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 2.101 [Twilight Prayers]

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

पूर्वां सन्ध्यां जपंस्तिष्ठेत् सावित्रीमाऽर्कदर्शनात् ।
पश्चिमां तु समासीनः सम्यग् ऋक्षविभावनात् ॥ १०१ ॥

pūrvāṃ sandhyāṃ japaṃstiṣṭhet sāvitrīmā'rkadarśanāt |
paścimāṃ tu samāsīnaḥ samyag ṛkṣavibhāvanāt || 101 ||

Everyday during the earlier twilight one should stand repeating the Sāvitrī, till the sun becomes distinctly visible; and during the later twilight he should sit till the stars ark clearly seen.—(101)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Earlier twilight’ is that when the morning is ahead; and the ‘later twilight’ is that when the sun sets. During the former ‘one should stand, repeating the Sāvitrī; i.e., rising from the seat, one should desist from moving and continue to remain at the same place. The ‘Sāvitrī’ has already been described as the verse ‘tatsavitur varenyam’; and it is this verse that has been referred to in the verse 2.78 laying down the pronouncing of the syllable ‘om,’ etc., in connection with the reciting of the Twilight Prayers.

Till the sun is visible’—till the blessed God Sun becomes seen.

The present verse contains the injunction of the Repeating (of the Sāvitrī) and the Standing.

Question:—“What is the use of laying down the limit? The ‘twilight’ naturally ceases at sun-rise. For the very definition of ‘Twilight’ is that ‘it is that time during which darkness is not all gone, nor is light quite complete.’ It is also thus described—‘When there is brightness in the sky and darkness on the earth, this time has been called sacred to the Sun.’ In the Nirukta also it is said that ‘When there is ruddiness below, it is the Sāvitra time.’ In works dealing with animals also it is said—‘From what similarity—because it is ruddy underneath, and black underneath.’ And as a matter of fact, darkness ceases entirely at sunrise. It is ‘twilight’ when the characteristics of neither day nor night have ceased. The Accusative ending in ‘Sandyām’ denotes duration; hence the meaning is that so long as the time of twilight continues he should remain standing; and after that the man is naturally free.”

In answer to this some people have held that the Accusative ending here does not denote duration, it denotes the objective itself, in accordance with the declaration of the author of the Vārtika that ‘time conies to be called the object of intransitive verbs.’ As regards Pāṇini’s rule (2.3.5) laying down the use of the Accusative in the sense of ‘duration of time and space,’ it refers either to (1) such sentences as do not contain a verb signifying some action,—e.g., ‘the river crooked for two miles (krośam),’ ‘blessed throughout the night (sarva- rātram),’—or (2) where the verb used is a transitive one,—e.g., ‘the book is studied for a month (māsam).’ In the present instance however, in the sentence ‘pūrvām sandhyām tiṣṭhet,’—the root ‘sthū’ is intransitive. Hence the injunction in the text must be taken as meant to imply simply that the acts of standing and sitting should be done during the two Twilights. The precise time for the beginning of the acts is not directly laid down; for the simple reason that it is already implied: the time for the beginning of the enjoined act is the same as that of the period of ‘twilight.’ This period of ‘twilight’ is not a lengthy one, like that of the ‘Full Moon Day’ and the like; so that if there were any delay (in the beginning), the time would be difficult to detect; because the time falling between the end of night and the beginning of day is extremely subtle, and the sequence between these two is as difficult to discern as that between the rising of one and the dipping of another pan of the weighing scale. The Sun-god is extremely swift in his movements; and the time intervening between his passing from one zodiacal sign and entering into another has been regarded by astronomers to be a mere ‘truṭi,’ infinitesimal Similarly with the rising and setting of the Sun as indicating the beginning and end of the day. Before sun-rise it is ‘Night,’ and after sun-rise it is ‘Day’; and under this explanation there is no such time as ‘Twilight’; the rising of the sun h aving put an end to the night. It is for this reason that the performance is begun at times approximating to sunrise and sunset; and it ceases as soon as either the sun or the stars become distinctly visible. And hence one who continues the performance during such time is regarded as having fulfilled the injunction at the proper time. Thus what is meant by ‘Twilight’ here is just that time which is ‘Sāvitra’—pertaining to the Sun,—and not that infinitesimal point of time postulated in astronomical works, which has been referred to above.

