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THERE is a grace upon the waving trees,
And all the famous thoughts great men have told,
By side of thee seem dull, — dull, heavy, and most cold.
If thou art lost to me, farewell, my heart!
So shall this living earth be thy true bier,
Its every sound a wretched, mournful tone,
THE LAWS OF MENU.
[In pursuance of the design intimated in our Number for July, to give a series of ethnical scriptures, we subjoin our extracts from the Laws of Menu. We learn, from the preface of the translator, that "Vyasa, the son of Parasara, has decided that the Veda, with its Angas, or the six compositions deduced from it, the revealed system of medicine, the Puranas, or sacred histories, and the code of Menu, were four works of supreme authority, which ought never to be shaken by arguments merely human.' The last, which is in blank verse, and is one of the oldest compositions extant, has been translated by Sir William Jones. It is believed by the Hindoos "to have been promulged in the beginning of time, by Menu, son or grandson of Brahma," and "first of created beings." Brahma is said to have "taught his laws to Menu in a hundred thousand verses, which Menu explained to the primitive world in the very words of the book now translated." Others affirm that they have undergone successive abridgments for the convenience of mortals," while the gods of the lower heaven, and the band of celestial musicians, are engaged in studying the primary code."
"A number of glosses or comments on Menu were composed by the Munis, or old philosophers, whose treatises, together with that before us, constitute the Dherma Sastra, in a collective sense, or Body of Law." Culluca Bhatta was one of the more modern of these.]
"Immemorial custom is transcendent law."
"The roots of the law are the whole Veda, the ordinances and moral practices of such as perfectly understand it, the immemorial customs of good men, and self-satisfaction." "Immemorial custom is a tradition among the four pure classes, in a country frequented by gods, and at length is not to be distinguished from revelation."
"The resignation of all pleasures is far better than the attainment of them."
"The organs, being strongly attached to sensual delights, cannot so effectually be restrained by avoiding incentives to pleasure, as by a constant pursuit of divine knowledge."
"But, when one among all his [the Brahmin's] organs fails, by that single failure his knowledge of God passes away, as water flows through one hole in a leathern bottle."
*In the following selections his gloss is for the most part omitted, but when retained is printed in Italics.
"He must eat without distraction of mind."
"Let him honor all his food, and eat it without contempt; when he sees it, let him rejoice and be calm, and pray, that he may always obtain it."
"Food, eaten constantly with respect, gives muscular force and generative power; but, eaten irreverently, destroys them both."
"It is delivered as a rule of the gods, that meat must be swallowed only for the purpose of sacrifice; but it is a rule of gigantic demons, that it may be swallowed for any other purpose."
PURIFICATION AND SACRIFICE.
"By falsehood, the sacrifice becomes vain; by pride, the merit of devotion is lost; by insulting priests, life is diminished; and by proclaiming a largess, its fruit is destroyed."
"To a king, on the throne of magnanimity, the law ascribes instant purification, because his throne was raised for the protection of his people, and the supply of their nourishment."
"The hand of an artist employed in his art is always pure."
"Bodies are cleansed by water; the mind is purified by truth; the vital spirit, by theology and devotion; the understanding, by clear knowledge."
"If thou be not at variance by speaking falsely with Yama the Subduer of all, with Vaivaswata the Punisher, with that great divinity who dwells in the breast, go not on a pilgrimage to the river Ganga, nor to the plains of Curu, for thou hast no need of expiation."
"Whoever cherishes not five orders of beings, - the deities, those who demand hospitality, those whom he ought by law to maintain, his departed forefathers, and himself, that man lives not, even though he breathe."
"To all the gods assembled let him throw up his oblation in open air; by day, to the spirits who walk in light; and by night, to those who walk in darkness."
"Some, who well know the ordinances for those oblations, perform not always externally the five great sacraments, but continually make offerings in their own organs."
"Some constantly sacrifice their breath in their speech, when they instruct others, or praise God aloud, and their speech in their breath, when they meditate in silence; perceiving in their speech and breath, thus employed, the imperishable fruit of a sacrificial offering."
"The act of repeating his Holy Name is ten times better than the appointed sacrifice; a hundred times better, when it is heard by no man; and a thousand times better, when it is purely mental."
"Equally perceiving the supreme soul in all beings, and all beings in the supreme soul, he sacrifices his own spirit. by fixing it on the spirit of God, and approaches the nature of that sole divinity, who shines by his own effulgence."
"A Brahmin, who is the giver of spiritual birth, the teacher of prescribed duty, is by right the father of an old man, though himself be a child."
"Cari, child of Angiras, taught his paternal uncles and cousins to read the Veda, and, excelling them in divine knowledge, said to them Little sons.'
"They, moved with resentment, asked the gods the meaning of that expression; and the gods, being assembled, answered them, 'The child has addressed you properly;
"For an unlearned man is in truth a child; and he who teaches him the Veda is his father: holy sages have always said child to an ignorant man, and father to a teacher of scripture."
"Greatness is not conferred by years, not by gray hairs, not by wealth, not by powerful kindred; the divine sages have established this rule: Whoever has read the Vedas, and their Angas, he among us is great.'"
"The seniority of priests is from sacred learning; of warriors, from valor; of merchants, from abundance of grain; of the servile class, only from priority of birth.”
"A man is not therefore aged, because his head is gray; him, surely, the gods considered as aged, who, though young in years, has read and understands the Veda."
"Let not a sensible teacher tell what he is not asked, nor what he is asked improperly; but let him, however intelligent, act in the multitude as if he were dumb."
"A teacher of the Veda should rather die with his learning, than sow it in sterile soil, even though he be in grievous distress for subsistence."
REWARD AND PUNISHMENT.
"Justice, being destroyed, will destroy; being preserved, will preserve; it must therefore never be violated. Beware, O judge, lest Justice, being overturned, overturn both us and thyself."
"The only firm friend, who follows men even after death, is Justice; all others are extinct with the body."
"The soul is its own witness; the soul itself is its own refuge offend not thy conscious soul, the supreme internal witness of men."
"O friend to virtue, that supreme spirit, which thou believest one and the same with thyself, resides in thy bosom perpetually, and is an all-knowing inspector of thy goodness or of thy wickedness."
Action, either mental, verbal, or corporeal, bears good or evil fruit, as itself is good or evil; and from the actions of men proceed their various transmigrations in the highest, the mean, and the lowest degree."
"Iniquity, committed in this world, produces not fruit immediately, but, like the earth, in due season; and, advancing by little and little, it eradicates the man who committed it."
"Yes; iniquity, once committed, fails not of producing fruit to him who wrought it; if not in his own person, yet in his sons; or, if not in his sons, yet in his grandsons."
"He grows rich for a while through unrighteousness; then he beholds good things; then it is, that he vanquishes his foes; but he perishes at length from his whole root upwards."
"If the vital spirit had practised virtue for the most part, and vice in a small degree, it enjoys delight in celestial abodes, clothed with a body formed of pure elementary particles."
"But, if it had generally been addicted to vice, and seldom attended to virtue, then shall it be deserted by those pure elements, and, having a coarser body of sensible nerves, it feels the pains to which Yama shall doom it."