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:

ब्राह्मेण विप्रस्तीर्थेन नित्यकालमुपस्पृशेत् ।
कायत्रैदशिकाभ्यां वा न पित्र्येण कदा चन ॥ ५८ ॥

brāhmeṇa viprastīrthena nityakālamupaspṛśet |
kāyatraidaśikābhyāṃ vā na pitryeṇa kadā cana || 58 ||

Every time, the Brāhmana should sip water, either though the receptacle dedicated to Brahmā, or through that dedicated to Prajāpati, or through that dedicated to the ‘Thrice-ten’ (Gods); but never through that dedicated to the Pitṛs.—(58)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The term ‘tīrtha,’ ‘Receptacle,’ means a clean vessel containing water; ‘tīrtha’ (literally) is that which exists for the purpose of saving people, i.e., freeing them from their sins. In some places ‘tīrtha’ is explained as ‘that by which people descend into water.’ In the present context however it stands for that part of the palm of the hand which contains water; and we must take the word ‘tīrtha’ as applied to the hand, with a view to eulogise it, only figuratively; for water does not remain in the hand always (and as such it cannot be called tīrtha in its literal sense).

Through the said receptacle, he should sip water.

Dedicated to Brahmā’;—this also is a figurative eulogy. The term means ‘that of which Brahmā is the deity’; and certainly the said ‘Receptacle,’ not being of the nature of a ‘sacrifice,’ or of a ‘Mantra,’ could not be said to be ‘dedicated to a deity.’ The special nominal affix in the word ‘brāhma,’ which denotes ‘dedication to a deity,’ may however be justified on the assumption that the said receptacle resembles a ‘sacrifice’ in certain characteristics, such as being the means of sanctification and so forth.

Every time’—i.e., for the purposes of cleanliness, as also as part of religious performances.

Kāya’—‘Ka’ stands for Prajāpati: hence ‘kāya’ is that which is dedicated to Prajāpati.

Similarly that which is dedicated to the ‘thrice-ten’—i.e., the Gods—is called the ‘traidaśikam.’ The word ‘traidaśikam’ is derived from ‘tridaśa’ with the deifìc affix ‘aṇ,’ and then the reflexive ‘ka.’ And the deific character in this case also is of the same kind as before (in the term ‘brāhma’).

Through these receptacles one should sip water. The mention of the Brāhmaṇa (Vipra) is not meant to be significant here. For special rules for the Kṣatriya, etc., are going to be added later on (in verse 62, et seq.); and unless we had a general rule, there could he no room for specifications [and it is the present verse alone that could be taken as formulating that general rule, and hence it could not be taken as restricted to. the Brāhmaṇa only.]

Not through that dedicated to the Pitṛs’—i.e., never through that of which the Pitṛs are the deity; even in cases where the aforesaid parts of the hand are disabled by the presence of boils and pimples.

Objection.—“The mere fact of what is sacred to Pitṛs not having been enjoined makes it impossible to be used (why should the negation be re-iterated)?”

Answer.—There is one danger in that: The next verse supplies the description of ‘the receptacle dedicated to Pitṛs’; while there is no use for it laid down in the present context; so that when one would proceed to seek for the use to which this particular receptacle could lie put, he might form the idea that it is to be used in connection with the act (of sipping water) that forms the subject-matter of the context. When, h owever, wc have the direct prohibition (of this receptacle, in connection with water-sipping), we gather the use for it from its very name, and conclude that the offering of water and such other rites for the Pitṛs are to be performed with ‘the receptacle dedicated to Pitṛs.’ In this manner the eulogy also becomes consistent. The ‘receptacles’ dedicated to Brahmā and the rest being directly enjoined as those to be used, people might be led into the mistake that in the absence of these the other may be used; hence with a view to prevent this it was only right to mention the Pitrya-tīrtha also (as that which should never be used).—(58)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Āhnika, p. 76), where it is noted that according to Hemādri, the term ‘vipra’ stands for all the three twice-born castes, on the ground that Yājñavalkya’s text bearing on the subject uses the generic term ‘dvija—but this view is controverted on the ground that it is more reasonable to take, on the strength of Manu’s use of the particular term ‘vipra,’ the term ‘dvija’ of Yājñavalkya’s text as standing for the Brāhmaṇa only, rather than the other way about; as in this there is no stretching of the term ‘dvija’ which is often used for the Brāhmaṇa only; while in the other case the natural meaning of the term ‘vipra’ is unduly extended to other than Brāhmaṇas. The writer goes on to quote Medhātithi’s words (p. 100, 11.20-21)—“The mention of the Vipra is not meant to be significant here. For special rules for the Kṣatriya etc., are going to be added later on (in verse 62, et seq), and unless we had a general rule there could be no room for specifications; [and it is the present verse alone that could be taken as formulating that general rule, and hence it could not be taken as restricted to the Brāhmaṇa only.”] (Translation pp. 306-307);—and traverses this argument, on the ground that the present text is not injunctive of Ācamana, and hence the special rule that follows in verse 62 regarding ācamana can have no bearing upon this verse; the real injunction of Ācamana is contained in verse 61. Verse 58, therefore, it is concluded, must be taken only as enjoining a particular ‘tīrtha’ for the Brāhmaṇa.

