashrama dharma system of society.These were subjected to question by the Gowtama Buddha and Mahaveera. Asoka the Great , brought in many reforms that the rituals of the Brahmans came under serious threat. In the Tamil country Thirukkural was composed to spread the theory of ‘equality by birth’ and virtues of ‘hard work for prosperity’. But the Brahmans, the proponents of these rituals were in serious search of a new order of polity to establish their perpetual supremacy in the society. Manu Dharma is the outcome of their search.

What could be inferred from the provisions of manusmiriti is that as early as 2000 years back, Brahmans had come to the conclusion that their supremacy in the society could be established solely through a ‘Government’ only.

So, they brought the kings under their control by delegating them to the second position in the varna order. They declared the kings as kshatriyas attributing twice-born status. While attributing higher status for the kings, their basic duty was assigned as “protecting the Brahmans, fecilitating the Vedic rituals and keeping them in good humour ”

Sanskrit and Manusmiriti:

Manusmriti was enacted in the Sanskrit language and thus holifying and adapting of Sanskrit Language too became a pre-condition for the Kings. In the north, the Gupta Dynasty and in the south the Pallavaa kings adopted Manu’s code as their Constitutional Law and Sanskrit as Official Language. This has resulted in a parallel situation where holification of Sanskrit language, (Manu refers as Aryan language) and subjugation of Tamil language took place.

The structure of Manusmiriti (source— MANU’S CODE OF LAW–a critical Edition and Translation by PATRICK OLIVELLE – OXFORD University Press, New Delhi, 2006.)

MANU’s Code of law has been divided into 12 chapters

Chapter- I Creation of the World (This includes creation of Four Varnas)

Chapter-II The law of Tradition (Dharma)

Chapter-III Marriages and Rituals (of the twice-born)

 Chapter-IV Life and Livelyhood V and VI of Brahmans

Chapter – VII Laws and duties of the Kings (and VIII of kings, Kingdom and judiciary)

 Chapter – IX Family Law

Chapter – X Mixed Classes (and Rules relating them)

Chapter – XI Sins and Penance (includes loss of caste)

 Chapter – XII Karma Rules (attaining supreme good)

Creation of the World:

Creation of world has been described in the first Chapter itself. “It was pitch-dark; The selfexistent Lord appeared; He first brought waters; placed the seed into it; Then he himself took birth as Brahma, the grandfather of all worlds…Then produced the Sky and Earth….between them the space, eight directions. Then he produced the mind….and the five sensory organs… and thus the six subtle parts…. And with these seven males appeared and this world came into being. In the beginning through the words of the Vedas, he assigned them specific names and activities…. To establish distinction among activities, he distinguished dharma and adharma… He created pairs for these seven males,…. pleasure and pain. He brought forth planets, rivers, oceans, mountains etc. etc. (Chapter-I, verses-5 to 25 )

Three Vedas:

From fire, wind, and sun he squeezed out eternal triple Vedas, the Rig verses, Yajus formulas and Saman chants, for the purpose of carrying out the sacrifice. (Chapter-I, verses-23)

(Here we must note that there had been only three Vedas during the period when Manu smiriti was composed; For this, ample references are available in Manu smiriti: For example: Chapter-II, verses-28, 118; Chaprter- III, verse-1; Chapter-XI,verse-266 etc.)

Four Varnas:

For the growth these world he produced from his mouth, arms, thighs, and feet the Brahman, Kshatriya, the Vaisya,and the Sudra respectively. (Chapter-I, verses-31) The first six chapters explain the ‘superiority of the Brahmans’, being the one born from the mouth of Brahma, the creator. Seventh chapter deals with the ‘duties of the King or Government in preserving the superiority of the Brahmans’.

Eleventh chapter describes ‘sins and penance to clear of the sins with special protection for the Brahmans’. Twelfth chapter ascertains the superiority of the Brahmans. Thus NINE chapters have been dedicated to ensure the superior status of the Brahmans.

