Open main menu

Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 25.djvu/19

There was a problem when proofreading this page.

topic is introduced by a prefatory verse which contains phrases like 'such and such a matter has been explained to you, now listen to,' &c., or 'I will next declare,' &c.

Twice (V, 1–3 and XII, 1–2) the sages are represented as interrupting Bhrigu's discourse and expressing their desire to be instructed on particular points, and on both occasions Bhrigu is again named as the narrator. Moreover in a number of verses[1] Manu is particularly mentioned as the author of certain rules, and II, 7 the authoritativeness of Manu's teaching is emphatically asserted, 'because he was omniscient.' In two other passages Manu appears, however, in different characters. VII, 42 he is enumerated among the kings who gained sovereignty by their humility, and XII, 123 he is identified with the supreme Brahman.

This account of the origin of our Manu-smriti would have to be slightly modified by those who accept as genuine the verse[2] which stands at the beginning of the Smriti according to the commentators Govindarâga, Nârâyana, and Râghavânanda, as well as according to the Kasmîr copy and other MSS. As this verse contains an invocation of the self-existent Brahman, and a promise to explain the laws which Manu taught, it indicates, as Govindarâga says[3], that 'some pupil of Bhrigu recites the work which had descended to him through an unbroken line of teachers.' According to this version we have, therefore, a triple exordium instead of a double one, and our Manu-smriti does not contain the original words of Bhrigu, but a recension of his recension such as it had been handed down among his pupils. The additional verse is apparently intended to make the story more plausible.

The remarks which the commentators make on this narrative are scanty, and, though they are meant to support its credibility, they are, partly at least, calculated to discredit it. Medhâtithi states in his remarks on Manu I, 1, that the Pragâpati Manu was 'a particular individual, perfect 

  1. See the index s. v. Manu.
  2. See note on Manu I, 1.
  3. (Symbol missingIndic characters)