Manusmriti with the Commentary of Medhatithi

by Ganganatha Jha | 1920 | 1,381,940 words | ISBN-10: 8120811550 | ISBN-13: 9788120811553

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 2.5 [Answer to the above Pūrvapakṣa]

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

तेषु सम्यग् वर्तमानो गच्छत्यमरलोकताम् ।
यथा सङ्कल्पितांश्चैह सर्वान् कामान् समश्नुते ॥ ५ ॥

teṣu samyag vartamāno gacchatyamaralokatām |
yathā saṅkalpitāṃścaiha sarvān kāmān samaśnute || 5 ||

Behaving in the right manner, in regard to these (desires), a man attains the position of Immortals; and even in this world he obtains all the desires that he may have thought of.—(5)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

To the above Pūrvapakṣa, the Author replies in this verse.

[What is meant is that] one should behave in the right manner in regard to these—desires.

“What is this right behaviour?”

It consists in doing an act exactly in the manner in which it is found mentioned in the scriptures. That is, in regard to the compulsory acts one should not think of rewards at all, for the simple reason that no rewards have been mentioned in connection with them; while in regard to the voluntary acts, there is no prohibition of thinking of rewards, for the simple reason that these acts are actually mentioned as bringing definite rewards; in fact what we know of these acts from the scriptural injunctions is that they are the means of obtaining certain rewards; so that the performance of these by a man who has no desire for those rewards would be doing something that is not enjoined in the scriptures at all. As regards the compulsory acts however, to think of rewards would be a pure mistake; for when the acts have not been prescribed as leading to any results, no results could proceed from them by merely the man’s seeking for them.

By doing so [ i.e., by behaving rightly in regard to desires] one goes to—attains—the position of Immortals. ‘Immortals’ are the Gods; their ‘position’ is Heaven; and by reason of the Gods residing in Heaven, the term ‘position’ is applied to the gods themselves, the position being identified with the occupier of the position; just as we have in the expression ‘the elevated sheds are shouting’ [where the ‘sheds’ stand for the men occupying them]. Hence the compound ‘Amaraloka’ is to be expounded as a Karmadhāraya—‘the immortal positions’; and with the abstract affix ‘tat' we have the form ‘amaralokatā’ So the meaning is that ‘he obtains the character of a divine being,’ ‘he attains divinity.’ The author has made use of this expression in view of metrical exigencies.

Or, the compound ‘amaralokatā’ may he explained as one who sees—‘lokayati’—the gods—‘amarān’; the term ‘loka’ being derived from the root ‘loka’ with the passive affix ‘aṇ’ (according to Pāṇini 3.2.1); and then the abstract affix tal added to it; so that the meaning is that ‘he becomes capable of seeing the Gods’; and this also means that he attains heaven.

Or again, the expression may mean that ‘he is looked upon as a God’—‘amara iva lokyate’—among men.

This whole passage is mere declamatory Arthavāda; and if does not lay down Heaven as the result actually following from the action spoken of; because as a matter of fact, the compulsory acts do not lead to any results at all, while the voluntary acts are prescribed as leading to diverse results. So that what the ‘attaining of heaven’ spoken of in the text means is the due fulfilment of what is enjoined in the scriptures; which is only an indirect way of saying that ‘that particular end is attained with a view to which the action was done.’ Thus in the case of the compulsory acts, the end in view would be either the avoiding of the sin (that might be incurred by the omission of the act), or the due fulfilment of what has been enjoined in the scriptures; and in the case of the voluntary acts, the end is the attaining of rewards thought of, i.e., those contemplated as mentioned in the scriptures; when a man is going to perform an act, he thinks, in his mind, of that reward which has been mentioned in the scriptures as following from that act; having thought of that reward, he has a desire for it—‘May I obtain this reward by the doing of this act’; and then he obtains all those desiresi.e., the desirable things.

In the manner above described we have set aside the difficulty (that had been set up by the Pūrvapakṣa); for what the text prohibits is not the desire for each and everything, but the entertaining of desires only in connection with the compulsory acts; and in regard to these also there must be desire for the obtaining of things necessary for the due performance of them.

The Brahmavādins (Vedāntins) however regard the words ‘it is not right to be absorbed in desires’ as a prohibition of the Saurya and all such other acts as are laid down as bringing rewards; and their reason is that all actions done with a view to rewards become setters of bondage; and it is only when an act is done without any thought of rewards—doing it simply as an offering to Brahman—that the man becomes released. This is what the revered Kṛṣṇa-Dvaipāyana has declared in the words (a) ‘May there be no action done with a view to rewards’ (Bhagavadgītā, 2.47),—and again, ‘The perform nce of an act becomes vitiated, (a) by the incompleteness of accessories, (b) by the illiteracy of the performer, and (c) by the thought of rewards.’

Various explanations have been offered of the present verse; but we have omitted them because they are of no importance.


Comparative notes by various authors

Vaśiṣṭha, Smṛti, 1-2.—‘The righteous man who acts with full knowledge is highly praised among men and after death, attains heavenly regions.’

Āpastaṃba, Dharmasūtra, 1.5.2-9.—‘When the religious student acts with concentrated mind, then alone are his aots fruitful.’

Ibid, 2.2.2.—‘For all castes, the highest happiness is attained only when they are engaged only in their own duties.’ Ibid, 2.23.7.—‘Thus alone are all desires fulfilled.’

Ibid, 2.23-12.—‘They win Heaven till the very dissolution.’

Gautama, Dharmasūtra, 11-31.—‘Men of all castes and in all life-stages, adhering to their own duties, on death, enjoy the fruits of their acts, and then become born in a pleasant country, and in families of high castes, excellent learning, character and intelligence.’

Gautama, 27-54.—‘One who knows his duty wins by his knowledge and adherence, the heavenly regions.’

Baudhāyana, Dharmasūtra, 1.3.13.—‘In this manner great sages attain the highest position of Prajāpati.’

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