The Laws of Manu

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The Laws of Manu

The Laws of Manu presents detailed outline of how people live in ancient Indian society. According to the excerpt, ancient Indian people believe that everyone belongs to a certain class system bound by birth. In order to move in rank in the caste system, one must live a good life and hope to be reborn into a higher rank. There are four different caste systems total. Each caste system had a leader who enforced the duties of that certain caste. The four castes are “brahmin, the kshatriya, the vaisya, and the sudra” (Laws of Manu I.31). Ancient Indian society believes in the caste system because they believe that the laws are made by the gods. I think the laws are too strict for our present society to readopt the caste system. For example, , “By adultery committed by persons of different castes, by marriages with women who ought not to be married, and by the neglect of the duties and occupations prescribed to each, are produced sons who owe their origin to a confusion of the castes” (Laws of Manu X.24). Those who do commit adultery can be look down upon because they didn’t follow the laws. To me, I think everyone should be able to choose who they want to marry. It’s interesting how people in ancient India would accept the idea of pre-arranged marriage and the idea of born into a class system. This shows how believing in a higher being can influence the way people live.

Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, and Charles A. Moore. The Laws of Manu. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957.
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