International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

The Manu Sm?ti and Neo-Secularism
W. A. Borody

Neo-secularism disavows the possibility of any meaningful dialogue between secularism and religion, a priori. For the neo-secularists such as Christopher Hitchens (=Why Religion Poisons Everything) and Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), a text like the Manu Sm?ti is a gift from heaven—proving the very point the neo-secularists wish to argue. Indeed, the Manu Sm?ti does defend the ethical idea that certain human beings should be treated as less than human, as =subhumans,‘ as mere defiling things, in spite of the use that can be made of them. On the other hand, the Manu Sm?ti has been a highly contested text in the Indian tradition, and continues to be. To dismiss the Manu Sm?ti on the grounds that it is a =religious‘ text belies the fact that first and foremost a =human‘ voice lies behind the text, as were all the Indian voices over the last two thousand years that have either defended or contested it. The neo-secular dichotomy between the =religious‘ and the =secular‘ does not fit with the history of the Manu Sm?ti in India. The dark, dystopian =voice‘ of the Manu Sm?ti can only nominally be designated as =religious.‘ Delusional the Manu Sm?ti may be, but less or more delusional than the neo-secularists‘ black-and-white dichotomous thinking regarding the distinction between the secular and the religious, is for the reader to decide. One thing is clear: refracted versions of the voice of the Manu Sm?ti will always exist among us, however we =label‘ them.

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