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:

वैवाहिको विधिः स्त्रीणां संस्कारो वैदिकः स्मृतः ।
पतिसेवा गुरौ वासो गृहार्थोऽग्निपरिक्रिया ॥ ६७ ॥

vaivāhiko vidhiḥ strīṇāṃ saṃskāro vaidikaḥ smṛtaḥ |
patisevā gurau vāso gṛhārtho'gniparikriyā || 67 ||

For females the Rites of marriage have been ordained to be their ‘Vedic Sacrament,’ the serving of the husbands their ‘residence with the Teacher,’ and the household-duties their ‘tending of fire.’—(67)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The ceremony called ‘Upanaya,’ ‘Initiation,’ has been called ‘Vedic,’ because it is gone through for the purpose of studying the Veda. This ceremony, in the case of females, consists of the ‘Rites of marriage,’—i.e., those rites that are accomplished by means of marriage. Thus, since ‘marriage’ has been prescribed for them in place of the ‘Initiation,’ the former has been described here as becoming the latter; and this can preclude the necessity of ‘Initiation’ only if the purposes of this latter were taken as served by the ‘marriage.’

Objection.—“Well, the Initiation may be excluded from women, but the study of the Veda and the keeping of the observances have still got to be performed.”

With a view to preclude these two also, the Text adds—

The serving of husband is their residence with the Teacher.’ When the woman serves—attends upon and reveres her husband, she does what is meant to bo accomplished by ‘Residence with the Teacher.’ The study of the Veda could be done by the woman only if she resided with the Teacher; and as there is no ‘Residence with the Teacher’ in her case, how can there be any studying of the Veda? ‘Household duties’;—all that she does in the course of her household work,—e.g., cooking, getting together of articles for household use, general supervision, and so forth, which are going to be described in discourse IX, ‘the husband should employ her in saving wealth &c., &c.’ (9.11). These household duties are for the woman what the ‘bringing of fuel’ in the morning and evening is for the Religious Student (male). The term ‘tending of fire’ stands for all the observances and vows that the student keeps.

By reason of the ‘Marriage’ having taken the place of the ‘Initiatory Ceremony’ (for women), it follows that, just as in the case of men, all the ordinances of Śruti and Smṛti and custom become binding upon him after the Initiatory Ceremony, before which they are free to do what they like, and are unfit for any religious duties,—so for women, there is freedom of action before Marriage, after which they become subject to the ordinances of Śrutis and Smṛtis.

Or, we may interpret the text as follows:—Marriage constitutes the Vedic Sacrament—i.e., TJpanayana—for females; even though marriage is not really the Upanayana, yet it is spoken of as such attributively. The question arising as to whence lies the similarity by virtue of which Marriage is spoken of as Upanayana, the text adds—‘the serving of the husband &c., &c.’—(67)

The next verse sums up the contents of the section—


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Vaivāhikovidhiḥ’—‘Sacrament performed with Vedic texts’ (Nandana and Rāghavānanda);—‘Sacrament for the purpose of learning the Veda’ (Medhātithi and Nārāyaṇa).

This verse has been quotçd in Gadādharapaddhati (Kālasāra, p. 220) to the effect that for women Marriage itself is Upanayana;—in Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra, p. 61), which notes that for women, ‘attending’ on husband takes the place of ‘service of the teacher,’ and ‘household duties’ take the place of ‘tending the fire,’ and that for girls also, before marriage, there are no restrictions regarding food and other tilings;—and in Vīramitrodaya (Saṃskāra, pp. 403-4), where it is discussed along with the preceding verse (see note on 66). This verse has been taken as excluding women from Upanayana, entirely. But the author points out that this is not right; and he sets forth his well-considered opinion at the end (see note on 66); and the present verse he takes only as laying down a substitute for the Upanayana in the case of those women who are not Brahmavādinīs.

Vīramitrodaya proceeds to explain the verse to mean that ‘vaidikaḥ saṃskāraḥ’—‘the sacrament which is gone through for the purpose of studying the Veda,’—i. e., Upanayana—consists, in the case of women, in the ‘rites of marriage’; i. e., consecration brought about by the marriage-rites, as has been “declared’ by the ancients. It points out that such is the meaning of the verse with the words ‘Saṃskāro vaidikaḥ smṛtaḥ’ as read by Medhātithi; but Mitākṣarā and other works adopt the reading ‘aupanāyanikaḥ smṛtaḥ’ instead of ‘saṃskāro vaidikaḥ smṛtaḥ’, which means that marriage rites serve the purpose of Upanayana rite; so that marriage would be for women what Upanayana is for men.

This verse is quoted also in Madanapārijāta (p. 37), which also adopts the reading ‘aupanāyanikaḥ smṛtaḥ.’


Comparative notes by various authors

Viṣṇu-Smṛti, 22.32.—‘For women Marriage is the sacrament.’

Vìsmt-Smṛti, 27-15.—‘The Marriage of women is with mantras.’

Yājñavalkya, 1.13.—‘For women, Marriage is with mantras.’

Yama (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra, p. 402).—‘In former times, for girls also there was Upanayana, also the teaching of the Veda and the pronouncing of the Sāvitrī. But she should be taught by her father, uncle or brother, none else. For the girl, alms-begging is to be done in her own home; and she should avoid the skin, the rags and also matted locks.’

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: