Manusmriti with the Commentary of Medhatithi

by Ganganatha Jha | 1920 | 1,381,940 words | ISBN-10: 8120811550

This is the English translation of the Manusmriti, which is a collection of Sanskrit verses dealing with ‘Dharma’, a collective name for human purpose, their duties and the law. Various topics will be dealt with, but this volume of the series includes 12 discourses (adhyaya). The commentary on this text by Medhatithi elaborately explains various t...

Verse 1.10 [Meaning of the term ‘Nārāyaṇa’]

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration and English translation by Ganganath Jha:

आपो नारा इति प्रोक्ता आपो वै नरसूनवः ।
ता यदस्यायनं पूर्वं तेन नारायणः स्मृतः ॥ १० ॥

āpo nārā iti proktā āpo vai narasūnavaḥ |
tā yadasyāyanaṃ pūrvaṃ tena nārāyaṇaḥ smṛtaḥ
|| 10 ||

Water is called ‘nara,’—water being the offspring of nara; since water was the first thing created by (or, the original residence of) that being, he is, on that account, described as ‘nārāyaṇa.’—(10)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The Being just described is the same who, here and there in the scriptures, is described under the name ‘Nārāyaṇa,’ as possessed of a superior degree of creative and cognitive powers, and hence being the Personal Creator of the world; the mere difference in names does not necessarily imply difference in the things denoted; so that the Beings described under the names ‘Brahmā,’ ‘Nārāyana’ and ‘Maheśvara are one and the same; though they form the objects of diverse forms of worship, yet they do not differ among themselves; as we shall show under Discourse XII.

How this is (i.e. how Brahmā is the same as ‘Nārāyana’) is explained now:—‘Water is called Nara.’—described under the name of,—‘Nara.’

In answer to the objection—“There is no such usage current among experienced persons; nor is it generally known that water is called Nara,”—the Author adds:—‘Water being the offspring of Nara,’—the supreme Being (Hiraṇyagarbha, described in verse 8 as having created water) might well be known under the name ‘Nara,’ Person; and water is his ‘offspring;’ hence water is spoken of as ‘Nara,’ the name of the father is often applied to the child, e.g., the ‘sons of Vaśiṣṭha,’ the revered sages Tāvabhru, Maṇḍu and Lomaka, are spoken of as ‘Vaśiṣṭhāḥ’; and such usage is based upon the

figurative identification of the child with the father.—‘Since’ because—‘Water,’ known as ‘Nara,’ was ‘the first thing created by’—or it was his container when he lay in the womb (egg)—‘he is, on that account, described as Nārāyaṇa.’

In the sense of ‘he whose container is Nara’the compound should be ‘narāyaṇa;’ but the first vowel may be taken as lengthened according to Pāṇini’s Sūtra 6.3.134, which justifies such lengthening in several other cases also,; just as we have in the word ‘pūruṣa’ (which is a variant for ‘puruṣa’);—or we may have the lengthening due to the affix ‘aṇ’ in the sense of ‘mass’ [so that nāra would be ‘mass of water,’ and ‘he who has this mass of water as his container, ayana,’ would he ‘nārāyaṇa’]. (10).


Explanatory notes

Āpo nārā &c.—This explanation of the name ‘Nārayaṇa’ is found in Viṣṇu Puraṇa I, and also in the Mahābhārata, 3.189.3.

It is curious that Medhātithi reads ‘narāḥ’ (instead of ‘nārāḥ’) and adds a somewhat forced explanation of the elongation of the initial vowel in ‘nā’.

Medhātithi P. 12, l. 6—Babhrumaṇḍuloniakāḥ—These apparently are three other proper names—‘Babhru’, ‘Maṇḍu’ and ‘Lomaka’,—which stand on the same footing as ‘Vaśiṣṭha.’


Comparative notes by various authors:

Mahābhārata, 12.341.40.—[Same as Manu ; but being placed in the mouth of Nārāyaṇa himself, the second half is put in the First Person.]—“That is why I am Nārāyaṇa.”

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