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Dharmasastra - a word soup or Salad

prasad1

Well-known member
Dharmaśāstra is a genre of Sanskrit theological texts, and refers to the treatises (śāstras) of Hinduism on dharma. There are many Dharmashastras, variously estimated to be 18 to about 100, with different and conflicting points of view. Each of these texts exists in many different versions, and each is rooted in Dharmasutra texts dated to 1st millennium BCE that emerged from Kalpa (Vedanga) studies in the Vedic era.

The textual corpus of Dharmaśāstra were composed in poetic verses, are part of the Hindu Smritis, constituting divergent commentaries and treatises on duties, responsibilities and ethics to oneself, to family and as a member of society. The texts include discussion of ashrama (stages of life), varna (social classes), purushartha (proper goals of life), personal virtues and duties such as ahimsa (non-violence) against all living beings, rules of just war, and other topics.

Dharmaśāstra became influential in modern colonial India history, when they were formulated by early British colonial administrators to be the law of the land for all non-Muslims (Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs) in South Asia, after Sharia i.e. Mughal Empire's Fatawa-e-Alamgiri set by Emperor Muhammad Aurangzeb, was already accepted as the law for Muslims in colonial India.

Dharma is a concept which is central not only in Hinduism but also in Jainism and Buddhism. The term means a lot of things and has a wide scope of interpretation. The fundamental meaning of Dharma in Dharmasūtras, states Olivelle is diverse, and includes accepted norms of behavior, procedures within a ritual, moral actions, righteousness and ethical attitudes, civil and criminal law, legal procedures and penance or punishment, and guidelines for proper and productive living.

The term Dharma also includes social institutions such as marriage, inheritance, adoption, work contracts, judicial process in case of disputes, as well personal choices such as meat as food and sexual conduct.

 
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prasad1

Well-known member
The Dharmaśāstras
Written after the Dharmasūtras, these texts use a metered verse and are much more elaborate in their scope than Dharmasutras. The word Dharmaśāstras never appears in the Vedic texts, and the word śāstra itself appears for the first time in Yaska's Nirukta text. Katyayana's commentary on Panini's work (~3rd century BCE), has the oldest known single mention of the word Dharmaśāstras.

The extant Dharmaśāstras texts are listed below:

  1. The Manusmriti (~ 2nd to 3rd century CE) is the most studied and earliest metrical work of the Dharmaśāstra textual tradition of Hinduism. The medieval era Buddhistic law of Myanmar and Thailand are also ascribed to Manu, and the text influenced past Hindu kingdoms in Cambodia and Indonesia.
  2. The Yājñavalkya Smṛti (~ 4th to 5th-century CE) has been called the "best composed" and "most homogeneous" text of the Dharmaśāstra tradition, with its superior vocabulary and level of sophistication. It may have been more influential than Manusmriti as a legal theory text.
  3. The Nāradasmṛti (~ 5th to 6th-century CE) has been called the "juridical text par excellence" and represents the only Dharmaśāstra text which deals solely with juridical matters and ignoring those of righteous conduct and penance.
  4. The Viṣṇusmṛti (~ 7th-century CE) is one of the latest books of the Dharmaśāstra tradition in Hinduism and also the only one which does not deal directly with the means of knowing dharma, focusing instead on the bhakti tradition.
In addition, numerous other Dharmaśāstras are known, partially or indirectly, with very different ideas, customs and conflicting versions. For example, the manuscripts of Bṛhaspatismṛti and the Kātyāyanasmṛti have not been found, but their verses have been cited in other texts, and scholars have made an effort to extract these cited verses, thus creating a modern reconstruction of these texts. Scholars such as Jolly and Aiyangar have gathered some 2,400 verses of the lost Bṛhaspatismṛti text in this manner. Brihaspati-smriti was likely a larger and more comprehensive text than Manusmriti, yet both Brihaspati-smriti and Katyayana-smriti seem to have been predominantly devoted to judicial process and jurisprudence. The writers of Dharmasastras acknowledged their mutual differences, and developed a "doctrine of consensus" reflecting regional customs and preferences.

Of the four extant Dharmasastras, Manusmriti, Yajnavalkyasmriti and Naradasmriti are the most important surviving texts. But, states Robert Lingat, numerous other Dharmasastras whose manuscripts are now missing, have enjoyed equal authority. Between the three, the Manusmriti became famous during the colonial British India era, yet modern scholarship states that other Dharmasastras such as the Yajnavalkyasmriti appear to have played a greater role in guiding the actual Dharma. Further, the Dharmasastras were open texts, and they underwent alterations and rewriting through their history.

