Manu-samhita (Manu-smrti) overview

JanM, Aug 2002

description: dharma-sastra (duties of varnas and asramas)
author: Svayambhuva Manu (Manavacarya), later other Manus added changes (SB 4.28.31 p., 7.8.48, 8.14.5).
relevance to Vaisnavas: indirect (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu contains the essence of Manu-samhita for Vaisnavas)
chapters: 12
texts: 2685
text file cca 505 kB

Manu-samhita (trans. G. Buehler, with added tags for easier study)






brahmana-grhastha - snataka
eating, purification
vanaprastha, sannyasa
ksatriya (king)
law and punishment
husband and wife, inheritance, punishment
duties of varnas
begging, sacrifice, penance
supplement: karma, next incarnations, Veda, knowledge of the self

Chapter 1, 119 verses, contents: creation

6. Garbhodakasayi Visnu,
9. virat purusa (SB 3.26.53-),
13. heaven and earth,
23. Vedas,
31. varnas,
32. virat,
35. ten rishis,
36.-49. creatures,
50. Brahma first in samsara,
60.- Bhrigu speaks,
64.-73. time calculation,
74. eight elements,
81.-87. four yugas, degradation,
88.-91. duties of varnas,
93.-105. brahmana,
106.-119. contents

Chapter 2, 249 verses, contents: brahmacarya

3.-16. karma, law, Vedas (6. guru, sastra, sadhu and self-satisfaction as four pramanas),
17.-24. Bharata-varsa geography and proper places to live,
25.- dvija's duties - samskaras, clothing, begging food,
51.-57. eating, purification (56. leave no remnants),
64. damaged upavita thread into water,
66.-67. women,
69.- student (brahmacari),
74.-87. mantras (om),
88. eleven senses,
94.-95. analogy: desire not extinguished by indulgence - fire fed with ghee,
96.-100. sense control,
101.-107. twilight mantra recitations,
109.-118. (un)worthy persons to teach (111. wise should play fools among men),
119.- etiquette,
136.-139. hierarchy of respect,
140.-150. teachers,
149.-156. seniority by knowledge, not age, (155. seniority of brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra - Canakya's Niti-sastra 2.16),
159.-161. speech and mind,
162. brahmana should fear homage and seek scorn,
164.- renunciation and knowledge,
172. everyone sudra by birth,
173.- rules for brahmacari - hygiene, conduct, begging,
191.-205. etiquette toward teacher,
206.- etiquette toward teacher's relatives, parents, elders,
212.-215. etiquette toward women,
218. analogy: man digging with a spade to get water - brahmacari getting knowledge from teacher (Niti 13.17),
238.-241. analogy: learning even from lower persons - taking gold from impure place (Niti 1.16),
245.-246. daksina to teacher

Chapter 3, 286 verses, contents: grhastha

4.-19. choosing a wife (family, qualities, health, varna),
20.-44. eight kinds of marriage, eight kinds of results of marriage (4 good, 4 bad),
45.-50. conceiving children,
52.-54. women's property untouchable,
55.-59. honor for women necessary,
60.-66. family happiness and unhappiness,
67.-98. panca-yajna: 1. ahuta - teaching and study of the Veda - sacrifice to Brahma, 2. prasita (eaten) - offering to pitas, 3. huta - to devas, 4. prahuta - to bhutas, 5. brahmya-huta - reception of guests, feeding brahmanas - to men) and giving alms,
99.-120. receiving guests (118. eating sin - BG 3.13),
122.-286. sraddha rules (190.-201.,284. kinds of pitas)

Chapter 4, 260 verses, contents: brahmana-grhastha - snataka

2.-20. occupations,
21-38. sacrifices,
31.,260. snataka definition,
45.-52. hygiene,
60.-61. where not to stay (Niti 1.8-10, 7.7),
128. continence times,
133.-134. distance from another's wife (Niti 7.4, 11.17, 12.14),
148. remembering former lives,
160. what depends on others, gives pain, what depends on oneself, gives pleasure,
161. perform what gladdens the heart,
172.-174. the mills of God, hereditary karma,
204. yama - paramount duties, niyama - minor duties (NOI 3),
211. eat no remnants (SB 6.18.49),
212. woman impure for ten days,
217. ten days of impurity after death in family,
233. gift of the Veda the best of all,
239.-240. no relatives in the next world, only spiritual merits (Niti
5.15,20, 12.12,17),
244. sadhu-sanga,
256. nature of all things is determined by speech, one dishonest in speech is dishonest in everything

