EPOCH OF THE EARLY MANUS
Tenures of Viraj and Manu
The first Manu was not the first man nor did he belong to the pre-Vedic times. Manu was not a myth. Manus were historical personages. The order of Manu was instituted by a Viraj who was the head of a federal social polity.
The first Manu was selected by a group of chiefs of the people (prajapatis), his peers. He was a chieftain (with the rank of Vibhu, head of the larger local agrarian community) of Barhismati in the Sarasvati-Drshadvati basin known as Brahmavarta, before he became prajapati of that area with the rank of Brahma and later elevated as Manu. Before gaining the rank of Brahma, he was one of the Prajapatis of that area looking after the implementation of the social laws, dharma.
The order of Manu had prescribed for that post, tenure of ten to twelve years, even as the incumbent to the post of Viraj had tenure of ten years. The postulate that the period of a Manu (manvantara) lasted several millenniums is unacceptable.
Manu was empowered to proclaim new social laws or amend the existing one. These laws had to be within the framework of the socio-political constitution, Brahma. The four Vedas, Rg, Yajur, Sama and Atharva were known as Brahma though this term was used to refer specifically to Atharvaveda.
While the first three Vedas (Trayi) provided the basis for outlining the socio-cultural laws, dharma, the socio-political constitution, Brahma was enshrined in the Atharvaveda.
The sages who upheld the three Vedas, Trayi, and were engaged in meditating on the past experiences and endeavouring to learn appropriate lessons from them and propagating them among the masses were known as Brahmarshis. They were sages (rshis) with no personal interests though each of them might have had his personal point of view regarding aspects of life whether worldly or other-worldly, mundane or spiritual.
The experts in the socio-political constitution enshrined in the Atharvaveda were ideologues-cum-activities who guided the administrators of the states including their rulers. They were known as Brahmavadis. Neither sector of intellectuals, Brahmarshis or Brahmavadis, was involved in duties connected with priesthood or in enforcing the practices of religious faiths.
Both these sections have to be distinguished from the Brahmans of the post-Vedic times who were teachers or priests by vocation which enabled them to earn their livelihood and to which they tried to retain for themselves against intrusion by other members of the society.
The Brahmarshis of the Vedic times were trained and qualified jurists and there was no clan or community or class of Brahmans who in later times like others inherited their status and means of livelihood irrespective of their personal talents or aptitudes.
The successors to the first Manu, Svayambhuva, were selected or approved by a group of Prajapatis (chiefs of the people) nominated by him. Like the post of a king (rajan) of those times, the post of Manu was not a hereditary one. Most of these Manus were retired kings.
Manu did not enjoy coercive power. His popularity and influence depended on his personal talents and the merit of the counsel that he gave to those who sought it.
The period of the first seven Manus covered but a few decades but it was an epoch remarkable for renaissance and resurgence in the history of India. Most of the Manus were retired kings. The epoch of the early Manus was coeval with the Atharva period and succeeded the long period covered by the other three Vedas.
The Vedic hymns had been edited into three anthologies only a short time before the period of the first Manu. They were recast during the tenure of the fourth Manu, Tamasa.
The Manava epoch was coeval with two significant movements, the Viraj federal setup inspired by Kashyapa and the Vratya movement for nation-states initiated by Mahadeva.
The former in the long run found adherents among the Vaishnavaites and the latter among the Saivaites, the two major sections of Hindus.
We give credence to Bhrgus claim that he and nine other sages were nominated as Prajapatis by Manu Svayambhuva and entrusted with the task of preparing a new social code and authorized to select his successors. They were also authorized to identify groups like the Yakshas (who were plutocrats) and attempt to absorb them in the larger society.
The ten Prajapatis represented diverse sections and interests but the social code, Dharmasastra prepared by them reflects the consensus that they had arrived at though it deviated from the brief given by Manu Svayambhuva on certain issues and bears the imprint of Bhrgu more than that of the other sages.
Manusmrti was not the creation of one person, either of Svayambhuva or of Bhrgu. It was man-made and not given by god nor was it a godsend.
We cannot entirely discard the legends in the two epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana or the legends, Puranas, like the Bhagavatam and the Skanda Purana. Manu Svayambhuva was the first Manu. We discard the claim that Manu Vaivasvata was the ancestor of several lineages and that he was the first Manu.
We do not throw overboard these lineages themselves though the legends are full of inaccuracies, anomalies and contradictions.They are but vague memories, though not of a distant past like that of the war of ten kings in the Rgveda. The attempt here is at social dynamics, and at historiography. with respect to the events connected with this period. It is possible to break through the maze of confused chronologies and lineages and the fantasies of the fables and develop a plausible theory of the social dynamics of this period.
The Manava epoch may be divided into periods, the first dealing with the first seven Manus, Svayambhuva, Svarochisha, Uttama, Tamasa, Raivata and Chakshusha and Manu Vaivasvata and the second with the seven Savarni Manus.
We reject the attempt to treat the former as belonging to the Dvapara Yuga and the latter to the Kali Yuga.
We would avoid treating the former as an epoch of slow decline of cultural and spiritual values and the latter as one devoid of ethical practices. There might have been other claimants to the status of Manu but we would ignore them as unauthenticated. The Viraj who instituted the order of Manu might not have been the first Viraj or even the only Viraj of his times.
Others might have been functioning in a domineering way indicative of the Rshabha constitution which called for abject subservience to brute force and feared as Atharvaveda 8-9 indicates.
The system of three social worlds, divam, prthvi and antariksham, patriciate, commonalty and frontier society prevailed before the system of four classes, Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras came into existence. In many areas both systems prevailed and in some other areas neither was in vogue.
Brahmavarta Social Polity
Brahmavarta, the land of the Brahmarshis (Sarasvati-Drshtavati), was the laboratory for the varnasrama scheme, a development over the scheme of three social worlds (lokas).
The concept of dharma had been postulated when the loka scheme was in vogue and was sustained and upheld by the three social worlds (lokas) before the scheme of clearly defined four socio-economic classes (varnas) came into existence. It was also a development over the scheme of three classes, Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vis, based on the three innate traits (gunas), sattva, rajas and tamas.
The core agro-pastoral society 0marked by dhio-prthvi, patriciate-plebeian dichotomy was not totally isolated from the other industrial society of the frontier region (antariksham) of the forests and mountains.
Within either society new developments were taking place, leading to the beginnings of the urban-rural, paura-janapada, dichotomy in the former and durga-rashtra feudal structure in both, and a patriciate-plebeian dichotomy in the latter. The two societies were interacting with each other, often leading to conflicts, when the order of Manuwas instituted. The question of ethnic origins of the groups involved in these inter-actions should not be allowed to blur our vision and cloud our thoughts.
Indra, Agni, Varuna, Soma etc. were designations of certain positions in the social polity of the early Vedic days and continued during the AtharvaVedic or early Manava epoch.
Vedic hymns referring to or addressed to them had been edited under authorization by Prabhu (the chief of the expanded commonalty) Narayana just before the Manu system began and were re-edited ding the period of the fourth Manu, Tamasa. The editors must have left their mark on them. Hence the Rgvedic and other Vedic hymns might not have all been indicative of the remote past. The tenth canto of Rgveda addressed to Soma reflected a comparatively recent era.
They were not gods of a so-called pantheistic or polytheistic pagan Vedic society. The incumbents to these posts in every region were human beings. The pre-Manu decades witnessed the prevalence of small agrarian communities each around a centrally located small town which functioned as a market, the residence of the patriciate, a military camp and an administrative capital of the early paura-janapada or pura-rashtram of the dhio-prthvi pattern as well.
There were also pockets of inhabitants in the forests and mountains pursuing a parallel economy. The two were divided by a pastoral economy which was the bone of contention, as it were, between the two major societies.
There were several such trans-positions all over the plains of north India. The southern peninsula was thickly forested and could not at that time develop a purely agrarian economy. Those outside the agrarian settlements were referred to as dasyus. Most of them were bandits.
These settlements themselves were not far away from the waterways though they had been advised not to be close to the rivers or be located on the banks lest they should suffer when the rivers were flooded.
In some of the agrarian settlements while a few pursued intellectual vocations and a few were engaged mainly to provide protection to the community against the marauders, the terms, Brahmans and Rajanyas, had come into vogue to refer to these two cadres, especially in Brahmavarta.
Incursions by them into the forests and establishment of new agrarian settlements there were not uncommon. The right over such new uninhabited areas so far unclaimed came to be asserted under the term, seshadharma, associated with warrior-entrepreneurs who moved about with shovel and basket or bow and arrows.
It was justified as what was left as unwanted by others could be annexed and enjoyed by any one. The thinker who outlined this policy of valid claim over residuals was known as Sesha. He might have been a senior contemporary of Manu Svayambhuva. These incursions in quest of food must have been resisted by the forest-dwellers, resulting in the latter looting the unprotected pastoral and agricultural lands.
The forest-dwellers are not to be treated as uncivilized primitives. They had developed a technologically more advanced economy than the agrarians and pastorals had done and were looked at with awe. They were the creators of the new fortified towns and had nexus with the dhio-prthvi core society at all levels though the interactions were marked by frequent conflicts.
