Manu statue in front of the Rajasthan High Court | Facebook/@RajasthanHC
Rajasthan High Court | Facebook/@RajasthanHC
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Slave trader Edward Colston has been taken down by the Black Lives Matter movement in Bristol. Now it’s time for Manu.

But this is less imaginable in the Rajasthan High Court than it was in England.

Despite numerous attempts to have the Manu statue removed from the high court’s garden in Jaipur, and two Dalit women blackening it two years ago, the 31-year-old creation has remained.

While Colston was a 17th-century slave trader who transported and sold over 84,000 people to the US through the Royal African Company, Manu was the codifier of the caste system in India. The Manusmriti is responsible for what some have called the ‘Holo-caste’. Four Dalit women are reportedly raped every day, and crimes against Dalits have risen by 25 per cent over the last decade.

But Edward Colston and Manu were ‘honourable men’. Colston was refashioned as a philanthropist who used his ‘fortunes’ for the prosperity of Bristol. And Manu was installed not by the government but a lawyers’ body for being the “first person to have come up with a written law”. However, 2020 is not the year for white-washing or Manu-splaining history.

When Dalits and women tear down the statue of Manu, should its final destination be the Man Sagar lake in Jaipur, like Colston’s was in Avon river?


Also read: South Asians in the US must support #BlackLivesMatter, but first undo your own anti-Blackness


Manu, the epitome of casteist bigotry

Manu is one of the most hated persons in Indian history, especially by Dalits, lower caste people and women. Savi Savarkar, an art teacher, was once asked to make a portrait of Manu. So, he condensed all the hatred in the world on his canvas and painted Manu as the devil.

The Manusmriti is a law book on how to maintain, perpetuate and reproduce caste, gender hierarchy and the varna order. It is claimed that this is the text that formalised patriarchy and caste in India. It is the very text that a young Ambedkar and his associates burned while agitating for the right to drink water from a public pond in Mahad, Maharashtra, on 25 December 1927. To commemorate the event, Ambedkarites still celebrate this day as Manusmriti Dahan Diwas.

The resistance against the tyranny of Manu continues in modern India. Which is why, in 2018, two Ambedkarite women from Maharashtra  — Sheela Bai Pawar and Kanta Ramesh Ahire — blackened the statue of Manu in the Rajasthan High Court. Before that, in 1989, all judges of the court unanimously decided that the statue should be removed. But that order was stayed after a PIL was filed by Vishva Hindu Parishad leader Acharya Dharmendra who said, “There is no mention of hate and discrimination in the philosophy of Manu.”

It is all too well known what the Manusmriti says about Shudras and women. These three verses from Manusmriti, quoted in The Philosophy of Hinduism by Ambedkar, are enough to explain why it is hated by Dalits and OBCs —

XI. 35. “The Brahman is (hereby) declared (to be) the creator (of the world), the punisher, the teacher, (and hence) a benefactor (of all created beings); to him let no man say anything unpropitious; nor use any harsh words”.

X. 123. The service of the Brahmanas alone is declared to be an excellent occupation for a Shudra; for whatever else besides this he may perform will bear no fruit.

X. 129. No collection of wealth must be made by a Shudra, even though he be able to do it; for a Shudra who has acquired wealth gives pain to Brahman.

Despite all this, there are still many admirers of Manu. He is hailed as someone who wrote the first ‘law book’ of the Hindu social order. After all, the statue of Manu was erected in the high court premises under the excuse of “beautification”.


Also read: Indian democracy’s big contradiction – Dalits cherish Constitution, privileged want a rethink


Manu and Colston have many fans

For many, Manu is a great ‘sage’. Manu and his smriti have been quoted in court judgments way too often. A law resource website has documented as many as 805 instances when Manu and his treatises have been quoted in court pronouncements. Even a Supreme Court judge, while hearing a case related to the Mumbai bomb blast, had cited Manusmriti to bolster his argument.

The same is the case with Colston. The official history of the British Parliament project describes him as a person who was “celebrated in his native city as a philanthropist par excellence…the highest example of Christian liberality that this age has produced, both for the extensiveness of his charities and the prudent regulation of them”. His name is still etched in many monuments, buildings and institutions in Bristol. But his statue had to go, nevertheless.