 

prasad1

Well-known member
The Dharmashastra texts include conflicting claims on the sources of dharma. The theological claim therein asserts, without any elaboration, that Dharma just like the Vedas are eternal and timeless, the former is directly or indirectly related to the Vedas. Yet these texts also acknowledge the role of Smriti, customs of polite learned people, and one's conscience as source of dharma. The historical reality, states Patrick Olivelle, is very different than the theological reference to the Vedas, and the dharma taught in the Dharmaśāstra has little to do with the Vedas. These were customs, norms or pronouncements of the writers of these texts that were likely derived from evolving regional ethical, ideological, cultural and legal practices.


Just as Constitution or any other law can be created or modified, Dharmashastra can be modified. It is not sacrosanct. So please do not hang your hat on your version of the dharmasastra.

There is a thread on "Respect women’s autonomy" which has been hijacked to talk about Dharmashastra.
 

prasad1

Well-known member
ye paap hai kyā ye pun hai kyā rītoñ par dharm kī mohreñ haiñ

har yug meñ badalte dharmoñ ko kaise ādarsh banāoge

 

prasad1

Well-known member
In Hinduism, dharma signifies behaviours that are considered to be in accord with Ṛta, the order that makes life and universe possible, and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and "right way of living". In Buddhism, dharma means "cosmic law and order", as applied to the teachings of Buddha, and can be applied to mental constructs or what is cognised by the mind. In Buddhist philosophy, dhamma/dharma is also the term for "phenomena". Dharma in Jainism refers to the teachings of tirthankara (Jina) and the body of doctrine pertaining to the purification and moral transformation of human beings. For Sikhs, dharma means the path of righteousness and proper religious practice.

The concept of dharma was already in use in the historical Vedic religion, and its meaning and conceptual scope has evolved over several millennia. The ancient Tamil moral text of Tirukkural is solely based on aṟam, the Tamil term for dharma.

Dharma is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. It has multiple meanings in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. It is difficult to provide a single concise definition for dharma, as the word has a long and varied history and straddles a complex set of meanings and interpretations. There is no equivalent single-word synonym for dharma in western languages.

The meaning of the word dharma depends on the context, and its meaning has evolved as ideas of Hinduism have developed through history. In the earliest texts and ancient myths of Hinduism, dharma meant cosmic law, the rules that created the universe from chaos, as well as rituals; in later Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and the Epics, the meaning became refined, richer, and more complex, and the word was applied to diverse contexts. In certain contexts, dharma designates human behaviours considered necessary for order of things in the universe, principles that prevent chaos, behaviours and action necessary to all life in nature, society, family as well as at the individual level. Dharma encompasses ideas such as duty, rights, character, vocation, religion, customs and all behaviour considered appropriate, correct or morally upright.



If the word Dharma is not fixed and changing all the time how can you have a Dharmasastra that is fixed and everlasting?
 
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kannan

Member
If the word Dharma is not fixed and changing all the time how can you have a Dharmasastra that is fixed and everlasting?
The narratives above on Dharmasasthras are quite scholarly and informative. Thanks for the post.
It is generally told that the translation of the Manusmriti etc by western scholars are not to be taken seriously as the contents have been reportedly distorted to suite the western interests to tarnish the Indian texts and belief. Unfortunately , it is not found discussed these days nor are there any corrected / translated texts available in wide circulation. May be there are some!
In my understanding, the word Dharma is fixed as the word Duty, is. However the Dharmasastra changes as the nature of duty changes with time.
As indicated in the narratives of the post, the various smritis (Dharma Sasthras) have emerged in their modified versions as the time passed by to suit the changed circumstances as we have changed laws to deal with the changed circumstances from time to time.
However, it may be noted that the core fundamental principles of Dharma sastras and those of the Law remain mostly un-changed.
Let there be more informative and educative posts on subject.
Thanks once again.
 
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renuka

Well-known member
Everything "created"(manisfested) has it own default built in "Law of Being" to function with.
As we age we lose this contact with our own default Law of Being system.
If one has the ability to "hear" their own default system and its rhythm ,there would not be any issue.

But as we age we developed a declarative memory which is shaped by social conditioning and acquired knowledge/information which is heavily influenced by time,place and person(persons) we are exposed too.

To maintain external Law and Order we have Laws of man ranging from Civil/Criminal Law, to Dharmashastras and to Shariah etc.

This is surely subject to amendment eg with 2/3 majority a Bill can become an Act in a parliament.
This function to amend a law is also seen in religion hence we have Fatwas in Islam.

Coming to Hinduism, there is usually no "Fatwa" amendment becos Hinduism allows the human to chose his Law of Being depending on one's station in life and his understanding of himself.

