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LAWS OF MANU.




Chapter I.

1. The great sages approached Manu, who was seated with a collected mind, and, having duly worshipped him, spoke as follows:

2. 'Deign, divine one, to declare to us precisely and in due order the sacred laws of each of the (four chief) castes (varna) and of the intermediate ones.

3. 'For thou, O Lord, alone knowest the purport, (i. e.) the rites, and the knowledge of the soul, (taught) in this whole ordinance of the Self-existent (Svayambhû), which is unknowable and unfathomable.'


 


 


I. 1. Kull. thinks that pratipûgya, 'having worshipped,' may also mean 'after mutual salutations,' and he connects, against the opinion of the other commentators, 'duly' with 'spoke.' Gov., Nâr., Râgh., and K., as well as various MSS. (Loiseleur I, p. 313; Bikaner Cat. p. 419), begin the Samhitâ with the following verse, omitted by Medh., Kull., and Nand.: 'Having adored the self-existent Brahman, possessing immeasurable power, I will declare the various eternal laws which Manu promulgated.'

2. After this verse Nand. inserts four lines, the first and last of which are also found in K.: (a) 'The origin of the whole multitude of created beings, of those born from the womb, of those born from eggs, of those produced from exudations and from germinating seeds, and their destruction;' (b) 'The settled rule of all customs and rites deign to describe at large, according to their times and fitness.'

3. 'The ordinance of the Self-existent,' i. e. 'the Veda' (Kull., Nâr., and Râgh.), or 'the Veda or the prescriptive rules (vidhi) contained in it' (Medh.), or 'the institutes' (Gov.). Akintya, 'unknowable,' i. e. 'the extent of which is unknowable' (Kull. and Râgh.), or 'unknowable on account of its depth' (Gov.), or 'the meaning of which cannot be known by reasoning' (Nâr.), or 'not perceptible by the senses' (Medh.), or 'difficult to understand' (Nand.). Aprameya, 'unfathomable,' i. e. 'not to be understood without the help of the Mîmâmsâ and other methods of reasoning' (Kull.), or ' unfathomable on account of its extent' (Gov., Nand.), or 'unfathomable on account of its extent, or not directly knowable but to be inferred as the foundation of the Smriti' (Medh.), or 'difficult to understand' (Râgh.). Kull. and Râgh. explain kâryatattvârtha by 'the purport, i. e. the rites, and the nature of the soul;' Medh., Gov., and Nand. by 'the true purport, i. e. the rites.' Nand. takes sarvasya, 'whole,' as depending on 'ordinance,' and in the sense of 'prescribed for all created beings.'

In the commentary on verse 11 Medh. gives still another explanation of this verse, according to which it has to be translated as follows: 'For thou, O Lord, alone knowest the nature and the object of the products employed in the creation of this universe, which is unthinkable on account of its greatness, and unknowable.' This version belongs to 'other' commentators, who explain Manu's whole account of the creation purely on Sâmkhya principles.