The sad part is that most of the people who have contempt for Manu have not even read his work or try to analyse the context and time in which it was framed.
They focus on highest privilege for Brahmins and leniency in punishments also to them, focused a little excessively on rituals, discriminate against women but also praise and honour them.
They discriminate against Shudras and give preference and even amnesty for crimes especially to the Brahmins, and also to the twice born(dwija).
The so called Dalit Messiahs have perverted the true intention of Manu into a castist racist bigoted person.
Read my article on the true meaning and the importance of the Varnashrama Dharma to really understand the context in which these laws are framed.
In any case, I do not believe that exemptions should be given based on status.
In the eyes of law, all should be equal and all crimes should be punished equally for all types of people.
These three texts are collectively referred to as the Prasthanatrayi.
Another important scripture is the Yoga Vasistha.
Every tradition is a product of its times and must be updated or discarded if it is out of place in contemporary modern times.
14. But when two sacred texts (Sruti) are conflicting, both are held to be law; for both are pronounced by the wise (to be) valid law.
Today “Brahmins” even eat beef, drink alcohol and many of them have not read or even heard of the Vedas but prefer to read Shakespeare and Jeffrey Archer or watch every episode of Big Boss and Saas Bahu.
Times have changed.
Everybody is born a Shudra.
This is the true meaning of the word twice born (dwija) for the upper varnas.
Those who remain ignorant, lazy and violate Dharma still remain as they were born as Shudras.
I do not know for what reason Manu placed women as the dependents of man who could not handle the world on their own and should be subservient to man.
Manu did say that a women should always be dependent on men – to their fathers when they are young, to their husbands in their youth, and to their sons in their old age.
The times were very different then – most people were farmers and did hard physical work and a lot of fighting.
Women are much stronger than men spiritually, emotionally and mentally, but men are stronger physically and more suited to hard physical labour and fighting.
Another thing about Manu is that he says a woman should worship her husband as Patidev(husband who is God) even if he is a worthless fart who drinks, gambles, commits adultery and beats her.
In these times men and also women should earn respect and be worthy of respect and not demand it because of their birth or position.
55. Women must be honoured and adorned by their fathers, brothers, husbands, and brothers-in-law, who desire (their own) welfare.
56. Where women are honoured, there the gods are pleased; but where they are not honoured, no sacred rite yields rewards.
57. Where the female relations live in grief, the family soon wholly perishes; but that family where they are not unhappy ever prospers.
58. The houses on which female relations, not being duly honoured, pronounce a curse, perish completely, as if destroyed by magic.
59. Hence men who seek (their own) welfare, should always honour women on holidays and festivals with (gifts of) ornaments, clothes, and (dainty) food.
The laws of Manu available as translated into English today have many contradictory statements about women.
So some of the parts of the Manusmirti are contradictory and this could be because they may have been perverted from the original texts and modified and further influenced by outsiders like the Arab invaders and Western “scholars”.
But disregarding its flaws, many of the concepts are applicable even today especially in the guidelines for Kings and the punishments and taxes and promotion of vegetarianism and non violence towards animals.
In fact the Sanskrit word for meat “Mahamsa” actually means in Chapter V.
55. ‘Me he (mam sah)’ will devour in the next (world), whose flesh I eat in this (life); the wise declare this (to be) the real meaning of the word ‘flesh’ (mamsah).
However in the same chapter Manu also states in V, 56:
56. There is no sin in eating meat, in drinking liquor and in carnal intercourse for that is the natural way of created beings,but abstention brings great rewards.
If Manu was really as dogmatic and authoritarian as so called Dalit Messaiahs have us believe, it would be impossible to find such verses promoting vegetarianism and proper morals and at the same time saying there is no sin in it.
Manu actually places great importance on the worship of Food.
In Chapter II, Manu says:
54. Let him always worship his food, and eat it without contempt; when he sees it, let him rejoice, show a pleased face, and pray that he may always obtain it.
55. Food, that is always worshipped, gives strength and manly vigour; but eaten irreverently, it destroys them both.
56. Let him not give to any man what he leaves, and beware of eating between (the two meal-times); let him not over-eat himself, nor go anywhere without having purified himself (after his meal).
57. Excessive eating is prejudicial to health, to fame, and to (bliss in) heaven; it prevents (the acquisition of) spiritual merit, and is odious among men; one ought, for these reasons, to avoid it carefully.
Manu also starts with a section on the creation of the world and it is a lot more believable than Genesis in the Torah.
In fact the the texts of the Sanathan Dharma have a more refined theory than the big bang
There was no such thing as the big bang that created the beginning of time.
There is just an endless cycle of time.
Time is the supreme creator and destroyer and treats all equally.
First there was nothing, only Brahman, who always existed and was never created or born.
Brahman is beyond the constraints of creation, space, matter and time.
In fact in many Vedic texts, there is a pun on the word Narayana, the supreme lord.
The waters created are called narah, for they are the offspring of Nara and were his first residence (ayana) – hence he is named Narayana.
To the Brahmins, he assigned teaching and studying of the Vedas, sacrificing for their own benefit and others, and the giving and accepting of alms.
To the Vaisya to tend cattle, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study the Vedas, to trade, to lend money and cultivate land.
To the Shudra he assigned only one occupation, to meekly serve the other castes.
The ordering of the four Varnas were based on Gunas (virtues) and Karma (conduct, deeds) and not by birth.
Read my article on the true meaning and the importance of the Varnashrama Dharma.
Unless people are given a True Education and interact with an enlightened class of people they will not be able to have a enlightened world view.
There is a saying in English:
If wishes were horses, even beggars would ride.
21. The kingdom of that monarch, who looks on while a Sudra settles the law, will sink (low), like a cow in a morass.
22. That kingdom where Sudras are very numerous, which is infested by atheists and destitute of twice-born (inhabitants), soon entirely perishes, afflicted by famine and disease.
TO BE CONTINUED