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:

एतान्द्विजातयो देशान् संश्रयेरन् प्रयत्नतः ।
शूद्रस्तु यस्मिन् कस्मिन् वा निवसेद् वृत्तिकर्शितः ॥ २४ ॥

etāndvijātayo deśān saṃśrayeran prayatnataḥ |
śūdrastu yasmin kasmin vā nivased vṛttikarśitaḥ || 24 ||

The twice-born people should seek to resort to these countries; the Śūdra may however, when distressed for a living, reside in any land.—(24).


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The author now proceeds to state that injunction for the sake whereof the names of several countries have been set forth.

The twice-born people.’ even though they be born in another country, should ‘resort these countries’ i.e. to Brahmāvarta, etc. Abandoning the country of their birth, they should make every effort to reside in Brahmāvarta and the other countries just described.

In connection with this some people hold that the injunction of residing in these countries is with a view to unseen (spiritual) results; the sense being that even though certain results might accrue to one in other countries also, yet people should reside in these countries; and when we come to look for the reward of such residence,—we may conclude, either (a) that the residence in the said countries is enjoined as purificatory, just like bathing in the Gaṅgā and other sacred places,—the idea being that just as the water of one place is more sacred than that of another, so also it is only some regions that are sacred, as has been described in the Purāṇas; or (b) that from the mere residence itself the man goes to Heaven, this assumption being on the analogy of the Viśvajit sacrifice.

Neither of these two views is admissible. If the present verse had laid down such residence as would not be possible (without this injunction), then there might be some justification for assuming a reward, and for considering which of the two alternatives mentioned (in the previous paragraph) is the more reasonable. As a matter of fact however, the possibility of the residence in question is already secured by the fact that it is only in the said countries that the performance of the compulsory and optional rites is possible; in fact, apart from the said countries, there is no possibility of the performance of Dharma in its entirity. For instance, in the snowy regions of Kāśmīra and such places, people suffer so much from cold that they are unable to attend to their evening prayers outside their house; nor (for the same reason) is it possible to read the Veda in the proper manner, going out either to the east or to the north of the village; nor lastly, is it possible to bathe in the river every day during the winter.


The implication of the expression ‘twice-born people’ is that no country can be ‘the land of mlecchas’ except when it is inhabited by mlechhas. For otherwise any man entering that country would at once become a ‘mleccha’; and as such how could he be a ‘twice born’ person? It might be argued that—“by merely entering that country one does not become a mleccha, he becomes so only by residing there, and it is this residence that is prohibited here.”—But this can not bo accepted; because what is mentioned here is ‘resorting,’ which connotes the idea of the man being born in one country and then leaving it and going to another country; and there can be no ‘resorting’ to a place which is already inhabited. If this were not meant, then the Author would have simply said that ‘one should never reside in any other country after renouncing these.’ It might be argued that “the ‘resorting’ being already accomplished, the re-iteration of it serves the purpose of precluding others.”—But in that case this would become a ‘Parisankhyā’ a ‘Preclusive Injunction and such injunctions are beset with three defects.

It might be argued that “it is the abandoning (of the countries) that is indirectly indicated, the sense being that one should never abandon these countries.”

But so long as the direct meaning of a text is admissible, there can bo no justification for admitting an indirect indication. For this reason what has been said above cannot be accepted. From all this it follows that what the words imply is that men do not become ‘mlecchas’ by merely coming into contact with a certain country, it is the country that becomes ‘the land of mlecchas’ through the contact of men (mlecchas).

In as much as service of the twice-born people constitutes the prescribed duty of the śūdra, it follows as a matter of course that the latter should reside where the former reside; but if he fails to obtain a living in that country, then he may go. and live in another country; this is what is permitted (in the latter part of the verse). When the man comes to have a large family, or becomes unfit for service,—even though the twice-born person on whom he is dependent may be prepared to support him,—the śūdra may go and live in another country, where there may be a chance for him to acquire wealth. But even so he should never live in a country where mlecchas form the majority of inhabitants; he should betake himself to a land fit for sacrifices; because if he lived in a country abounding in mlecchas it would be impossible for him to avoid their contact, in the course of moving, sitting, eating and so fourth; so that there would be the fear of his becoming a mleccha.

