I shared some of my posts on Vedas where I have quoted from the Vedic Texts how women were accorded the highest regards ,women were Great Rishis.
One of readers from Facebook sent in a Link which quotes Manu on Women.
They are derogatory to Women.
Or Are they?
Before let us know what Manu Smriti is about and who Manu is.
Manu is a name for one who lays down Social norms, de facto.
This Manu changes from time to Time.
There are different Manus for different Manvanntaras, a Period of Time devised by Hindus.
Manu Smriti Book by Buhler
On Manu and Manvantaras please read my posts filed under Hinduism.
So Manu Smriti is not a fixed standard text that was followed nor does it carry the force of the Vedas.
To quote a contemporary example, Manu Smriti is like the Directive Principles of State Policy, while the Vedas are akin to the Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution of India.
While former need not be followed but only commendatory in nature , the latter has the force of Law and has to be followed.
In case of Conflict between the two, the Fundamental Rights will prevail.
So Vedas are like the Fundamental Rights and Manu Smriti, Directive principles of State Policy.
The major difference is that unlike the Fundamental Rights, Vedas can not be changed/amended.
As time changes, so are the customs and values.
Hence Manu Smriti also changes , depending on the Yuga.
What we now have as Manu Smriti , I am not sure is the one meant for Kali Yuga,
And The Manu Smriti reflects the Social Life.
Like the Films, the question of whether Society influences Life or the other way around, one is never sure.
With this back ground let us look at the quoted texts which are derogatory to women.
1.”Swabhav ev narinam …..” – 2/213. It is the nature of women to seduce men in this world; for that reason the wise are never unguarded in the company of females.”
I do not see anything derogatory here.
It is by way of explanation of Nature.
Being a Seductress is not repulsive, it becomes dangerous when one falls for it. without thinking of the consequences to himself and family.
By implication it is the nature of Men to go after women,
True, but we do not admit it.
“Avidvam samlam………..” – 2/214. Women, true to their class character, are capable of leading astray men in this world, not only a fool but even a learned and wise man. Both become slaves of desire.”
This follows the earlier one and this is a fact;we may not like the fact.
Some times we refuse to accept Nature, when explained.
We may not like Gravity,but it is.
Truth need not be palatable.
Look at the Empires that have Crashed,Misery befallen ,from Ramayana to French/Russian Revolution.
Dasaratha was a wise King,Draupadi was born in Fire ,yet one’s one moment of weak will sent Lord Rama to forest and another ensured Mahabharata war.
What Bloody Mary did and the Tsarina had for Rasputin History knows.
Expressing the consequences arising out of nature is not to defame.
3.Matra swastra ………..” – 2/215. Wise people should avoid sitting alone with one’s mother, daughter or sister. Since carnal desire is always strong, it can lead to temptation.
This actually insults Men, nothing is said of women here,
And it is also a sordid fact which none seems to acknowledge is the amount of Incest that goes on.
Other Smritis also say that after the Age of ten , a Girl must not sleep in the same bed with her father,brother.
Hinduism knows Human instincts and goes by it, not by misplaced ideological non sense.
Essentially we are animals by Instinct.
One has to evolve by practice.
This verse is by way of caution and I see nothing wrong in it.
Why should women object to this?
It is for their safety and welfare.
Read under ‘interesting and funny’ in my blog.
4.Naudwahay……………..” – 3/8. One should not marry women who has/ had reddish hair, redundant parts of the body [such as six fingers], one who is often sick, one without hair or having excessive hair and one who has red eyes.
This seems to be a correlation arrived at(may be true or untrue) between Physiognomy and Behavior.
Manu Smriti says of Men that a woman should not marry a Angaheena physically challenged,one who has deserted his wife/Family,has disease.
This is not an insult, is an advice.
5.Nraksh vraksh ………..” – 3/9. One should not marry women whose names are similar to constellations, trees, rivers, those from a low-caste, mountains, birds, snakes, slaves or those whose names inspires terror.
This reflects the belief of the times.
For example every Nakshatra has some or other stigma attached to it.
Chithrai Appan Theruvile-parents of children born in Chithra Nakshatra shall be on the streets, deserted by their children.
No. It is a belief the people had.
6.Yasto na bhavet ….. …..” – 3/10. Wise men should not marry women who do not have a brother and whose parents are not socially well-known.
What is wrong in this?
Even to-day we check the family background before getting married.
The point about Brother is that one who s born with a Brother knows to deal with a Man better than the one with out a sibling.
This is a fact.
There are 40 quotes on the site,
As the blog is getting lengthy, I shall post in the next Post/s.
Thank you Mr.Sridhar Aiyangar.