Also read: Casteist judges? Justice V. Chitambaresh wasn’t the first, he won’t be the last


The future for Manu’s statue

Manu’s statue has to go from the premises of the Rajasthan High Court. There are four reasons why.

1. A high court premise is not the right place for the statue of someone whose law book violates the basic principles and preamble of the Indian Constitution. It is against Articles 14 to 18, The Protection of Civil Rights Act, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and many others. How can we have a statue of Manu in the court premises and still adjudicate in matters of property rights of women and equality?

2. His name brings ill will and divides people. Manu has nothing good to offer in terms of human or constitutional values.

3. It does not belong there. The statue was never a part of the original building plan or inaugurated. It stands there as an aberration in a secular institution. A full bench of the same high court had ordered its removal. The PIL challenging this order should not have been entertained.

4. If he is a revered person in Hindu mythology, someone can make Manu statues in temples or religious complexes. But not in a court.

Now, the question is, if the Manu statue is removed from where it stands, what should India do with it?

It should not be dumped in a lake or a river. Even the ugliest and cruelest parts of history should be preserved so that it can be studied and serve as a lesson.

Let the government of India or Rajasthan build a museum of caste and patriarchy. It can be modelled on The National Museum of the American Indian in New York. The statue of Manu should be placed there as one of the many exhibits that tell future generations about the horrors of the caste system and how he was venerated for decades. The accompanying text should say:

This is a statue of Manu, the supposed writer of the Manusmriti and the harbinger of hatred towards lower castes and women, erected in 1989 in the Rajasthan High Court premises. It was removed from there in 2020.

The author is the former managing editor of India Today Hindi magazine, and has authored books on media and sociology. Views are personal.

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42 Comments Share Your Views

42 COMMENTS

  1. convenient way to free ride on hard working fruits earn without working … see only 1 % interpret out of context to be perpetually parasite… handicap on race horses dead weight on economy

  2. This is as illogical and absurd thinking that demonstrates bankruptcy of human mind. Manu created the first laws for the beginnings of a civilized Society. While India should be celebrating its heritage and contribution to the humanity, such a thinking reflects hate and prejudice against ideas that civilized the world. The Print has done a disservice to humanity for publishing such stupid thinking. Grow up India, the world is watching.

  3. Ideally the statue should not have been installed in the first place.

    But the larger issue is that similar demands could be raised for Adi Shankaracharya as he is known to have supported casteism and there are examples in his writings and incidents in his life.

    Most shockingly Lord Rama beheaded the head of Shambuka a Kshudra (though this episode from Utarakand is argued to be disputable).

    There are probably thousands or Lakhs of statues/pictures of Adi Shankaracharya and Crores of statues/pictures of Rama.

    This idea is better dropped after restricting it to the statue of Manu in the high court.

    • So, you do not wish to evolve and stay where you are and let India remain a third world country. Grow on merit, as the rest of the world does, and not stand legs of quota and reservations. You have no credentials to write about Manu, a scholarly saint, who civilized the world.

      • Manu is exactly the opposite of a civilized society as he made uncivilized and inhumane laws for the society. He was the first to create reservations for Brahmins for accumulating knowledge and wealth. His basis was caste and not merit..Now whoever is talking this was history…take responsibility of this injustice done to lower castes for thousands of years….dont just be a hypocrite and act like modern Manu.

  4. Being a Mandal, it is wrong to be fixated on Manu or someone else like that who is a mere symbol now. More than Manu it is the Congress and its offshoots that have divided present day society in India on the basis of caste, religion, region, etc. Anyway, more than statues or symbols it is your mind set that clearly needs to be changed. Look within and be the change you want to be, instead of starting a riot. Stop being a follower after looking west and try to be a leader. And for that you need to have ideas that can lead to progress. Agitations, violence and breakages are the old method. Progressive ideas are the latest. So go for it if you can – that is.

  5. The author is absolutely right, India is a democratic nation meaning Manu has no place in our modern society, especially in front of a high court. Hindu judges see the state of Manu before entering the court. There should be the statue of constitution instead of Manu. The actions of Manu is injustice to millions of Indians, just on the basis of caste. Manu is a representation of not justice, but rather oppression, discrimination and backwards thinking. I am upset that so many of you are in support of such an atrocious figure and this statue must be taken down, at least in front of the court.

