isis unveiled: chapter xv (knowledge is power)

“If, as Jacolliot proves, text in hand, the Code of Justinian was copied from the Laws of Manu, we have first of all to ascertain the age of the former, not as a written and perfect code, but its origin. To answer, is not difficult we believe.

According to Varro, Rome was built in 3961 of the Julian period (754 B.C.). The Roman Law, as embodied by order of Justinian, and known as the Corpus Juris Civilis, was not a code, we are told, but a digest of the customs of legislation of many centuries. Though nothing is actually known of the original authorities, the chief source from which the jus scriptum, or written law, was derived, was the jus non scriptum, or the law of custom. Now it is just on this law of custom that we are prepared to base our arguments. The law of the twelve tables, moreover, was compiled about A.U.C. 300, and even this as respects private law was compiled from still earlier sources.

Therefore, if these earlier sources are found to agree so well with the Laws of Manu, which the Brahmans claim to have been codified in the Kritayug, an age anterior to the actual Kali-Yug, then we must suppose that this source of the “Twelve Tables”, as laws of custom and tradition, are at least, by several hundred years, older than their copyists. This, alone, carries us right back to more than 1,000 years B.C.

The Manava Dharma Sastra, embodying the Hindu system of cosmogony, is recognized as next to the Vedas in antiquity; and even Colebrooke assigns the latter to the fifteenth century B.C.

And now, what is the etymology of the name of Manava Dharma Sastra? It is a word compounded of Manu; d’harma, institute; and sastra, command or law. How then can Manu’s laws date only since the third century before our Christian era? The Hindu Code had never laid any claims to be divinely revealed. The distinction made by the Brahmans themselves between the Vedas and every other sacred book of however respectable an antiquity, is a proof of it.

While every sect holds the Vedas as the direct word of God, sruti (revelation), the Code of Manu is designated by them simply as the smriti, a collection of oral traditions. Still these traditions, or “recollections”, are among the oldest as well as the most revered in the land. But, perhaps, the strongest argument in favor of its antiquity, and the general esteem in which it is held, lies in the following fact.

The Brahmans have undeniably remodeled these traditions at some distant period, and made many of the actual laws, as they now stand in the Code of Manu, to answer their ambitious views. Therefore, they must have done it at times when the burning of widows, (suttee), was neither practiced nor intended to be, which it has been for nearly 2,500 years. No more than in the Vedas is there any such atrocious law mentioned in the Code of Manu!

Who, unless he is completely unacquainted with the history of India, but knows that this country was once on the verge of a religious rebellion occasioned by the prohibition of suttee by the English government? The Brahmans appealed to a verse from the Rig-Veda which commanded it. But this verse has been recently proved to have been falsified.

Had the Brahmans been the sole authors of the Code of Manu, or had they codified it entirely instead of simply filling it with interpolations to answer their object not earlier than the time of Alexander, how is it possible that they would have neglected the most important point, and so imperiled its authority? This fact alone proves that the Code must be counted one of their most ancient books.”

H. P. Blavatsky

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