Chapter 5, 169 verses, contents: eating, purification

4. acts punished by shortening the life - neglect of the Veda study,
misconduct, remission in duties, eating forbidden food (6. not red
exudations from trees and juice from incisions),
26.-56. rules for eating meat (30.,33.,37. when not considered sinful, 31.,35.,39. only for sacrifices, 38. analogy: number of animal's hairs
- number of future violent deaths, 40.,42. sacrificed plants and
animals reborn in higher existences, 43.-47. unlawful injure
forbidden, 48.-55. best solution - to stop, 51. seven slayers of an
animal, 56. regulated meat-eating),
57.-109. purification for the death in family, times of impurity,
ceremonies (96. king an incarnation of Soma, Agni, Surya, Vayu, Indra, Kuvera, Varuna and Yama - SB 3.21.51, 4.14.26-27, 105. purifiers - knowledge of austerities, fire, holy food (prasadam), earth, restraint of mind, water, smearing with cowdung, wind, sacred rites, sun, time,
106.-109. general rules for purification),
110.-133. purification of inanimate things (133. flies are pure),
134.-146. personal hygiene,
147.-166. duties of women (148. three periods of dependence, 155. sacrifice, vows, fasting of woman - not independent - Niti 17.10, 156.-166. widows),
167.-169. widowers

Chapter 6, 97 verses, contents: vanaprastha, sannyasa

1.-33. vanaprastha,
34.-end sannyasa
35.-37. three debts of a brahmana - study of the Vedas, begetting
sons, offering sacrifices,
50. alms not by explaining omens, astrology and palmistry, giving
advice, teaching sastras,
71. suppression of breath destroys taints of the organs,
73. reincarnation difficult to understand for unregenerate, i.e. not
'born-again' men,
79. making over the good karma to friends, the bad karma to enemies,
89.-90. householders superior to other varnas - they support and
protect them,
92. ten-fold law

Chapter 7, 226 verses, contents: ksatriya (king)

4.-7. king created from eternal particles of main demigods (SB
3.21.51, 4.14.26-27),
14.-31. punishment,
37.-53. behavior (50. four regs, 53. vice worse than death - it leads to hell),
54.-62. ministers, assistants,
63.-68. ambassador,
69.-76. place for country, town, fortress,
77.-81. king's consort, priests, sacrifices, officials,
82.-86. relationship to brahmanas, results of money given to brahmanas (Niti 12.2),
87-98. rules for fight and battle,
99.-101. gain-preserve-augment-distribute,
102.-113. politics and strategy,
114.-125. subordinate rulers and officials,
126.-142. taxes (133. not from brahmanas, 135. maintain and protect brahmanas, 136. brahmana's activities increase king's life, wealth, kingdom),
143.-180. protection of subjects, daily schedule, political and
military consulting,
181.-200. war strategy (198. four means of diplomacy - conciliation, gifts, dissension, fight),
201.-215. after the war, booty (205. everything depends on fate and human exertion, fate is unfathomable and enables the other, 213. wealth < wife < one's self (Niti 1.6, 3.10),
216.-226. pleasures and duties

Chapter 8, 420 verses, contents: law and punishment

3.-17. eighteen titles of the law,
12.-19. karmic considerations (17. justice the only friend after death
- Niti 5.13, 6.9, 13.15, 18. in case of unjust decision 1/4 reactions
to sinner, 1/4 to false witness, 1/4 to all judges, 1/4 to the king),
20.-22. sudras vs. law,
37.-39. found treasures,
46. customary law set by practices of twiceborn,
48.-49. four ways to recover the debt,
53.-57. who fails the suit,
61.-130. choosing qualified witnesses, rules for them (69.-72.
situations when anyone can witness, 85.-86. unseen witnesses - SB 6.1.42, 88. rules for examining four varnas, 92. land of Kurus -
Kuruksetra, 103.-106. when false testimony is not punishable, 108. if witness is punished by karma in one week, must pay debt and fine,
109.-113. oaths, 114.-116. God's trial, 124.-130. corporal punishment (not for brahmanas),
131.-137. measures,
140.-178. interest rates, pledges, contracts, debts,
179.-196. deposits and loans,
197.-211. selling, payments, shares,
212.-214. gifts (for pious purpose must be used properly),
215.-218. wages,
219.-228. agreements (222.-223. buyed/sold things can be returned or taken back within ten days without fine), 226.-227. nuptial texts and wedding only for virgins),
229.-244. disputes over cattle,
245.-266. disputes over village boundaries,
267.-301. punitive law (290.-298. traffic law),
302.-313. king's protection (304.-308. 1/6 of subjects' karma to king, 309. bad king (atheist, etc.) goes to hell, 310. three kinds of
punishment - prison, fetters, corporal punishments),
314.-316. pardoning for thief (special conditions),
317. karma into food, karma of - adulterous wife to husband,
pupil/sacrificer to teacher/priest, thief to king (who pardoned him
319.-343. specific punishments for thieves (335. king must punish even one's relatives, 337.-338. gradation of guilt according to knowledge of a sinner, 339.-342. special cases),
344.-351. punishments for violence,
352.-385. punishments for adultery and rape (353. adultery > mixing of varnas > sin > destruction of everything - BG 1.41, 380.-381. never kill brahmana),
388.-389. not forsake or cast off people,
390.-393. small disputes among brahmanas,
397.-409. business and traveling law (398. tax for king - 1/20 of
goods' value, 407. pregnant woman, ascetic, hermit, brahmana student pay no ferry toll),
411. wealthy brahmana supports ksatriya and vaisya distressed for livelihood, employs them in due work,
412.-417. master-servant/slave (416. wife, son and slave have no