  6. Basically let us look at it this way. It is a statue showing the bigotary of our country in those days. Let it be there to tell the world that India was not all that social equality earlier on. In Kerala in a similar period, a woman of a lesser caste if she covered her breasts, she will be slapped a rax which will stand till her lifetime.

  7. Writer is absolutely right.indis has democracy.manu has no place definitely in front of court. Hindu judges see him first before entering court.There should be constitution ‘ s statue instead of Manu.Manu did injustice to million of Indians.

  8. एक बडा हॉल (कमरा) रहता है (मनुस्मृति के विरोधी जरूर पढे)

    1- एक कोने मे रोटी, चावल, हरी सब्जी की टोकरी रहती हे
    2-एक कोने मे मांस की पतीला मदीरा की बोतले पडी रहती है,,
    3-एक कोने मे घास, फूस पडा रहता है
    4-एक कोने मे आदमी का मल (टट्टी) पड़ा रहता है
    अब गौर से पढना आगे की बात बहुत गंभीर विषय पर है ,
    1 -शाकाहारी आदमी 1 नंबर वाले कोने मे ही जाना पंसद करेगा
    2- मांसाहारी, शराबी आदमी 2 नंबर वाले कोने को ही ढूँढता है
    3-बैचारी गाय बकरी घास फूस खाना ह तो 1 ओर तीन नंबर वाले कोणे मे ही जायेगी
    4- अब सुअर की बात करते हैं तो वो तीनो कोणो को छोड कर विष्टा(टट्टी) वाले कोणे मे ही जायेगा, वो बाकी कौणे की तरफ किसी भी हालत मे नही देखेगा,,,,,
    ये ही हाल, गीता, रामायण, मनुस्मृति, वेदो मे कमिंया निकालने वालो का हे उनको बाकी तीनो कोणे नजर ही नही आ रहै उनको केवल विष्टा वाला कोणा ही नजर आता है, पूरी मनुस्मृति मे एक एक अक्षर खोजते रहे की कोन सा शुद्र के खिलाफ लिखा हे, उस चक्कर मे ये भूल गये उसमे 99% बाते हमारे जीवन के लिए ओर समाज के लिए बहुत उपयोगी हो सकती थी, जरूरी है की खुद को शुद्र समझ कर ही इन ग्रंथों को पढना, लेकिन कया करे जिनको � विष्टा खाने की ही आदत है उनको बाकी चीजें जहर लगेगी,
    बार बार, हर बार जो खूद को शुद्र मानने मे लगा है, बार बार जो खुद ही कहता हे की शुद्र शब्द मेरे ही लिये प्रयुक्त हुआ है तुम्हारी इस बीमारी का इलाज किसी के पास नही है तुम्हारे ही पास हे, मत मानो खुद को शुद्र कोन तुमको जबरदस्ती शुद्र मनवा रहा हे, मान तो तुम लोग खुद रहे हो, माने भाई खुद को ब्राह्मण, माने खुद को क्षत्रिय कोन रोका है, किसने तुम्हारे मन को वश मे कर रखा है,
    नोट। — जीसको इश्क ओर अश्लीलता पंसद हे वो गंदी शायरी अश्लील साहित्य पंसद करेगा,
    जिनको भक्ती पंसद हे वो भजन ओर धार्मिक साहित्य पसंद करेगा ।।

    तो एक बार बोलिये।
    सियावर रामचंद्र की जय।

  9. Manu is immortal. To kill him,Four sections of our constitution will have to eliminate ST, SC, OBC, GEN and also bureaucratic l, ll, lll, lVgrades. “Oh! Then like you pseudo-! how will the livelihood of sly egalitarians go? If Manu was the first step of civilization with all the faults (protracted speculation), then the present step is our constitution. At present if these four sections are not wrong then why they are wrong in the first phase of civilization? There is a lot of logic but there is continues the process to be civilized of man, so there is the need of coordination not of poison. So if you are a human being let keep your poison be with you.
    The second thing is that it is right to drop anything in any incident (in riots), then-
    was it right to drop the historical Buddha statue by the Taliban?
    The final question is whether Dilip Mandal and their gang are planning a riot like Bristol in India, or why should
    this article not be considered as a precursor to any untoward incident in the future?

