Law of Attraction, Part 18: The Laws of Manu in the 21st Century

yogananda
“I could show you that whatever your powerful mind believes very intensely would instantly come to pass.”
Yogananda 
Manu Smriti Agniveer
“If a woman should happen to merely to overhear recitations of Vedic mantras by chance, hot molten glass should be poured into her ears.”
– The Laws of Manu
It’s been a long ride in the history of the Law of Attraction, and we have noticed an interesting thing: namely, Hinduism’s role of providing the background and content of this New Age spirituality belief system. While the sacred knowledge of the ancient Vedic civilization furnished the dominating Brahmin priesthood with rules and prayers for sacrifice, magical incantations and the elaborate ritualism for the nature gods such as Agni and Indra of the old Vedic religion, it was the emergence of the Upanishads, the Shramanas and the Vedanta that gave us the doctrine of the divine cosmic principles of karma, dharma and moksha along with the powerful new gods Brahman, Vishnu, and Shiva.These religious tenets were further developed and articulated by spiritual leaders such as Sankara, Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Aurobindo and many others who claimed that knowledge, yoga or devotion to the gods – were the paths to escape the illusion of the world and cycles of reincarnation.
With the Vedantic notions of the unity of the soul or Atman, being of the same substance – and thus equal to – the Supreme Brahman – is it not strange to see the obvious institutions of separation and inequality within modern Indian society? Does not Hinduism assure us of the cosmic unity of all things in existence? Then how do we explain this seeming disconnect occurring between Hinduism’s metaphysical unity and the institutionalized separation and inequality between the thousands of castes that is the reality of Indian culture?It might be instructive to turn to one of the principle Hindu sacred texts we have yet to talk about – the Manava Dharmasastra; or the Laws of Manu.
 

The Laws of Manu is claimed by orthodox Brahmins to be of divine origin that descended from Manu, the archetypal first man of Hindu mythology and like Noah, a survivor of the great flood. Manu as the father of the human race is later made Earth’s First King by Brahman. Essentially a compendium of ancient domestic, religious social customs and rites, the Laws of Manu was written and compiled by the Brahmin elite sometime around the first or second century BCE, though no doubt containing many traditions that are much, much  older, perhaps dating back to the period of the Vedic civilization 1500 years earlier. The Laws of Manu is a crucial link to ancient India’s past in the respect that it contains the legal template of the legitimization of the Varna/Caste social system as well as rules and regulations concerning various civil and criminal laws, rites, daily conduct, and basically all forms of right action that Manu laid down for humanity.Within the division of the Varna social classes, the Brahmins placed themselves at the top, the warriors and merchants classes underneath and at the bottom, the Shudras, the lowest caste of workers and beneath them, the Outcastes like the Untouchables and ‘Chandalas.’ They are to be content with “serving meekly” the higher castes without complaint, according to the Laws of Manu. Thus the Brahmins were able to institutionalize the acceptance of separation, inequality, servitude, domination and a metaphysical fear of “pollution” – which has defined the cultural traditions of India and Hinduism ever since. This fear of pollution is taken to the extreme, where a “twice-born” of the upper castes must avoid the shadow or even the appearance of an Untouchable. This preoccupation with pollution and it’s association with Hindu identity has locked in separation and unbelievable poverty and abuse which hundreds of millions of Indians are powerless to escape.For over 1500 years, the Shudras and the Outcastes (basically anyone not born a Hindu) have been considered less than human – and have been forced to exist for centuries within endless cycles of illiteracy, poverty and cruelty. As Hinduism failed to provide a sense of brotherhood and equality for all of India’s peoples, it took the Indian government to adopt the Prevention of Atrocities Act enacted in 1989 to specifically outlaw the parading of the Untouchables or “Dalits”, naked through the streets, or forcing them to eat feces, or to take away their land, or to pollute their water, or to interfere with their right to vote, or to having their homes burnt down.For the Shudras and the Outcastes, the Law of Attraction appears to be inoperable within their worldly life. According to the Laws of Manu, their only hope is to meekly accept their unforgiving fate, for they may move up to the next varna in their next life. Maybe.

 

The Dalits

20 percent of India’s population is composed of the Untouchables or Dalits. Anyone who is not born a Hindu is considered an Untouchable. Since no provision is made for the Shudra or Dalits to collect wealth thru their own efforts within the Laws of Manu, the Law of Attraction is only operable for the Brahmins and upper castes – with the Shudra’s acceptance of the enslavement and control by their masters.

Within the Laws of Manu, the Law of Attraction appears within the dynamic of a polarity, where one’s fulfilled desires must be connected to another’s unfulfilled desires. Indeed, this polarity can be seen within the Laws of Manu which justifies the removal of free will and economic security from the Shudra because “a Shudra who has acquired wealth gives pain to Brahmins.” Hinduism has comfortably conceived a unified principle of reality where everything exists on a cosmic level as “One,” but this oneness rings a bit hollow given the current reality of the Indian people today.

The World Bank estimates that 456 million Indians, nearly half of the total Indian population, now live under the global poverty line of $1.25 per day. Another study claimed that 77% of Indians, or 836 million people, lived on less than 50 cents per day. In other words, one out every third person stricken by poverty in the world, is an Indian, their innate divinity denied and ignored. Their fates and fortunes on earth determined by the Laws of Manu, based solely by their birth into a world which is considered to be an illusion. It is a convenient truth for the elites and upper varnas in India to consider the suffering of millions to be an illusion as well.

Perhaps it seems strange that Hinduism should be the birthplace of both the Laws of Manu and the Law of Attraction. As we have seen, the history of the Law of Attraction descended directly from the interplay of the Vedantic principles of the divinity and supremacy of consciousness and which were cross-pollinated by the occultism and spiritualism of the West, by the New Thought Movement, the Theosophists and the prosperity consciousness authors like Napoleon Hill, W.W. Atkinson and modern New Age figures like Wayne Dyer and Rhonda Byrne to explicitly form the Law of Attraction as we know it today.

However, what we have learned is that the Law of Attraction is inoperable for those not “free” enough to acquire what they desire. A person’s birth within the caste system fully determines their potential in one’s life. In fact, by exploiting the despised and neglected Shudra and Untouchables who have been used historically as the vehicles to fill the desires of the higher castes, the Laws of Manu and the Law of Attraction work together through the religious and cultural institutions of inequality and the suffering of hundreds of millions of Indians for the benefit of the Higher Castes. Thus the Law of Attraction operates ‘as the dynamic trajectory’ through the polarity between the ‘wealth and dominance’ of one and the ‘accepted enslavement and control’ of another, producing both the wealth and pollution the Hindu accepts as Maya.

What’s up with that?

 

Next: The Conclusion

 

Sources:

A Source Book in Indian Philosophy, edited by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Charles A. Moore, Princeton University Press, 1957

The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

The Philosophy of Hinduism, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, vol. 3″, Government of Mahararasshtra, Bombay, 1987

India’s “Untouchables” Face Violence, Discrimination by Hillary Mayell, National Geographic News, June 2, 2003

Poverty in India.” Wikipedia contributors. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 Apr. 2010. Web. 9 Apr. 2010.

Caste: In India and Africa, by A. K. Ingutia © 1965 W.E.B. Du Bois Institute.

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