Upajivika Niyamas (उपजीविकानियमाः)

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Upajivika Niyamas (Samskrit: उपजीविकानियमाः) refer to the standards of discipline to be upheld in the practice of livelihood.

परिचयः ॥ Introduction

The Indian society is held together by the Varnashrama Vyavastha (वर्णाश्रमव्यवस्था). The Varnashrama Dharma enumerates personal and social responsibilities of an individual through the life span. Every individual is entrusted with specific responsibilities based on the Varna and the phase of life (ashrama). It is this shared responsibility among people belonging to the four Varnas and in the four ashramas, that is the secret to the smooth functioning of the society.

Out of these responsibilities, Upajivika (उपजीविका ॥ livelihood) is a major one. For, that impacts the financial stability of the society as a whole. Livelihood is primarily, the responsibility of a Grhastha. The Smrtis enumerate various means of livelihood for Grhasthas.

For example, Manusmrti says that a brahmana may subsist by Rta, Amrta, Mrta, Pramrta or by Satya and Anrta. But never by Shvavrtti. (Manu Smrt. 4.4) Wherein, Rta refers to the gleaning of corn; Amrta is that which is obtained unasked; Mrta refers to begging and agriculture is called as Pramrta. Trading is considered Satyanrta (as it comprises of both truth and falsehood) and one may subsist even by that. However, one should avoid slavery as it is called Shvavrtti (dog's way of living). (Manu Smrti 4.5 and 4.6).[1]

ऋतामृताभ्यां जीवेत्तु मृतेन प्रमृतेन वा । सत्यानृताभ्यां अपि वा न श्ववृत्त्या कदा चन || ४.४ ||

ऋतं उञ्छशिलं ज्ञेयं अमृतं स्यादयाचितम् । मृतं तु याचितं भैक्षं प्रमृतं कर्षणं स्मृतम् || ४.५ ||

सत्यानृतं तु वाणिज्यं तेन चैवापि जीव्यते । सेवा श्ववृत्तिराख्याता तस्मात्तां परिवर्जयेत् || ४.६ ||[2]

r̥tāmr̥tābhyāṁ jīvettu mr̥tena pramr̥tena vā । satyānr̥tābhyāṁ api vā na śvavr̥ttyā kadā cana || 4.4 ||

r̥taṁ uñchaśilaṁ jñeyaṁ amr̥taṁ syādayācitam । mr̥taṁ tu yācitaṁ bhaikṣaṁ pramr̥taṁ karṣaṇaṁ smr̥tam || 4.5 ||

satyānr̥taṁ tu vāṇijyaṁ tena caivāpi jīvyate । sevā śvavr̥ttirākhyātā tasmāttāṁ parivarjayet || 4.6 ||

However, it also enlists a set of moral and ethical rules to be upheld while fulfilling the financial responsibilities towards the family.

उपजीविकानियमाः ॥ Rules Regarding Livelihood

The rules regarding livelihood as enumerated in the Manusmrti are as follows:

  • A brahmana may collect grains enough to fill a granary, or a smaller store, or what suffices for three days, or make provision only for a day. Among these four Brahmanas, each later one is considered more distinguished, and through the virtue of righteousness, he is said to have conquered the fruits of heaven. Out of these four types of Grhasthas, subsisting by one of the six means (Rta, etc) is prescribed for those with a large family. Those with a smaller family, are advised to subsist through performance of Yajnas, teaching Vedas and accepting charity. Those not willing to accept charity are expected to subsist with Yajana (याजनम् । sacrifice) and Adhyapana (अध्यापनम् । teaching). While the last one, should subsist by teaching the Vedas alone. (Manu Smrt. 4.7, 4.8 and 4.9).[3]

    कुशूलधान्यको वा स्यात्कुम्भीधान्यक एव वा । त्र्यहैहिको वापि भवेदश्वस्तनिक एव वा || ४.७ ||

    चतुर्णाम् अपि चैतेषां द्विजानां गृहमेधिनाम् । ज्यायान्परः परो ज्ञेयो धर्मतो लोकजित्तमः || ४.८ ||

