Open main menu

Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 25.djvu/23

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
xvii
INTRODUCTION.

Purâna or a Smirti does not prove much for Bhrigu's Samhitâ, if, at the same time, it is not made evident that the latter is really meant, and that the work in which it is contained really has a claim to be considered ancient. In illustration of this point it may suffice to remark here that the Brihaspati-smriti, which Kullûka adduces as a witness, is by no means an ancient work, but considerably later than the beginning of our era, because it gives a definition of golden dînâras, an Indian coin struck in imitation of and called after the Roman denarii[1]. Regarding Manu and the Mahâbhârata more will be said below. Medhâtithi's quotation from Nârada is very unlucky; for it is inexact, and worded in such a manner as to veil the serious discrepancy which exists between the stories told in the Mânava Dharmasâtra and in the Nârada-smriti. The introduction to the latter, as read in the MSS. of the vulgata, does not state that the original law-book of one hundred thousand verses was composed by Pragâpati and abridged by Manu and others, but alleges that its author was Manu Pragâpati, and that Nârada and Sumati the son of Bhrigu summarised it[2]. The text of Nârada, which is accompanied by Kalyânabhatta's edition of Asahâya's commentary, names one more sage, Mârkandeya, who also tried his hand at Manu Pragâpati's enormous work. Whichever of the two versions may be the original one, it is evident that Medhâtithi's representation of Nârada's statement is inexact, and that the latter differs considerably from the story in our Manu-smriti, which asserts that it is the original work composed by Brahman, and revealed by Manu to Bhrigu, who explains it to the great sages 'exactly as he received it.' Hence Nârada's story discredits the details of the account given in the Mânava Dharmasâstra. It might, at the best, be only quoted to prove the existence of the general belief that Manu was the first lawgiver of India. These remarks will 




  1. West and Bühler, Digest, p. 48, third edition.
  2. See Jolly, Nârada, p. 2, and Tagore Lectures of 1883, p. 46. My conjecture that the introduction to Nârada belongs to Asahâya, not ot the Smriti itself (West and Bühler, Digest, p. 49), is not tenable.