Open main menu

Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 25.djvu/21

There was a problem when proofreading this page.


Itihâsas, and the Smritis. Finally, in the notes on Manu I, 58, they discuss the question, how the Smriti can be called the Mânava Dharmasâstra, though, as is admitted in the work itself, Brahman was its real author. Medhâtithi offers two explanations. First he contends that Brahman produced only 'the multitude of injunctions and prohibitions,' while the work itself was composed by Manu. Next he says that, according to others, the Sâstra may be called Manu's, even if it were first composed by Brahman. In proof of this assertion he points to the analogous case of the river Ganges, which, though originating elsewhere, i. e. in heaven, is called Haimavatî, because it is first seen in the Himavat or Himâlaya, and to that of the Kâthaka Sâkhâ, which, though studied and taught by many others, is named after Katha. In conclusion, he adds, 'Nârada also records, "This work, consisting of one hundred thousand verses, was composed by Pragâpati (Brahman); it was successively abridged by Manu and others[1]."' Kullûka, who gives a somewhat insufficient abstract of Medhâtithi's discussion, refers to the same passage of Nârada, and bases on it his own explanation of I, 58, according to which it means that Brahman first composed the law-book, and that Manu condensed its contents in his own language and taught it in that form to his pupils.

This is, as far as I know, all that the commentaries say about Manu and the history of the Mânava Dharmasâstra, and their remarks contain also the substance of all that has been brought forward in other discussions on the same subject, with which we meet elsewhere[2]. Important as they may appear to a Hindu who views the question of the origin of the Manu-smriti with the eye of faith, they are of little value for the historical student who stands outside the circle of the Brâhmanical doctrines. The statements regarding the person of Manu can, at the best, only furnish materials 




  1. (Symbol missingIndic characters)
  2. See e. g. the passages translated in Professor Max Müller's Ancient Sanskrit Literature, pp. 87–94.