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The Law Code of Manu [Anglais] [Broché]

Patrick Olivelle

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23 avril 2009 Oxford World's Classics
'Manu was seated, when the great seers came up to him: "Please, Lord, tell us the Laws of all the social classes, as well as of those born in between..."' The Law Code of Manu is the most authoritative and the best-known legal text of ancient India. Famous for two thousand years it still generates controversy, with Manu's verses being cited in support of the oppression of women and members of the lower castes. A seminal Hindu text, the Law Code is important for its classic description of so many social institutions that have come to be identified with Indian society. It deals with the relationships between social and ethnic groups, between men and women, the organization of the state and the judicial system, reincarnation, the workings of karma, and all aspects of the law. Patrick Olivelle's lucid translation is the first to be based on his critically edited text, and it incorporates the most recent scholarship on ancient Indian history, law, society, and religion. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  3 commentaires
13 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent translation of a fascinating work 26 avril 2010
Par Barnaby Thieme - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I approached Manu's Dharmashastra with historical curiosity, braced for a tough read, but I was delightfully surprised to learn what an engaging, beautiful, and fascinating text this is. In twelve chapters the mythical author Manu describes the nature of the well-ordered society and focuses on the role of the Brahmin within it.

The Indologist Richard Gombrich describes "Dharma", awkwardly rendered by Olivelle as "Law", as corresponding to the medieval European concept of "Nature". Both terms undermine the normative/descriptive distinction; in this text's primary usage "Dharma" refers both to the essential nature of things and the way things ought to be.

Manu is an archetypal figure in Indian religious thought going back to the Rig Veda. His function is the founder of the civilization and bestower of its organizing patterns of behavior. In this work he describes prototypical forms of life that the Brahmim should follow, nominally based on the Vedas, which are themselves considered to be architectonic of the coherent structure of the cosmos.

The male Brahmin's life is presented in four life-stages, each with its attendant duties and obligations. The first stage is the student, in which the Brahmin learns the rites of recitation and sacrifice under the tutelage of the guru. The second is the householder, in which the Brahmin raises and safeguards the family. When the Brahmin becomes gray and sees his grandchildren, he enters the third stage and is to retire to the forest to undertake austerities, yoga, and meditation. In the fourth stage, the Brahmin takes up the life of the wandering ascetic, He is to complete his mastery of subduing the impulses of his biological and individual psychological character, and through disidentification with the individual self he prepares for death and for union with Brahman, the divine principle.

The Manava Dharmashastra's studious disinterest in the individual will or character is emphatically expressed on every page of this treatise, which views the personality as something to be subdued, first in deference to social patterns and norms exemplified by the caste system and various social duties and obligations following therefrom, and then in service of religious practices which require the absolute abnegation of the individual ego and submersion in the generalized field of awareness and Being. At no time is the slightest value placed on the individual discernment, judgment, or discrimination.

If the male Brahmin is subordinate to the dictates of the patterns laid out in this treatise, the lot of women and the lower castes, particularly the Sudras, is starker. The duty of women according to Manu is to serve the family, to obey the husband, and, when the husband is not available, to obey the eldest son. The joyous and assiduous undertaking of household chores and obedience to men is the path by which Brahmin women fulfill their Dharma. In the next life they may be reborn in a higher station.

Likewise the lower castes and especially the Sudras are regarded as properly servile and impure by nature. Through the uncomplaining acceptance of their lot they too may fulfill their Dharma and ascend higher in the next life.

The legacy of the Manava Dharmashastra in legitimating oppressive conditions for women and Sudras casts a long shadow, and little can be said in defense of this repugnant vision except to submit that in contrast to contemporaneous social codes written around the same time, the Dharmashastra is not as horrid as most. Compared to the Code of Hammurabi or Leviticus (both written substantially earlier, granted) the Dharmashastra is relatively progressive in its views.

It should also be noted that if one accepts the metaphysical worldview of this book, with its essentialist characterization of social orders determined by a retributive series of rebirths determined by the moral character of action, then its views on women and lower castes make logical sense. Indeed, the views of the book as a whole are governed by a ruthless logic that follows clearly and directly from its mechanistic metaphysics.

The second half of the book lays out in detail various aspects of rule such as appropriate grounds for litigation, civil penalties, criminal law, the structure and nature of good governance, et cetera. This book predictably emphasizes the deference that must be paid to the Brahmins. Indeed it has been conjected partly on the basis of this material that the book was written as an argument for the dominance of Brahmins over the Ksatriyas warrior elite caste, who might have had their own views about who was truly at the top of the social hierarchy.

This book was excellently translated and rendered by Patrick Olivelle on the basis of his meticulously compiled critical edition of the Sanskrit text. I admit I found his translation of the principle Upanisads somewhat wooden in style and approached this work with a certain trepidation, but fortunately Olivelle outdid himself in this marvelous work. It is cogent, readable, and fascinating, with useful annotations and glossaries.

It would be hard to overstate the value of this text in understanding the late Classical Indian religious idiom, particularly with respect to Brahminism. Most of the religious texts that continue to receive attention from that age are addressed to renunciates, and it's very interesting to see how such a worldview was interpreted by people who were dedicated to living within a society. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the strategies it employs to reconcile the dictates of that renunciate and deeply-pessimistic religious culture with an affirmation of the values of society and the necessity of living within it. The compromise that is reached is expressed as fulfilling different sets of obligations at different stages of life. That may occur as an interesting couter-position to the views expressed by the renunciate Vedanta or Raja-Yoga traditions.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Accurate translation of a key Hindu treatise on Law 23 décembre 2010
Par R. Batta - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
What were the classical moral codes of conduct and law in ancient Hindu society? This text provides the ideals of moral, social, religious, and political conduct of Hindus---particularly emphasizing the role of Brahmins in society and kingdoms/Kings.

Dealing with the emerging renunciation sects both within Hinduism and outside of it, Buddhist and Jain traditions, Manu's Law Code is the Brahmanical mainstream's reaction to these traditions and establishes "varnashramadharma" as the proper spiritual path. Living in society to fulfill Dharma is stressed in the Law Code as well as strict adherence to rules for social/caste order. Manu certainly believed the ideals outlined in his text would maintain the order of society and its well-being.

The details outlining the minute details of every day personal conduct and affairs are astonishing and reveal much about the practices and order of ancient Hindu society. Though, it would be interesting if more research was conducted regarding the society in which the Law Code was actually practiced to see how much of the high-standard ideals of the Law Code were actually upheld and carried out.

I read this text for my Intro to Hinduism class and it certainly provided insights into the social construct and ideals of society of the Brahmanical Hindu mainstream. This translation is also very readable.
0 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Confusing 10 octobre 2013
Par Ganga De - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
It is rather difficult to follow references and notes. When there are notes on any page, they should be explained right below on the same page.
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