The burning of Manusmriti in the JNU is a favorite ritual of the students that takes place annually. The rationale cited behind this ritualist burning of the Manusmriti is that it is misogynist literature that is biased against the women so much so that it is one of the reason behind the patriarchy that exists in the society.
Apart from that the book is cited to be one of the reasons fueling casteism in the society.
The irony behind all this hullabaloo about Manusmriti being misogynist is raised by those who have not even read the book and if this is not enough, it can be safely assumed that most of these radicals don’t even know how to read and write in Sanskrit. So those who cannot even read the book in the nearby future are also burning the book!
Another irony is that the comrades of JNU who burn the copies of Manusmriti on International Women’s Day often cite Baba Saheb Bhimrao Ambedkar burning the Manusmriti in Mahad Satyagrah while conveniently forgetting that he did so on the 25th of December and not the 8th March. So, the comrade calling it an emulation of the great man is nothing more than a farce.
Unlike the misguided youth who cite verses from a particular Holy Book after every bomb blast, we are yet to see any misogynist beating his wife or molesting a woman citing shlokas from Manusmriti being the inspiration behind his acts.
Sadly, there are no similar defense raised by the apologists from the related lobby that the verses are being quoted “out of context” or “you ought to know Sanskrit in order to understand the true meaning of the verses of the book.”
If at all the book is driving casteism and misogyny in the society then which book is fueling similar practices in the sizeable minority community of India? Do the students of JNU have the audacity to burn the relevant Holy Books of the minorities? The answer is an astounding ‘no’ and the reason behind it is that the JNU students are fully aware that any similar attempt to cleanse the minority society will lead to bounty on their head and fatwas against them. So, they prefer keeping a jaundiced eye towards the malpractices in the minority community. Instead they are in the frontline with folded hands offering lame excuses to justify these practices.
When rebutted by citing suitable verses like “Yatra Naryastu Poojyante, Ramante Tatra Devta” ,the entire bogey of rationalist start searching for answers and suddenly start saying that citing such references is cherry-picking as if those who are calling names have read the book exhaustively. It is the opponents of the Manusmriti who do cherry picking of the verses to paint the book and consequently entire religion as anti-woman.
Manusmriti was composed as a law code for the society and sadly none of the rulers in the ancient, Medieval or modern history of India used the book as the official code of conduct in his court. So, the importance of the book has never percolated in the socio-legal conduct of the society. So, no matter how much anyone says, the book is nothing before the reverence that is attached to Hadis, Holy Koran or similar holy books whose followers emulate the practices given in the books.
Hindus or the Sanatanis never had a single book as their religious philosophy. Before 1794, there were hardly any takers for the Manusmriti when it was translated by the British.
Given the fact that the English possessed an aversion towards anything Indian that marked its superiority by its antiquity, there is no reason to believe that its translations wouldn’t be full of concoctions. In fact the translator of Manusmriti from Sanskrit to English, Sir William Jones in his letter in 1784 to Warren Hastings, the erstwhile Governor General of Bengal admitted by saying
“such chapters of the Prophets, particularly of ISAIAH, as are indisputably evangelical, together with one of the gospels, and a plain prefatory discourse, containing full evidence of the very distant ages, in which the predictions themselves, and the history of the Divine Person (Jesus) is predicted, were severally made public and then quietly to disperse the work among the well-educated natives.” (Asiatic Researches Vol. 1. Published 1979, pages 234-235. First published 1788)
So, the possibilities of deliberate attempts to divide India cannot be ruled out and what else would be a better tool for it other than a lesser read Holy Book of the Hindus, the Manusmriti.
It seems that the book currently is used by the comrades of JNU every year for burning it.
It is really sad to see that a book that is not even being read by anyone is being burnt based on hearsay. A comrade who himself takes years to pass out from a graduation school poses as if he is Panini while commenting over a text written in Sanskrit is more self-derision.
Hopefully they realize it someday.