By Patrick Olivelle

Manu's Code of legislation is among the most crucial texts within the Sanskrit canon, certainly probably the most vital surviving texts from any classical civilization. It paints an astoundingly targeted photograph of historic Indian life-covering every thing from the structure of the king's cupboard to the cost of a ferry journey for a pregnant woman-and its doctrines were crucial to Indian proposal and perform for 2000 years. regardless of its value, in spite of the fact that, previously nobody has produced a serious version of this article. for that reason, for hundreds of years students were compelled to simply accept truly inferior variants of Sanskrit texts and to exploit these unreliable variants because the foundation for developing the historical past of classical India. during this quantity, Patrick Olivelle has assembled the severe textual content of Manu, together with a serious equipment containing all of the major manuscript versions, besides a competent and readable translation, copious explanatory notes, and a complete advent at the constitution, content material, and socio-political context of the treatise. the result's a very good scholarly success that may be an important device for any critical scholar of India.

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Additional info for Manu's Code of Law: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Manava-Dharmasastra (South Asia Research)

Example text

The dharma portion of this treatise was made into a separate edition by Manu SväyambhQ. 40 All this recalls the introductory verses of the MDh. If we place the Kämasütra roughly in the 3rd century CE, then the fame of the MDh must have reached some prominence by that time. The relationship between the MDh and the Mahäbhärata has been a topic of discussion ever since Hopkins's (1885) study. " The references and citations collected by Hopkins, I think, make a compelling case that the author(s) of the epic knew of and drew upon material from the MDh.

The author of the Brhaspati Smrti, a text written a few centuries after the MDh, had the same problem with Manu. 16): uktvä niyogo manunä nisiddhah svayam eva tu I yugahrasad asakyo 'yam kartum sarvair vidhänatah II Manu has prescribed leviratic union, and then he himself has forbidden it. 67 Brhaspati provides a traditional solution to the problem; the contradictory rules apply to different ages. So there is no true contradiction. Modern scholars cannot accept the traditional hermeneutical solution.

There is then the implied fifth "hearer", that is, all those who listen to or read this text, including modern scholars. 60 Paralleling the Buddhist doctrine of buddhavacana and doing one better than that, the MDh grounds its authority (promana) on the svayambhuvacana, the words of the Self-existent One, the very ground of creation. 61 Indeed, the MDh itself presents the latter doctrine when it discusses the sources of dharma in chapter 2. There is thus a disjuncture between the narrative structure of chapter i and the body of the text.

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