Triya charitram, Purushasya bhagyam, Devo Na Janati, Kuto Manushya…

“Triya charitram, Purushasya bhagyam, Devo Na Janati, Kuto Manushya…

(Where are these lines from? Manusmriti?)

Translates to – ‘A woman’s character and a man’s destiny even gods can’t gauge… ‘ (basically women are unpredictable and irrational)

And a man’s character and a woman’s destiny are easily understood?

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64 thoughts on “Triya charitram, Purushasya bhagyam, Devo Na Janati, Kuto Manushya…

  1. And I am sure this phrase was coined by an obtuse person who had very poor insight into human nature. Women are not unpredictable, but yes, they speak a different language a bulk of which is non-verbal

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    • This is a completely one sided interpretation to create a gender strife and project the verse as mesogynist or patriarchial.
      What it actually means is, it is impossible to understand the destiny of a man and character of a woman. Destiny of a man means whether he will get a good salary for twenty years or die of heart attack within five years, no one can tell. Similarly, a woman’s nature is highly adaptable and changes with time, a playful girl can suddenly turn into a mature woman, she can be loyal as well as decietful. So, the real point of shloka is that it is useless to put effort in finding both these aspects viz. destiny of man and nature of woman. Yet our society wants a groom with stable career and a bride with stable nature. Also note that charitr is not necessarily character, it also means nature or behaviour in sanskrit/hindi.
      Adding meaningless connotations and making half baked interpretations is not good.

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      • And that is also why when blessings are given men are blessed to be yashaswi or having noble character and women are blessed to be saubhagyavati or having good destiny.

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  2. Of course! Man does not need a character. He can do whatever pleases him. And women’s destiny is to look after her family, husband, children, community and nation by being self-sacrificing and loving and nurturing. Most of these misogynistic texts are from Manusmriti. If I had met Manu in a dark alley, I’d really know what to do with him.

    And I’m first?!! πŸ˜€

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    • Right on! “Character” was invented only for the women. Nobody ever talks about a man’s character. And a woman’s destiny is defined by the destiny of the man she is with – father, brother, husband, or son.

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    • look mam….manu did not set the standards…whatever written in manusmriti is not a misogynistic or any criteria for someone……it’s written only because these were happening at that time…….inspite of the generations passed,,,,,nothing has changed…because this is nature’s “nature”. yet u r angry with what Manu saw in those days

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  3. Glad to hear it, IHM! From now on, I’m going to decline to attend all interviews I’m supposed to be at and spend my time slacking off at home instead. If it’s a male candidate, it’ll be easy enough to know his character anyway and I’ll know all about him first thing next morning. If it’s a female candidate, I’ll just run a background check with my fave astrologer to see if she’s destined to be a good employee or not.

    Thanks, Manu. Really owe you one, mate. πŸ™‚

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      • In this age, no one gives a damn anymore about some arbit book written in the middle ages. But, the thing about people in our society suspecting a woman’s character and not suspecting a man’s character is true to an extent. But, why do you bring Manusmriti into it? No one reads Manusmriti and behaves this way. It is in Sanskrit. Who can read let alone understand it?

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        • Not sure where it is from Rakesh, I just asked if it was from Manusmriti.
          But Rakesh, a lot of things we hear or say do come from Manusmriti, including the acceptance of domestic violence, seeing a male child as more important than a girl child, the paraya dhan-mind-set etc. – people quote Manusmriti without realising we are quoting from it. (a little like how we quote Shakespeare).

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    • Knowing Manusmiriti or not is immaterial. That book is the basis of our “culture” as we practice it today. Most people may not know the ideas come from Manusmriti, but they practice it anyway. The harm done is immense.

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      • @Fem If we don’t know if it is from Manusmriti or not how can we assume that it is the “basis” of our culture. We should read the text before making sweeping judgements about it (whichever text it may be).

        Some parts of the text in Manusmriti are not relevant for today’s world. Fine, discard it. Remember, Manu wrote the text somewhere between 200 – 400 BC in India whereas in the rest of the world, specifically Middle East and Europe was going through some tumultuous time in terms of war and pillage. The text in parts seems to be harsh on women but may be it was necessary so to ensure that women are protected. Today, we are dealing with a different kind of world and hence need changes.