The Soma lineage which dominated the areas between the Sindhu and the Ganga belonged to these groups which had been styled as Nagas, Gandharvas, Yakshas etc. and also sometimes called Rudras. The Kurus were one such patriciate group of neo-warriors accepted as Kshatriyas by Manusmrti, though others called them as Nagas.
Close on the heels of these developments which themselves were slow and spread over several centuries, came the visualization of the new order of Manu.
Emergence of Ganga Basin Social Polity
Sagara's men to the east of Ganga moved to south of the Prayag-Kasi tract and were chased northwards by the Haihayas and entered the then densely-forested Ganga-Yamuna doab and lost their way in the land of the Surasenakas until Sagara sent Amsuman Ravi, his son and general to trace them.
North of the Surasenakas in the forests of Panchala were the matriarchal community, the Apsarases of Puranjana, a fortified town which accommodated mainly a rural native population. The latter were overcome by a Gandharva (probably a Vrshni group) led by Chandravega.
Puranjana itself later came to be known as the eastern Barhis, Prachinabarhis and the capital of Uttanapada and his dynasty as indicated by the Bhagavata legends and became a major centre of culture and socio-political movements.
The Kurus were to the north and northwest of the Panchalas and after the times of the first Manu, the Kurus, Panchalas, Matsyas, Vatsas, Kichakas and Surasenakas who controlled either side of the Yamuna dominated the scene.
To their east, across the Ganga were the Kosalas to whom Sagara, Asita, Amsuman and Bhagiratha belonged. Bhagiratha was yet another luminary who established contacts with the socio-political thinker, Samkara, a Rudra, and with Jahnu, a Kuru technocrat. He attempted to regulate the waters of Ganga and its tributaries even as Sagara tried to trace and dredge the entire Ganga waterway up to the seas with the help of his huge land army.
To the east of the Kosalas again was an Apsara community in Visala which was guided by Visalaksha, another political grammarian belonging to the Rudra school.
Oligarchies prevailed on the southern slopes of the Himalayas and to the east of Kosala and these had scrupulously avoided the Viraj system. The land to the southwest of Prayag was controlled by the Vasus, a predominantly pastoral population.
The typical Viraj pura-rashtra pattern based on agrarian economy developed there in the Madhyadesa between the Aravallis and the Yamuna on both sides of the Chambal (Svarduni). Its militant sections were drawn from the plebeians. A cultural patriciate had not emerged there. Nestled by these different groups in Brahmavarta, the Sarasvati-Drshadvati basin to the southwest of the land of the Kurus was the original home of the Bahmarshis.
During the times of Manu Svayambhuva they migrated eastwards first to the Ganga-Yamuna basin and spread about in entire North India and also crossed the Narmada. This development took place within a very short time and had a non-envisaged impact on the social scene. The Sindhu valley too developed small states chiefly of the feudal pattern.
Manusmrti says that Marici, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Pracetas, Vasishta, Bhrgu and Narada were appointed as the ten Prajapatis. The Bhagavatam treats them as the sons of Brahma. It however mentions Daksha instead of Pracetas.
It also says that Marici headed the council of seven sages (saptarshi mandalam) under Manu Svayambhuva. It does not say who the other members of this council were. Out of these ten only Atri and Vasishta were in the seventh council of seven sages headed by
Kashyapa was chief of the council of seven sages during the tenure of the seventh Manu, Vaivasvata. Kashyapa is often held to be a son of Marici. It may be reasonable to conclude that Atri, Vasishta and Narada were not members of the first council headed by Marici.
Skanda Purana grants seniority to Marici, Bhrgu, Angirasa, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Daksha, Atri and Vasishta and omits Narada. Skanda Purana adds that these nine persons elected Dharma as the first Manu. Some legends claim that Atri (and not Kashyapa) headed the seventh council. The picture given by the Bhagavatam regarding Manu Svayambhuva is more plausible. He was senior to these ten Prajapatis and would have been selected by a senior group of Prajapatis like Kardama, Daksha and Ruchi.
Dharma was the designation of an authority who presided over the judiciary. Daksha is said to have given thirteen of his daughters in marriage to Dharma and their sons were known as 'Yamahs. The Yamahs were magistrates who checked commission of offences.
Under the Daksha-Pracetas system the former was in charge of defence and the latter was the presiding officer of the house of nobles, Sabha.
This was an early Vedic practice which gave Daksha tremendous power. Later Indra came to combine in himself both the roles.
On the eve of the institution of the order of Manu, in the Brahmavarta pattern, Daksha was controlling the judiciary headed by Dharma and manned by Yamahs, magistrates, and hence was in a position to recognize or not any group or individual as eligible to participate in approved social activities. The particular incumbent to this post who was assisted by the Bhrgus had antagonized Siva, an influential yogi stationed in the peripheral areas leading to a holocaust that is remembered to this day.
Pracetas who belonged to the Rudra school of thought was an expert in polity and economy. Pracetases represented the polyandrous Apsarases who resisted male chauvinism that Daksha was said to signify. Manu Svayambhuva had replaced Daksha by Pracetas indicating his disapproval of Daksha's outlook though he retained Bhrgu as his confidante.
According to the Bhagavatam, Kardama, Daksha and Ruchi were sons-in-law of the ruler (vibhu) of Barhismati, who later became the first Manu. Skanda Purana mentions only Daksha and Ruchi Prajapatis.
Both these chronicles mention Priyavrata and Uttanapada as the sons of this ruler. Markandeya however treats Priyavrata as the first Manu. We would follow the Bhagavata version. There were other senior Prajapatis like Visruta, Sesha, Samsraya, Sthanu and Jahnu but they might not have had a hand in choosing the incumbent to the new post of Manu.
The so-called marital alliance indicated the rapport that had been arrived at between the ruler and the three influential chieftains leading to his elevation to the post of Manu. Bhrgu says (Manusmrti 9-129) that Daksha was a patron of Kashyapa and Raja Soma. According to a Rgvedic hymn Aditi was mother of Daksha, that is, he was one of the Adityas functioning under the guidance of the benevolent mother-figure, Aditi, who ranked next to Viraj, the head of the federal polity and Prajapati the chief of the people.
Kashyapa married Daksha's daughter, Aditi, who like Kashyapa adopted a holistic outlook towards social polity. Bhrgu does not mention Kardama and Ruchi. A certain tradition had been built by which Ruchi was one of the Manus. He must have had considerable influence over the patriciate. His followers, Tusitas were ignominious for their licentiousness. They dominated the scene during the tenure of the second Manu, Svarochisha. Ruchis son, Yajna, was a powerful general and later became Indra.
Samkara, the political thinker and Dandaniti
Santi Parva of the Mahabharata mentions how when the code of political policy, Dandaniti, was first composed and was endorsed by Samkara, the Pasupata chief who belonged to the Rudra school of thought, Prabhu Narayana was approached to select a ruler who would abide by its provisions.
This work must have been written by a group of Brahmavadis among whom Sukra (known as Kavi and as Usanas) was the most prominent. They were supported by the Pasupatas who were highly influential in the administrative machinery of the states at that time. They had the practical experience needed to make this work a systematic and comprehensive compendium.
The Pasupatas adopted a holistic approach to issues pertaining to society and polity. The Prajapati was entitled to admit new members from the neighbourhood to the local native community (jana) of the area. Like the vibhu he had influence over a wider populace than the janaka or janapati or janadhipa did.
The Pasupatas wanted that the concept of governance and protection should be extended to the tamed animals (pasu) of the area under the jurisdiction of the ruler. He spoke for the natives (jana), the other domiciles and also for the non-human population of the area concerned.
This societal approach was accepted by Kashyapa. Many (Rudras, Maruts and Vasus) among the nobles appreciated this concept of a holistic society.
Pracetases who were statesmen dominated the eastern Barhis before the times of Priyavrata and Uttanapada. On behalf of their patron, Samkara, a highly charismatic leader, Parameshti, they approached Prabhu Narayana for his approval so that the framework of Dandaniti might secure universal approval. The latter recommended that one virajas, might be considered for the post of a ruler. The latter was the head of a federal polity. But the latter would not consent to abide by the restraints that their version of Dandaniti imposed.
He directed the Pracetases to Kirtiman who however had retired from all political activities and was engaged in quest for salvation, moksha. The latter declined the offer and advised them to select Kardama instead. But Kardama too declined and they were asked to select Ananga.
This ruler of Anga which had the system of (five or more) autonomous organs (angas) of the state functioning without a co-ordinator agreed to follow the new system provided the King was not treated as an organ (anga) like other units of the state.
The infamous autocrat Vena who was burnt to death by his subjects was the grandson of Ananga, who accepted to be a Rajarshi without specific duties or powers but willing to be a philosopher, friend and guide of all. That Kardama was held in high respect and could have been a model ruler is significant.
The institution of the order of Manu took place even as search for an ideal ruler according to Dandaniti was in progress.
