Which Manusmṛti verses were written exclusively for vaiśyas and śūdras?


Pattanaik appears to be quoting from Patrick Olivelle's translation of Manusmṛti but does not quote him fully.

Olivelle first presents an overall schematic of the Manu in the introduction to his translation, then goes on to argue that in the Rules of Action in Normal Times, only 10 verses are allocated exclusively to vaiśyas and śūdras.

We can then view the overall structure of the MDh schematically:

  1. Origin of the World: 1.1–119
  2. Sources of the Law: 2.1–24
  3. Dharma of the Four Social Classes: 2.25–11.266

    3.1. Rules Relating to Law: 2.25–10.131

    3.1.1. Rules of Action in Normal Times: 2.26–9-336 Fourfold Dharma of a Brahmin: 2.26–6.97
    I have explained to you above the fourfold Law of Brahmins, a Law that is holy and brings imperishable rewards after death. Listen now to the Law of kings. (6.97) Rules of Action for a King: 7.1–9-325
    I have described above in its entirety the eternal rules of action for the king. What follows, one should understand, are the rules of action for the Vaiśya and the Śūdra in their proper order. (9.325) Rules of Action for Vaiśyas & Śūdras: 9-325–36
    I have described above the splendid rules of action for the social classes outside times of adversity. Listen now to the rules for them in the proper order for times of adversity. (9.336)

    3.1.2. Rules of Action in Times of Adversity: 10.1–129

    3.2. Rules Relating to Penance: 11.1–265
  4. Determination Regarding Engagement in Action (karmayoga): 12.3–116

    4.1. Fruits of Action: 12.3–81

    4.2. Rules of Action for Supreme Good: 12.83–115


The Rules for Vaiśyas and Śūdras

Manu's discussion of Vaiśyas and Śūdras, the last two of the social classes, is extraordinarily brief. Eight verses are devoted to the Vaiśya and just two to the Śūdra. Even granting that, according to the ritual principle of parsimony discussed earlier, much of the material for these two classes was included in the discussion of the Brahmin, one would have expected something more than just ten verses.

The reason for this brevity is unclear, but I think it must be understood within the context of the socio-political motives behind Manu's composition. Simply put, Manu's interest lay not in the lower classes of society, which he considered to be an ever-present threat to the dominance of the upper classes, but in the interaction between the political power and Brahmanical priestly interests, interests that were under constant threat ranging from the Asokan imperial polity to the foreign invasions around the turn of the millennium.

Anyway, here are those 10 verses (9.326-9.335) that he's referring to:

Section XLIII - Duties of the Vaiśya and the Śūdra

After having his sacraments performed, the Vaiśya shall take a wife and apply himself entirely to agriculture and the tending of cattle.–(326)

Prajāpati, having created cattle, made them over to the Vaiśya; while to the Brāhmaṇā and the Kṣatriya he made over all creatures.–(327)

The Vaiśya shall never conceive the wish–‘I will not tend cattle;’ and so long as the Vaiśya is willing, they should not be tended by any one else.–(328)

He shall find out the relative value of gems, pearls, corals, metals, woven cloths, perfumes and condiments.–(329)

He should be acquainted with the manner of sowing seeds, with the good and bad qualities of the soil; he should know all kinds of weights and measures.–(330)

Also the excellences and defects of commodities, the advantages and disadvantages relating to countries, the profit and loss on merchandise and also cattle-breeding.–(331)

He shall know also the wages of servants, the several languages of men, the manner of keeping goods, and also their purchase and sale.–(332)

He shall put forth his best efforts towards increasing his property in a righteous manner; and he shall zealously give food to all beings.–(333)

For the Śūdra the highest duty conducive to his best welfare is to attend upon such Brāhmaṇa house-holders as are learned in the Vedas and famous.–(334)

If he is pure, attendant upon his superiors, of gentle speech, free from pride, and always dependent upon the Brāhmaṇa,–he attains a higher caste.–(335)

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