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Women In The Sacred Laws
Kulapati's Preface The Author
Foreword Prologue
The Dharma Sutras Contemporary Evidence
The Manu - Samhita The Later Law-Books
Digest On Hindu Law Espirit Des Lois
Major Sections

THE MANU-SAMHITA

The above is clearly an addition of a very late writer, who, either through want of knowledge of sacred scriptures or through the fact that the history of the custom was entirely forgotten owing to lapse of time, has created a myth to explain the origin of the custom of Niyoga and has inserted it in the treatise of Manu to give it authority. 70 Some centuries between the treatise of Manu and the composition of this myth must be allowed to account for the creation and development of this myth.

We have elsewhere in Manu the following, which contradicts the above remarks regarding Niyoga. ‘At her pleasure let her emaciate her body by living on pure flowers, roots and fruits; but she must never even mention the name of another man after her husband bas died'. 71 ‘A virtuous wife who after the death of her husband constantly remains chaste, reaches heaven, though she has no son, even as do virtuous men.’ (Brahma chari).’ 72

'But a woman who, from a desire to have offspring, violates her duty towards her deceased husband, brings on herself disgrace in this world and loses her place with her husband in heaven’. 73

There was a custom where a childless widow was allowed to live with her brother- in-law or a member of the family and have a son so that he could not only continue the line but also offer funeral oblations for the benefit of the deceased. In this case it was believed that the son so born belonged to the deceased.

It was considered to be legal. It was sanctioned by the Vedic Texts, where the widow is allowed to marry her brother- in-law. Apastamba raised the earliest protest against this custom. This custom was common to the Indo-European family. There was a law among ancient Israelites and other tribes and races, known as Levirate according to which a woman, whose husband died without issue, was married to the husband’s brother.

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Women In The Sacred Laws
About The Manu-Samhita
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