  10. मनु अमर है उन्हें मारने के लिए हमारे संविधान के चार वर्ग ST, SC, OBC, GEN को और नौकरशाही से l, ll, lll, lVgrades “खत्म करने पडेंगे।ओह! फिर आपजैसे छद्म-! धूर्त समतावादियों की रोजीरोटी कैसे चलेगी? सभी दोषों के साथ (प्रक्षिप्त अंदाजेभी) सभ्यता की पहली सीढ़ी अगर मनु थे तो वर्तमान सोपान हमारा संविधान।अगर अभीयहां चार वर्ग गलत नहीं तो सभ्यता के प्रथम चरण में क्यों? तर्क-कुतर्क बहुत है, आदमी का सभ्य होना जारी है, अभी समन्वय की जरूरत है जहर की नहीं।इसलिए अगर इन्सान हो तोअपना जहर अपने पास रहने दो ।
    दूसरी बात किसी भी हो हल्ले में (दंगेमें)कुछभी गिराना सही है तो क्यां तालिबान द्वारा एतिहासिक बुद्ध मुर्ति को गिराना सही था?
    अंतिम प्रश्न क्यां मण्डल और उनका गिरोह भारत मेंBristol जैसे दंगे की प्लानिंग कर रहा है या इस लेख को भविष्य में अगर कोई अप्रिय घटना होतीहै तो इसकी पूर्वभूमिका क्यों न माना जाए?

  11. Islam, Christianity and communism are three ideologies which have propounded taking and trading of slaves the maximum, by the logic of Mandal ji all symbols of these should be decimated.
    My request is be rational and don’t be guided by foolish people of west. Bush started a war based on false premise which led to kiss id human lives why hasn’t he be taken down.

  12. our civilization had many firsts and many greats. but westerners bought dilip mandal type intellectual dishonest to portray our cultural greats as people creating social divides and inflicting atrocities. each and every scholar does codification of laws as per the privaling social , political and economic atmosphere, times change, laws change, society changes. Was manu aware that his treatise will be used or misused in a certain manner after by different people. Before the advent of muslim invaders, average indian was well fed and had a peaceful co-existence, it was the wealth looted and destroyed by invaders that a large section of native indians have become poor, down trodden and bereft of traditional knowledge.

  13. This statue has no place in Modiji’s India that projects equality, where an OBC can be a PM, a muslim can be the president. Remove this Manu statue ASAP

  14. What about bringing down the names of the roads named after the people who brought religious slavery to India. I will name a few. Aurangzeb. Akbar. Jahangir. Lodhi. What about bringing down the monuments built by these people using slaves? Qutub meenar is one prime example which was built using Hindu slaves. What about bringing down the mosques which were build after making Hindus slaves, and that slavery is still visible in form the walls and other temple motifs in the mosques. You will find many in each Indian city and town. Adai din ka Jhopra. Gyanwapi mosque.

  15. Comments here are quite revealing of the mindset of traditional elites and also throw lights on what present day politics are all about.

  16. This writer is mentally sick. He urgently needs to consult a psychiatrist. Only rank idiots can believe that books can be written in Sanskrit for introducing caste system. On the other hand, books merely recognize and record the existing caste system. This writer does not even know the difference between Jati and Varna, and Jati does not arise from Varna.

  17. Manu smriti is great legal work of HIS time.
    Now, times has changed,and no body follows manu smriti.
    keep your hate filled agenda to your self till you reach your maker.

  18. Who the hell the writer thinks himself of.
    What parallel he tries to draw.
    Slavery was not known to our culture before Islam. Would he ever mention. What does he know about manu & manu smruti.
    Always peddling the same propaganda of maligning the culture with concocted fantasies nurtured by left school of thoughts.
    Does this digital platform ever attempted to get a feed back, as how unreliable & worthless it has become. It is your ignorance that people can be misguided in the age of information

  19. Sorry Mr. Mandal, you come out as a hate filled monster and will stoop to any depth to create tension in society.
    In present time, no such atrocities are being perpetrated on untouchables and it is more or less class clash.
    Anyway, Brahmins are in no position to run the society, so do not try to establish your self by playing a victim card. You have already bilked society thoroughly and an end is required to your blackmail.

