Why shouldn't I burn Manusmriti?
How can prāyaścitta (atonement) be reconciled with death and suicide (even a great sin)?
Hinduism allows one to fast to the death under certain circumstances.
The prince, the monkey Angada, was incredibly wise, with thick and long arms and shoulders like those of a lion or a bull. He spoke these words: “We all followed the instructions of the monkey king and left. O monkeys! Don't you know we spent a whole month in the cave? In the meantime, the time that Sugriva had set itself has passed. All of us who live in the forest should now pray . Sugriva's nature is naturally violent and he has now received the status of our Lord. Since we have committed a crime, he will not forgive us all. Since we did not bring Sita back, he will surely commit this injury. So it is better that let's get involved in prayer now . Before we go back and the king kill us all let us forsake our sons, our wives, our wealth and our homes . ... When he sees that I have transgressed, he will decide to severely chastise and kill me. When my life comes to an end, why do my well-wishers witness my hardships? I will resort to Praya on the shores of this auspicious ocean. '
Ramayana, Kishkindha Kanda, chapter 4 (53), translated by Bibek Debroy
Praya stands for fasting to death. It is permissible for a person who has given up all worldly things and desires. Strictly speaking, sannyasis are allowed to pray.
I have found that the Dharma Sastras in my commentary are mostly out of date. Let me give examples from Mahabharata that show that the ancient Hindus drank wine without worrying about Hell.
There is biblical evidence that Hindus drank alcohol thousands of years ago.
The women of the party, all with plump hips, deep breasts and pretty eyes and a course that doesn't include wine to had to do began to play sports there on the orders of Krishna and Partha. Some of the women played freely in the forest, others in the water, and others in the villas as directed by Partha and Govinda. Draupadi and Subhadra, passionate about wine, began to give away their precious robes and ornaments to the sporty women. And some among these women began to dance for joy, and some began to sing; and some of them started laughing and joking, and some drank excellent wines .
Mahabharata, Adi Parva, section CCXXIV
It was so common that Kings had to intervene regularly to stop drinking.
On the orders of Ahuka, Janarddana, Rama and high-souled Vabhru it was proclaimed again throughout the city that from that day on among all Vrishnis and Andhakas no one should make wines and intoxicating spirits of any kind, and whoever would secretly make wines and spirits should be impaled alive with all their relatives. Fearing the king and knowing that it was Rama's command to commit incontestable deeds, all citizens adhered to a rule and renounced the production of wines and spirits.
Mahabharata Mausala Parva Section I.
What is the answer to the question asked above?
There is no definitive answer as it depends on the attitude towards Dharmasastras. If one feels that the recommendation that a person's body must be completely burned because of the sin of drinking is reasonable, then prayascitta and suicide (not explained praya above) are automatically reconciled. After all, the Scriptures speak.
On the other hand, if one follows Bhishma's statement that "Scripture is not Scripture if it cannot stand the test of reason," the answer is different. Then the advice to commit suicide for drinking wine is viewed as highly unreasonable and, in fact, completely exaggerated. If so, the advice to commit suicide for drinking should be resolutely rejected, and any text recording such advice should not be given scriptural status. As I have shown, the ancient Hindus were smart enough not to commit suicide for drinking wine.
I add this to indicate that the Dharmasastras are asking ourselves to discard anything unreasonable in them.
However, reject desire (kama) and material wealth (artha) when it contradicts the Dharma. likewise any use or habit or rule that is considered to be the source of the Dharma if at any time it should lead to unhappiness or arouse indignation in people.
(Manu Smriti 4,176)
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