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:

अङ्गुष्ठमूलस्य तले ब्राह्मं तीर्थं प्रचक्षते ।
कायमङ्गुलिमूलेऽग्रे देवं पित्र्यं तयोरधः ॥ ५९ ॥

aṅguṣṭhamūlasya tale brāhmaṃ tīrthaṃ pracakṣate |
kāyamaṅgulimūle'gre devaṃ pitryaṃ tayoradhaḥ || 59 ||

The part of the palm at the root of the thumb they call ‘the receptacle dedicated to Brahmā’; that which is at the root of the finger ‘Sacred to Prajāpati’; that on the finger-tops ‘dedicated to the Gods’; and that which is below these two ‘dedicated to the Pitṛs.’—(59)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The ‘root’ of the thumb is its lower part; and the part, of the hand just below that root is the ‘receptacle dedicated to Brahmā.’—The term ‘tala’ stands for the inner part (the palm). That inner portion of the hand which extends up to the long palm-line and faces one’s own eyes is the part ‘dedicated to Brahmā.’

That at the root of the fingers, above the horizontal palmline is ‘dedicated to Prajāpati.’

That on the tip of the fingers is dedicated to the Gods’—Even though the term ‘aṅguli’ forms the subordinate factor in the compound (‘aṅguli-mule’), yet it is construed with the term ‘agre,’ for the simple reason that this latter is a relative term (and hence stands in need of a correlative).

That below these two is dedicated to the Pitṛs.’—This also is to be construed with the terms ‘aṅguli’ and ‘aṅguṣṭha,’ though both of these form subordinate factors in the two compounds. The ‘finger’ meant here is the index-finger. Hence it is the part below the thumb and the index-finger which is ‘dedicated to the Pitṛs.’

We interpret the text in this manner on the strength of what is prescribed in other Smṛtis, and also upon that of the practices of cultured people; specially as no sense could be got out of the words as they stand. Says Śaṅkha—‘Below the thumb and behind the first palm-line is the receptacle dedicated to Brahmā; that between the thumb and the index-finger is dedicated to the Pitṛs; that below the little finger is dedicated to Prajāpati, that at the tip of the fingers is dedicated to the Gods.’—(59)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Aṅgulimūle’—‘at the base of the little finger’ (Kullūka, Nārāyaṇa and Rāghavānanda);—‘at the base of the fingers’ (Medhātithi and Nandana)

Medhātithi (p. 101,1. 8)—‘Tathā ca Śaṅkhaḥ’—Though Medhātithi appears to be quoting the very words of Śaṅkha, the actual passage from Śaṅkha reads as follows:—

kāyaṃ kaviṣṭakāmūle tīrthamūktammanīṣibhiḥ
aṅguṣṭhamūle ca tathā prājāpatyaṃ vica?ṇai |
aṅgus?yagre sthitaṃ daivaṃ piś?yaṃ tarjanimūlake |

Here ‘Kāya’ is distinguished from ‘PrājāpatyaVīramitrodaya also cites Medhātithi as quoting Śaṅkha’s text.

This verse is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Āhnika, p. 77), which offers the following explanation—‘anguṣṭhamūla’ means the lower part of the thumb; and on the palm-side of this is the ‘Brāhma-tīrtha.’ ‘Tala’ is the palm; and that part of the palm which extends from the base of the thumb to the first long line in it constitutes the ‘Brāhma-tīrtha’; and the part which lies between the base of the fingers and the long line parallel to them is the ‘Kāya-tīrtha’;—and at the tip of the fingers lies the ‘Daiva-tīrtha.’—The term ‘agre’ is to be construed with ‘aṅguli,’ which is the predominant factor in the compound ‘aṅgulimūle.’—‘Pitryam tayoradhaḥ.’—Here also ‘tayoḥ’ stands for the two terms ‘aṅguli’ and ‘aṅguṣṭha’; and the particular ‘aṅguli’ or ‘finger’ meant here is the ‘fore-finger; so that the ‘Pitrya-tīrtha’ would be ‘below’ the thumb and the forefinger.—The words of the text as they stand, if taken literally, do not yield any sense; that is why recourse has been taken to the more or less indirect construction, as explained above.


Comparative notes by various authors

(Verses 58-59)

See Comparative notes for Verse 2.58.

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