87. Dharma Sastras - The Science Of Ethics
'Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitaha'
What is Dharma or Righteousness? Fishes swim in water. Birds fly in air. Plants grow but don't move. Man lives on the earth. Every being in this creation acts according to certain laws of nature. All beings are bound by characteristics nature. Human being alone has freedom to use his intellect. Other beings do not have such freedom. Other beings float with nature's rhythm and cadence; Animal's life is a sensual experience; whereas human's life alone is an attitudinal expression. The independent intellectual expression of human being requires certain guiding principles from time to time to make him follow the laws of nature. These behavioural exhortations are called "Dharmas". Human being loses the rhythm of life, if he violates Dharma. He is in tune with it, if he follows Dharma; Dharma protects the person, who adheres to it.
Manu Smriti had been popularized by Western scholars and often used by them to divide Indian society. Manu Smriti offers more positive values than negative values, if one understands it from Indian perspective.
If there is conflict of opinion between the Srutis and Smritis, then one has to follow the dictates of Srutis, the Vedic precincts. Smritis are man made; Srutis are nature's (not created by man).