DU SOL BA 3rd Year History of Social Thought Notes Chapter 17 Manu
Discuss chief characteristics of Manusmriti and point out social ideas mentioned in it.
Manusmriti form an important part of the knowledge of ancient India. It is a comprehensive treatise of about the conduct of Hindu Society and Hindu way of life in those days. It is called by various names is Manusmriti, Manu Samhita, Manu Dharma Smriti etc. After Vedas this is the most important book on the Hindu way of life. It is said that it was written between 200 B.C. to 300 B.C.
It contains 12 chapters in which autor has beautifully depicted about the coordinated growth of society, religion and polity or political science. It touches all the aspects of life, administration, King and his duties, levy of taxes, running of Government, establishment and functioning of Courts, division of society into Vamas and the various customs during life and after death.
Chief Characteristics of Manosmriti
(1) Manu has described the natural state as state of anarchy in which might is right and there is no king.
(2) According to Manu the institution of kingship came into being in this country as a result of the creation of God. He believes in the theory of divine origin. It has been stated that as the people were facing anarchy, God created King to save them from the trouble and sufferings.
According to Manu King was the sovereign authority and vested with all powers. King could crush all those along with their families who act against the established law of the land. According to Manu, King is the supreme authority and sovereign as well—King was to ensure peace and prosperity of his people and to act according to the time and to give an honest and commendable administration satisfying all people. King also symbolised punishment or force.
(3) According to Manu, State came into being as a result of creation to God. According to Manu, there are seven organs of the State – (i) King, (ii) the Minister or Amatya, (iii) Friend or Suhrida, (iv) City, (v) State or Rashtra, (vi) Treasury of Kosha (vi) Force or punishment or dand. These organs, have also divine orgin and these influence each other.
(4) Requirement of King. King must perform his duties in a way to make him respectable and worth respecting for. all. King should act as a friend of his subjects. He should have control over his sense organs, should be modest and courteous, should be free from evil habits, specially anger which is said to be the root cause of all the evil habits. King must be true to Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Manu has warned king not to indulge too much in Kama. The chief aim of the king is to provide welfare to the people. If King is unable to discharge his duties he should quit his post It has been emphasised that King should be a man of ideal character, capable, learned and able to discharge his duties as King efficiently.
King must bound about two things namely—(i) Dharma or duty, (ii) force of punishment Manu has said that without the knowledge of these two things no King could maintain his prestige and personality. The main job of the King was to observe the value of Dharma or duty and to punish those suitably who disturbed the values of Dharma or duty. It is laid down in Manusmriti that before the creation of King God gave birth to force or punishment in order to help the king to discharge his duties. Manu had laid stress the power of force should be used with discreation and sparingly after properly satisfying that the punishment is given only to the guilty person with a view to make him good and to create fear in the mind to others not to do wrong things as in discreet use of force will spoil the entire structure of society.
(5) Respect to learned men. It was the duty of King to accord respect to the learned people and listen to their advice. King should also listen to Vedas everyday.
(6) Connell of Ministers and its assistants. King must have a Council of Ministers who should be pious, learned, capable and well- tested. Ministers must be aware of the different aspects of life, have deep knowledge of Vedas and loyal to the King. The number of Ministers should be 8 to 10 and each made responsible for separate portfolios.
(7) Principles underlying the Council of Ministers. Following principles are laid down by Manu
- The principle of traditions.
- Principle of ability of qualification
- The test of valour or bravery.
- The principle of test or examination.
- The principle of fulfilment of objectives or aims.
(8) Division of power and distribution of functions. There should be division of power and distribution function amongst ministers. The efficiency of the job should be th& criteria of distribu tion of the functions.
King should discharge all his duties in consultation with the ministers.
(9) Appointment of Ambassador. The qualification of the ambassadors are laid down in smriti for the appointment. The relation of maintaining cordial relations with other countries has been stressed upon.
(10) Putting up of forts. Manu has laid great stress on the construction of forts. He has stated that fort should be situated at a place where from forest, grass, water and grain should be nearby. It should be situated at a place where enemy may not be able to attack easily.
(11) Boundry of the village should be properly delimited. It should be marked by trees.
(12) Judicial administration. Manu was a great thinker. He has suggested various ways and means for the integrated development of society. He has laid stress that there are 18 ways of the behaviour of life. There should be assembly for administration of justice called Dharma Sabha. Justice was to be administered according to religion or principles of way of life. Manu has laid down qualification for judges. A judge should be capable of shifting the right from the wrong.
Manu has classified evidence into -(i) written evidence, (ii) divine evidence and (iii) oral or thorough evidence. He has debarred lawyers, slaves, enemies medicants, lepers etc. from giving evidence.
Manu has stated that even King was considered to be subservient to judiciary and King if found guilty should be given punishment much more than to be given to ordinary person.
Taxation and treasury. No Government can run without finance. He has stated that taxes should be levied and described the following types of taxes :
(i) Land Revenue, (ii) Fees, (iii) Fine, (iv) Use of river water, (v) Flying of boats, (vi) Taxes on animals, (vii) Taxes on artisans and people of other profession, (viii) Sales Tax.
Manu has touched all aspects of life and administration and suggested various ways and means for improving the lot of people and the norms to be observed in administering the country.
Manu was the ancient law giver. He divided the society into Varna Ashram system which means division of work into various classes on the basis of functions and motives. Manu has recognised the importance of woman but he has not pleaded for their economic and political rights.