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:

वेदः स्मृतिः सदाचारः स्वस्य च प्रियमात्मनः ।
एतच्चतुर्विधं प्राहुः साक्षाद् धर्मस्य लक्षणम् ॥ १२ ॥

vedaḥ smṛtiḥ sadācāraḥ svasya ca priyamātmanaḥ |
etaccaturvidhaṃ prāhuḥ sākṣād dharmasya lakṣaṇam || 12 ||

 The Veda, the Smṛti, the Practice of cultured Men, and what is agreeable to oneself—these directly constitute the fourfold means of knowing Dharma.—(12)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

There is no difference here. The prohibition of detracting the Veda implies that there should be casting out of also one who detracts the Smṛti, the Practic Men and Self-satisfaction. These also describe only such Dharma as is based upon the Veda; hence the detractor of these is also the ‘detractor of the Veda.’

Objection:—“There is no need for having both the verses; a single verse would have been sufficient, somewhat to the following effect:—‘the twice-born person, who, relying upon the Science of Dialectics, should scorn the sources of Dharma, beginning with Veda and ending with Self-satisfaction, should be cast out by all good men, on account of his being an infidel.”

Our answer to the above is as follows:—Teachers do not mind the burdening (prolexity) of their works; what they make every effort to avoid is the burdening of the intellect (of the learner); as it is the latter which interferes with the right understanding of Dharma; and this misunderstanding obstructs the fulfilment of the ends of man.

Then again, even if the author had mentioned all the four sources of Dharma (as suggested by the objector), some people might still argue thus—“the author should have mentioned the Veda only, all Dharma being based upon the Veda.” Hence it is for the purpose of clearness that the author has stated the matter in both ways: the former verse being intended for those who like brevity, and both the verses for other persons.

What is agreeable to oneself’ is the same as the ‘self-satisfaction’ spoken of before. The term ‘oneself’ is added only for filling up the metre.

These constitute directly the means of knowing Dharma’—‘Lakṣaṇa’ means cause, indicator; and Sense-Perception is not the means of knowing Dharma, as some people have held, speaking of (the sages as) ‘persons who have directly perceived Dharma.’

In the compound ‘Chaturvidham,’ ‘fourfold,’ the term ‘vidhā’ means kind, form. As a matter of fact, Veda is the only source of knowledge of Dharma, and Smṛti and the rest are only so many forms of the Veda.

Other people have explained this second verse as serving the purpose of recapitulating (all that has been said regarding the sources of Dharma). The description of the means of knowing Dharma having been finished, it is the end of this section that is indicated by the repetition (contained in the present verse). Such is the fashion with treatises on the Vedāṅgas; e.g., ‘saṃsthājapenopatiṣṭhante upatiṣṭhante’ (when; ‘upatiṣṭhante’ is repeated for indicating the end of the section); and when the author sets forth the second verse he has in his mind the sum-total of all that has been said in the present section. It is just as the Naiyāyikas, having propounded the Proposition that ‘Word is non-eternal,’ set forth the reasons in support of it, and then re-iterate the conclusion, saying ‘therefore word is non-eternal.’ In fact such is the way of all writers; e.g., the author of the Mahābhāṣya (Patāñjali) also sometimes states the Sūtra or the Vārtika, and having explained it, repeats it again.—(12)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

The first half of this verse is precisley the same as that of Yājñavalkya 1.7.


Comparative notes by various authors

(Verses 6, 10 and 12)

See Comparative notes for Verse 2.6 (Sources of Knowledge of Dharma).

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