A true reading of Manu will explain How the Brahmans have been ensured of Superior status in the society:

1) By Vedas: “Vedic knowledge came to the Brahman and said: I am your treasure Guard me. Do not hand over me to a malcontent. You should disclose this only to a honest, restrained and chaste Brahman. Be vigilant and guardian of your treasure.” (Chapter-II, Verses-114,115 Page-100)

2) By Birth: “God has declared mouth is his purest part. Because the Brahmans arose from the loftiest part of his body, he is by law the Lord of this the whole world. Among the God’s creatures human beings are the best; Among the human beings Brahmans are the best. A Brahman’s birth represents the everlasting physical frame of the Law….. This whole world - whatever there is on earth – is the property of the Brahman. Brahman has a clear right over this whole world”. (Chapter-I , Verses 92 to 100. Page - 91)

3) By Law: “To determine which activities are proper to the Brahman and which are to the remaining classes in their proper order, Manu the wise son of the God composed these treatise (manusmiriti). It should be studied diligently and taught to pupils by a learned Brahman and none else” (Chapter- I, Verses 102 & 103. Page- 92)

 4) By threat to Kings:

 i) Even in the face of deepest adversity, King must never anger Brahmans; If they are angered they will destroy the king instantly along with his army and conveyances….They could create other worlds and guardians (kings); …They could convert Gods into nongods… The world and Gods exist by taking refuge in Brahmans and in their wealth the VEDAS. So who would dare to injure them if he want to exist..? (Chapter- IX , Verses- 313 to 316, page-206)

ii) When a Kshatriya becomes haughty towards Brahmans, the Brahmin himself must become their controller; Kshatriya does not flourish without Brahman and Brahmans does not prosper without Ksatriyas…. (At the time of adversity) the King should handover all money collected as fine to the Brahmans, handover the kingdom to his son, should meet his death in battle (Chapter-IX, verses- 320 to 323, Page- 206)

 iii) Neglecting rites (yagaas and yagnaas) and by failing to visit Brahmans, kshatriyas have reached the level of the Pundrakas, Paaradas, Pahlavas, Codas, Dravidas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Sakas, Cinas, and Daradas. (Chapter X- Verses – 43 to 45 Page…210)

iv) A 10 year old Brahman boy and a 100 year old King should stand with respect to each other as a father and son, of the two the Brahman is considered the father and King the son. (Chapter-II, verses-135)

Land of the Brahmans :

“The land lying between river Saraswathi and Dusadvati is called “Brahmavarta” – the region of the Brahmans. Kuruksetra and the lands of Matsyas, Pancalas and Surasenakas constitute land of Brahman seers; which borders Brahmavarta. The land between Himalayas and Vindhya ranges extending from the eastern to western sea is Aryavarta, the region of the Aryas.” (Chapter- II , Verses–17 to 22, page- 95)

Chapter – I


1) “For the growth of these worlds, He produced from His mouth, arms, thighs and feet, the Brahmans, the Kshatriyas, the Vaisyas and the Sudra” (Verse – 31)

2) “A brahman’s birth alone represents the everlasting physical frame of the Law; for, born account of Law, he is fit for becoming Brahman. For when a Brahman is born, a pre-eminance birth takes place on earth – a ruler of all creatures to guard the storehouse of Laws” (Verse – 98 , 99)

3) ”This whole world, whatever there is on the earth, is the property of the Brahmans.Because of the eminence and high birth, the Brahman has a clear right to this whole world. What a Brahman eats is what belongs to him; it is by the kindness of the Brahman that other people eat” (Verse–100, 101) 

Chapter – II


1) It is impossible to be free from desire; for it is desire that prompts Vedic study and the performance of Vedic Rites; (Verse – 2)

2) The root of the Law is the Vedas; the tradition and practice of those who know the Vedas” (Verse – 6)

Chapter – VII


1) “I will explain the Laws pertaining to Kshatriyas – how a kshatriya should conduct himself, how came into being, andT he can attain highest success” (Verse – 1)

 2) A kshatriya who has received the Vedic Consecration according to rule has the obligation to protect this whole world (Verse-2)

3) After getting up in the morning, the king should make fire offerings (yahaas), pay respects to the Brahmans. (Verse- 37)

 4) Every day he should render assistance old and upright Brahmans. (Verse – 38)

5) From experts in Vedas, he should learn the triple-vedas, the practice of Governance, Logical reasoning, and the philosophy (Verse – 43)  Note: It is abundantly clear that The King should learn everything from the Brahmans. Upto the time of Manu there were only three Vedas, and therefore it was called ‘tri-veda’)

6) The King should appoint seven or eight counsellors....From the Brahman among them, the king must seek important counsel; Trusting him completely, he should entrust all his affairs and proceed for any further task. (Verse – 54 to 59)

7) The fort should be well supplied with weapons, money, grain, conveyances, Brahman and artisans. (Verse – 75)

8) The King should perform various sacrifices (yahaas) and distribute luxuries and money to Brahmans. (Verse–79)

