28 October 2013 | by The Petticoat Journal | NEW DELHI
For a long while, we have argued about male dominance and patriarchy in our societies. As the discussions unfold and we move from one generation to another, we start from a new platform every now and then. But each time end at the same conclusion: our world is under the rule of patriarchy and the rulers refuse to budge. Even as some handful of old monarchs agree to give up the crown, we have their scions staunchly standing guard to their empire. And mostly, unfortunately, they have support from women who will not be directly affected by their rule.
In this rule, women have only one role, that of oppressors. They must only be around to satisfy men’s physical and emotional needs whenever and wherever men need it. If women fail to fit into this role, they will be punished.
But where did this disease called patriarchy originate? Research shows that it may have existed as long as mankind but one of the earliest written evidence comes from Manusmriti or Manav Dharam Shastra. It is widely presumed that this compilation of 2690 verses was laid down by the first human being on earth named Manu. However, there is no reliable evidence about the life of this eponymous author. It is believed that he belonged to the conservative Brahman class somewhere in North India.
The Petticoat Journal brings you the English translations of the select verses of Manusmriti which describe women’s status in society. Considering that these verses full of hatred and prejudice against women form part of a scripture regarded by Hindu apologists as the divine code of conduct, they must have influenced people’s minds to a great extent generation after generation. Besides, all that is laid down through these verses, is applicable in the modern world too.
1. “Swabhav ev narinam …..” – 2/213. It is the nature of women to seduce men in this world; for that reason the wise are never unguarded in the company of females.
2. “Avidvam samlam………..” – 2/214. Women, true to their class character, are capable of leading astray men in this world, not only a fool but even a learned and wise man. Both become slaves of desire.
3. “Matra swastra ………..” – 2/215. Wise people should avoid sitting alone with one’s mother, daughter or sister. Since carnal desire is always strong, it can lead to temptation.
4. “Naudwahay……………..” – 3/8. One should not marry women who has have reddish hair, redundant parts of the body [such as six fingers], one who is often sick, one without hair or having excessive hair and one who has red eyes.
5. “Nraksh vraksh ………..” – 3/9. One should not marry women whose names are similar to constellations, trees, rivers, those from a low caste, mountains, birds, snakes, slaves or those whose names inspires terror.
6. “Yasto na bhavet ….. …..” – 3/10. Wise men should not marry women who do not have a brother and whose parents are not socially well known.
7. “Uchayangh…………….” – 3/11. Wise men should marry only women who are free from bodily defects, with beautiful names, grace/gait like an elephant, moderate hair on the head and body, soft limbs and small teeth.
8. “Shudr-aiv bharya………” – 3/12.Brahman men can marry Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaish and even Shudra women but Shudra men can marry only Shudra women.
9. “Na Brahman kshatriya..” – 3/14. Although Brahman, Kshatriya and Vaish men have been allowed inter-caste marriages, even in distress they should not marry Shudra women.
10. “Heenjati striyam……..” – 3/15. When twice born [dwij=Brahman, Kshatriya and Vaish] men in their folly marry low caste Shudra women, they are responsible for the degradation of their whole family. Accordingly, their children adopt all the demerits of the Shudra caste.
11. “Shudram shaynam……” – 3/17. A Brahman who marries a Shudra woman, degrades himself and his whole family ,becomes morally degenerated , loses Brahman status and his children too attain status of shudra.
12. “Daiv pitrya………………” – 3/18. The offerings made by such a person at the time of established rituals are neither accepted by God nor by the departed soul; guests also refuse to have meals with him and he is bound to go to hell after death.
13. “Chandalash ……………” – 3/240. Food offered and served to Brahman after Shradh ritual should not be seen by a chandal, a pig, a cock,a dog, and a menstruating women.
14. “Na ashniyat…………….” – 4/43. A Brahman, true defender of his class, should not have his meals in the company of his wife and even avoid looking at her. Furthermore, he should not look towards her when she is having her meals or when she sneezes/yawns.
15. “Na ajyanti……………….” – 4/44. A Brahman in order to preserve his energy and intellect must not look at women who apply kohl to her eyes, one who is massaging her nude body or one who is delivering a child.
16. “Mrshyanti…………….” – 4/217. One should not accept meals from a woman who has extramarital relations; nor from a family exclusively dominated/managed by women or a family whose ten days of impurity because of death have not passed.
17. “Balya va………………….” – 5/150. A female child, young woman or old woman is not supposed to work independently even at her place of residence.
