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...

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

देशधर्मान्जातिधर्मान् कुलधर्मांश्च शाश्वतान् ।
पाषण्डगणधर्मांश्च शास्त्रेऽस्मिन्नुक्तवान् मनुः ॥ ११८ ॥

deśadharmānjātidharmān kuladharmāṃśca śāśvatān |
pāṣaṇḍagaṇadharmāṃśca śāstre'sminnuktavān manuḥ || 118 ||

The eternal laws op countries, duties op castes and laws of dynasties,—also the laws relating to heretics and to guilds,—all this manu has expounded in these Institutes.—(118)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The present verse further confirms the complete character of the Treatise. ‘Laws of countries’—those that are observed in particular countries, and not over the whole earth;—‘Duties of castes’—those pertaining specifically to the Brāhmaṇa and other castes.—‘Laws of dynasties’—those promulgated by famous dynasties;—‘Heresy’ consists in the keeping of such observances as are prohibited; and ‘laws of heretics’ are those laws that are based upon heterodox treatises; the ‘heretics’ being described (in 430) as ‘persons addicted to improper deeds.’—‘Guilds,’ companies; of traders, artisans, actors and so forth.

All these laws and duties the revered ‘Manu has expounded in these Institutes’—(118)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Deśadharma’—is local custom, e.g. the ‘Holāka’ or Holi festival, which is peculiar to ‘North India’; and there also it is observed in different ways in different parts of the country.

Burnell—‘It is worth while to compare the twelfth lecture with the first, on which it throws considerable light.’

This has been improved upon by Hopkins who, with a transcendent insight peculiar to a certain well-known sect of orientalists, opines the ‘whole character’ of the first lecture ‘as that of a later prefix to the work.’ It is really a treat to see how far people are carried away by their eagerness to say something ‘new.’

One fails to see the logic of the argument that, because the first lecture contains much more mingling of philosophical views, therefore it must be a later prefix. It would indeed be more logical to expect the ‘later prefix’ to be more accurate and lucid than what has preceded it! In fact the whole trouble regarding the first Discourse has arisen from the efforts made by commentators—Sanskrit and English—to read in the verses a systematic account of one or the other of the two well-known systems of the ‘Sāṅkhya’ and the ‘Vedānta’. Hopkins himself finds it ‘difficult to bring such verses as 53 ff. into harmony with the Sāṅkhya doctrine.’ But has Manu himself anywhere told him that he was expounding things in accordance with the ‘Sāṅkhya doctrine’? It does not appear to be fair to impose a doctrine upon the writer and then to take him to task for not being in harmony with that doctrine.

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