To be honest, hardly anyone is a rigid Dharmashatrin these days.
Everyone has oriented to time,place and person.

From what I can understand any religious text has the ability to be stand the test of time.
Its not just meant for the past but the present and future too just that its application differs.

For eg recently a person I know didnt actually inform me of a situation of a sick person becos she assumed the person is fine (she self diagnosed the person)
So I told her next time to inform me of any situation as "she is entitled to her perception of the situation but not to the diagnosis of it"

I had just modified the Geeta verse "you are entitled to your actions but not to the fruits of it"

Did the Geeta verse stand the test of time?
Yes it did.

I guess we can always use any information from any text be it Geeta or Dharmashastras as long as we understand the essence of it in a flowing manner and not fix our mind in a rigid fashion and lose our ability for a deeper understanding.
 

Janaki Jambunathan

Well-known member
Just as Constitution or any other law can be created or modified, Dharmashastra can be modified. It is not sacrosanct. So please do not hang your hat on your version of the dharmasastra

There is a thread on "Respect women’s autonomy" which has been hijacked to talk about Dharmashastra.(#3)

Well Dharmashstra itself could be modified -but the stage or platform where it is debated should not - it is not permitted!

Change the hat but not the hanger!

(What are the possible consequences & how individual is responsible for them when there is no violation of Dharma?

No word salads please.){Respect Woman autonomy}

Word salads comes in new plate or thread !
 

prasad1

Well-known member
Dharma is equivalent to Law, duty, and morality.

We know law, duty, and morality are time and location-specific. Similarly, Dharma too is transitory and will change.

In India, you drive on the Right-hand side and In The USA we drive on the left side of the road. That is the law.
there is no universal law so similarly there can not be universal Dharma. Even in India and within the Brahmin community there are divergent practices so consequently, there are different Dharmas.

In the Bengali community, they eat fish and on specific occasions even meat. That might be against Dharma in a TB family.

In another thread, someone wrote that very bad things were being prescribed for women and widows in our Dharmashastras. They were abhorring practice then and fortunately are outlawed by our constitution. So some of these dharmashastras are outdated by today's standards, and should not be practiced. They are archived History at best.


Women have always been regarded as the guardians of dharma, custodian and transmitter of patriarchal values. The Vedas and Upanishads are replete with anecdotes of how gods and sages from time immemorial have created, used and controlled women for their own benefits and other’s destruction. Manusmriti imparts detailed knowledge of the rites and duties to be performed by married women and being subservient to her husband tops the list.

Vilification of women has been highlighted by portraying the woman as a dependent and vile creature requiring constant protection and guidance – initially by the father or brother and later by the husband and son. The unabashed elevation of the patriarchal values is shown in the fact that men (especially Brahmins) have been instructed not to accept food from women without a husband.

There is hardly any discourse noticeable on the unmarried women in the text as an unmarried menstruating woman is seen as a threat to the social equilibrium and a source of religious pollution. The verbatim translation of some of the passages in Manusmriti by Patrick Olivelle with regard to the duties of the married women towards her husband states-

The man to whom her father or, with her father’s consent, her brother gives her away- she should obey him when he is alive and not be unfaithful to him when he is dead. The invocation of blessings and the sacrifice to Prajapati are performed during marriage to procure her good fortune; the act of giving away is the reason for his lordship over her.

In season and out of season, in this world and in the next, the husband who performed the marriage consecration with ritual formulas always gives happiness to his woman. Though he may be bereft of virtue, given to lust and totally devoid of good qualities, a good woman should always worship her husband like a god.

For a woman, there is no independent sacrifice, vow or fast; a woman will be exalted in heaven by the mere fact that she has obediently served her husband. A
good woman, desiring to go to the same world as her husband, should never do anything displeasing to the man who took her hand, whether he is alive or dead.




No sane person can or should tolerate such treatment in today's world.
 

prasad1

Well-known member
The Manusmriti also known as Manav Dharam Shastra, is the earliest metrical work on Brahminical Dharma in Hinduism. According to Hindu mythology, the Manusmriti is the word of Brahma, and it is classified as the most authoritative statement on Dharma .The scripture consists of 2690 verses, divided into 12 chapters. It is presumed that the actual human author of this compilation used the eponym ‘Manu’, which has led the text to be associated by Hindus with the first human being and the first king in the Indian tradition.