18. “Balye pitorvashay…….” – 5/151. Girls are supposed to be in the custody of their father when they are children, women must be under the custody of their husband when married and under the custody of her son as widows. In no circumstances is she allowed to assert herself independently.
19. “Asheela kamvrto………” – 5/157. Men may be lacking virtue, be sexual perverts, immoral and devoid of any good qualities, and yet women must constantly worship and serve their husbands.
20. “Na ast strinam………..” – 5/158. Women have no divine right to perform any religious ritual, nor make vows or observe a fast. Her only duty is to obey and please her husband and she will for that reason alone be exalted in heaven.
21. “Kamam to………………” – 5/160. At her pleasure [after the death of her husband], let her emaciate her body by living only on pure flowers, roots of vegetables and fruits. She must not even mention the name of any other men after her husband has died.
22. “Vyabhacharay…………” – 5/167. Any woman violating duty and code of conduct towards her husband is disgraced and becomes a patient of leprosy. After death, she enters womb of Jackal.
23. “Kanyam bhajanti……..” – 8/364. In case women enjoy sex with a man from a higher caste, the act is not punishable. But on the contrary, if women enjoy sex with lower caste men, she is to be punished and kept in isolation.
24. “Utmam sevmansto…….” – 8/365. In case a man from a lower caste enjoys sex with a woman from a higher caste, the person in question is to be awarded the death sentence. And if a person satisfies his carnal desire with women of his own caste, he should be asked to pay compensation to the women’s faith.
25. “Ya to kanya…………….” – 8/369. In case a woman tears the membrane [hymen] of her Vagina, she shall instantly have her head shaved or two fingers cut off and made to ride on Donkey.
26. “Bhartaram…………….” – 8/370. In case a women, proud of the greatness of her excellence or her relatives, violates her duty towards her husband, the King shall arrange to have her thrown before dogs at a public place.
27. “Pita rakhshati……….” – 9/3. Since women are not capable of living independently, she is to be kept under the custody of her father as child, under her husband as a woman and under her son as widow.
28. “Imam hi sarw………..” – 9/6. It is the duty of all husbands to exert total control over their wives. Even physically weak husbands must strive to control their wives.
29. “Pati bharyam ……….” – 9/8. The husband, after the conception of his wife, becomes the embryo and is born again of her. This explains why women are called Jaya.
30. “Panam durjan………” – 9/13. Consuming liquor, association with wicked persons, separation from her husband, rambling around, sleeping for unreasonable hours and dwelling -are six demerits of women.
31. “Naita rupam……………” – 9/14. Such women are not loyal and have extra marital relations with men without consideration for their age.
32. “Poonshchalya…………” – 9/15. Because of their passion for men, immutable temper and natural heartlessness, they are not loyal to their husbands.
33. “Na asti strinam………” – 9/18. While performing namkarm and jatkarm, Vedic mantras are not to be recited by women, because women are lacking in strength and knowledge of Vedic texts. Women are impure and represent falsehood.
34. “Devra…sapinda………” – 9/58. On failure to produce offspring with her husband, she may obtain offspring by cohabitation with her brother-in-law [devar: husband’s younger brother] or with some other relative [sapinda] on her in-law’s side.
35. “Vidwayam…………….” – 9/60. He who is appointed to cohabit with a widow shall approach her at night, be anointed with purified butter and silently beget one son, but by no means a second one.
36. “Yatha vidy……………..” – 9/70. In accordance with established law, the sister-in-law [bhabhi: brother’s wife] must be clad in white garments; with pure intent her brother-in-law [devar] will cohabitate with her until she conceives.
37. “Ati kramay……………” – 9/77. Any woman who disobeys orders of her lethargic, alcoholic and diseased husband shall be deserted for three months and be deprived of her ornaments.
38. “Vandyashtamay…….” – 9/80. A barren wife may be superseded in the 8th year; she whose children die may be superseded in the 10th year and she who bears only daughters may be superseded in the 11th year; but she who is quarrelsome may be superseded without delay.
39. “Trinsha……………….” – 9/93. In case of any problem in performing religious rites, males between the age of 24 and 30 should marry a female between the age of 8 and 12.
40. “Yambrahmansto…….” – 9/177. In case a Brahman man marries Shudra woman, their son will be called ‘Parshav’ or ‘Shudra’ because his social existence is like a dead body.
If you, or a woman or women around you, are subject to domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other atrocities at home or anywhere else, here is what you can do.Know more