Objection.—“If this is so, then the offering of Twilight Prayers becomes impossible for those for whom the said time is exactly at which they perform their Agnihotra.”

Answer.—What is this objection? In the first place it is only right that what is enjoined in the Smṛti (i.e., the Twilight Prayers) should be set aside by what is enjoined in the Śruti (i.e., the Agnihotra). But as a matter of fact, there is no incompatibility between the two acts; for the Agnihotra-oblations (laid down by Śruti) could very well be offered by one while he is standing or sitting (which two acts are enjoined by the present verse).

“But it is not only standing and sitting that are enjoined by the present text; the repeating of the threefold Mantra is also prescribed. So that while one is repeating the (according to the present verse), how could he, at the same time, recite the Mantras prescribed in connection with the Agnihotra - oblations?”

Well, in that case, the repeating (of the Sāvitrī, etc.) might be set aside; but there would be no such incompatibility in connection with the acts of standing and sitting, which are the principal factors in the present injunction. And in accordance with the principle enunciated in Jaimini’s Sūtra (10. 2. 63), it is only right that the act of repeating the Sāvitrī,—which is only a subordinate factor—should be set aside. That the acts of standing and sitting are the principal factors is shown by the fact that the injunctive words ‘tiṣṭhet, (should stand) ‘āsīta’ (‘should sit’) directly enjoin those acts only; and that the repeating of the Sāvitrī is the subordinate factor is shown by the fact that it is spoken of by means of the present participial epithet (‘japan,’ ‘repeating’), which shows that it is only a qualifying adjunct. And the real connection with the injunction is of the acts of standing and sitting only; as is also made clear by what follows in the next two verses.

Some people have held that in the present context standing is the subordinate and the act of repeating the predominant factor, as it is from the latter that we have read of results following (in verse 78).

In answer to this we make the following observations: The present context is not intended for persons moved by personal desires; hence why should the text speak of any desirable results? As regards the misconception that people h ave regarding the declaration in verse 78—‘He becomes endowed with Vedic merit’—describing the syllable ‘om,’ etc., as being a description of results,—this we have already disposed of under that context. Hence we conclude that in the present context, standing and sitting are the predominant factors.

Or, it may be that those who perforin the Agnihotra shall recite the Sāvitrī only once, or shall repeat it thrice; and this much of it will not interfere with the time prescribed for the Agnihotra. [Just as even though it is stated that ‘in the evening one becomes free by muttering prayers for a long time,’ yet this does not interfere with the performance of the Agnihotra. The term ‘aśna’ stands for long time.] And yet the said recitation of the Sāvitrī would accomplish the purpose of the Twilight Prayers; specially as the assertion that the repeating is to go on till the sun is seen is only a subordinate factor in the Injunction (and hence need not be necessarily followed).

[The above applies to such Agnihotrins only as have adopted the time before sun-rise for their offerings.] As for those who have adopted the time after sunrise, (the difficulty does not arise, and) the Agnihotra-oblations would naturally be offered after the Twilight Prayers have been offered.

Gautama (2.17) speaks of the two Twilight Prayers as to be offered ‘(a) while the stars are still visible (at dawn) and (b) till such time as the stars become visible (after sunset)’; and all that this means is that the time described is to be regarded as ‘Twilight’; and it does not mean that this time mentioned is part of the Injunction; nor does it follow that the Sāvitrī is to be repeated during the whole of the time stated. Just as in the case of the Injunction ‘One should offer sacrifices on the full-moonday,’ it does not mean that the act of sacrificing is to be repeated during all the time comprised in the time mentioned; exactly in the same manner, when we have such assertions as that “the Earlier Twilight-Prayers are to be repeated while the stars are visible, and the later ones while the sun is still visible,”—all that is meant is the definition of the two times; the meaning being that ‘such and such a time is what is meant by the term Twilight; and it is at that time that the Twilight-Prayers should be offered.’ Thus then, the term ‘Twilight’ standing for the period of time mentioned, if one should perform the standing or sitting and mantra-ref tenting for only a minute, or for any three or four points of time, he will have accomplished what is prescribed by the Injunction.