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        • CD – It’s difficult to understand some of the things suggested in Manusmriti, including how it was okay for men to beat women, and the caste divisions (which favoured the ones who made the rules), and how women must bear every injustice but stay with a brutal man. I feel even if something was written many years ago, it could still be prejudiced and wrong. I blogged about it here, ‘Some Gems from Manusmriti’.

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  4. Just because something is written in Sanskrit, it needn’t be taken seriously.
    You can write nonsense in Sanskrit too!

    Manu (assuming this is a quotation from Manusmriti, that is) made many statements which are politically and socially incorrect and also irrelevant today.
    A hundred years from now, many will find some of Mahatma Gandhi’s statements disagreeable.

    But to be fair to the author, let us not condemn him without knowing the context in which the statement was made.

    Regards
    GV

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    • It was probably a man who just got dumped.

      Unpredictable women screwing up male destinies like that…or so he thought. πŸ˜‰

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  5. Manusmriti is, in my son’s language ‘a piece of misogynistic writing’! Just like some people quote Islam for all their misbehaviour with women (actually nothing bad is written about women in Islam, they say), it is Manusmriti for hurting, insulting women.

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  6. The word ‘Purusha’ in Sanskrit is polysemic. It could be interpreted in many ways, just one of which is the human male. Similarly, I wonder if there is a different meaning to the words, Triya charitam. If they were to mean ‘woman’s character’, they ‘d rather have been streecharitam or streeyaha charitram.

    After all, Sanskrit is a rich language know for its pun, wordplay and double entendres.

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      • The word ‘purusha’ here might as well refer to androgynous entity or even an asexual one. Purusha means many things including ‘a spiritually conscious being’, the conscious part of the universe, or the Supreme being. Look here:
        http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/484221/Purusha

        A doha – I am not sure of the author but it’s perhaps Tulsidas – goes that even a poisonous snake goes blind if the shadow of a woman falls on it. A woman’s vileness and malice are to be feared.

        Certain things from literature are not to be treated out of context.

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  7. Dear IHM,

    Thank god we live in a country where we can point out ‘discrepancies’ in the so called ‘holy books’ without fear.

    Had this scene happened in the country of the ‘camels and oasis’ then things would have been different….

    I feel proud to be an Indian as well as a Hindu.

    One more thing, a women’s character is under the scanner in many Islamic countries as well….and those guys don’t follow the ‘Manu Smriti’.

    Adios.

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    • I agree, it is difficult to discuss religious texts objectively in some parts of the world. I am glad India (and many other nations too), is a Democracy and our right wing/extremists/TV serials etc are not able to highjack our religion and thought processes.

      I am not sure if these lines are from Manusmriti – I would like to know where they are from. I heard these words quoted recently and tried googling but couldn’t find the exact meaning or the source.

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  8. It’s the literal translation that’s causing a few issues. I remember being taught about a few sloka like this from Manusmrithi at school. The interpretation and meaning of these age old verses could be very different than it may appear at first look.

    Another point IHM. We shouldn’t forget that these are literature from thousands of years back mimicking the social and community circumstances of that time. The circumstances of women were not the same as in the 21st century but these proses hold no validity and importance today. Apart from the poetic and literature value they shouldn’t be scrutinized for all these controversial remarks today.

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    • @scorpiogenius,

      Yeah, even DG thought no one follows or refers this nonsense until that Godforsaken now ex called DG triaya and how he knew to beat out the crap of her triaya charitra. He is a software engineer, educated in convent school, son of a Ph.D. father and M.Ed. mother.
      Peace,
      Desi Girl

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  9. Do not know where it is from but

    Yatra Naryastu Pujyante, Ramante Tatra Devata

    (Women Are Honored Where, Divinity Blossoms There)

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    • @aseem,
      The naris that are pujaye are not the same that are burnt for dowry and stoned as witches. Only a certain naris are pujaye and devtas are licensed to lechery and deceit and what not.
      This one line has really fooled the masses for long gloating in a golden past that never was. πŸ™‚
      DG

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  10. During my school-going days, I once heard this translation: ‘A woman’s character and a man’s destiny even gods can’t gauge….humans are dogs. ‘

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  11. There is a saying that I have heard too often and it makes me puke. “Aurat ki jaat aur bambai ki barsaat ka kuch bharosa nahi hota” Why aurat I wonder still.

