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...

Verse 2.66 [Sacraments for Females]

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

अमन्त्रिका तु कार्यैयं स्त्रीणामावृदशेषतः ।
संस्कारार्थं शरीरस्य यथाकालं यथाक्रमम् ॥ ६६ ॥

amantrikā tu kāryaiyaṃ strīṇāmāvṛdaśeṣataḥ |
saṃskārārthaṃ śarīrasya yathākālaṃ yathākramam || 66 ||

For females, this whole series should be performed at the right time and in the proper order, for the purpose of sanctifying the body; but without the Vedic formulas—(66)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

This whole series’ should be done for females, without the recitation of Vedic formulas.—‘Series’ stands for the entire body of sacraments, beginning with the ‘Birth-rites,’ along with all the acts that constitute their procedure.

For the purpose of sanctifying’—i.e., purifying This means that the purpose of the sacraments in the case of females that is the same as that in that of males.

At the proper time,’—i.e., without letting that time pass which has been prescribed for the several sacraments. The term ‘yathā’ here signifies non-transgression, and hence, not signifying ‘similarity,’ it is compounded according to Pāṇini 2.1.7.

The same explanation applies to the compound ‘yathā-kramam’ also.

In as much as the text has distinctly asserted that it is only the reciting of Vedic formulas that may be omitted, there could be no idea of the sacraments (for females) being performed at a time, or in an order, other than the prescribed ones; so that the prohibition of other times and another order should be taken as merely describing what is already known, and as added only for the purpose of filling up the metre. All that is really meant by the text is that for females the sacraments should be performed without the Vedic formulas.

The ‘series’ spoken of above would imply that like the ‘Birth-rite’ and the other ceremonies, the ‘Initiatory ceremony’ also should be performed for females; with a view to preclude this idea, the Text adds—


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Smṛtitattva (p. 926);—in Madanapārijāta (p. 362), where āvṛt is explained as jātakarmādikriyā; and yathākramam is to taken to mean that there should ho no deviation from the exact order of sequence—such deviation necessitating expiation;—in Nirṇayasindhu (p. 188);—and in Aparārka (p. 30), which explains āvṛt as ‘kriyā’, act, rite;—‘aśeṣtaḥ’ as along with all details’, and ‘yathākramam’ as meaning that the order of the sacraments should not be disturbed or else the Sarvaprāyaścitta has to be performed.’

It is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Saṃskāra, at several places, on pages 194, 255, 278, 317 and 403). On p. 194, ‘āvṛt’ is explained as jātakarmādikriyā; and on the term ‘amantrikā’ it is added that what this interdicts is the use of only those mantras that pertain to the primary acts of eating butter, honey and the rest, and not the use of the subsidiary mantras; and this conclusion is in accordance with the principle enunciated in Mīmāṃsā Sutra 3.8. 34-35, where it is declared that the qualification of upāṃśutva (silence) pertains to only the primary rite of the ‘Ātharvaṇa Iṣṭis’ and not to the subsidiary ones.—On p. 255 the verse is quoted in support of the view that the rite of Niṣkramaṇa, is to be performed in the case of the female baby also.—Similarly on p. 278, it is quoted to show that the rite of ‘Annprāśana’ should be performed for the female baby.—On p. 317, it is made to justify performance of the rite of ‘Tonsure’ for girls.—On page 403, it is quoted as laying down the performance of all the sacraments—beginning from the Jātakarma and ending with the Keśānta; whereby it is concluded that the Upanayaṇa also, for girls is to be done ‘without mantras’; another view is noted, whereby the pronoun ‘this ‘iyam in Manu’s text is taken as standing only for the first five sacraments, ending with Tonsure, so that Upanayaṇa and Keśānta become excluded from the category. But this view is rejected; and in answer to the argument that “in view of the declaration in the following verse that for women Marriage constitutes Upanayaṇa, the pronoun ‘iyam’ in the present verse must exclude Upanayaṇa—it is pointed out that all that the next verse means is that in the case of a person following the opinion of another Smṛti and not performing the Upanayana for his girl,—Marriage should be regarded as constituting her Upanayana; and not that in all cases Marriage should take the place of Upanayana. The conclusion is stated thus:—There are two kinds of girls—‘Brahmavādinī’ and ‘Sodyovodhū’;—for the former there is Upanayana, in the eighth year, vedic study, and ‘return’ (completion of Vedic study) before puberty,—and marriage also before puberty; while for the Sodyovodhū, there is Upanayana at the time of marriage, followed by immediate ‘completion of study,’ which is followed immediately by Marriage. But from the assertion in certain Smṛtis that there used to be Upanayana for women in a ‘previous cycle,’ it seems that in the present cycle, it is not to be performed. (Bee note on the next verse).

The above note regarding the two kinds of women is based on a passage in Hārīta Smṛti (quoted in Madanapārijātā, p. 37), which adds that all this refers to another cycle. The exact words of Hārīta mean as follows:—“There are two kinds of women—Brahmavādinī and Sadyovadhū; for the former, there are Upanayana, fire-laying, vedic study in the house itself and also alms-begging; while for the latter, when the time of marriage arrives, Upanayana should be performed somehow and then marriage.”

This verse is quoted in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Saṃskāra, p. 400);—and in Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra, p. 00) which explains ‘āvṛt’ as meaning the Jātakarma and other rites, and adds that this implies that none of the rites is to be omitted for the women.


Comparative notes by various authors

Viṣṇu-Smṛti, 27.13.—‘The same rites for women are done without mantras.’

Yājñavalkya, 1.13.—‘These rites for women are to be performed silently, but Marriage is to be with manteras.’

Āśvalāyana-Gṛhyasūtra, 15 (16.7)—1.2.—‘For the girl, the Āvṛta only’ [‘āvṛta’ standing for the Jātakarma and other rites],

Gobhila-Gṛhyasūtra (Vīramitrodaya-Samskāra, p. 191).—‘For women, these rites are to be performed silently, but the Homa is to be done with mantras.’

Śaunaka (Do., p. 278).—‘All this rite is to be performed for the girl, without mantras.’

Āśvalāyana-Smṛti (Do., p. 278).—‘The rites beginning with the Jātakarma and ending with Tonsure are to be done for women, without mantras; but even in Tonsure, the Homa is to be done with mantras.’

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