As its tell-tale title indicates, this volume is a unique contribution to the literature on law for it deals most exhaustively with Hindu Laws of Marriage and Stridhana. What are the sources of that law and who are governed by it? A brilliant legal luminary and as outstanding authority on the subject of his times. Sir Gooroodas and given most cogent and convincing answers. According to Manu, the Hindu regards his laws as commands not of any political sovereign, but of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe commands which every political sovereign is not imperatively enjoined to obey. As the obedience to the law implied only obedience to the divine will, it never wounded the pride of the most absolute despot; ad the thought never entered the mind of a Hindu King that he could, if he chose, alter or abrogate any of the existing laws. The highest possible ambition of every Hindu ruler was to govern according to primeval law; and the most profound administrative ability ever conceived by the imagination of the Hindu poet, was the power to lead the subjects, without the least deviation, in the beaten track marked out by Manu and other ancient law givers. After devoting several chapters to the law dealing with rights and status of the Hindu female, the author poses the question: what constitutes Stridhana? What are the rights of a woman over Stridhana and what is the order of succession to Stridhana? Manu says: What was given before the nuptial fire (Dhyagni), what was given on the bridal procession (adhyavahanika), what was given in token of love and what was received from a brother, a mother or a father are considered as the sixfold separate property of married woman. Sage Narada supplements it by adding: Property given to her by her husband, through pure affection, she may enjoy at her pleasure after his death, or may give it away except land or houses. Today when a more modern and liberal Hindu marriage law has been enacted by the Indian Parliament after the advent of independence, the present volume is sure to prove a veritable ocean of legal knowledge.
Sir Gooroodas Banerjee was born in 1844 at Narikeldanga in the suburbs or Calcutta. After a bright career at degree in Mathematics in 1865 and was soon after appointed Lecturer in Mathematics in the Presidency College, Calcutta. He took the B.L. degree in 1866 topping the list of successful candidates and got himself enrolled on the Bar of the Calcutta High Court. In 1876 he passed the Honours examination in Law. He obtained the degree of Dotor of Laws in 1877. He was apointed Tagore Laws in 1878 and took for his subject, ‘Hindu Law of Marriage and Stridhan’, and his lectures on this subject are still a standard work. He soon made his mark at the Bar. But he has done the best part of his life’s work in the cause of National Education. He was appointed a Fellow of the Calcutta University in 1879, and had been Vice Chancellor twice. He was a member of the Universities Commission appointed by Lord Curzon. hE had been the life and soul of the National Council of Education, constituted in Calcutta in 1906. His heart was in the national movement from his young days. He was for some time a member of the Bengal Legislative Council. After the death of Bankim Chander Chatterjee he became the President of the Library Section of the Calcutta University Institute. His book, Thoughts on Education, is a much lauded work.
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