    षट्कर्मैको भवत्येषां त्रिभिरन्यः प्रवर्तते । द्वाभ्याम् एकश्चतुर्थस्तु ब्रह्मसत्त्रेण जीवति || ४.९ ||[4]

    kuśūladhānyako vā syātkumbhīdhānyaka eva vā । tryahaihiko vāpi bhavedaśvastanika eva vā || 4.7 ||

    caturṇām api caiteṣāṁ dvijānāṁ gr̥hamedhinām । jyāyānparaḥ paro jñeyo dharmato lokajittamaḥ || 4.8 ||

    ṣaṭkarmaiko bhavatyeṣāṁ tribhiranyaḥ pravartate । dvābhyām ekaścaturthastu brahmasattreṇa jīvati || 4.9 ||

  • It is said that, a Brahmana should not name his family and gotra for the sake of food; if he does so, he is called a vantashi (one who eats vomited food). (Manu Smrt. 3.109).[3]

    न भोजनार्थं स्वे विप्रः कुलगोत्रे निवेदयेत् । भोजनार्थं हि ते शंसन्वान्ताशीत्युच्यते बुधैः || ३.१०९ ||[5]

    na bhojanārthaṁ sve vipraḥ kulagotre nivedayet । bhojanārthaṁ hi te śaṁsanvāntāśītyucyate budhaiḥ || 3.109 ||

  • A spiritual aspirant must seek a means of subsistence which either causes no, or least little pain (to others), and live (by that) except in times of financial hardship. (Manu Smrt. 4.2).[6] At the same time, one should not do any bad deed for sustaining himself and his family. And one should accumulate wealth without unduly fatiguing one's body. (Manu Smrt. 4.3).[3]

    अद्रोहेणैव भूतानां अल्पद्रोहेण वा पुनः । या वृत्तिस्तां समास्थाय विप्रो जीवेदनापदि || ४.२ ||

    यात्रामात्रप्रसिद्ध्यर्थं स्वैः कर्मभिरगर्हितैः । अक्लेशेन शरीरस्य कुर्वीत धनसंचयम् || ४.३ ||[4]

    adroheṇaiva bhūtānāṁ alpadroheṇa vā punaḥ । yā vr̥ttistāṁ samāsthāya vipro jīvedanāpadi || 4.2 ||

    yātrāmātraprasiddhyarthaṁ svaiḥ karmabhiragarhitaiḥ । akleśena śarīrasya kurvīta dhanasaṁcayam || 4.3 ||

  • At the same time, it is also adviced that one who subsists by gleaning corn, must be always intent on the performance of the Agnihotra, and constantly offer those Ishtis prescribed for the days of new moon and full moon days. One should never, for the sake of subsistence, get carried away by the ways of the world or resort to false praise; rather one should adopt a pure, straightforward behaviour and by not taking up the work of a businessman, lead the honest life of a Brahmana. (Manu Smrt. 4.10 and 4.11).[3] Also, one who desires happiness must strive for a perfectly contented disposition and exert self-control; for happiness is rooted in contentment, and contentment is based upon self-discipline. (Manu Smrt. 4.12).[6]

    वर्तयंश्च शिलोञ्छाभ्यां अग्निहोत्रपरायणः । इष्टीः पार्वायणान्तीयाः केवला निर्वपेत्सदा || ४.१० ||

    न लोकवृत्तं वर्तेत वृत्तिहेतोः कथं चन । अजिह्मां अशथां शुद्धां जीवेद्ब्राह्मणजीविकाम् || ४.११ ||

    संतोषं परं आस्थाय सुखार्थी संयतो भवेत् । संतोषमूलं हि सुखं दुःखमूलं विपर्ययः || ४.१२ ||[4]

    vartayaṁśca śiloñchābhyāṁ agnihotraparāyaṇaḥ । iṣṭīḥ pārvāyaṇāntīyāḥ kevalā nirvapetsadā || 4.10 ||

    na lokavr̥ttaṁ varteta vr̥ttihetoḥ kathaṁ cana । ajihmāṁ aśathāṁ śuddhāṁ jīvedbrāhmaṇajīvikām || 4.11 ||

    saṁtoṣaṁ paraṁ āsthāya sukhārthī saṁyato bhavet । saṁtoṣamūlaṁ hi sukhaṁ duḥkhamūlaṁ viparyayaḥ || 4.12 ||

अमृतोपजीविका ॥ That which comes without asking

In certain conditions, a Snataka is permitted to subsist by accepting that which comes his way without demanding. For example,

