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...

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

उदितेऽनुदिते चैव समयाध्युषिते तथा ।
सर्वथा वर्तते यज्ञ इतीयं वैदिकी श्रुतिः ॥ १५ ॥

udite'nudite caiva samayādhyuṣite tathā |
sarvathā vartate yajña itīyaṃ vaidikī śrutiḥ || 15 ||

At sunrise, or before sunrise, or at early dawn,—the sacrificial act may be performed at any time,—such is the pronouncement of the Veda.—(15)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

This is an instance of the ‘conflict’ spoken of in the preceding verse.

In regard to the offering of the Agnihotra-lilbtions, all these three points of time have been prescribed,—and the injunction of each of these deprecates the others; and the sense of these Vedic texts is that ‘the merificial act may be performed at any time’;—in all ways the offering proceeds, i.e., it should proceed. As regards the deprecation of the offering done after sunrise (which is found in the text enjoining the time before sunrise), this deprecation is not meant to be an interdict; it is only meant to be an injunction of the offering before sunrise. Similarly in the other cases. Thus what is meant is that the act may be performed at any one of the three points of time; and the command of the scriptures becomes fulfilled by the offering being done at any one time.

Such is the pronouncement of the Veda.’—This is what is meant by the Vedic declaration; and it does not mean that what is deprecated is interdicted.

The ‘sacrificial act’ spoken of here is what is known as the ‘Agnihotra-homa’; there is not much difference between ‘yāga’(a sacrifice) and ‘homa’ (libation-pouring). When one renounces his proprietary right over a substance in favour of a certain deity,—the idea in his mind being ‘this belongs to the deity now, and not to me,’—this is what constitutes ‘yāga’ ‘sacrifice’; and exactly the same is the form of ‘Homa,’ ‘Pouring of libation,’ also. The only difference is that in Homa there is the additional factor of the substance being thrown, deposited in a specified manner, in fire or some such receptacle. It is in view of this similarity that the Homa is spoken of here as ‘yajña.’ That this is so is proved by the fact that the three points of time spoken of have been prescribed in the Veda in connection with Homa, and not all kinds of sacrifice.

The expressions ‘udite’ (‘after sunrise’) and the rest are to be taken as parts of, and as standing for, such declarations as ‘udite hotavyam’ (‘the Homa should be performed after sunrise’) and so forth;—the construction being that ‘the meaning of the declaration that the Homa should be performed after sunrise, not before it, etc., etc., is as follows.’

By the compound word ‘samayā’ the time of early dawn is meant. Others have taken it as consisting of two words: ‘samayā’ meaning near, requires its correlative in the shape of something that is near; and since the two points of time mentioned in the sentence are those ‘before’ and ‘after sunrise,’ the required correlative in the present instance is the time of twilight. ‘Adhyuṣita’ stands for the time of departure of the night, and means ‘at the departure of night.’ [So the compound means ‘that twilight which comes after the departure of night.’]

The words of the text are intended to quote the words of the Veda, which are found to be read in one form in one text, and in another form in another text; so that whether the expression ‘samayādhyuṣita’ is one word or two words can be ascertained only from the original texts.

Thus then, the same act of Homa being laid down in the Veda as to be done optionally at any one of the three points of time, there is no inconsistency. It is only in connection with two accomplished entities that, when found to be incompatible with one another, they are held to be ‘inconsistent’; the same cannot be true in connection with things still to he accomplished [and all actions belong to this latter category]. For what has got to be accomplished may be accomplished either in one way or another; and how could there be any inconsistency in this?

In the case of conflicting Smṛti -texts also, the most reasonable view to take is that they lay down optional alternatives.—(15)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Samayādhyuṣite’;—The dawn (Medhātithi),—or that twilight which comes after the departure of the night (Ibid, and Govindarāja);—the time when neither the sun nor the stars are visible (Kullūka).

This verse has been quoted by the Madanapārijāta (p. 175) as indicating the two divisions of the time ‘before sunrise’;—these two divisions being ‘Anudita’ and ‘Samayādhyuṣita.’ These two are more fully described by Kātyāyana, who defines the ‘anudita’ as ‘the sixteenth part of the night, adorned by stars and planets’,—and the ‘Samayādhyuṣita’ as that time in the morning when the stars have disappeared, but the sun has not risen.

The same authority defines the ‘udita ‘sunrise,’ as that when the mere streak of the sun is visible, not all its rays.

It is quoted also in the the Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Ācāra, p. 326);—in the Saṃskāraratnamālā, (p. 2) as laying down the two times for Homa, and it reads ‘homaḥ’ for ‘yajñaḥ’;—in the Ācāramayūkha (p. 65) as laying down the time for the morning Homa;—and in the Nityāchārapradīpa (p. 410.)


Comparative notes by various authors

Āśvalāyana-Gṛhyasūtra, 2.1.—‘One should offer libation of cooked food both morning and evening.’

Kātyāyana-Smṛti, 1.9.35.—‘Before the stars are distinctly visible and before the redness of the sky has disappeared, one should offer the evening oblation.’

Muṇḍopaniṣad, 1.2.1.—‘All those detailed acts that the wise ones have found mentioned in the Vedas,—all these one should always perform.’

Muṇḍopaniṣad, 1.2.3.—‘One who does not perform the Agnihotra, or the Darśapūrṇamāsa, or the Cāturmāsya, or the Vaisvadeva......destroys his entire family.’

Īśopaniṣad, 2.—‘One should desire to live for a hundred years, all along doing his duties.’

Mahānārāyaṇopaniṣad, 2.1.—‘The Agnihotra should be continued till death.’

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