Kardama could have been selected as the first Manu but the final choice fell on the Vibhu of Barhismati who had earlier held the position of a Prajapati in charge of social laws, dharma, and later that of Brahma, the chief justice and chairman of the constitution bench of Brahmavarta.
Svayambhuva fulfilled the expectations of the order of Manu. The first Manu had his violent detractors and was required to function within the constraints of a framework suggested by his selectors. He was not all powerful.
The Task of the Prajapatis
Marici, Bhrgu and Narada were closer than other Prajapatis to Manu Svayambhuva. Marici headed his council of seven sages and Bhrgu was instructed by him on the new Dharmasastra while Narada was his confidante.
Narada stressed that like the post of Manu that of the King should be held by a retired elder, vanaprasta. It should be envisaged as a vimuktasanga prakrti, unit of the state free from attachment to worldly and personal interests.But Svayambhuva while accepting this status for the post of the Manu did not extend it to that of a king.
However Narada's insistence that Gandharva marriage be made obligatory for all other than the Brahmans might have been at the back of Bhrgu's approach towards marriage.
Narada's suggestion would have set at nought the validity of kuladharmas and jatidharmas and given weight to the concept of svadharma, the duties accepted voluntarily by the individual. Svayambhuva himself hesitated to outlaw other marriage practices including he Paisaca marriage (marriage under hypnosis) which step was insisted on by Daksha.
Gandharva marriage called for marriage by consent. Svayambhuva was not willing to upset the then extant social customs. Narada's appointment as a Prajapati might have been at Bhrgu's instance, as he was a leading votary of the Narayana school of thought.
While Marici had a hold on the patriciate (devas), Atri spoke for the third social world of forests and mountains (antariksham).
Among the masses, Vis, Pulastya had his sway, and Bhrgu directed the new priestly order of Brahmans and Angirasa the Kshatriyas who were engaged in administrative duties and were connected with the army. Vasishta, champion of the satyavrata movement was recognized as the most suitable for organizing the working classes, Shudras.
Pulaha who looked after the members of the social periphery was the main spokesman of the school of thought promoted by the Brahmarshis under the aegis of Prajapati Kardama. Kratu of the dwarfish Valakhilyas who had several Vedic hymns to their credit was master of the Tantric cult, a group of technocrats who merged in the new Vaishnavaite movement sponsored by Narada on the basis of the Pancharatra system of thought enunciated by Vasudeva and Samkarshana and patronised by the Satvatas.
Brahmarshi Kardama and the ruler of Barhismati: Issues
Manusmrti suggests that the Brahmarshis had migrated from Brahmavarta in the Sarasvati-Drshadvati basin to the Ganga-Yamuna doab the home of the Kurus and the Panchalas. This migration might have been caused by a feeling of insecurity.
The authority of Manu Svayambhuva who was committed to ahimsa, non-violence, had been challenged by invaders from abroad and his capital, Barhismati, had been thrice burnt down.
Before he became Manu he met Kardama at the abode of the latter in Bindusarovar on the banks of Sarasvati. The dialogue between the two needs attention. The rulers visit was interpreted by Kardama as part of a tour undertaken by the king to protect the pious from evil elements.(Bhagavatam3-21-50)
Kardama said that the ruler could assume whenever necessary, the powers and roles of the officials, Aditya, Soma, Agni, Vayu, Indra, Varuna, Dharma, and Pracetas (3-21-51). These were the designations of the eight officials of the state known as Adityas. This pattern was in vogue before the first Manu was appointed. They were not gods of a polytheistic or pantheistic society.
Kardama implied that the constitution permitted the king as the head of the state to take over the powers of any of these officials whenever he felt it necessary or even those of all of them and become an autocrat. The autonomy of the ministry was not guaranteed by the constitution. An eight member ministry stood as a recommendation dispensable at the kings pleasure and discretion, Kardama implied.
He added that the threat of use of power (danda) was necessary to protect the ties of varnasrama dharma created by Bhagavan (God, as wrongly understood), the head of the academy, from the marauders, dasyus.
The king was enabled by the constitution to promulgate emergency when the state was threatened by marauders from outside (in the periphery) and the social structure and social laws based on four classes and four stages of life were in danger of collapsing. The state had not been organized in a way that would protect the country. None of the Vedic officials was required to protect the four new classes. They were tuned to functioning under and for a pre-varna Vedic order.
The threat from marauders called for the king assuming extraordinary powers, Kardama felt. This enunciation and the reply by the future first Manu are a disputation with manifold implications for Hindu political sociology.
In Manusmrti (7-4) the eight functions are noted by Bhrgu but he substitutes Dharma by Varuna and Pracetas by Kubera.
Kardama appears to accept the Samkara approach towards the role of the king but Svayambhuva followed the Viraj pattern by which it was Varuna who was the guardian of the constitution rather than Dharma, the guardian of social laws who had a major role in administration. He could be regent during interegna and also function as ombudsman.
Pracetas who represented the Apsaras way of life and also the Rudra-Samkara school of thought and could function as regent in the absence of the king and was an expert in political economy (arthasastra) played a significant role in the pre-Manu polity.
But Manu Svayambhuva in an effort to bring into the mainstream the third social world, antariksham, invited Kubera, the chief representative of the plutocrats to join the ministry and take charge of economic affairs.
Kardama claimed sanctity for the varnasrama scheme, according to Bhagavatam. He accepted the need for use of state power (danda) to protect it. Kardama might have felt that neither the Samkara approach on Dandaniti nor the Viraj pattern accepted protection of varnasrama scheme as an essential function and duty of the ruler.
The Viraj system envisaged diffusion of authority while Dandaniti advocated a pyramidal structure of delegation of duties and powers. Kardama favoured the latter on the condition that the king must be able to assume any or all powers when necessary. Bhrgu's Manusmrti seems to have proceeded along Kardamas lines.
As the meeting between Brahmarshi Kardama and the vibhu of Barhismati took place, the varnasrama code was in vogue in Brahmavarta but was being transgressed often. There was no social or state authority to ensure the smooth observance of the codes.
The Viraj system could at best aim at co-ordination of different social practices. It could not streamline them. Diffusion of authority was a handicap.
Kardama wished to find out whether the visitor to his abode would rise to the occasion and meet the challenge. The Vibhu and future first Manu however had his reservations on the role of the king vis-a-vis implementation of the varnasrama scheme as proposed by Kardama. Earlier the Brahmanical order had claimed that it was independent of political control by the state and that it did not need its protection as the former was capable of protecting itself.
This was no longer valid in the face of the threat from the dasyus. By the term, dasyus, Kardama must have meant the troops of the third social world.
The followers of Atri who championed the autonomy of the frontier society of forests and mountains felt that total indifference to the state of the mainly agrarian society would ensure for the sages stationed in the forests freedom from harassment by the dasyus (rakshasas, the militant rebel forest guards, rakshas). According to the Vibhu, power to punish was imperative so that adharma did not flourish and greed was restrained and people protected.
This comment was followed by a disputation between Kardama and the future first Manu. Kardama assured that he and other Brahmarshis would unhesitatingly carry out the desires of the king (for being vested with this power of danda) .
Thereupon the Vibhu declared his stand on the relations between the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas, between the judiciary and the executive. It was not a compact between the ecclesiastical order and the temporal authorities that the Kshatriyas were. The future Manu accepted that the Brahmans were created from the face of Brahma.
Bhrgu in Manusmrti 1-11 says that Purusha was also known as Brahma. While the followers of Rshi Narayana used the term, Purusha, to refer to the highest socio-political authority, the Brahmarshis preferred to use the term, Brahma.
It needs to be noted that according to the Atharva Veda version of Purusha-sukta, Viraj was in position as the highest such authority since the beginning (of the establishment of a state or emergence of a comprehensive social polity), the Rgvedic version claimed that Viraj was an evolute of Purusha (that is, was nominated by a Purusha).
Kardama as a Brahmarshi and Bhrgu as the editor of Manava Dharmasastra recommended by Manu Svayambhuva preferred to refer to the source of authority vested in specific officials, cadres and bodies as Brahma.
Bhrgu did not want to enter the debate whether this source was a jurist par excellence (Brahma) or an outstanding social leader (Purusha). He had not accepted the Narayana cult and the Purusha concept behind the varna origins. He was aware of the picture of Purusha with a thousand arms and a thousand legs.
The first Manu agreed that the Kshatriyas were created from the thousand arms of Purusha or Brahma to protect the sages like Kardama. In other words he was willing to assign a battalion of a thousand armed warriors to protect the unarmed Brahmans who were jurists and counsellors. But he did not describe the legs as Vaisyas or Shudras. His model of the Purusha statue did not resemble that of Narayanas.
He did not refer to the class of Shudras either. He also did not agree that the unarmed Brahmarshis were threatened by the dasyus (rakshasas). To be precise neither Kardama nor the future first Manu advanced the Purusha-sukta classification as reflected in MS 1-31 or call it as Brahma.
The discussion was based on the proto-Manusmrti pattern of two distinct elites, the intellectual (Brahmans) and the political (kshatriyas) vis-a-vis the masses. The dasyus were outside this new core Vedic dhio-prthvi (patriciate-plebeian) society. It was distinct from classifying the parts of the body.