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    • Weird! Mumbai ki barsaat is one thing that can be relied on totally! πŸ˜€ Just goes to show what some people would say to make up rhymes, even if it made no sense.

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  12. arrey DG , I was trying to show that scriptures are all over the place. If somebody gives you first , you tell him second.

    And no way thousand years old line has any validity in today’s world.

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  13. They do have some sayings from the past which are dutifully taken out and quoted to put women down or in her place. So what if it is from the past or in Sanskrit?

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  14. Lets take a different angle to this “Manu… whatever” One cannot gauge the power of a women. Women are docile by nature and submissive, but history has witnessed women have come out to portray a totally opposite character like Rani Padmini, Rani of Jhansi. If a women is pushed to the limit she will react in a totally unexpected manner, showing her true inner strength, which even God cannot predict.

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  15. Manusmriti was never an important granth, it is not even considered a main book of conduct, untill britishers needed a book to make laws for hindus..

    My favorite author and mythologist Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik always says “Hinduism was never prescriptive, its always reflective”
    Before britishers came n made laws for us, every village, smallest of them have different code of conduct, which was decided by gram panchayats (obviously not the modern one). In one village, achhoot is not allowed to drink water from public well, in other village, he is allowed if he baths daily and don’t have any skin disease, in other village, only the drinking water is allowed to them, and they r not allowed to bath..
    Similar is the concept with women. when mughals attacked the northern sindh and punjab of Old India, women thr were more vulnerable to the attacks, and thus the northern society have became very troden to women, ghunghat practice have started, to save them from barbaric mughals n afghans.now, saving women from rapes had became a responsibility, and soon the responsibility has became a burden with the advent of dowry system, acc to which women were married at a very young age and as the boy too was of the small age(many times not), they are made given a lumpsum amount to start a married life,( at an age so young that it is a contradiction to the 4-ashram-life reflected in vedas)

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  16. I totally dismiss the sloka “Striya Charithram………………..” attributed to Manu. It was written centuries ago, in a male dominated society by a male scholar, writer and law giver. The women who have responded have all rubbished it as expected and as they should. In one response there is reference to “Achoot”. This achoot concept is also age old and written by biased law givers (probably one of them was Manu). Why are we still practicing untouchability and why are we still treating Dalits as lower caste? The women who have come out as progressive should raise their strong voice against the caste system and work to remove untouchability. Avk.

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  17. Sorry to say but it is true.

    Why?

    It does not mean Charitra as in “Character”.

    Here Charitra means life as lived (Charan/Vicharan).

    Yes, it is a subtle meaning and there will be howls of protests, but for those who understand and agree, meaning of the Shlok is…

    “Where women wish to go or wish to be…and the experience men have to undergo (Bhagya/destiny) …are unknown.

    For those who know, both the things mean the same…

    …That the destiny of men/women is unknown, hence let us rely on the Almighty…and not depend on our understanding.

    Hope it helps those up in arms about a great work of knowledge called Manu Smriti.

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  18. One need to be on same platform, before commenting anything for anybody. Most of us are agayani. One phrase from Geeta to make Manu’s statement understandable- ” Krishna is the only male, all other life forms are female.”

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  19. As krishna is the soul not a body, we cant enclose him in a gender. In the spiritual platforn no such descrimination exist. The sense of being male and female is related to the material world. We are spirits, free eternal beyond gender beyond all variation. As we souls we are eternal servant of krishna as he is the supreme soul..

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  20. Guys.. I believe the right meaning of the sloka is:
    ======================================================================
    Tri means Daihik,Daivik n Bhautik,in what nature do they persist in human being and role of soul [Purush means Atma } are not definable even by the gods,what to say of human assessment.
    ======================================================================

    sanskrit is known for its malliability. Same sentence turns into entirely different meaning that too in a gramatically perfect way. Even scholars have found it difficult to find the right meaning of many ancient slokas..