The term ‘Sadā,’ ‘Every day,' signifies the compulsory character of the act; and it is to be taken as pertaining to both Twilights.

Should sit’;—‘sitting’ standing for any position other than standing, the meaning is that he should be seated.

Ṛkṣa’ means stars. ‘Ā’—i.e., till—they are seen;—the ‘ā’ (‘till’) occurring in connection with ‘arkadarśanāt’ (in the first time) should be construed also along with ‘ṛkṣavibhāvanāt.’

Samyak,’ ‘clearly,’ qualifies both ‘darśana’ and ‘vibhāvana’; the sense being—(a) ‘when the sun is seen clearly,—i.e., the whole disc becomes visible,’—and (b) ‘when the stars are bright, shining in their full splendour, and not dimmed by the stronger light of the sun.’—(101)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Medhātithi (p. 121, 1. 26)—‘Gautamena tu.’ The complete Sutra of Gautama is as follows tiṣṭhet pūrvāmāsīta uttarāṃ sajyotiṣyājyotiṣo darśanāt vāgyataḥ (2. 17)

This verse is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Saṃskāra, p. 447);—also in Parāśaramādhava (Ācāra, p. 281) as laying down the necessity of japa;—and in Hemādri (Śirāddha, p. 695).


Comparative notes by various authors

Dakṣa (Parāśaramādhava, p. 267).—‘The junction of Day and Night, devoid of the Sun, and the Stars, is called the Twilight.’

Dakṣa (Parāśaramādhava, p. 269).—‘Two nādis at the end of night is the beginning of the Twilight; and the appearance of the first streak of the sun is its end.’

Gautama-Dharmasūtra, 2. 17.—‘The morning prayers should be offered while the stars are still visible, and the Evening Prayers, before the stars become visible,—the man being seated and speech held in check.’

Baudhāyana-Dharmasūtra, (4.2. 10,12,13).—‘The Morning Prayers should be offered by one seated facing the East;—it may be begun before sunrise, but it should be completed as soon as the sun has risen the Evening Prayers should he begun before sunset; it may be completed later on.’

Āpastamba-Dharmasūtra (1.11.30. 8).—‘The two Twilight Prayers should be offered outside the village, with speeoh controlled.’

Vaśiṣṭha-smṛti (26. 2-3).—‘Whatever sins, in act, mind Or speech, may have been committed during the day,—the man casts off by means of Breath-suspensions during the performance of the Evening Prayers;—whatever sins...... during the day... Morning Prayers.’

Viṣṇu-smṛti (27. 2-3).—‘Prayers during the two twilights;—the Morning one should he offered standing, and the Evening one, sitting.’

Yājñavalkya (1. 24-25).—‘One should continue to repeat the Sāvitrī in the evening till the appearance of the stars; and in the morning till the appearance of the sun.’

Samvarta (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra, p. 447).—‘In the morning the Twilight Prayers should be offered while the stars are still visible; the Evening Prayers while the sun is still visible, being only half-set; the student should offer the morning prayers, standing, and the evening prayers, seated.

Vyāsa (Parāśaramādhava, p. 268).—Since they worship the Twilight at the time of the junction of day and night, they call it the Twilight Prayer.’

Yogi-Yājñavalkya (Parāśaramādhava, p. 268).—‘One should offer the Twilight Prayers at the junction, not either after sunset or after sunrise.’

Taittirīya-Brāhmaṇa (Parāśaramādhava, p. 268).—‘Meditating upon the sun, rising and setting, if the learned Brāhmaṇa offer the Prayers, he obtains all that is good.’

Śaṅkha (Parāśaramādhava, p. 275).—‘The Morning Twilight is accompanied by stars, and the Evening one by the sun; both these one should observe.’

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