The Purusha-sukta pattern of four classes must have been posited later in the name of Rshi Narayana and that of Manu Svayambhuva interpolated in the Vedas and the Smrtis by some Brahman chauvinists.
Though the vibhu of Barhismati consented to protect the sages, he did not accept the stand that the Kshatriyas should be required (by the constitution, Brahma) to protect the Brahmans.
He suggested that the two groups should protect each other and also themselves (Bhag 3-22-4). The interests of the two group were not identical though they had common interests. A contractual relationship similar to the Indra-Brhaspati agreement was suggested.
It is wrong to interpret that while Kardama wanted the kshatriyas to be a military order at the service of the ecclesiastical order the ruler wanted the latter (the church) to be subordinate to the state.
It is also incorrect to suggest that the Manu would consent to grant the Brahmans (the church) to have their own troops for self-defence provided they were placed at the disposal of the state when necessary.
The Brahmans were intellectual elite, engaged mainly in interpreting provisions of the constitution while the Kshatriyas would implement their interpretations. The judiciary was to be honoured and obeyed by the executive, Kardama implied but the future first Manu would not concede the demand of subservience of the executive to the judiciary.
He was however prepared to treat the two as equally powerful if the judiciary and the intellectuals too did so. The two should not browbeat each other. This spirit was behind the Indra-Brhaspati agreement, the compact that bound the nobility and the commonalty.
The vibhu of Barhismati told Kardama that in his capacity as a noble (deva) who had his personal troops and followers he could protect the Brahmans but could not commit the institution of king to the task of protecting them.
Not only feudal lords (asuras) who were not gentle and respectful to others but also commoners (manushyas, naras) who had no personal followers and plutocrats (yakshas) and technocrats (nagas, tvashtas) who were impelled by personal interests and greed could become rulers.
Those who were not liberal aristocrats (devas)could not be expected to honour an agreement which gave protection to the selfless intelligentsia that the Brahman jurists were.
While the Brahmarshis interpreted the constitution, Brahma, without bias they were afraid of the elements which had no respect for law and order.
Unlike the Brahmavadis who upheld the Atharvaveda, Brahmarshis only interpreted the Vedas, especially the other three Vedas, Rg, Yajur and Sama, and brought out which deed was in tune with the principles of ethics and truth underlined by those Vedas..
They interpreted that constitution in ways which they deemed to be the most advantageous for all sectors of the society and required the king and the other officials of the state to implement the policy for action recommended by them.Unlike the Brahmavadis the Brahmarshis were not ideologues or activists.
The Brahmarshis were superior to the propagators of ethical values and good practices like the Viprarshis who had mastered only one of the three Vedas. The chief justice, Brahma must have mastered all the four Vedas, that is, must have been qualified to be called a Brahmarshi and be obeyed as a Brahmavadi whose suggestions for action could not be taken lightly by the king and his executive.
The Vibhu of Barhismati said that the king could as a noble (deva) take over all power and utilize it to protect the Brahmans, the sages who interpreted the social constitution and were seated in their forest abodes which were exposed to attacks by the dasyus.
Not all the functionaries of the state would accept the stand that the state headed by the king and controlled by the Kshatriyas should risk their lives to protect the Brahmans and defend the twice-born. Only Brahmans were then described as dvijas.
The King had the duty to retire from economic activities and move to his forest abode (which was outside the jurisdiction of the agro-pastoral state) to fulfill the obligations of varnasrama scheme which implied that every dvija must go through vanaprasta stage of life (asrama).
The vibhu described the status of the ruler as a sad, assembly, that is, power exercised as a member of a group of authorities and also as asad or as one not exercising the powers, privileges and duties as such a member (Bhag 3-22-4). He was a member of the house of nobles (devas) for a specific period and for specified purposes. He could not take part in all its activities.
Sad was a select body of nobles to which a king was answerable but he was not totally subordinate to it. He could exercise his discretion and come to the rescue of any sage.
When he was not functioning as a member of the house of nobles and was on his own he had to be aware that his personal freedom as an atma was limited. The term, atmaka referred to a person who was not totally free. The vibhu was explaining to Kardama the restraint under which the former had to function.
The member of the cadre of nobles to which the vibhu had been admitted was often described as Kshatriya rather than as Rajanya. The latter claimed a status superior to that of the Kshatriyas but was not admitted to the sad of nobles which expected its members to be sober and self-restrained and to exercise influence over the society as sadpurushas. Such noble personages were cultural aristocrats and exercised wholesome influence over the society rather than political power.
The Vibhu, in his capacity as a Kshatriya who could act independently though within constraints was willing to extend protection to the Brahman sages who were interpreters of the socio-cultural constitution.
The dialogue between him and Prajapati Kardama presents the dilemma in the fusion of the two systems, dhio-prthvi, Devas and Manushyas pattern of core society and the system of three classes, Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vis. He consented to accept the membership of the order of Kshatriyas. But those who were neither members of this order nor Brahmarshis, jurists, could not be expected to honour the compact between these two cadres.
The state headed by the nobility and operated by the king with the assistance of the Adityas could not be expected to honour and protect this nexus.It is advantageous to note here the implications of the concept, atma (soul, in common parlance). It refers to a the identity of an individual who does not function as a member of any social or economic body.
If he is at the bare subsistence level, he is referred to as jivatma. He is on par with other living beings, jivas, whose plight evokes pity. He is unable to assert his individuality. An atma, on the other hand would not allow himself to be shackled. An atmaka has a status above that of a jivatma but lower than that of an atma, the independent individual with his personal identity intact.
A member of the social periphery which has no social or economic group and is a discrete individual irrespective of the status that he had before he took asylum in that periphery is referred to as bhutaTma if he similarly asserts his individuality.
Of course his main concern is to get his position well-cushioned in the physical environment that he finds himself currently. It shapes his orientations and not any social grouping.
One who survives successfully in the society though he is almost at the level of the subaltern is referred to as pranatma. He is able to ascend to higher levels or spread his influence over those who are at the same level as he is. His plight is not so pitiable as that of the jivatma.
One who is not a commoner (manushya) or a noble (deva) required to imbibe and share and uphold the orientations of his group, is referred to as atma.
One who is eligible to be a member of the social world of social guides who do not tend to react violently to injustice and ignominy heaped on them by others in the society and pardon the offenders, that is, resort to the best ways of culture, is referred to as mahatma.
The mahatmas are suitable to be inducted as maharshis if they are also highly educated and become social legislators, members of the social world, known as mahaloka. They do not stand on prestige but uphold their individual identity which calls for respect and emulation.
One who is admitted to an assembly of scholars and guides who uphold high social values and principles of truth is called a sadatma. If he has the talent and charisma needed to lead others he is called a sadpurusha.
Paramatmas excelled the mahatmas and constituted the intellectual aristocracy, known as brahmaloka. It is possible for even one who is but a jivatma to rise to the level of the paramatma.
The Order of Manu
The Bhagavatam despite its padding well-known for their religiosity assists us in understanding how the order of Manu was expected to function under the constraints posed by the problem of fusion between the two systems then in vogue. The order of Manu was distinct from that of Viraj or of a King. All of them were however secular systems..
Bk3 ch.2 shows that it consisted of the Manu, his sons, the council of seven sages, the warriors (suras) and their chief and the house of nobles. He had jurisdiction over all the three social worlds (lokas), patriciate (divam), commonalty (prthvi) and the frontier society (antariksham).
Every incumbent to the post of Manu, constituted his own council of seven sages (saptarishi mandalam), nominated his own candidates to the house of (thirty-three) nobles and the chief of his army.
The purpose behind this institution was to ensure that dharma was protected and good persons were not harassed. What constituted dharma, what codes were to be followed by the different social groups, what practices were approved and what were not could be determined only with the assistance of a council of sages. It could not be left to the judiciary to determine what codes were valid and what were not.
Daksha-yajna fiasco could not be ignored. But who were the sages to be consulted was left to the Manu. to decide. He would invite an outstanding sage and the latter would recommend who were the other sages to be invited.
The choice of the members of the saptarshi mandalam reflected the orientations of that Manu. These sages were not chiefs of the people (prajapatis) but represented different sectors of the larger society. They were not representatives of Brahmans. They were not members of any ecclesiastical order.
They could not override the authority of the Manu. However the Manu was not a sovereign ruler. He was a social thinker and social guide. The office of Manu was a vimukta prakrti, a constituent of the social structure devoid of personal interests.
The sons of the incumbent Manu pursued their own interests. They were not expected to inherit his mantle as Manu. The Manu was however not a celibate nor was himself a great sage. He may be likened to a vanaprasta, one who had retired to his forest abode after fulfilling his duties to his family and handing over all secular authority to his sons.
The Manu selected his own group of warriors to protect his seat and nominated its chief. He also nominated some as nobles.
This was a military-cum-patriciate structure originally intended to protect the Brahmarshis. At structural level it was a modification of the Viraj set-up described in Atharvaveda Bk. 3.
