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:

योऽवमन्येत ते मूले हेतुशास्त्राश्रयाद् द्विजः ।
स साधुभिर्बहिष्कार्यो नास्तिको वेदनिन्दकः ॥ ११ ॥

yo'vamanyeta te mūle hetuśāstrāśrayād dvijaḥ |
sa sādhubhirbahiṣkāryo nāstiko vedanindakaḥ || 11 ||

If a twice-born person, relying upon the science of dialectics, should disregard these two sources, he should be cast out by good men,—the detractor of the Veda being an infidel.—(11)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

On the ground of ‘untruthfulness’ and ‘unreliability’ if a twice-born person, relying upon the science of dialectics the ‘science of dialectics’ here stands for the polemical works written by Atheists, treatises of Bauddhas and Charvākas, in which it is repeatedly proclaimed that “the Veda is conducive to sin”;—relying upon such a science, if one should scorn the Veda; i.e., when advised by some one to desist from a certain course of action which is sinful according to the Veda and the Smṛti, in the words—‘Do not do this, it is prohibited by the Veda,’—if he disregards this advice and persists in doing it, saying, ‘what if it is prohibited in the Veda or in the Smṛtis? They are not at all authoritative’;—even without saying this, if he should even think in this manner,—and if he is found to pay much attention to the science of dialectics;—such a person should he cast out by the good—despised by all cultured persons—out of such acts as ‘officiating at sacrifices,’ ‘teaching,’ ‘honours of a guest’ and so forth. Since the text does not specify the acts (from which the man should be kept out), it follows that he should be kept out of all those acts that are fit for the learned. And the reason for this lies in the fact that it is only the ignorant man, whose mind is uncultured and who smacks of the polemic, that can speak as above (in deprecation of the Veda); and to the said acts (of officiating, etc.) it is only the learned man that can be entitled. It is in view of this that such ‘criticism’ has been prohibited in the preceding verse,—such criticism being due to want or respect,—and it does not deprecate such inquiry as might be instituted for the purpose of elucidating the true meaning of the Veda.

It is in view of all this that the author states the reason for what he has asserted—‘The detractor of the Veda being an infidel.’ Thus the man, who would set forth arguments in support of the view that ‘the Veda is unauthoritative,’ only by way of a primâ facie statement, would not he an ‘infidel’; because such statement of the arguments would he made only for the purpose of strengthening the final conclusion (that the Veda is authoritative).

The text speaking of tin; ‘detractor of the Veda,’ has not mentioned the Smṛti; hut the idea is that both stand on the same footing, and both equally form the subject-matter of the context; hence the mention of any one of them implies both.

Some people might however take the term ‘Veda’ (in the expression ‘detractor of the Veda’) to be actually restricted to the Veda only, and they would thence conclude that ‘the detractor of Smṛtis’ should not be cast out, the casting out in this verse being declared for the ‘detractor of the Veda’ only. With a view to such people the Author adds the following verse.—(11)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Hetuśāstrāśrayāt’.—‘Relying upon the argumentative science of the Bauddhas, Cārvākas &c.’ (Medhātithi);—‘Relying on methods of reasoning directed against the Veda’ (Kullūka and Nārāyaṇa).

The argumentative person is always decried: see e. g. 4.30, where the ‘Hetuka’ is described as not fit to be honoured; the ‘Hetuka’ is mentionod in 12. 111. as a person who must be a member of the Pariṣad; though in the latter text the term has been explained as ‘one well-versed in the principles of Mīmāṃsā and the Śāstras’ (see Mitākṣarā on 3. 301, p. 1384).

Nāstiko vedanindakaḥ’—see Parāśaramādhava (Prāyaścitta, p. 424) where we read—‘The detracting of the Veda is of three kinds—(1) The first is that which consists in seeking to prove the untrustworthy character of the Veda by means of arguments culled from Bauddha, Jaina and other treatises;—this has been described by Yājñavalkya as being equal in heinousness to the murdering of a Brāhmaṇa. (2) The second consists in neglecting the acts laid down in the Veda and Śrutis, through one’s tendency to wranglings and disputations;—it is this that is referred to by Manu under 2.11, who further regards it as equal in heinousness to the drinking of wine. (3) The third consists in lack of due faith,—the acts laid down being done only through fear of popular odium, and not through any faith in them; tins has been mentioned among Minor Sins.

This verse has been quoted in the Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra, p. 4) which reads ‘ubhe’ for ‘mūle’ and explains it as ‘Śruti and Smṛti’; for ‘śrayāt’ it reads ‘shraya’.


Comparative notes by various authors

Hārīta-Smṛti, 7.21,—‘That person is a Nāstika who decries what is said in the Veda, who does not discriminate between virtue and vice and who does not admit the existence of the other world.’

Yājñavalkya, 1-227.—‘The insulting of the Teacher, the decrying of the Veda, the killing of a friend, all this should be regarded as equal to the killing of the Brāhmaṇa.’

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