The Manu-Samhita forms the beginning of a set of law-books, which have
come down to posterity under the special designation of Samhita. It stands midway between
the old law-books and the new, forming a connecting link between the ancient and the
modern legislators. As a code of law, it has for centuries held supreme, sway over
India and the Hindu population.
The later lawgivers all based their treatises on Manu. It authoritative
position in society has rendered it liable to additions by later writers, who included
their views in this treatise, to make them popular and authoritative in society. Hence,
under the name of Manu, we have a huge mass of legal opinions of different ages. The book
has been ascribed to a Manava school, and, if the legends are to be believed, the name of
Manu goes back to eternity.
But scholars have discussed its date from a linguistic and historical
point of view, and have placed it between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D. Of this heterogeneous mass
of legal rules, it is hard to determine how much are the genuine composition of Manu and
his predecessors and how much we owe to later writers. Generally speaking, it might be
presumed on reasonable grounds that the laws are more in affinity with the earlier
Coming to the sphere of domestic rites, Manu allows a twice-born man to
marry a wife of equal caste, who is endowed with auspicious bodily marks.
1 These marks;
are the same as those mentioned by Apastamba. In contemporary literature Vatsyayana
mentions them. The earliest lawgivers are silent about the matter, showing thereby that
these new complexities and tests of a marriage ritual had not then come into existence.