The Vamana purana suggests that every Manu nominated his own Maruts (royal guards). This impression might have been created because Marici, the chief counsellor of Manu Svayambhuva was a Marut and so too Kashyapa, who headed the saptarshi mandalam during the tenure of the seventh Manu, Vaivasvata. Vamana was a protg of Kashyapa.
In AV 3 the seat of the king in exile was kept guarded by the Maruts during the interregnum. The Maruts were storm-troopers but were not Kshatriyas. They were rich warriors and belonged to the dry lands and were also physicians.
During the times of Manu Svayambhuva both nobles (devas) and elders (pitrs) were members of the house of nobles (divam). It had also saddhyas who were sages who had achieved all their objectives and nobles who were members of the executive (karmatma devas) as its members.
Some of the pitrs would have been former feudal lords (asuras) who were not as gentle as the cultural aristocrats (devas) were.
The order of Manu permitted the incumbent to recognize new sages (rshis) and appoint prajapatis. The latter could grant new personages, a status equivalent to but not identical with that of the earlier karmatma devas, whose activities could not be questioned even by the Manu or by the Viraj. They were answerable to only their own consciences. The Prajapatis could recommend who should be appointed as maharshis, scholars empowered to legislate new laws. The Manu could not act arbitrariy.
During the tenure of Manu Svayambhuva Ruchis son, Yajna, exercised authority over temporal affairs. He ensured that the collections made at the sacrifices, yajnas, were available for meeting the needs of the nobles, sages and elders. He was also chief of the army. Later he got the status of Indra.
The tenure of the Viraj was about a decade (dasam) as indicated by Atharvaveda Bk.3. Bhagavatam 3-11-24 says that the duration (kala) of Manu was slightly more than seventy-one. The editors estimated that the fourteen Manus should have covered one thousand yugas. But the text does not use the term, yuga. If yuga is equivalent to a rtu, the duration would have been twelve years.
The duration of the nobles (devas) was twelve years (varsha) including yuga-samdhi of two years. During yuga-samdhi the existing rules of dharma were practised and no new ones were made. The ten years were divided into four stages covering four, three, two and one resulting in their ranking and circulation and periodical replacement.
The tenures of the offices of the Manu, the sages (rshis), the warriors (suras), the chief of the suras were all the same. With the end of the tenure of a Manu, the entire organisation was formed again. The order of Manu was instituted for a specific purpose and care was taken to ensure that its constitution was scrupulously followed.
The incumbent to the post of Manu joined duty at about the age of sixty after retiring from his earlier duties and retired when he reached seventy-one. This picture enables us to outline precisely the events of the early Manava epoch.
Manus were expected to be retired Kshatriya chieftains but were also scholars, especially in social legislation. Manu Svayambhuva nominated twelve Tusitas as nobles (devas). They continued to be in that status during the tenure of his successor, Manu Svarochisha who appointed some others as new members in an attempt to broad-base his support. These new entrants were accused of being licentious and this affected the reputation of the second Manu adversely.
The third Manu, Uttama, replaced them by some drawn from the cadre of Satyas, Vedasrutas and Bhadras. Satyas were puritans and would not compromise on issues while the Srutas were staunch adherents of Vedic practices and Bhadras were highbrow cultural aristocrats.
The steps that Uttama took under their influence led to his being killed by the plutocrats, followers of Kubera. The plutocrats enjoyed the support of the followers of Siva. Uttama had ignored the counsel of Manu Svayambhuva who was then in retirement. He was a sibling of Dhruva, a follower of Narada and the Narayana school of thought.
The fourth Manu appointed Satyakas who were not so puritanical as the Satyas were. He took care to nominated Haris who were followers of Narada and the school of Narayana and also Viras who were followers of Siva to the house of nobles, in an attempt to secure the support of all the sections. He took steps to re-edit the Vedas and compile the Vedic anthologies and also outlined a social code, known as Tamasa Smrti.
Some of the scholars whom he had requested to finalise the Srutis and Smrtis were later nominated by the seventh Vaivasvata as members of his council of seven sages.
If the rulers of Kosala patronised Manu Tamasa, the fifth Manu, Raivata who continued to follow Tamasas catholicity was the recipient of the support of the Satvatas of Madhyadesa (area between Yamuna and Sindhu). He too appointed new acceptable cadres to the house of nobles. His council of seven sages did not face opposition from any quarter.
But the sixth Manu, Chakshusha, became a controversial personality though he enjoyed the support of the powerful scholar-cum-general, Vivasvan who had the status of a devarshi.
The followers of Atri, like Soma and Dattatraya had extended support to him. But the serious differences between Prajapati Kshupa, a champion of Kshatriya authority and the sage, Dadichi, a champion of Brahmans, especially of the technocrats among them could not be reconciled by Chakshusha. Vaivasvata replaced him.
Orientations of Manu Svayambhuva
Manu Svayanbhuva stressed that one should enjoy only what was assigned to him and not covet the wealth of others (Bhagavatam 8-1-10). Every individual had been assigned personal property and granted rights of ownership.
The house of nobles functioning under Prajapati Ruchi and the Tusitas had taken this step. Prajapati Daksha as head of the judiciary implemented this arrangement. Svayambhuva counselled all not to violate these rules.
Bhrgu declared in Manusmrti 8-168, What is given by force, what is enjoyed by force, also what is caused to be written by force, Manu has declared void. This is one of the few statements attributed to Manu Svayambhuva.
This declaration must have met with resistance from the plutocrats (yakshas) who had unaccounted wealth. While Manu Svayambhuva was assaulted by the feudal lords (asuras), who annexed the property of others, Manu Uttama fell at the hands of a Yaksha, plutocrat, who was liberal like a noble (deva) but could not explain how he got his riches.
The policy (of Manus) of adherence to truth (satya) and non-violence (ahimsa) and non-theft (asteya) and protection of approved personal property could not be implemented easily even though the judiciary was strict and unwavering.
Svayambhuva went ahead to declare that Kshatriyas and Vaisyas (who had been assigned personal property) should not accept gifts. (Manusmrti 10-77, 78) The running battles between Bhrgus and the Talajanghas who claimed to be Kshatriyas following Vishnu, the head of a confederation (chakra) of states were the resultant of the allegation that the Brahman priests who followed Bhrgu had hidden wealth.
Svayambhuva regulated the allotment of agricultural lands but retained pastoral lands as public property. Similarly, roots and fruits of trees and timber were to be accessible to all.This step (Manusmrti 8-39) while throwing open the forests to all, denied the forest-dwellers their ancestral ownership of those forests. Conflicts were hence bound to arise.
Rudras and others who had till then claimed exclusive rights over the forests were thus denied possession of property there and their exclusive jurisdiction was declared void to enable the retired elders of the agro-pastoral core society of the plains to set up their abodes there.
Rudras were required to protect them against the Rakshasas and other militants. Similarly the Vasus were required to vacate the agricultural lands which they controlled and allow independent landlords to flourish.
The latter were recognized as the upper crust of the commonalty, vis, and gained the status of visvedevas from whom the new generation of nobles (devas) arose.
The Vasus were required to take charge of the pastoral economy and hold the tracts without boundaries. Anyone could allow his cattle to graze there.The Prajapatisgranted them priority in the control of cattle and pastoral economy but not exclusive rights.
Following Svayambhuva, Bhrgu declares (MS 10-61) that non-violence, speaking truth, personal purity, non-theft and restraint of organs are duties common to all (sarvadharma). These minimal duties are to be considered in the background of the call given to distinguish an Arya from a non-Arya by his conduct (MS 10-158).Harshness and cruelty mark a non-Arya.
Manusmrti says that one outside the four classes (varnas) may attain siddhi (fulfilment of the objects of living) by dying in defence of the Brahmans, cows, women and children.
The neo-kshatriyas and others were not disfavoured though they might not have accepted the rules of varnasrama dharma. They had to accept the above minimal duties which did not include faith in God or any particular tenet. Mere birth in an Aryan family was not enough to be recognized as an Arya.
Svayambhuva did not advocate meek submission to force though he called for abjuring violence. When Dhruva wanted to avenge the murder of his brother, Uttama, Svayambhuva pointed out that for the offence committed by one he had killed many Yakshas (Bhagavatam 4-11-9) and risked the wrath of Rudra and Kubera (who were then members of the eight-member ministry).
Rudra was later succeeded by Soma, a follower of Atri. Kubera had succeeded Pracetas. Prthu constitution replaced Kubera, the representative of the plutocrats by a representative of the commonalty, Prthvi.
During his last days Svayambhuva taught Upanishadicformulae (mantras) concerning the Ultimate (avyakta) and the cosmic law, Rta, by which every being seeks to protect its identity and survive in a world marked by struggle for existence and survival though every being refrains from harming others unless its own existence is threatened. He did not defend himself against the asuras and the yakshas. (Bhagavatam 8-1-9ff)
He treated the rich (dhanada) yakshas as munificent and meritorious people (punya-jana) and recognized them as upadevas, a status next to that of the nobles (devas). It was a move towards reconciliation.(Bhagavatam 4-11-1)
He declared that the yakshas who were pasupatas (owners of animals) were entitled to a place in the socio-political circle headed by arka (Aditya) (arkamandalam) even as celibates (lifelong students of the principles of jurisprudence, brahmavidya) were (4-11-5).In other words, owners of large ranches and students of jurisprudence could be appointed as members of the highest executive, as karmadevas.
