Author: Vinita Agrawal
Publisher: Indian Council for Cultural Relations
ISBN/UPC (if available): N/A
The Dharmasastras constitute a vast body of literature, comprising mainly of the Smrtis. The Dharmasastras had followed immediately after the composition of the Dharmasutras. Though the Dharmasastras seem to have borrowed immensely from the Dharmasastras, they differed from them and marked a step ahead in a significant way. They seem to be dealing with the same subjects as the later, however, are much more extensive works. They give a larger place to the rules of a juridical character. Further, the Dharmasutras seem to have originated out of and have a close association with the literature belonging to the Vedic school, the kalpas. The Dharmasastras, however, marked a specialization in what is now an independent discipline. They appear to be works uniquely devoted to the study of Dharma.
Manusmrti is considered as the first and most authoritative work among all the ancient Indian texts classed under this genre of literature. Also, Manusmrti has evoked more responses and reactions than any other Dharmasastra. Most of the times, these responses have been of an extreme nature. Manu has been scathingly criticized by many for sowing the seeds of gender and caste oppression in the Indian society. On the other hand, there is no dearth of zealous disciples of Manu who consider Manusmrti as the foundational document of Hindu way of life and seek to justify all the indictments laid down in it. Amongst all the criticisms leveled against Manu.the severest are those regarding Manu’s statements about the women. The author of Manusmrti is criticized for tightening the noose around Hindu women’s lives, shrinking the social space afforded to them and imposing severe restrictions upon them.
The Political, Economic, Social and Religious Conditions
Manu on Women
Deviations from the Norm: Epigraphic Evidences