Although no details of this eponymous author’s life are known, it is likely that he belonged to a conservative Brahman class somewhere in Northern India. Hindu apologists consider the Manusmriti as the divine code of conduct and, accordingly, the status of women as depicted in the text has been interpreted as Hindu divine law. While defending Manusmriti as divine code of conduct for all including women, apologists often quote the verse: “yatr naryasto pojyantay, ramantay tatr devta (where women are provided place of honor, gods are pleased and reside there in that household), but they deliberately forget all those verses that are full of prejudice, hatred and discrimination against women.

Here are some of the ‘celebrated’ derogatory comments about women in the Manusmriti :

 

renuka

Well-known member
The Manusmriti also known as Manav Dharam Shastra, is the earliest metrical work on Brahminical Dharma in Hinduism. According to Hindu mythology, the Manusmriti is the word of Brahma, and it is classified as the most authoritative statement on Dharma .The scripture consists of 2690 verses, divided into 12 chapters. It is presumed that the actual human author of this compilation used the eponym ‘Manu’, which has led the text to be associated by Hindus with the first human being and the first king in the Indian tradition.

Although no details of this eponymous author’s life are known, it is likely that he belonged to a conservative Brahman class somewhere in Northern India. Hindu apologists consider the Manusmriti as the divine code of conduct and, accordingly, the status of women as depicted in the text has been interpreted as Hindu divine law. While defending Manusmriti as divine code of conduct for all including women, apologists often quote the verse: “yatr naryasto pojyantay, ramantay tatr devta (where women are provided place of honor, gods are pleased and reside there in that household), but they deliberately forget all those verses that are full of prejudice, hatred and discrimination against women.

Here are some of the ‘celebrated’ derogatory comments about women in the Manusmriti :


Dear Prasad Ji,

The best is to read everything with a pinch of salt and not to read anything in the "past" tru the lenses of the present.

Also its interpretation depends on the station of one's understanding.

Humans are of many kinds.
1)Mostly are body centric and hence do not utilize much of the finer grey matter and need injunctions that spell everything as black and white and NO grey cos they do not use grey matter.
These types identify with their body ..for them "I am the body, I am the Varna, I am the culture, I am the religion, I am the philosophy"
Their very existence is dependent on an externalization.

Are these people wrong?
Nope, they are not cos thats how their brains perceive life.
Its like a person who is color blind, his brain only can see some shades and not all colors.

2)Next is the one who likes to reject everything without understanding why humans differ in their perception.
The "Rebel without a pause"
They tend to rebel and reject but indirectly are also "My way or the Highway" in expression.
These types use mostly their limbic system of their brain when forming opinions and can be very forceful.
These types do not attain any peaceful state becos they are in constant conflict with every thought that traverses their brain.

3)then there is the 3rd type that does not need any form of identity be it bodily or non bodily identification to function.
These people do not reject anything neither do they accept anything but function in the "Now" and use culture/religion/philosophy as mere tools and do not identify with all these even though to others they might seem "orthodox" or "religious"
These types are aware that everything is merely a perception that the brain interprets with the pre-existing data base that is uploaded tru acquired knowledge and a declarative memory and nothing is "Real" as yet becos everything we know is relayed tru our senses and also perceived tru our senses.


Ok, the world has place for each and every type as long no acute harm is done to others.
When acute harm befalls then Law and Order of the era kicks into action and we can haul a person to court for sentencing.

So frankly speaking...what are you so worried about?
 

Janaki Jambunathan

Well-known member
Dharma is equivalent to Law, duty, and morality.(#9)

Response:

Dharma is arbitrary and no law!

In India, you drive on the Right-hand side and In The USA we drive on the left side of the road. That is the law(#9)

Response:

It is the law So both men and women drive on right in India or left on USA!

Hinduism has an impressive capacity to sustain contradictions. Within its fold, Hinduism simultaneously holds dualism and non-dualism; devotion, doubt and denial; self-denying spiritualism and self-gratifying materialism. One such contradiction is the status of women. Hindu mores deify women as the venerable mother, and as formidable goddesses, even as they relegate them to submissive inferiority.(#26)-(Respect woman autonomy)

Response:

This persists and will continue to persist as long as MCPs exists rather their mind set!
Ayushmanbhava for men & Dheergasumangalibhava for women attitude should change.

No sane person can or should tolerate such treatment in today's world.(#9)

Response:


I enjoy Russian Salad! - it is from mother land and not from father land .

One thing I read said it's a left-brain, right-brain thing, the left brain being rational and the right brain being emotional.
 

prasad1

Well-known member
Dear Prasad Ji,
So frankly speaking...what are you so worried about?
Short Answer NO, I am not worried.

My concern is that it is still Man's world, and women are forced by religion, society, and other agencies to be subservient.
I feel there should be a level playing field.
I accept that men and women can not be equal on all levels.

There will be different categories in sports. That is by choice.
 
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