9) The king should pay homage to Brahmans returned from their teachers’ house; king should deposit inexhaustible treasure with these Brahmans. (Verse– 82)

10) An offering made for the mouth of a Brahman is far superior to the oblation made in fire. (Verse – 84)

11) A gift to a Non-brahman brings equal reward / fame; to an ordinary Brahman brings double reward; to a Brahman mastered Vedas thousand fames; (Verse-85)

12) Refusal to turn back in battles, protecting the subjects, and obedience to Brahmans are best means of securing happiness for a Kshatriya. (Verse – 88)

 13) Even at the point of death, king shall never extract Tax from a Vedic scholar; nor a Vedic scholar should languish in hunger. King should provide him means of subsistence and protect him in every way as a father. When Vedic scholar practices Law (Vedic rites) every-day, under the protection of the king, it augments king’s life, span and wealth. (Verse – 133 to 136)

Chapter – VIII


1) When the King is going to try a case, he should enter the court accompanied by Brahmans and Counsellors; King should not try a case personally, but he should appoint a Brahman to do so (Verse – 1 & 9)

2) Under no circumstances a Sudra should be allowed to interpret Law. When a sudra is allowed to interpret law, the kingdom will sink like a cow in mud and perishes (Verse-20 to 23)

3) When a Brahman discovers a Treasure- Trove, he may take the whole of it for, a Brahman is the supreme lord of all. (Verse-37)

4) When the King discovers the same, he should give half of it to Brahmans and deposit the rest to the treasury. (Verse -38)

5) For assailing a Brahman–a Sudra is ought to suffer capital punishment. (Verse – 267)

6) If a Sudra gives instructions on Law to a Brahman, the king should pour hot oil intoI his mouth and ears. (Verse – 272)

7) Shaving the head is prescribed as death penalty for a Brahman; but, for other classes are actually subjected to death (Verse – 379)

8) The King should never put a Brahman to death penalty, even if he has committed such a gravious crime. But he should banish such a Brahman from his kingdom along with his property. (Verse - 380)

9) There is no greater violation of Law on earth than killing a Brahman (Verse–381)

 10) The King may order a Sudra to do slave labour for the Brahman as the Sudra was created by God to do slave labour for the Brahmans. (Verse – 413)

11) A Brahman may confidently seize the property from a Sudra, because he can own nothing. (Verse – 417)

12) When a king thus brings to a satisfactory conclusion of all legal matters as enshrined above, he gets rid of all sins and attains the highest stage. (Verse – 420)

13) Even in the face of deepest adversity, the King must never anger Brahmans; If they are angered they will destroy the king instantly;.....they could create other worlds and Kings;....They can convert Gods into non-gods;.....The world and Gods exist buy taking refuge in Brahmans and in Vedas.” (Verse – 313 to 316)

14) End of a King: After giving all wealth and handing over the kingdom to his son, the king should meet his death .... (Verse – 323) Thus a Ksatriya king has to be at the services of the Brahmans, throught his life.

Conversely, if a king fails in his duties towards the Brahmans, for whom sky is the limit, he loses his Ksatriya (twice-born) status; Loses his kingdom and life also. The story of Kerololpatti and fate of the Perumal Kings (Chera decendants) stands testimony for this.

From the above, one can easily understand that the term ‘Kshatriya’ denotes to ‘Servant to the Brahmans’ not anything else to be proud of it. Further, Kshatriyas also mean to be a partner to have perpetuated unfathomable miseries to the majority People categorised as Sudras and Avarnas. Therefore, any Tamilian Caste group claiming the status as ‘Kshatriya’ out of ignorance or intention may better realise their folly and get rid of this hypocrisy.


A being or power that is above us controlling all things, acts as the source of hope and refuge in danger for the uninitiated. But those who try to understand nature, either are aware of human limitations or are prepared to admit that certain things are simply beyond their understanding or control. It must therefore be clear that ideas about god and divinity differ in accordance with the state of scientific knowledgle of different people. The blame or praise accorded to god for failure or success in life varies in proportion to the intellectual advancement of different people.

Science has opened up many of nature’s mysteries and exploded the miracle in many phenomena. It can therefore be said that faith in god progressively declines with advancement rational in knowledge; and where there is less of science there is more of god in lands where rationalism has not made much headway, people discern the hand of god in almost everything they touch and see.We still notice among our masses some people getting god - possessed. It is only among barbaric people that stories about gods and goddesses possessed of all human and beastly passions find favour.

- Periyar E.V.R.

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