  20. First this British slave should remove MANDAL as his surname as Mandal and Manu are part of great Hinduism. Moreover what this crook is doing in India? He should be in UK serving his white masters.

  21. The statue should be removed and dumped in a landfill. People commenting here are showing their true colours. Even Adolf Hitler might’ve had a few reasonable things to write in his book. Doesn’t make him any different.

  22. Yes let the caste system be abolished , no SC, no ST, no OBC, no hindi, no muslim etc , no dalit, no upper class , No RESERVATION, NO SUBSIDY, no benifit,
    And then
    Remove statue of Manu from wherever you want,
    After removal ,Now tell your thoughts on Statue of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar in India.

  23. Why not purge the slave mentality and barbaric history brought by multiple slave dynasties and colonialists? They made hate our own culture-religion-people, generated inferiority complex and created divisions among our own people.
    Have you read any of those words in original? The English translations / translators have succeeded in their primary purpose.

  24. Regardless of what Manu, a mythological religious figure did or said, hie statue can’r be in the a high court premise, a property owned by a secular government. In Alabama stae (America) supreme court there was a a plaque of ten commandments from Old Testament of Bible. A group of activists objected on athe ground of separation between the state and the church, and out went the plaque, ALONG WITH THE CHIEF JUSTICE, A RELIGIOUS BIGOT, WHO RESISTED ITS REMOVAL!.

  25. Avatar Dr. Urvashi Sahni ( Educationist, Social Entrepreneur, Womens Rights Activist - Asoka Fellow) Lucknow, India

    Agree completely! In fact, lets destroy the statue completely as a symbol of destroying Caste and Patriarchy completely in India

  26. I never knew such a statue is there, also in front of a High Court. It should be immediately brought down. What a shame!!!

  27. Muhammad and Jesus were two most prominent dividers of humanity. They demonized and condemned every human being who wasn’t their follower for eternity. And then encoded all that in Qoran and Bible. Get Bible and Qoran out of every court in this world and then talk of Manu. Mandal’s ignorance is shines when he confuses Brahman(Atma) for Brahmin.

  28. The blogger makes shrill noises without substance. Caste viewed from todays lense is different from social ordet defined in the yester years. Nobody becomes a Brahmin by birth and the issue ends there.

  29. The most comedy part of the article is the author surname itself! The less said Is better about the owner of The Print. Shekhar Gupta. First this gentleman should pounce on Shekar Gupta and pull down his shirt .. Hypocrisy at its best.

  30. The author is a narrow minded bigot spewing hate about things he is unable to perceived or understand. Single minded cant best thrown in the trash. Wonder why I wasted my time reading this.

  31. Amazed at the amount of vitriol and bitterness this article is spewing under a veneer of speaking for the oppressed. The author apparently is wanting to carve a niche for himself combining Dalits and women – a winning combination for voting. So he has peppered the article with the right combination of catchwords.

  32. Dilip mandal i want to tell you manusmriti has not ever talk about cast they talk about verna and varna gives jobs according to capabilities of person . There is no fault of manusmriti it’s the fault of people who read it in different way and some people who use it for there own interest. And whenever you write anything make sure correct your facts

  33. Manussmriti is finest philosophical treatise on human society and duties of humans. May I remind him that American founding fathers were slavers and yet there statues still stand. Manu is revered in india as a saptarshi and his statue is testament to our golden age of Indian philosophy.

  34. Fully support author view. But will the author be kind enough to share his/her view on Mughal Rulers, Tipu Sultan, Aurangzeb Road or renaming of Aurangabad. If we are correcting history, lets not cherry pick people.

  35. Temples in this country are the symbols of divisiveness, superstition and blind faith. The statue deserves to be buried deep and a monument erected celebrating the admonishment of a vicious person and his vicious ideas, that perpetuated the class separation and brought upon untold miseries on the oppressed for generations. If any semblance of this person enters any temple, he will be made a god and venerated for ages to come. That will be a most dangerous thought even !

  36. Name me one person in the entire world history who had not committed a single crime….
    Idiots like u are everywhere…

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