Distressed for a living,’—i.e., suffering from want of a living. ‘Living’ means wealth sníficient for the maintaining of one’s family. In the absence of such ‘living,’ there is a curtain amount of ‘distress;’ and this distress which is caused by the want of living is spoken of as caused by the ‘living’ itself; just as good harvest being the effect of rain, famine is caused by want of rain, but is spoken of as ‘caused by rain.’

In any country’ implies want of restriction.


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in the Aparārka (p. 6) as permitting the Śūdra to reside, for the sake of livelihood, in ‘Mleccā’ countries also;—in the Vīramitrodaya (Paribhāṣā, p. 56), which explains ‘vṛtti’ as ‘livelihood ‘karṣitaḥ’ as ‘in difficulty’, and the compound ‘vṛttikarṣitaḥ’ as ‘one who is in difficulties regarding livelihood—and in the Saṃskāramayūkha (p. 4).


Comparative notes by various authors

Baudhāyana, 1-30.—‘Āraṭṭa, Kāraskara, Puṇḍraka, Sauvīra, Baṅga, Kaliṅga, Prāsūna,—if one goes to those countries, he should perform the expiatory rite of either Punaḥstoma or Sarvapṛṣṭhā.

Baudhāyana.—‘Anantaka (Dvārakā), Aṅga, Magadha, Surāṣṭra, Dakṣiṇāpatha Upāvṛt, Sindhu, Sauvīra, these countries are of mixed origin.’

Ādipurāṇa (Vīra-Pari., p. 59).—‘A person horn in Āryāvarta either twice-born or not, should never cross the Karmāda (Karmanāśā), the Sindhu or the Karatoyā. The twice-born person should never go beyond Āryāvarta except on pilgrimage, or in obedience to the order of his parents.’ In Magadha, the sacred places of pilgrimage are Gaya, the river Poonpoon; the Hermitage of Chyavana and the forest of Rājagṛha.’

Vāyu-purāṇa (Ibid).—‘Kāñchī, Kośala, Saurāṣṭra, Karṇāṭa, Kacheha, Kāverī, Kolvaṇa (land near the Tryambaka Hill, near Nāsik),—these tracts are not commended. That tract of land over which the five rivers (Śatadru, Vipāśā, Airāvaiī, Chandrabhāgā and Vitastā) flow is called Āraṭṭa; the Ārya should not permanently dwell in this country. One who crosses the Narmadā, the Sindhu aud the Kosi, or goes to the West of Puṣkara, and lives there beyond the time of pilgrimage, goes to hell.—Aṅga, Baṅga, Kaliṅga, Andhra, Madra, Mālavika, tract to the South of the Narmadā or to the North of the Sindhu, Pauṇḍra, Surāṣṭra, Vaindhya, Māgadhaka, Khaśa,—these are all sinful tracts.’

Vāyu-purāṇa (Ibid).—‘The country bounded on the South by the Mahānadī, and on the North by Magadha is the country of Triśaṅku, with an area of 48 square miles; this country should be avoided.’

Vāyu-purāṇa (Ibid, p. 57).—‘Wise men should take shelter in that country where there is prosperity due to the black antelope, barley, grass, the four castes and the four life-stages.’

Skanda-purāṇa (Vira-Pari., p. GO).—‘Aṅga, Baṅga, Kaliṅga, Parvata, Khaśa, Sindhu, Sauvīra, Saurāṣṭra, Pārada, Andhra, Mālava,—these the twice-born should avoid. But when pressed for livelihood, the Householder may betake himself to these countries.’

Bhaviṣya purāṇa (Do., p. 55).—Brahmāvarta is the best country; less than that is the Ṛṣideśa; less than this latter is the Madhyadeśa; next to that comes the Āryāvarta.’

Chāndogya Upaniṣad (quoted in Vīra-Paribhāṣā, p. 60).—‘One shall not approach the Caṇḍāla, nor the inferior country.’

Pitāmaha (Do., p. 60).—‘One may reside even in the kingdom of the Śūdra, if the Gaṅgā flows through it: even though that country may he inhabited by uncultured people, yet it is a sacred land.

Vyāsa (Do., p. 61).—‘Those places, those countries, those mountains and those hermitages are sacred through which the best of rivers, the Gaṅgā, flows.’

Viṣṇudharmottara (Do.).—‘The righteous man should reside at Prabhāsa, at Puṣkara, at Kāśī, at Naimiṣa, at Amarakaṇṭaka, on the Gaṅgā or on the Sarayū.’

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