What is manuvad

Is it permissible to deny Manusmriti's authority?

Argument 1a)

Manusmriti 4.176 says

  1. Let him (the acquisition of) wealth and (the satisfaction of one's) desires avoid if they are against the holy law and even against lawful acts violate which may cause pain or offend people in the future.

Therefore, even any lawful act that may cause pain in the future and be offensive to men, such as casteism / Varna implementation at birth, must be avoided according to Manusmriti himself.

Argument 1b)

Manu Smriti, Chapter 2, Verse 12 (http://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/manusmriti-with-the-commentary-of-medhatithi/d/doc145585.html) says

वेदः स्मृतिः सदाचारः स्वस्य च प्रियमात्मनः। एतच्चतुर्विधं प्राहुः साक्षाद् धर्मस्य लक्षणम्॥ १२॥

vedaḥ smṛtiḥ sadācāraḥ svasya ca priyamātmanaḥ |

etaccaturvidhaṃ prāhuḥ sākṣād dharmasya lakṣaṇam || 12 ||

The Veda, the Smṛti, the practice of cultivated people (Sadaachaara) and that which is pleasant for oneself (one's own inner conscience) - this is directly the fourfold means of knowing Dharma.

-> Conclusion: Even Manusmriti, which Vedas and Smriti maintain for knowledge of Dharma, "this Manusmriti itself" brings Sadaachaar and that which is pleasant to oneself (one's inner conscience) - on the same level as knowledge of Dharma / ethical moral practice


Please see: The Bhagavad-Gita with the commentary by Sri Shankaracharya, translated into English by Alladi Mahadeva Sastri. https://archive.org/details/Bhagavad-Gita.with.the.Commentary.of.Sri.Shankaracharya

Shankaracharya explains in his own Gita Bhasya 18.66 the following:

https://ia800304.us.archive.org/8/items/Bhagavad-Gita.with.the.Commentary.of.Sri.Shankaracharya/Bhagavad-Gita.with.the.Commentary.of.Sri.Shankaracharya.pdf see P. 529 of the PDF (or p. 513, as mentioned in the book pages above)

Shruti is an authority only on matters that are not perceived by ordinary instruments of knowledge such as pratyaksha or direct perception - that is, it is an authority on the interrelationship of things for a purpose, but not on matters within the realm of Pratyaksha;in fact, Sruti is only meant to be an authority to know what is beyond knowing. Therefore it is not possible that the term "I", which arises in connection with the aggregate of the body etc. and is obviously based on illusions, is only a figurative idea.

A hundred statements from Sruti can explain that fire is cold or dark;Even so, they have no authority on the matter. If Shruti should explain that fire is cold or dark at all;we would still assume that it intends a meaning quite different from what it appears to be, for its authority cannot otherwise be maintained: we should in no way add a meaning contrary to other authorities or to their own explanation.

-> Conclusion : With regard to the immediate perception of this word, Shruti (Veda) is therefore not given the authenticity, but the perceptual knowledge and the argumentation are weighted more heavily.Hence the notions of human equality and justice and no caste creed, also advocated by Vivekanada, Dayanand Saraswati, etc., deal with this worldly matter in which perception and deduction have authority over Vedas (Shruti).Obviously, Smriti, who have far less authority on any matter (and if Smriti's text conflicts with Vedas, then Vedas are paramount) can also be denied the authority of Smriti - on the basis of Shankracharya's quoted text.


ref: http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_6/epistles_second_series/124_sir.htm

Swami Vivekananda said regarding ignoring bad instructions in Hindu scriptures:

I have seen such a god in my life and I live his commandments to obey. "The Smritis and the Puranas are productions by men with limited intelligence and full of errors, errors, class and malice feelings. Only parts of them that breathe the breadth of spirit and love are acceptable, the rest is to be rejected."

[Complete-Works / Volume 6 / Epistles - Second Series / CXXIV] http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_6/epistles_second_series/124_sir.htm


Vedas are canonical writings (Pramanas) in every Astika sect. But Manusmriti is not a canonical scripture in all sects. It is canonical for the Smarta sect. But Arya Samaj regards Veda only as a canonical scripture passage. Nath Sampradyaya does not consider Manusmriti to be canonical scripture. So it is permissible to deny the authority of Manusmriti according to the convention of the sect that the person follows.

5) Kapalika is a non-Puran form of Shavism. Puranas (who are Smritis) are not canonical there. In this type of non-Smriti Shaivite sects, Manusmriti are not applicable

6) Lingayat Shaivism does not even consider Vedas as pramana, but it is respected nonetheless. Vachanas are canonical. Hence, the entire Corpus Smriti text is not an authority there.

7) If so many official sects can officially deny Manumsirit / whole Smriti as canonical authority, then obviously a non-sectarian Hindu person (who is not officially affiliated with any sect of Hinduism) can also deny that the Manusmriti are canonical to him, and He can still be a scriptural Hindu.