Chapter 9, 336 verses, contents: husband and wife, inheritance,

2.-12. women under protection,
13. six causes of woman's ruin (Niti 2.15, 4.17, 6.4, 8.8,18),
14.-15. woman's lust,
17. eight bad qualities of woman (Niti 2.1),
18.-19. woman - no rites with mantras, no strength and knowledge of the Veda, impure,
22.-24. woman assumes qualities of her husband,
26. analogy: wives - Laksmis,
27.-28. things depending on wife,
29.-30. good and bad wife, their fate,
31.-40. discussion of sages to whom belongs a male child, child
marked by characteristics of seed, not the womb,
41.-44. no approach other's wife,
45.-46. perfect man consists of his wife, offspring and himself,
husband is one with wife, no sale or repudiation of wife, no divorce,
47. things done once - partition of inheritance, marrying the daughter and accepting the wife (Niti 4.11),
48.-56. offspring belongs to owner of woman (field), not the begetter,
57-70. rules for begetting offspring with one's relatives in crisis
(64.-68. not with widows, 69.-70. exception),
72.-73. abandoning damsel,
74-75. securing maintenance (or not) for wife while traveling, her
76.-79. waiting times for traveling husband - eight, six, three years,
times for abandon (special cases),
80.-83. superseding wife,
85.-102. wedding and social relations (88.-89. husband distinguished, handsome, of equal varna, not without good qualities - better not to marry, 90.-93. damsel not given to marriage chooses husband herself, no property, no nuptial fee for her, 95. "husband receives wife from gods, he must support her", 96. women created to be mothers, men to be fathers, rites done together, 101.-102. "let mutual fidelity continues until death" - summary of highest law for husband and wife),
103.-220. rules for dealing with inheritance (role of eldest son,
appointed daughter if no son is born, her son and husband, pinda
(sraddha) rules, 138. son called putra (liberates from hell - put),
143.-147. worthy and unworthy heirs, 149.-157. mixed varnas, 158.-181. twelve kinds of sons - six heirs and kinsmen, six kinsmen only, definitions (171. son cast off, apaviddha, still heir), 189. king must not take brahmana's property, 194.-200. woman's property, 201.-203. eunuchs, handicapped, etc., 204.-218. dealings among brothers, 219. indivisible property),
221.-228. gambling (to be suppressed), (225. dancers, singers,
heretics, etc. banished from town),
229. ksatriya, vaisya, and sudra should pay fine by labor (having no money), brahmana by installments,
235.-250. killing a brahmana, drinking sura (alcohol), stealing
brahmana's gold, violating guru's bed - mahapataka sins, punishments, penances, king's approach (245. Varuna, lord of punishment),
251.-293. king's protection and punishments, analogy: sinners -
thorns, finding, punishment, prevention,
294.-297. seven parts (anga) of a kingdom - king, minister, capital, realm, treasury, army, ally (order of decreasing importance),
301.-302. analogy: king - yugas (sleeping - Kali, waking - Dvapara, ready to act - Treta, moving - Krta),
303.-311. king represents eight demigods - SB 3.21.51, 4.14.26-27,
313.-325. king and brahmanas, their power,
326.-336. rules for vaisyas and sudras