  • One may accept from anyone, fuel, water, roots, fruit, food offered without asking, and honey, likewise a gift of a promise of protection. It is said that, Prajapati (the Lord of created beings) has declared that a donation freely offered and brought (by the giver himself) may be accepted even from a sinful person, provided (the donation) had not been asked for or promised beforehand. (Manu Smrt. 4.247 and 248).[6] In fact, the forefathers do not accept the shraddha for fifteen years and agni does not carry the havya (हव्यम्) given by those who disdain such a freely-offered donation. (Manu Smrt. 4.249).[3]

    एधोदकं मूलफलं अन्नं अभ्युद्यतं च यत् । सर्वतः प्रतिगृह्णीयान्मध्वथाभयदक्षिणाम् || ४.२४७ ||

    आहृताभ्युद्यतां भिक्षां पुरस्तादप्रचोदिताम् । मेने प्रजापतिर्ग्राह्यां अपि दुष्कृतकर्मणः || ४.२४८ ||

    नाश्नन्ति पितरस्तस्य दशवर्षाणि पञ्च च । न च हव्यं वहत्यग्निर्यस्तां अभ्यवमन्यते || ४.२४९ ||[4]

    edhodakaṁ mūlaphalaṁ annaṁ abhyudyataṁ ca yat । sarvataḥ pratigr̥hṇīyānmadhvathābhayadakṣiṇām || 4.247 ||

    āhr̥tābhyudyatāṁ bhikṣāṁ purastādapracoditām । mene prajāpatirgrāhyāṁ api duṣkr̥takarmaṇaḥ || 4.248 ||

    nāśnanti pitarastasya daśavarṣāṇi pañca ca । na ca havyaṁ vahatyagniryastāṁ abhyavamanyate || 4.249 ||

  • It is also said, a couch, a house, Kusa grass, perfumes, water, flowers, jewels, sour milk, grain, fish, sweet milk, meat, and vegetables one should not reject, (if they are voluntarily offered.) (Manu Smrt. 4.250).[6]

    शय्यां गृहान्कुशान्गन्धानपः पुष्पं मणीन्दधि । धाना मत्स्यान्पयो मांसं शाकं चैव न निर्णुदेत् || ४.२५० ||[4]

    śayyāṁ gr̥hānkuśāngandhānapaḥ puṣpaṁ maṇīndadhi । dhānā matsyānpayo māṁsaṁ śākaṁ caiva na nirṇudet || 4.250 ||

  • If one desires to benefit his Gurus and those whom he is bound to maintain, or wishes to honour the gods and guests, one may accept (donations) from anybody; but one must not satisfy one's personal needs with such donations. But if one's Gurus are dead, or if one lives separate from them in (another) house, then in order to subsist one may accept donations from good people alone. (Manu Smrt. 4.251 and 252).[6]

    गुरून्भृत्यांश्चोज्जिहीर्षन्नर्चिष्यन्देवतातिथीन् । सर्वतः प्रतिगृह्णीयान्न तु तृप्येत्स्वयं ततः || ४.२५१ ||

    गुरुषु त्वभ्यतीतेषु विना वा तैर्गृहे वसन् । आत्मनो वृत्तिं अन्विच्छन्गृह्णीयात्साधुतः सदा || ४.२५२ ||[4]

    gurūnbhr̥tyāṁścojjihīrṣannarciṣyandevatātithīn । sarvataḥ pratigr̥hṇīyānna tu tr̥pyetsvayaṁ tataḥ || 4.251 ||

    guruṣu tvabhyatīteṣu vinā vā tairgr̥he vasan । ātmano vr̥ttiṁ anvicchangr̥hṇīyātsādhutaḥ sadā || 4.252 ||

References

  1. Pt. Girija Prasad Dvivedi (1917), The Manusmriti, Lucknow: Naval Kishore Press.
  2. Manusmrti, Adhyaya 4.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Pt. Girija Prasad Dvivedi (1917), The Manusmriti, Lucknow: Naval Kishore Press.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Manusmrti, Adhyaya 4.
  5. Manusmrti, Adhyaya 3
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Pt. Sri Rama Ramanuja Acharya, The Laws of Manu for the 21st Century, srimatham.com