Satyavratas had let loose a campaign against yakshas and their guards, rakshas. Pulastya was guardian of these classes while Vasishta inspired the satyavratas. Svayambhuva had tried to bring the two sages on a common platform. In his view the actions of the satyavratas like Uttama was a distortion of what he had meant by satya. He did not condemn the earlier laws based on Rta which permitted everyone to abide by his natural tendency, svabhava. His first emphasis was on harmlessness ahimsa.
Daksha-yajna and Rudras
Prajapati Daksha controlled the Brahmavarta pattern of social order. Aided by young Bhrgu, he tried to implement the social codes behind the varna scheme. The sacrifice performed by him to the exclusion of Siva was ravaged by the Rudraganas. Bhrgu and his associates were badly mauled leaving a trail of bitter memories and spite between the Bhargavas and neo-kshatriyas.
Rudraganas were consistently denied the status of kshatriyas and were treated as no better than rakshasas. While Pulastya pleaded for a considerate treatment, Vasishta gave tacit approval to the Parasara campaign for the extermination of the rakshasas.
The Daksha-yajna episode preceded this campaign. The slight to Siva, a yogi belonging to the Rudra school of thought might have been caused by a distorted interpretation of the social codes pertaining to marriages.
Svayambhuva adopted a path of least resistance and granted recognition to all the eight types of marriages then in vogue Brahma, Daiva, Prajapatya, Arsha, Asura, Gandharva, Rakshasa, and Paisaca. But as the varna scheme was introduced he allowed the Asura and Gandharva types for all the four varnas. The Asura type amounted to purchase of bride and Gandharva type was marriage by consent between the bride and groom.
He however permitted the first four types only for Brahmans and the Rakshasa type only for Kshatriyas. The Brahmans were precluded from Paisaca type (under hypnosis or before attaining the age of consent).
Daksha treated Siva's marriage with his daughter as Paisaca, (as Siva was claimed to be a Brahmana) and hence invalid. Daksha was a Kshatriya and his daughter could resort to one of the three types, Asura (sale of bride), Gandharva (mutual consent) and Rakshasa.
Bhrgu would not allow Paisaca marriage for any one and hence stood by Daksha. He was for Kanyadana, that is, Brahma marriage where the girl had not attained the age of consent, for Brahmans and Gandharva type for all others.
He was prepared to concede Rakshasa type for Kshatriyas as many treated conquest as valid. He did not support Asura and Paisaca (abduction) types for any class.
Declaration that the Rudras had resorted to hypnosis was taken objection to by Siva. Under excessive attachment to the lover which led to a total surrender to him by the girl, the principle of consent could not have operated. Bhrgu must have treated it as enticement and theft. Rakshasa marriage though claimed to be marriage by conquest was marriage by robbery.
These were part of the birth-pangs of the new social order. The issue of marriage patterns was intimately connected with several political events.
The Rudras pressurised Brahma, the chief of the people (prajapati) of Brahmavarta (Sarasvati-Drshadvati basin) to accept their demands and allow them to have their own social system.
When they began to predominate numerically and their activities resulted in devastating fires, they were pushed into the forest, the Bhagavatam (3-11) says. These were reminiscences of the socio-economic situation that prevailed prior to the institution of the order of Manu. The editors of Bhagavatam were affiliated to Vaishnavaite cults.
The Rudras might have adopted a pattern of agriculture that resembled scorching some standing crops to fertlise the lands. A compromise was arrived at by which the Rudras were allowed exclusive rights over the forest economy. Did a Rudra claim to be Manu before the vibhu of Barhismati was appointed by a pro-Narayana Viraj as Manu Svayambhuva?
The order of Manu brought all the three social worlds (lokas) under its ambit. However the authority of the Rudras to control the forest and mountain economies could not be violated. Others could not dig for mines. The order of Manu had to acknowledge the existence of the parallel economy and exercise control only over the river, agrarian and pastoral economies.
Svayambhuva welcomed peaceful co-existence of the two economies and social orientations. The Rudras of the forests and mountains and the bhutas of the periphery had earlier been members of the agrarian commonalty. .
The Asuras are not to be confused with the Rakshasas. Both these cadres were distinct from the Yakshas who were plutocrats and controlled the industrial economy of the frontier society.
The Asuras were feudal lords who had secured control over the social periphery from where they threatened the commoners (manushyas) of the agro-pastoral plains and the aristocrats (devas) of the towns and also the plutocrats (yakshas) who ruled the forests and mountains and controlled the forest wealth including the mineral sources.
While the yakshas were helped by their guards (rakshas), the militant and disloyal among them were forced to take refuge in the periphery between the pastoral lands and the forests.
These rebellious elements were known as rakshasas. They were utilised by the feudal lords (asuras) as mercenaries (dasyus) to raid the agrarian and pastoral areas and harass their population.When Svayambhuva was in retirement, he was attacked by the asuras and yatudanas (bandits).
Yajna (Ruchis son) who was then chief of his personal guards, with the help of the nobles (devas) and the magistrates and law-enforcing agencies (yamas) destroyed them. (Bhagavatam 8-1-18) It was a politico-legal action.
At that time Yajna had taken over the control of the three vistapas. The wealth that had been sacrificed to be used for charitable purposes (yajna, dharma), the savings for the future (yasa) and the property that could be left for ones offspring (svajana) came under the control of the official designated as Suragana-adhyaksha.
The latter was the chief of the group of warriors-cum-aristocrats (suras) who successfully deprived the feudal lords (asuras) of the right to use the wealth that was declared to be part of these public trusts (vistapas). At the level of social practices, payment of fees (sulka) to the parents of the girl to be married was condemned as Asura marriage.
The asura orientation weighed everything in monetary terms. It did not accept the concept of individual and consequently the principle of mutual consent. This flowed into the political field also as the Vamana-Bali episode shows. The order of Manu was expected to treat all cults and thoughts as valid (akhila-dharma-bhavanam).
But it had to face challenges from the Rudras, the Asuras and also the samkarshanas (the agrarian-cum-military wing of the Vaishnavaites). They pushed out Bhrgu from his abode. Samkarshanas were said to have burnt it down.
Bhrgu was a social legislator and had been assigned to the mahaloka. But he was a Brahmavadi (socio-political activist) rather than a Brahmarshi (intellectual and impartial jurist) and was hence expelled from it. (Bhagavatam 10-87-8)
Some Bhrgus had given asylum to asuras (feudal lords) who were fleeing from liberal nobles (devas). The latter took objection to it. One of the legends charges that Vishnu (a Talajanga chieftain) had raided Bhrgus abode and killed his wife. This chieftain might have been a supporter of Samkarshana (brother of Vasudeva).
Bhrgu was against all tantric cults. He might have alleged that Pancaratra cult championed by the two thinkers (and by Kratu) promoted hypnotism and was not based on radical rationalism. Bhrgu was rational and liberal and introduced several reforms which Manu Svayambhuva had not thought of or found not expedient. These reforms did interfere in the then existing social practices, many of which were irrational.
The Asura assault on the abode of Manu Svayambhuva and Samkarshanas on that of Bhrgu were part of the resistance to the social reforms proposed by Bhrgu and consented to by Svayambhuva.
Bhrgu must have been supported by Angirasa and Narada while he neutralised Pulastya and Atri by his concession to Rakshasa marriage (conquest type, indicative of acquiescence to male chauvinism).
Manu Svayambhuva had not accepted all the suggestions of Brahmarshi Kardama. His orientations built on his own experiences are reflected in the stand he took during his retirement and followed by Manu Svarochisha.
He defined Isvara (God, as often translated), the charismatic leader and benevolent ruler as one who always sees though he is not seen and as one in whom all discrete individuals (of the social periphery in particular) had faith and on whom depended on (bhutanilayam). (Bhagavatam 8-1-11)
He did not approve of Narada's call that the king should be a vimuktasanga prakrti, a constituent of the social polity that is free from attachment to personal interests, even while functioning in the midst of people who pursue their own interests.
Narada drew attention to how a lotus-petal (suparna) does not absorb water though it stands in water. Suparnas, asvas and chitras were cadres of gandharvas who were not economically oriented. Manu Svayambhuva did not consider it feasible to compel all rulers (rajanyas) to be totally free from attachment to worldly life and be ascetics.
A sage (rshi) was not an ascetic (sanyasi). A king could be a sage, a rajarshi but not a monk. He was not expected to be a mendicant. He had to be one whose desires had been fulfilled and hence would not be inclined to use political power to amass wealth and lead a hedonistic life. (8-1-15)
The needs of the king had to be met if the king had to be selfless. The king was a counsellor who taught the commoners what he had been taught by sages and established them in the path of truth. (8-1-16) Manu Svayambhuva was non-sectarian though according to the editors of Bhagavatam he held Prabhu Narayana in high esteem. He respected all dharmas.
