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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 first-born son of a Leviratical marriage was registered as the son of the deceased brother. It was prevalent also among the Iranians.

The same custom came to be known as Niyoga but it changed its scope gradually.

Here we find three stages in the evolution of the custom: (1) In the first the widow is allowed to raise a son to her dead husband 74 living either with brother-in law or a man of the same caste as her husband.75 (2) In the second stage we find the custom censured76 and described as fit only for cattle.

The origin of the custom is traced to the reign of Vena-a mythical figure. Further it is said that it is not sanctioned by the Sacred Texts.77 (3) In the third stage it is not only prohibited and censured but an additional reward of heavenly bliss and good name in this world is added to a widow who will not follow it. One, who does for, the sake of off spring, will not only bring disgrace on her but also lose her place in heaven.

These widely differing views, occurring in the same context, cannot be the work of one author or of one period. The first represents the Vedic period, the second of the transitory Puranic period and the last a later period-perhaps later than that of Vishnu and Narada.

Though at the beginning of the Christian era the custom of Niyoga was falling into desuetude, still the self-immolation of a widow had not yet appeared in society. We have seen in Kautilya that remarriage of women was allowed after a certain period. In Manu, too, we have laws to the same effect, but the length of time that she bas to wait before getting remarried is lengthened.

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Women In The Sacred Laws
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