    I remember an example:

    When rishi – shresthh valmiki was requested to start scripting ramayana, Sri Brahmha fixed a particular day when valmiki had to start the maha granth. He put one condition that – the first sentence that Valmiki would utter on the particular day will be the first sloka of Ramayana..

    But for Valmiki, nothing was going in the right way on that particular day. He woke up late, he was late for the Surya-namashkar as the sun was already shining in the sky before he woke up. All these happend on the day when great Ramayana was supposed to be started, he was very upset because of all these.. suddenly he saw a pair of birds making love with each other on the branch of a tree, for a moment his lowness vanished suddenly a arrow came and hit one bird and it succummed to death..

    Seeing this sage Valmiki lost his temper and crushed the hunter by saying:

    “maa nishhaada pratishthaamtva | magamah shaashvatiih samaah |
    yat krauncha mithunaat eka | mavadhiih kaama mohitam ||’

    Meaning:

    Oh! Ill-fated Hunter, by which reason you have killed one male bird of the couple, when it is in its lustful passion, thereby you will get an ever-lasting reputation for ages to come…”

    Sage Valmiki again got upset because he had to start the epic witht the first sentence he utter and he had cursed some one in his first sentence. He was very much confused as to why such a poem has come from his tongue.

    Brahma, the presiding deity of letters appears and ordains Valmiki to author Ramayana, excellent epic of Rama, for which purpose alone he gave such divine meter and grammar to him.

    The first sloka originated from Valmiki:

    ‘maa nishhaada pratishthaamtva | magamah shaashvatiih samaah |
    yat krauncha mithunaat eka | mavadhiih kaama mohitam ||’ 1-2-15

    Meaning 1:

    ama nisaada= oh, ill fated, hunter; tvam= you; yat= by which reason; krauncha mithunaat = of krouncha, couple; ekam= one; kaama mohitam= lust, indulged in; a-vadhiih= you killed; [tat= by that reason]; shaashvatiih= ever lasting; samaah= ages to come; pratisthaam tu= reputation, but; maa gamah= don’t, get.

    “Oh! Ill-fated Hunter, by which reason you have killed one male bird of the couple, when it is in its lustful passion, thereby you will get an ever-lasting reputation for ages to come…” [1-2-15]

    Meaning 2:

    maa= Goddess Lakshmi; nishaada= Oh! Vishnu [ for Goddess Lakshmi resides in the heart of Vishnu – nishadiiti asmin iti niShaada ]; yat = by which act; krounca midhunaat = the couple of demons, namely Ravana and Mandodari; kaama mohitam= that impassioned one and stole Seetha; ekam= that one, Ravana; avadhii= you killed; by that act of yours; shashvatiisamaa= everlasting for ages; pratishtaam= divine sanctity; tvam agama= you, get.

    “Oh, the abode of Goddess Lakshmi, namely oh, Vishnu, by which act of your killing one male demon named Ravana, who in his passion abducted Seetha, and thus you eradicated the vice from the earth, for that you get an everlasting divine sanctity, as Rama, for ages to come.”

    Meaning 3:

    The verse included the meaning of whole of the epic, Ramayana.

    (i) maa nisaada= Goddess Lakshmi and Vishnu. Their marriage in their incarnations as Rama and Seetha, and Ramayana depicts this in Bala Kanda.

    (ii) pratistaam tvam agama= renown, you get, by following your father’s orders you have repaired to forests, without any political upheaval, thus get an everlasting renown as an obliging son Ayodhya Kanda.

    (iii) shashavatii samaa= by dwelling in forest and eradicating demons and helping the saints and sages thus, you achieve an everlasting praise Aranaya Kanda.

    (iv) krounchayoh= from the [atrocious] couple; k– krunca gati kauTilyaa alpii bhaavayoH; the atrocious Vali, and Tara couple; ekam kaama mohitam = one, passion, filled, i.e., Vali; avadhii= you killed, you killed Vali Kishkindha Kanda.