Manusmrti and Ancestors (Pitrs)
In Manusmrti (3-192 to201) which describe the elders or pitrs (souls of ancestors, as commonly understood) to be honoured at sraddha (thanksgiving) rites, Viraj, Marici, Atri, Kavi (Bhrgu), Pulastya and Vasishta are mentioned.
These verses may be later interpolations but reflect the Bhrgu school of thought. Marici and other sages are said to be born of Manu (that is, to have been recognized by Manu Svayambhuva as great sages, maharshis) and Manu (of Hiranyagarbha (Prajapati Brahma, as often said). The sons of Marici (and other sages) are pitrganas, (followers of these fathers). Somasadas who were sons of Viraj were fathers (pitrs) of Saddhyas.
Saddhyas who were members of the ruling aristocracy were intellectuals belonging to the Soma group of the forests and mountains who patronised the Viraj, the head of the federal state of the Vedic times and were guarded in return by him. Adityas, Rudras, Vasus and Maruts were other cadres of the traditional aristocracy. According to Manusmrti,
Marici was asked to be in charge of the formation of the class of nobles (devas), their needs and functions. He was a Marut and belonged to the non-agrarian open terrain of Sarasvati-Drshadvati region (Brahmavarta) where Manus capital, Barhismati, was located. But Saddhyas who claimed to be sons of Soma were not under his jurisdiction. They were looked after by the Viraj himself.
In this world, that is, in the social world of nobles, Agnisvattas were remembered as pitaras of devas. In other words the nobles were selected from amongst the persons recommended by a board of officers of the civil judiciary,headed by Agni, who vouched for the character and conduct of the appointees to the status of devas
Marici had been directed by Svayambhuva to nominate the officers, Agnisvattas. As they acted under Maricis authority, they were called Maricas. Marici was the chief of the council of seven sages and the head of the ten-member board of prajapatis. Atri was in charge of the third social world, the frontier society of forests and mountains (antariksham) The Barhishadas were said to be sons or followers of Atri.
They were held in esteem as their patrons (pitrs) by the despised feudal lords (daityas), the greedy rich (danavas), the plutocrats (yakshas), the independent intelligentsia (gandharvas), the mobile industrial proletariat (uragas), the militant forest-guards (rakshasas), the dwellers in islands and forests who were not influenced by their environment (suparnas) and the mobile free men of the frontier society (kinnaras).
In the social world (loka) of the agro-pastoral core society (prthvi) which was brought under the scheme of four social classes (varnas), Kavi (Bhrgu), Angirasa, Pulastya and Vasishta were placed in charge of the Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras respectively.
The later exponents of Sraddha rites lost sight of these aspects of social dynamics which however did not belong to too remote past. MS3-21 says that the pitaras (cadres of elders) were born of (nominated by) sages (rshis) and from the elders (pitaras) the nobles (devas) were selected (born). Those who were not assigned to the nobility were treated as belonging to the commonalty (manushyas).
Some of the feudal lords (asuras) who were authoritarian but were not selfish or cruel were granted the status of elders, pitrs. Some of them were later accepted as liberal nobles (devas). Others were absorbed in the commonalty at the appropriate level.
Of the ten social legislators (maharshis) and chiefs of the people (prajapatis) nominated by Manu Svayambhuva only Atri, Angirasa, Bhrgu and Vasishta are mentioned elsewhere too in Manusmrti. Atri is cited along with Gautama. Both of them were members of the council of seven sages during the tenure of Manu Vaivasvata. Both held that a Brahmana who married a Shudra woman was declared an outcast.
The regression was post-Bhrgu. Bhrgu opined that only a Brahmans grandson by a Shudra woman would be outcast (MS3-16). He did not object to anuloma marriage. But he did not want this permission to be continued indiscriminately to absorb the Shudras among the higher varnas
Vasishta is cited in MS 8-110 as an example to establish that oaths are valid and on interest to be charged (8-140) and in connection with penances (11-250). Vasishtas wife, Akshamala was low-born (9-23). No wonder he was recognized as a sage representing the interests of the Shudras and a sponsor of the Satyavrata movement. Kutsa too is mentioned with reference to penance as a means of expiation of offences.
Bharadvaja, Vamadeva and Visvamitra are cited to establish that meat could be consumed when one was famished (10-106ff). Agastya is cited in 5-22 justifying animal sacrifice. Visvamitra is cited as an example of how one could ascend in status to become a Brahman.
Bhrgu's Manusamhita did not reject the reforms proposed by Vasishta. Only Gautama was conservative. Kashyapa is said to have married three daughters of Prajapati Daksha (9-120). Soma too married other daughters of Daksha, indicating Dakshas wide influence. Among the rulers, only Sudasa, Prthu, Vena and Nahusha are mentioned.
The sages and rulers mentioned belonged to the early Manava epoch. This establishes that Manusmrti was composed during his epoch. The later interpolations did not upset the original stand of Bhrgu and his colleagues.
Manu Svarochisha and Brahmavadis, Ideologues
Unlike the Brahmarshis hwo adhered to the three Vedas, Rg, Yajur and Sama, Brahmavadis were basically Atharvans.Atharva was the result of the new knowledge (vijnana) gained through empirical studies and experimental sciences. It kept out metaphysics and speculation of the other world.
Unlike the Brahmarshis who abjured social activism, Bhrgu was involved in social reforms and was sometimes declared to be a Brahmavadi.He was one of the contributors to Atharvaveda. Kashyapa was an yet another prominent activist. Angirasa was a co-author with Atharvacharya of the Atharva anthology. Angirasa Brhaspati was successor to Angirasa. Angirasa was the chief guide of the second Manu, Svarochisha.
Svarochisha's father held the rank of Agni, the head of the council (samiti) of scholars and elders and head of the civil judiciary in one of the forty-five states (rajya) of dhio-prthvi dichotomous pattern that were in existence at that time.
Before the second Manu was selected there was a brief interregnum when Yajna (the official in charge of sacrifices) assumed the rank of Indra and controlled all the three vistapas (financial trusts under the head, dharma, yasa and svajana). Earlier this Tusita chief had only limited powers. Svayambhuva himself regulated all the three social worlds (lokas) and all the three public trusts (vistapas). The more prosaic Brahmans who were known as Vipras began to assert themselves. (Vamana, a disciple of Kashyapa was one such Vipra.)
The second Manu nominated Rochana as the successor to Yajna. He was a nominee of Prajapati Ruchi. He retained some of the Tusitas as nobles and included some newer groups in the assembly of nobles (devas). His council of sages was dominated by Brahmavadis like Urja and Stambha.
According to Markandeya (a chronicler), Svarochisha was the son of a gandharva by an apsaras. The institution of marriage and family was not in vogue among the Gandharvas and Apsarases. They had no homes or fixed abodes and did not look after their offspring. The lucky ones among the offspring left behind by their parents were picked up and reared by sages or nobles. Svarochisha was one such orphan. He must have belonged to Panchala or Prachinabarhis and his authority challenged by some orthodox sections. He himself was accused of being given to lust.
According to the Bhagavatam, during his tenure as Manu, a huge institution known as Kaumara-Brahmacharis came into existence. Its chief, a Vibhu, was a charismatic personage. This institution of youths who had taken the pledge not to get married might have been inspired by Narada.
The Vibhu was the son of a Vedic scholar and his mother a Tusita. Tusitas were accused of being given to lust. Tusita women might not have followed the prescribed codes of marriage.
Both Svarochisha and the Vibhu came under a cloud on the decay of this institution which was expected to be a mass movement for propagating knowledge and good cultural practices.
These youths were Vipras who kept moving in all directions and among all sections of the population. They were like Saivaite Charanas and Vaishnavaite Vidyadharas and Narada songsters.
They had not gone through anointment rites and prolonged their period of celibacy. Some remained celibates throughout their life. None of these three steps was in accordance with the Manava codes on the Brahmana orientations.
When Manu Svayambhuva who was then in retirement was asked to determine what status the sonless would have on their death, in view of the institutionalisation of the concept of three debts (rnas) (to devas, rshis and pitrs, nobles, sages and elders who were all non-economic sectors of the society), he hesitatingly allowed that issueless celibates could attain on death the circle (mandalam) of Surya (arka).
This view indicated that shortly before his death, the issueless father (especially a ruler) might be admitted to the privileges of a general of the army. His last rites would be performed with state honours due to a warrior.
This verdict would have encouraged the Kaumara-Brahmacharis to not only prolong the duration of celibacy but also opt for lifelong celibacy. The vast difference in age between the groom and the bride was a consequence of this enabling provision.
Dhruva, a grandson of Manu Svayambhuva and son of Uttanapada, had been educated in an unorthodox system by Narada. When Uttanapada declared him as crown prince bypassing his brother, Uttama, objections were raised on the ground that he had not received formal education as a Brahmachari.
Dhruva had to go through the prescribed training. He was a youth (Kaumara) and no longer a child when he was initiated into Gayatri.