Chapter 10, 131 verses, contents: duties of varnas

3. brahmana lord of all varnas,
4.-73. varnas, mixing, offspring, occupation, elevation,
20.-24. properly born sons but not executing their duties are
42. elevation or degradation of varnas - by austerities and seed,
52.,56. candalas a svapacas outside of village, must constantly
wander, execute criminals on king's order,
57. man of impure origin, outcaste, without known characteristics, of aryan appearance, may be discovered by his acts,
63. summary of law for four varnas - abstention from injuring
creatures, stealing, veracity, purity, sense control (four regs),
69.-72. seed vs. soil discussion (seed more important),
73. non-aryan acting like aryan and aryan acting like non-aryan are neither equal nor unequal,
74.-76. brahmana's six acts - teaching the Veda (pathana, best), study of the Veda (paathana), sacrificing for himself (yajana), sacrificing for others (yaajana), giving gifts (daana), receiving gifts
(pratigraha) - SB 7.11.14,
84. agriculture blamed by virtuous - wooden implement with iron point injures the earth and creatures in it,
85.-94. improper trade rules (for brahmana in distress in the role of vaisya),
96.-97. not to live by occupations of higher varnas (BG 3.35, SB
101.-114. brahmana in distress (105.-108. examples of great persons,
112. siloncana - SB 6.7.36, 7.11.16,18-20),
115. seven lawful modes of acquiring property - inheritance, finding or friendly donation, purchase, conquest, lending at interest, working, acceptance of gifts from virtuous men,
116. ten modes of subsistence for all distressed men - learning,
mechanical arts, work for wages, service, rearing cattle, traffic,
agriculture, contentment with little, alms, receiving interests on
117.-120. ksatriya in distress,
121.-125. sudra in distress,
126.-128. sudra's duties,
129. sudra should not to accumulate wealth - sudra who has acquired wealth gives pain to brahmanas

Chapter 11, 266 verses, contents: begging, sacrifice, penance

1.-6. giving to brahmanas in general, nine brahmanas-snatakas -
- one who wishes to marry to have offspring,
- one who wishes to perform sacrifice,
- traveler,
- one who has given away all property,
- one who begs for the sake of his teacher,
- one who begs for the sake of his father,
- one who begs for the sake of his mother,
- a student of the Veda,
- sick man,
must be given gifts according to their learning,
7.-8. who can drink soma-juice,
9.-10. improper charity - not to one's own family but to strangers,
11.-26. rules for gathering articles for sacrifice - even by fraud or
force (19.-20. property of wicked, 25. property begged for sacrifice must be used for it),
27.-30. rules for sacrifice in distressed conditions,
31.-35. brahmana can punish other himself - by mantras and sacrifices, brahmana's glories,
36.-43. rules for different sacrifices,
44.-247. rules for penances for sins made public (unintentional sin
- recitation of the Veda, intentional sin - specific penances)
48.-54. bodily handicaps of sinners,
55.-71. classification of sins - mahapataka, upapataka (60. killing
cows), 64. superintending mines or factories, executing great mechanical works, etc. leads to
- loss of varna (jatibhramsa),
- degradation to a mixed varna (e.g. for killing a snake),
- becoming unworthy to accept gifts,
- becoming impure (malavaha),
211.-238. description of different penances,
229.-234. penance as change of mind ('metanoia', new mind),
235.-245. austerity,
246.-247. daily study of the Veda, great sacrifices and patience in
suffering destroys all guilt, even by mortal sins,
248.-266. penance for secret sins - recitation of Veda

Chapter 12, 126 verses, contents: supplement: karma, next incarnations, Veda, knowledge of the self

3.-9. good and bad karma (mind, speech, body),
12.-14. ksetrajna (soul), bhutatma (body), jiva (here Supersoul, gives remembrance),
16.-22. punishment in hell (in special material body), next life,
24.-51. three gunas - symptoms, results, next incarnations - BG 14.18, 3x3 destinations,
54.-72. specific bodies according to sins,
73. taste for sense pleasures grows in proportion to indulgence,
74.-81. different sufferings in hells, wombs, etc.
82.-116. acts securing supreme bliss to brahmana,
85. knowledge of the soul - the first of all sciences, gives immortality,
88.-90. pravrtta (sakama), nirvrtta (akama),
91.-93. self-realization,
94. Veda - eternal eye of humans, gods and manes, beyond human comprehension,
95.-96. non-Vedic traditions and philosophies give no reward after death, are founded in darkness (tamas), spring up and perish, are worthless and false, because they are of modern date,
97.-107. objects of study, power, and practice of the Veda,
108.-116. deriving other laws from the Veda - customary law from
brahmanas-Vedaparagas, bonafide lawgiving assembly - ten or three persons (113. law not proclaimed by myriads of ignorant men, 114. non-dutiful, unlearned brahmanas cannot form such assembly, 115. sins of mislead people go hundred times to their misleaders),
118.-121. meditate on the Self (Paramatma), five elements as parts of body and different gods (including Visnu),
122.-125. supreme male (purusa), His different names, recognizing Him