isis unveiled: chapter xv (knowledge is power)

“Quite recently a certain Reverend Dunlop Moore, of New Brighton, Pa., determined to show his cleverness and piety at a single stroke, attacked the statement made by a Theosophist in a discourse delivered at the cremation of Baron de Palm, that the Code of Manu existed a thousand years before Moses. “All Orientalists of any note”, he says, “are now agreed that the Institutes of Manu were written at different times. The oldest part of the collection probably dates from the sixth century before the Christian era.”

Whatever other Orientalists, encountered by this Pennsylvania pundit, may think, Sir William Jones is of a different opinion. “It is clear”, he says, “that the Laws of Manu, such as we possess them, and which comprise but 680 slokas, cannot be the work attributed to Soumati, which is probably that described under the name of Vriddha Manava, or Ancient Code of Manu, which has not yet been entirely reconstructed, although many passages of the book have been preserved by tradition, and are often cited by commentators.”

“We read in the preface to a treatise on legislation by Narada”, says Jacolliot, “written by one of his adepts, a client of Brahmanical power: ‘Manu having written the laws of Brahma, in 100,000 slokas, or distichs, which formed twenty-four books and a thousand chapters, gave the work to Narada, the sage of sages, who abridged it for the use of mankind to 12,000 verses, which he gave to a son of Brighou, named Soumati, who, for the greater convenience of man, reduced them to 4,000.'”

Here we have the opinion of Sir William Jones, who in 1794, affirmed that the fragments in possession of the Europeans could not be the Ancient Code of Manu, and that of Louis Jacolliot, who, in 1868, after consulting all the authorities, and adding to them the result of his own long and patient research, writes the following:

“The Hindu laws were codified by Manu more than 3,000 years before the Christian era, copied by the whole of antiquity, and notably by Rome, which alone has left us a written law, the Code of Justinian, which has been adopted as the basis of all modern legislations.””

H. P. Blavatsky

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