(Last Updated on : 11/07/2013)
Contents of Manu Smriti
are written in a dialogue form that takes place between Manu's disciple, Bhrigu and his own students. The story commences with Manu
giving a detailed description about the creation of the world and the society within it that is divided into four social classes. The rest of the teachings are carry forwarded by Manu.
Book i contain semi-philosophical account of creation as well as include the essential doctrine of the three constituents of nature. In book ii the sources of law and the duties of students are mentioned. From Book iii-v the householder is the centre of description; his marriage, daily rites and funeral offerings, occupation and general rules of life, lawful and forbidden food, impurity and purification and rules pertaining to women. In Book vi two further stages of life are dealt with: the recluse in the forest and the ascetic. In vii the duties of the king including general political maxims are mentioned. In viii and ix civil and criminal laws are dealt with that also includes the procedure and evidence especially about the ordeals. The revival of debts ; deposit; sale without ownership; partnership concerns; subtraction of gifts; non-payment of wages ; non-performance of agreement; masters and herdsmen ; dispute regarding boundaries ; offence ; assault and hurt; theft; violence; adultery ; duties of husband and wife ; inheritance and partition; gambling and wagers are all spoken about.
Book ix speaks of the duties of kings and of those of Vaishyas and Shudras. In x it is spoken on mixed castes. The rules regarding occupation affect the castes and occupation in time of distress. In Book xi there find rules for gifts and sacrifices and penances. In xii how the sinner pays for his sins are mentioned and counsel regarding the means of attaining release is also spoken about.
There is lack of individuality in the work. The hand of a narrow religion is also prevalent. One can clearly make out the failure to evolve any clear plan. It is also in complete agreement with Indian thought. Some progress is visible that is derived from the law schools in the classification of the topics of law. Rationalism was foreign to the spirit of the writer. His command of language, sincerity, happy similes, carefully handled metre which almost approaches the standard of correctness of the classical poets as well as preserves some touch of epic variety.