Monday, August 22, 2016

Manu Smriti - Anuloma/Pratiloma

Note: I request readers to read this post in conjunction with my post on Sa-Varna and Sa-Kula Marriages.

Often, we hear people quoting Manu Smriti on Anuloma and Pratiloma relationships between different Varnas claiming that as proof of in-built prejudice in Hindu Dharma Sastras.

Here is my attempt to give a different perspective on that topic. As always, appreciate comments/feedback.

In general, Anu & Prati (in Anuloma & Pratiloma) have been translated as Natural/preferred order & Unpreferred/adverse/lower order. I think this is not entirely correct & is a Indic middle age (read Charwaka era) imposition. Both Anu/Prati in AnuSarga & PratiSarga mean successive or secondary additions.

So I would translate Anuloma as one type order (patrilineal) & PratiLoma as a secondary/different (matrilineal) order.

ManuSmriti just says what the progeny of different orders are called.   Very mention of these in a treatise like ManuSmriti indicates the prevalence of such marriages in that time.

At this point it is very important to note that ManuSmriti is just a Smriti defined to create order in then prevalent social system, not some outsider imposition. Manusmriti is compilation and structuring of that era's socio-political order, same as how BR Ambedkar's Constitution of India is reflective of Indian society in mid-20th century. Like Manu of Manusmriti, BR Ambedkar too didn't find any new truth in his constitution. Both of them just laid down a reasonable structure for the society to prosper given the prevailing socio-political conditions. As these socio-political conditions change, it is our duty to write new Smritis/Dharma-Sastras/Constitutions instead of distorting those treatise.

Now let's come to science...

In nature, we can observe two aspects, seed & kshetra/soil. When we plant a mango seed we will always get a mango tree. The nature of the soil only determines the characteristics such as size, color, taste etc of that mango fruit. Different soil types create different varieties & tastes of mango fruit; some good for pickle, some as fruits, some for juice etc.

ManuSmriti considers the man in a couple as seed contributor & woman as soil contributor. It & other dharmasastras only propose what variety of mangos are generally good for what purposes. 

It doesn't mean one can't make pickle from Alfanso mango & enjoy it.


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