    (v) krouncha mithunaat= from the couple of lovely passionate birds here Rama and Seetha; niSaada that ruffian Ravana, kaama mohitam lustfully, ekam one [i.e., Seetha]; avadhii = almost killed, i.e., her residing in Lanka is as good as death Sundara Kanda.

    (vi) krouncha mithunaat = from the atrocious, couple Ravana and Mandodari; ekam avadhii one Ravana, you killed Yuddha Kanda.

    (vii) kaama mohitam= by desire, fascinated [ kama also means a longing, desire, let alone lusting]; Seetha is fascinated by her desire to see sage’s wives in uttara Ramayana and thus she is sent to forests through Lakshmana. Hence seventh canto, uttara Ramayana is also suggested.

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  21. Any language is malleable for that matter a killing means beauty & stealing means genius in English when used by the poet. But this could not be used to defend the essentially misogynist, casteist & superstitious religion Hinduism or the so called primitive Sanatan dharma

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  22. Triya here, I believe, is not for a woman or a female. It refers to feminine nature of an individual. Several men have feminine aptitude and instincts e.g. Jawaharlal Nehru. Arjuna developed these attributes during Agyatvaas. Likewise several women do Purush like acts e.g. Indira Gandhi. Uprightness of SITA was like that.

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    • But who decides and on what basis, which characterstics are feminine or masculine?
      Like, do you think being ‘upright’ is ‘masculine’? If yes, then why is that so? Are all little boys and male animals and male insects etc born with natural ‘uprightness’?

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  23. Whether this phrase was coined by Manu maharaj or not, whether it was meant to be derogatory to women or not, doesn’t matter. What matters is ‘Triya Charitra’ is a very well known and widely used term in the semi-urban and rural parts of the region I belong to. It’s pronounced as ‘Tiriya Charittar’ and has a huge negative connotation for the woman it is being used to describe.
    Similarly, Tulsidas writes in Ramacharitmanas:
    Dhol, ganwar, shudra, pashu, nari| Sakal tadna ke adhikari||

    God knows what was the intention behind these words, but the male-dominated society has surely used them to point out how the ‘Shastras and Puranas’ have legitimised the unfair treatment of women. The context and meaning of words are forgotten and they have seeped down into the minds of people to take this final form, while the poets are not around to put the debate to rest by telling what they were actually thinking when they were creating such lines.

    Kudos IHM, your debate will soon complete 2 years!

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  25. Namaste,
    I just dont understand why people even without knowing exactly what is meant in a sloka, even without knowing the language, conveniently take it as they need and feel offended. Manusmriti is our culture, not the mis-interpretted one. Please learn well before you comment. No one should comment on a matter which is not known or not understood. Have faith in your parents, forefathers, culture and texts – I know its beyond our knowledge and reach, but all out texts are perfect and scientific. Understand them, dont mis-understand. Atleast dont show how bad many of us are by misunderstanding and jumping into conclusions through comments.

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    • You say, //Have faith in your parents, forefathers, culture and texts – I know its beyond our knowledge and reach, but all out texts are perfect and scientific.//

      Stop thinking, analysing and questioning?

      Nobody should do that. We are not robots and trying to become obedient, mindless robots puts us at risk of being unhappy, because nobody else, not even the parents, can know what makes us happy. We are born with brains, it’s a good idea to use them.

      We should understand what we follow. Blind faith or obedience has done a lot of harm to our society, it’s time we started challenging cruel and unfair practices that thrive in the name of culture/tradition/custom/family values/respect for the elderly – These words are used to silence any questioning voices.

      Why is India amongst the worst countries for a girl child to be born in? Why has India got the amongst the highest in the world rate of violence against women? Why should only sons live with the parents? Why is okay to beat a wife or child? Why should the birth of a daughter not be celebrated? On what grounds does Manusmriti claim that women are unreliable and untrustworthy? How has it harmed or benefited the society? Why have Indians been, traditionally, killing baby girls? What makes parents let their daughters be burnt alive by in-laws or beaten by husbands? Why do children have to watch such violence against their mothers? Why are women not allowed to own property?

      How can all of this change?

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  27. Did anybody mention that the actual shloka goes like this, “streeyashcharitram (not triya charitram) purushasya bhagyam, deva na jananti, kutoh manushya”

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