It is only the naive, ignorent and intellectually blind people who question about Maharishi Manu as the first law giver of the world. This shows utter lack of knowledge on the part of such people who do not know even A,B,C of Vedic Legal Model. Manusmriti was not only the backbone of legal system of ancient India but its influence was fairly extensive worldwide. To honor Maharishi Manu – the first law giver of the world, a statue of Manu is installed in Manila, Philippine. Please check the following link:
Dr.Kewal Motwani in his book ‘Manu Dharma Sastra’(initially written as Ph.D thesis from some U.S.University) pub.by Ganesh & Co.(Madras) Pvt.Ltd., 1958 Ed. has covered impact of Manu on countries of Far East, West Asia, Europe, East and South Asia. I am reproducing below excerpts from the above book pertaining to some countries of Far East and South East Asia:
Regarding Burma, Dr.Motwani says: “The Burmese law books openly acknowledge their debt to Manu Dharma Sastra and they have a great number of rules in common. For instance, the rules laid down in the Manusara, a Burmese Pali text on the boundary disputes and incompetent witnesss, agree very closely with the corresponding provisions in the Manu Dharma Sastra.
Regarding Siam, Dr.Motwani quotes James Law who has remarked, in his book on “Siamese Literature,” (in the Asiatic Researchers 1836, p.338) ”the Siamese are acquainted with the Indian sage, Thanoo Manu.” Another British scholar W.A. Graham, writes in Siam, Vol.1, p.373 London 1924 “The ancient laws of Siam , in common with those of Burma, Kambodia, and in fact all Further India, were derived from the Hindu Code of Manu, having been found in accordance therewith by Sundry earnest rules of remotest times and subsequently rearranged and brought up-do-date by their successors.”
According to Sir Richard Winstedt, the “Indian legal system” migrated to Malaya earlier than the reign of Chandragupta, the grandfather of Asoka. Even if this legal system went to Malaya at the time when Chandragupta lived, it was about 500 B.C., and if Siam in the north and Cambodia in the east came under the influence of Manu, the legal system of which Sir Richard speaks, should be taken to be the Manu Dharma Sastra.”
“The castes were enumerated by names in their literature, marriage customs, funeral rites, kingship, public administration, organisation of the kingdom, army and provincial administration were patterned in accordance with the injunctions of Manu Dharma Sastra.”
The literature known and studied in Cambodia consisted of the Vedas, the Epics, the six schools of Philosophy, Manu Dharma Sastra, Artha Sastra, Music grammer, etc. The social and political structure of the country was planned in accordance with Manu’s injunctions. The descent of the royal lines, succession to the throne, the formation of the cabinet, the organisation of the army, the establishment of the asramas and organisation of society on the basis of the castes or guilds bear testimony to the influence exercised by the Manu Dharma Sastra on the country.”
“The influence of Manu Dharma Sastra on Indonesia was more pronounced than on other countries of South Asia. It forms the basis of the Indonesian law codes. The Kutara Manawa, considered the most ancient Indonesian text, is largely based on Manu.”
“But the point of special interest to us is the presence of the Manava Dharma Sastra among the Balinese, and we are to judge by the wholesome, uplifting effect the Manu Dharma Sastra had on all the people, there can be no doubt whatsoever that the Balinese have profited from their knowledge of, and contact with Manu Dharma Sastra.”
“It is realisation of their debt to Manu that has made the people of the country ro raise a statue to Manu and place it side by side with those of Moses and Mohini, the lst being the architect of the Organic Law of the Revolutionary Government of the country under Emilo Aguinaldo. This statue stands in the Art Gallery of the Senate Chamber of the Philippine Republic.”
“In 1932, a Japanese Bomb blew off a part of the Chinese wall in Mangolia. Underneath the Wall, deep down in the earth, lay a caniser, containing a valuable document relating to a phase of civilization of China in a remote past. The history of the manuscript was given by the author.” “The manuscript was secured by Sir Augustus Fritz George who brought it to London and handed it over to a group of Chinese experts, headed by Professor Anthony Graeme. Professor Graeme could not estimate the value of the manuscript and he showed its first translation to Sir Wallis Budge, of the British Museum. Sir Wallis’s opinion was that the “manuscript was of even greater value than the Codex Siniaticus. In the manuscript, I find direct references to the Laws of Manu which were first written in India in the Vedic language ten thousand years ago.” Sir Wallis Budge adds: “We have also found and proved that in those days there was a distinct relationship between India, America and China. We actually found references to ruined cities which have been found in the centre of Peruvian forests.”
Japan and Korea:
“It is not improbable that both Manu and Dharma Sastra were not strangers to Korea. Later research may reveal its name and Dharma Sastra among the people. But Manu Dharma Sastra was held in high esteem by Emperor Meiji, of Japan. It is said that he had a translation made soon after he came to the throne in 1860 or so.”
“In Chula Vamsa, Manu is cited again and again as having laid down the law for the virtuous conduct of the king.” “With the advent of Buddhism around 3rd century B.C., the Hindu Brahmin gave place to the Buddhist Bhikkhu among the people who accepted Buddhism. Barring this difference reflecting the tendenies that had appeared in the home-country, the chatur varna of Manu set its seal on the social life of the people, imparted cultural unity and homogeneity to the country, reduced intra-group conflicts and eliminated open warfare between the immigrants and the natives of the country.”
In the light of evidences received , it can therefore be said that apart from India, ‘Manu Dharma Sastra’ has been the bastion of legal systems, social organisations, statecraft etc., of various other countries particularly of South East Asia.
A word of Caution:
The source of Vedic tradition is hidden in remote past. During its long journey, Manusmriti which precedes even Ramayana and Mahabharta as both epics contain some references pertaining to Manu, it has gathered foreign matter which is not in accordance with the Vedic principles. Such additions, alteration, interpolations need to be purged in a reasoned manner. Dr.Surendra Kumar(presently V.C., Gurukul Kangri University, Haridwar) who is author of ‘Vishudh Manusmriti’ (free from interpolations), pub.by Arsh Prachar Trust, Delhi points out that Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Dr.S.Radhakrishnan and some other distinguished personalities have accepted additions/ alterations/motivated insertions in the presently available Manusmriti. It is for this reason Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati regards only the original Manusmriti (without interpolations) as authentic and urged scholars to logically identify and reject verses which contradict the Vedic values and which were added later by the vested interests. Taking cue from Swamiji, such an exercise has already been carried out by some scholars mainly belonging to Arya Samaj which needs to be pushed ahead. It is only after purging the existing Manusmriti of the extraneous matter done with proper guiding principles that we shall be able to stop desecration of this Shastra by various quarters and preserve the great heritage of Maharishi Manu.
( Y.K. Wadhwa )