The scope and extent of this dissertation is limited to the Code of Manu. Sudras and their numerous sub-castes, besides the much maligned untouchables, have found mention in some form or other in various law-texts both before and after Manu. The problems relating to them, despite a few commendable attempts, are still a desideratum.
Prior to Manu, history had known only two codes-those of Hammurabi and Moses coming respectively from about the twentieth and the sixteenth centuries B.C. Of these the latter is nothing but a series of domestic commandments and the former, howsoever detailed and extraordinary, is a brief document containing royal commands on various topics of state administration and property rights. Manu's Code on the contrary towers high over all such documents of antiquity. It plans out the activities of a settled and ordered humanity in all its social patterns. It registers and recounts all that had come down to its days in way of social habits, customs and usages, positive pieces of legislation as reflected in earlier works, and it even endorses, declaims and recreates, where need be, types of social behavior considered fit by the eminent law-giver. Being one of the most ancient codes of the Hindu society, it has rightly commanded enormous respect and its authority has seldom been questioned.
This little piece of research had been guided by the late Dr. R. S. Tripathi, M.A., Ph.D. (London;, Professor and Head of the Department of History, Benares Hindu University, about a decade ago, when I was a student. It is unfortunate that he is no more and cannot see this work in print. I remember him with the deepest gratitude.
I am indebted to Sri Jagjivan Ram for very kindly finding time from his preoccupying cabinet engagements to write an encouraging Foreword to this book. It has added greatly to the worth of the work. My thanks are due also to Messrs Motilal Banarsidass, the distinguished publishers of oriental works, for making this book available to the reading public, and to Sri Markandeya Upadhyaya, M. A., for doing the Index.
I trust this little venture will find favour with my readers and will prove helpful to those working to better the lot of our condemned toilers, the 8ficiras. The past has been too long with us and the memory attaching to the destiny of this unfortunate mass of humanity too severe. And yet, the intransigence of the privileged castemen not-withstanding, the dawn of integration is not far to break over the demoniac dark of distinction.
I readily accepted to write a Foreword to this precious little document. But due to my preoccupation with more urgent work, I could not go through the manuscript for an abnormally long time and hence this Foreword was much delayed. This piece of research is written by a young student, Miss Chitra Upadhyaya.
The work deals dipassionately with the origin, types, duties, occupations, status--social, economic and legal-of the Sudras, the Mixed Castes and the Untouchables as reflected in the Code of Manu.. All relevant literature seems to have been studied and data relating to the subject collected. The Bibliography appended to the composition indicates the range and scope of such study. The material has been treated with great thoroughness and the conclusions are fair. The ease and felicity with which the author handles her data would indeed do credit to a scholar of repute. The work is fully documented and its method bears the stamp of scientific scholarship.
The subject chosen for study is very proper as the origin of the Bahiskrit Sudras or the excluded castes is yet to be authoritatively determined. But it incidently reflects the spirit of the times as also the zeal which is agitating our younger minds to undo the wrong done to countless numbers of Indian humanity degrading these multitudinous masses to a state of abject triviality. And it is in the fitness of things that those same should have found a champion of their cause in the daughter of a community which in many quarters is supposed to have accomplished the wrong. The boldness with which the young scholar has attacked social inequity at places in course of her investigation thus stands justified.
I am further gratified to learn that Miss Upadhyaya is the grand-daughter of that brilliant son of Bihar, the late. Shri Harnandan Pandey of the Archaeological Survey of India, whom the cruel hand of death removed from our midst in full youth. I hope this dissertation, full of verve, when put in print, will find favour with the reading public and while commending it, I dare say, it will repay reading
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