This hymn attributed to Visvamitra by the editors of the Vedic anthology might have been earlier advocated by Pulaha, a disciple of Kardama. Pulaha taught it to Bharata, disciple of Rshabha and a descendant of Manu Svayambhuva. It might have sidestepped the elaborate Vedic sacrifices, yajnas. It became an important orientation for all dvijas, who had earlier belonged to the gandharva cadres or to the commonalty (manushyas) or to the nobility (devas).
Only the expelled feudal lords (asuras) were denied the right to be initiated into gayatri. The Gandharva household fires too came into vogue to sanctify the homes of those not married in accordance with Vedic rites. But the Brahmarshis insisted on formal training in the abodes of the teachers.
Svarochisha's recognition of the mass initiation through the cadre of Kaumara Brahmacharis and Vipras was a major step in the process of assimilation and socialisation going on at that time.
Kutastha-Svarochisha: the Stable Non-expanding State
Angirasa was one of the central figures in the Trisamdhi, Triple Entente mentioned in Atharvaveda. He was entrusted with the task of organizing the warriors, Kshatriyas, of the commonalty, prthvi. He was the chief guide of Manu Svarochisha. According to Bhagavatam, Utathya and Brhaspati were his sons.
Brhaspati, a leading scholar in political economy was the guardian of the economic interests of the commonalty especially of the bourgeoisie. The agreement between him and Indra, known as Indra-samdhi, occupies a significant place in ancient Indian political systems and operations.
Svarochisha advocated small stable, non-expanding states as indicated by the expression kutastha-svarochisha. It became the basis for the concept of small nation-states established by the Vratya Prajapati, Mahadeva as explained in Atharvaveda Bk.15. (4-1-35),
Manu Uttama and Satyas
As Svarochisha's tenure ended, Uttama, a brother of Dhruva and protg of Priyavrata was elevated as Manu. He chose Pramada and other disciples of Vasishta as members of his council of seven sages.
These sages might have been complacent and overlooked the growing unrest among the people caused by the excesses of the Satyas. He nominated Satyas, Vedasrutas and Bhadras as nobles (devas). Satyajit was his Indra while Satyasena was the chief of the army.
This followed the Vratya pattern which refused to entrust the head of the nobility with the authority to lead the kshatriya army which was drawn mainly from the commonalty.
Uttama's state was puritanical and used tough steps to put down heterodoxy. During his tenure a cadre of Satyavratas emerged. They claimed descent from Dharma, that is, they argued that the intolerant methods adopted by them were in accordance with the principles of dharma.
The Satyas went about killing the plutocrats (yakshas) and their guards (rakshas) who were organized groups of ex-servicemen staying in the social periphery as bhutaganas. They accused the yakshas of having betrayed the trust placed by the commoners in them.
The proclamation that they (Yakshas) were acting against unorganized individuals (bhutas) and were guilty of anti-social activities against the members of the third social world (antariksham) was a major departure from Svayambhuvas policy by the Satyas who claimed to be followers of Vasishta.
The Yakshas enjoyed the support of Rudraganas. One of them killed Manu Uttama. Dhruva wanted to march his troops against the Yakshas who were stationed in Alakapuri in the Himalayas. But Svayambhuva who was in retirement dissuaded him as he would be only antagonising the Rudras who were part of the nobility (devas) and were protectors of the forest society.
Vasishta and Satyavrata movement
Vasishta, the champion of satyavrata movement, must have resented Svarochishtas policy which was influenced by Brahmavadis like Angirasa. He threw his weight behind the varnasrama scheme advanced by the Brahmarshis but called for upward mobility in the varna scheme. The channels of recruitment to the higher varnas should not be closed.
The Shudras and others who were nasatyas could get absorbed as adopt positive steps and become satyas and dvijas. He recognized Visvamitra who was a Kshatriya by birth as a Brahmana by fitness. He might not have however yielded to the claims of the Vasus to the status of Kshatriyas and insisted that the opening of the channels of ascent was only for individuals and not for groups. His abode on the banks of Sarasvati was ravaged and he had to move eastwards.
Vasishta, one who was beloved to the Vasus who owned personal property, called for the validation of the samkaravarna scheme and found Bhrgu supportive while Atri was not.
Atri did not want the other society of the forests not to be disturbed and the Brahmanical order lose its purity by mixed marriages.
Atri was for peaceful co-existence of the two societies, core and frontier and opposed the telescoping of the two at all levels. Vasishta was for integration at the grass-root level and at the level of individuals.
Dharma codes took into account practices of social groups as well as the traits and aptitudes of individuals. The laws based on the principle of inviolability of truth, satya, committed only the individual to their recommendations and mandates.
Uttama was elevated to the status of Manu because he was not interested in power. The nobles (devas) and Uttanapada preferred his brother, Dhruva, for the post of the king of the central Ganga-Yamuna doab.
Dhruva was a protg of Narada, a gandharva statesman and sage. The Pasupata-Vratya movement of Mahadeva spread from his region in Panchala where on the ruins of Puranjana, Prachinabarhis (eastern Barhis) was established to continue the traditions of Barhismati of Brahmavarta (Sarasvati-Drshtavati doab). Puranjana which was governed by a matriarchal warrior-group of Apsarases who lived by river economy fell to Chandravega, a gandharva chieftain, an event vouched for by Narada.
Under Manu Uttama, a cadre of Satyavratas was created to propagate Dharma. They did not notice any difference between the puritanical and rigid laws based on Satya and the recommendations of the champions of Dharma who called for wide consensus on the varied practices of those times.
It was an assertion that the Vedic practices as interpreted by Dharmasyas could not be challenged by any authority and that the new practices introduced by the materialistic Atharvans had no mention in the scriptures.
Satyajit and Satyasena pronounced death for the Yakshas and Rakshas on the ground that they were liars and miscreants and were guilty of misconduct.
The father of Parasara, a protg of Vasishta, was killed in the forest by a guard (rakshak) and Parasara began a campaign to exterminate the Rakshasas.and Lokapalas (governors and protectors of social worlds or communities). Rakshaks (guards) who had turned anti-social were known as Rakshasas.
They were eligible to be inducted in the army as Kshatriyas but Atri did not favour extending the varna scheme to the forest society. His own abode was located in a territory (Chitrakuta) under the care of Chitras, a group of gandharvas who were interested in fine arts and things beautiful.
He deputed Pulastya, Pulaha and Kratu to dissuade Parasara (who enjoyed the tacit support of Vasishta) as they feared that Parasaras campaign might result in the extermination of the unarmed and defenceless Brahmans. Aurva, a disciple of Bhrgu, too joined Pulastya.
Pulastya was claimed to be the grandfather of Kubera (a plutocrat, yaksha) and of Ravana (a Rakshasa tyrant). Marici, Atri, Angirasa, Pulastya, Pulaha and Kratu were manas-putras of Brahma, that is, were Brahmavadis, advocates of the Atharvan constitution which had outlawed the Rakshasas and forged the Trisamdhi, the triple entente calling for their extermination.
Vasishta and Bhrgu were Brahmarshis and followers of Kardama. Vasishta was one of the main contributors to the Rgveda anthology while Bhrgu was associated with the Atharva anthology and was hence claimed to be a Brahmavadi. Both the sages were socio-political activists.
Aurva explained to Parasara the circumstances under which the Bhargavas were attacked and their property plundered and their women molested by neo-kshatriyas like Haihayas and Talajanghas who were no better than rakshasas.. Parasara was persuaded to give up his campaign but Vasishta did not give up his vow to wipe them out.
Manu Tamasa and Editing of the Vedas
On Uttama's untimely death, the Satyakas installed Tamasa as Manu. Of course he must have been recommended by the board of ten Prajapatis nominated by Manu Svayambhuva. The high-brow Bhadras were replaced by Haris and Viras as nobles (devas).
Tamasa discontinued the practice of appointing an Indra (a noble in charge of finance) and a Senapati (in charge of the army) and introduced the status of Isvara, a typically feudal practice.
The incumbent was Trisikha, one who carried the Trident signifying his commitment to the provisions of Trisamdhi. Trisamdhi, the tripartite agreement binding the three social worlds (lokas), nobility, commonalty and frontier society, divam, prthvi and antariksham might have been entered into during Tamasa's tenure. Though Tamasa accepted the Satya factor he adopted a sober approach.
According to Markandeya, Tamasa was the son of the ruler of an autonomous state, Svarashtra, who had been deposed by a Vimartha (one whose economic policies were not gainful). Svarashtra belonged to the Suryas (solar lineages).Tamasa must have belonged to the central Ganga plains south of Ayodhya where a river by name, Tamasa, flows. Ramayana also mentions the social codes, Tamasa Smrtis. Vasishta had moved to Kosala and secured the approval of Manu Tamasa to his notions.
Tamasa's tenure is noted for the institution of a cadre of Vaidhrtis or Vedic scholars who were entrusted with the task of re-editing the Vedas, several portions of which had already been lost. Some of the main contributors to the Rgvedic anthology, like Vasishta, Visvamitra, Vamadeva, Bharadvaja, Agastya, Gautama and Parasara were connected with the Kosalan polity. These Vaidhrtis were connected with the Vedic schools which protected the Vedas and handed them down to the future generations as Srutis, authorised oral tradition.