[Advaita-l] Dharmashastra and its applicability

sidha at omkarananda-ashram.org sidha at omkarananda-ashram.org
Mon Feb 7 12:26:27 CST 2005

Dharmashastra and its applicability

Dear Bhaskar ji,
Humble praNAms,

>>>>>>>>>or these shAstra-s are time bound & need amendments time &
again according to prevailing socio-economic condition & life style of its

Shlokas from the Manusmiriti (Ch. 12, 110-115) clearly indicate that such
change should be allowed. But only by very particular people, like a group
of 10 or 3 of those who have studied Tarka (Logic), Mimamsa, Nirukta, the
Dharmashastras, Rig-veda, Yajur-veda, Sama-veda and AtharvaVeda. In 113 it
is said that whatever a person who knows the complete Veda says, should be
regarded as the greatest Dharma.
However, here I would also like to clarify and emphasize on a point that
has been clearly mentioned in the Shloka 126 that the ManuSmriti was NOT
compiled by Manu himself as it is most thought, but by Bhrigu.
I think one should understand the Dharma-tattva first with the help of all
these 20 Smritis, after one has understood the Dahrma-Tattva (the essence)
one should be free to change if it is needed in a particular situation. I
think when Shankara says that a BrahmaJnani is free from the commandments
of the DharmaShastras, this is something what he means. Our culture never
really has been very verbally fixed on the words, but rather has
emphasized on understanding the Tattva, the essence, and then acting in
accordance. I remember a quotation from a text called "Manu Samhita" which
states something like the following that "there is no need to read all the
Dharmashastras, or there is no need to bath in holy places like
Kurukshetra, if one only listens to the commandments of the Ruler existing
within our heart". Sorry, that I would have to search out the book from my
personal library, but this is approximately the translation of the Shloka.
After reading this Shloka you might understand what I mean.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>why dharma shAstra-s say A saNyAsi should not
cross sea?? what is the logical explanation
shastra-s can give in this regard??

I thought that the rule applied for all Brahmanas. But I haven't seen any
such quotation myself yet, at least in books like Manu Smriti, I would be
extremely thankful to a list-member who could give me the exact reference.
However, I remember in the Rig-veda it is mentioned that the Ashvini
Kumaras have rescued many of their devotees when they were caught in the
sea in a cyclone etc. Clearly ships that "cross the sea" have been
mentioned, so I can't really understand why such a thing has been
mentioned in the DharmaShastras. The only rational explanation that I
could think about is that these scholars must have thought that it would
be very difficult to remain pure and chaste in other countries than India,
which are impure lands because of some particular reasons, like eating
meet etc. therefore one shouldn't cross the sea and visit those lands. But
if one can retain that purity there shouldn't be any problem at all. I
would love to hear further comments from list-members.

>>>>>>>>>>>Is our dharma shAstra-s need any amendment according to the
life style of present day sanyAsi-s & guruhastha-s ??

I don't really think we need to change the text of the Smritis, but yes we
can't strictly follow their commandments anymore in this period of
globalization. Many of the commandments of the Manu Smriti are really
extreme and are inhuman. But this doesn't mean we shouldn't study them.
Indeed, we should study them and try to understand the essence of the
Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion. This is what we need to follow. The
10 Yama-Niyamas Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truth) etc. are true eternal
religion, and we should try to follow them eternally. Ahimsa is the
greatest Dharma, as has been repeatedly explained in the Mahabharata etc.
Whatever Dharma is in accordance to mental verbal and physical Ahimsa,
should be considered Dharma. But if even just the following one, Satya, is
against Ahimsa, it isn't considered Dharma anymore. This is the attitude
that I think we ought to have towards Dharma. Ahimsa is the greatest and
unconditioned Dharma. I.e. this cannot be changed. All the rest can be
changed in accordance to Ahimsa, or well-wishing of the entire humanity in
other terms. Swami Vivekananda etc. crossed the ocean for the well-being
of endless people, whoever Dharma rejects their crossing of the ocean
stops so many people from achieving well-being, which would be against the
fundamental spirit of the DharmaShastra, thus it gives us and indeed
should give us the freedom to change it in such situations, otherwise it
is useless for the humanity. I think the ultimate goal of the
DharmaShastra is to help the humanity to understand the Supreme Goal,
achievement of Supreme Well-being.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Kindly let me know what would be the explanation of
strict followers of dharma shAstra-s in these cases of occassional
violation of smruthi texts by the upholders of dharma.

This would be very interesting for me too.
Love and respect,
Siddhartha Krishna

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