Proceeding with the explanation of the verse, Vīramitrodaya adds—‘nityakālam’ meaning always; so that whenever ācamana has got to be done, it should be done by the Brāhmaṇa by anyone of the thfee methods herein described; and it adds that such is the ‘svarasa,’ ‘inclination,’ of Medhātithi also, which clearly refers to Medhātithi, p. 100, 1. 22. It goes on to point out, however, that the view of many Digests is that as far as possible the Brāhmatīrtha should be used.,—such being the implication of the qualification ‘nityakālam,’ which is more nearly related to the first option; and the other alternatives are to be taken up only when the Brahma tīrtha is disabled.—‘Kāya’ means ‘dedicated to Prajāpati,’ and ‘Traidaśika,’ ‘dedicated to the gods.’

It goes on to add that, though there was no possibility for the ‘Pitrya tīrtha’ to be employed,—it not being mentioned among those sanctioned,—yet it has been specially interdicted with a view to indicate that the Pitryatīrtha is never to be used, not even when every one of the three tīrthas permitted is impossible, through pimples and sores: so that in such emergencies, the tīrtha to be employed would be the Āgneya and others.

This verse is quoted in Nityāchārapradīpa (p. 64 and p. 253), which notes that ‘Kāyatraidaśikabhyām’ is the secondary alternative mentioned in view of the contingency of there being a wound or some incapacity in the ‘Brāhmatīrtha;—in Śuddhikaumudī (p. 339), which has the following note—‘Kāya’ is Prājāpatya; ‘Traidaśika’ is Daiva; ‘nityakālam’ indicates that the second and third alternatives are to be resorted to only in the event of the using of the first being impossible;—in Ācāramayūkha (p. 20), which explains traidaśikam’ as daivam;—in Smṛtisāroddhāra (p. 311), which connects the negative particle ‘na’ with the whole of the second line, and explains ‘brāhma’ as the base of the aṅguṣṭha, ‘kāya’ as prājāpatya, the base of the little finger, ‘traidaśika’ as daiva, the tip of the fingers, and ‘pitrya’ the base of the index finger;—and in Vīramitrodaya (Paribhāṣā. p. 77), which quotes ‘Medhātithis’ explanation of the derivation of the term ‘traidaśikam’.


Comparative notes by various authors

(Verses 58-59)

Vaśiṣṭha-Sṃṛti, 3. 29.—‘The line beyond the base of the thumb is the Brāhma-tīrtha; through that one should sip water thrice and then wash with water.’

Viṣṇu-Sṃṛti, 62. 6.—‘He should sip water through the Brahma-tīrtha.’

Yajñavalkya, 1.18.—‘With hands between his knees, seated on a pure spot, facing the north or the east, the twice-born should sip water.’

Baudhāyana-Dharmasūtra, 1. 5. 11.—‘One should sip water through the Brāhma-tīrtha.’

Baudhāyana-Dharmasūtra, 5. 1. 12-13.—‘The base of the thumb is the Brāhma-tīrtha; the tip of the thumb is the Pitrya-tīrtha; the tips of the fingers, the Daiva-tīrtha; the base of the fingers, the Ārṣa-tīrtha; the Pitrya-tīrtha is also that between the thumb and the forefinger.’

Viṣṇu-Smṛti, 62.1-4.—‘For the twice born, the base of the little finger is the Prājāpatya-tīrtha; at the base of the thumb, the Brāhma-tīrtha; at the tip of the fingers, the Daiva; at the base of the forefinger, the Pitrya.’

Yājñavalkya, 1.19.—‘The base of the little finger, the base of the forefinger, the base of the thumb, and the tip of the fingers of the hand constitute the Prājāpatya, Pitrya, Brahma and Daiva tīrthas respectively.’

Śaṅkha (quoted in Medhātithi).—‘The Kāya is at the base of the little finger; the Prājāpatya at the base of the thumb, the Daiva, at the tips of the fingers; the Pitrya, at the base of the index-finger.’

Śaṅkha-Likhita (Parāśaramādhava, p. 221).—‘The Brahmatīrtha is situated to the left of the thumb, on the line pointing upwards; the Pitrya between the thumb and the index finger; the Prājāpatya between the palm and the little index: on the top of the finger tips, the Daiva.’

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