8) See https://hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/400/13287

The Smritis (Dharma Shastras) themselves suggest that some of the laws should be changed if they are found offensive to the future generation:

9) See: See https://hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/400/13287

Both Sruti and Smriti cannot override human reason. I am posting two quotes here about the importance of reason:

For example, Acharya Shankara says in his Gita Bhasya 18.66:

"The appeal to the infallibility of the Vedic arrangement is misunderstood. The infallibility in question relates only to the invisible forces or apurva and is only permissible in relation to matters not limited to the realm of direct perception, etc. Even a hundred statements of Sruti stating that fire is cold and not luminous will not prove valid. If it makes such a statement, its meaning must be interpreted differently, otherwise the validity is not associated with it. Nothing contradicting the Means of valid knowledge or their own statements may be added to sruti. "

10) See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%80gama_(Hinduism)#Relation_to_the_Vedas_and_Upanishads

The Vedas and Upanishads are common scriptures of Hinduism, it says in Dhavamony, while the Agamas are sacred texts of certain sects of Hinduism. Surviving Vedic literature can date back to the 1st millennium BC. BC and earlier to be traced, while the surviving agamas can be traced back to the 1st millennium of the common era. Vedic literature in Shaivism is primary and general, while agamas is a special treatise. Regarding philosophy and spiritual precepts, no agama that goes against Vedic literature will be acceptable to the Shaivas, according to Dhavamony. Likewise, the Vaishnavas treat the Vedas together with the Bhagavad Gita as the main script and the Samhitas (Agamas) The Shaktas have a similar reverence for Vedic literature and consider the Tantras (Agamas) as the fifth Veda.

The legacy of the Agamas, according to Krishna Shivaraman, was the "Vedic deity who matures in the monism of the Upanishads and represents the ultimate spiritual reality as Brahman and the way to attainment as presented in the Gita". David Smith notes that "a key characteristic of the Tamil Saiva Siddhanta, one could almost say its defining characteristic, is the claim that its source is in both the Vedas and the Agamas, in what it calls the Vedagamas". [35] The view of this school can be summarized as follows:

----> Conclusion: Only Vedas and Upanishads form the common scriptures of Hinduism, the rest is sectarian. thats why Manusmirit no canonical text except for the Smarta sect (see also https://hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/26097/13287).

11) See also book on imaginary manuvad:

Shashi Shekhar Sharma, Imagined Manuvād: The Dharmaśāstras and their Interpreters, Rupa & Co., 2005 https://books.google.co.in/books/about/Imagined_Manuv%C4%81d.html?id=IJacAAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y

12) refer Is there verse or historical evidence that Manusmriti is more authoritative than other Smritis?

13) See: https://hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/784/13287

Vivekananda says many unholy deeds and ridiculous stories in Vedas. The correct meaning of the statement "The Vedas begin less and forever" is that the law or truth which they reveal to man is permanent and immutable.

14) British colonialists made widespread propaganda about projecting Manusmriti as canonical text also for non-Smarta Hindus, under the illusion that the British rule Hindus by their own religious law.

See: https://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/h_es/h_es_kishw_mythic_frameset.htm

15) See: https://hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/14977/13287 See: http://www.astrojyoti.com/pdfs/DevanagariFiles/13Parashara_Smriti.pdf Chapter 1, Sloka 24 (same chapter) it is exact which rules are to be applied at which age.

Krite tu Manava Dharmastretayam Gowtamah Smritaha ||Dwapare Sankhalikhitah Kalou Parashara Smritaha ||

For Krita Manu's laws apply, Gowtamas for Treta, in Dwapara those written by Sankha and Likhita apply and "Prashara Smriti is the one that applies in Kali".

Anubhav Jha

How are Puranas bad? I know smritis are a little controversial as they talk about the caste system, money, and punishment. That makes people insecure. But Puranas don't even talk about caste or anything, they just keep their deities as supreme.


"The Smritis and the Puranas are productions by men of limited intelligence and full of errors, mistakes" - be careful who you quote. Your goal in this forum is to simply quote Vivekananda.

Anubhav Jha

@sv. Oh well. It is not that Vivekananda produced any kind of flawless works of spirituality to have room to criticize the works of Rishis. He himself has misquoted many things from the scriptures, with the exception of Manu Smriti, other Smritis are far better, even Manu Smriti is not as bad as Some people do it that way. I wonder if the Hindus who consider Manu Smriti bad have read the Old Testament, the Koranic or Jewish laws.


@AnubhavJha "I wonder if the Hindus who think Manu Smriti is bad have read the Old Testament, the Koranic or Jewish laws." - This is like telling the person indicating that your bow tie is open that their bow tie is more open: P.


Update: I added "Shankarachrya's official comment on limitations on the authority of Shruti, etc. in certain cases". Please see argument (2) of my answer