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:

नामधेयस्य ये के चिदभिवादं न जानते ।
तान् प्राज्ञोऽहमिति ब्रूयात् स्त्रियः सर्वास्तथैव च ॥ १२३ ॥

nāmadheyasya ye ke cidabhivādaṃ na jānate |
tān prājño'hamiti brūyāt striyaḥ sarvāstathaiva ca || 123 ||

To those persons who do not comprehend the (significance of the) name (pronounced) in the words of greeting, the wise one should say ‘I’; similarly to all, women.—(123)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

From what has come before it might be understood that even an unlearned person deserves to be saluted, by reason of the large amount of wealth he might possess; the present verse serves to preclude such a notion.

Those who,’ being uneducated;—‘of the name’—in its Sanskrit form that may have been pronounced,—‘the significance, as pronounced in the words of greeting’; persons, not conversant with grammar do not understand the words to mean that ‘I have been accosted by this person,’—they do not understand the Sanskrit language.—To such persons, as also to women who deserve to be saluted,—these do not comprehend the Sanskrit language—the wise one should say simply ‘I salute thee,’ thus omitting only the mention of his name, which forms one part of the full injunction. If the persons thus accosted should fail to understand even this much, then they should be saluted even with corrupt vernacular forms of words; it is in view of this that the text has added the epithet ‘wise’; i.e., when one realises the difficulty of the other person’s understanding, he should find out some such form of greeting as might suit each particular case, and he should not stick to the precise form enjoined in the preceding verse.

Similarly to all women’; the term ‘all’ implies that the same applies even to the wives of teachers,—even though they be capable of understanding Sanskrit words.

Some people have explained that one should pronounce his name only when it so happens that he is known among people by a pseudonym—some such as ‘Vanamālīvarṇaḥ,’—so that the real name given to him by his father is not known, and what is known is not his real name.

Others have explained the verse to refer to those who do not know the correct form of answering the salutation; for instance, Pāṇini (8.2.83) has laid down that the vowel at the end of the name pronounced in answering a salutation should he pronounced ultra-long; and to those who do not know this, the wise one should simply say ‘I.’ The author of the Mahābhāṣya (Patañjali) also has said the same in course of his explanation of the uses of the Science of Grammar—“Ignorant people who do not know that in answering a salutation, the name should be pronounced with an ultra-long vowel,—to such persons one may freely say simply ‘I,’ just as to women.” These writers have said that the term ‘abhivāda,’ ‘salutation,’ in the present verse has got to be taken in the sense of ‘answering a salutation,’ specially on account of what has been said in other Smṛtis. If the present verse is not explained on these lines, then, the prohibition of salutation, occurring in verse 126 below would come to be taken as prohibiting the saluting of all unlearned persons; and this would be contrary to what other Smṛti-rules have laid down regarding the use of the simple form ‘it is I’ (in the saluting of unlearned persons). If, on the other hand, we adopt the explanation as here suggested, then the said prohibition (occurring in 1.20) might be taken as purely commendatory, and not mandatory; and this would be quite consistent with the present explanation.—(123)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Vidhānapārijāta (p. 501) as laying down the method of salutation also in Vīramitrodaya (Saṃskāra, p. 451), where the following observations are made:—

‘In the case of such illiterate men as do not comprehend the salutation addressed to them in the form of the Sanskrit sentence declaring the name of the saluter,—i. e. who do not understand that they are being saluted,—as also in the case of all women, literate and illiterate,—one should not omit his own name, and say simply, ‘I salute you and if even this much is not understood, then the salutation may be made even with corrupt vernacular words;—such is the implication of the term ‘prājña,’ wise. The ancients have defined ‘abhivādana ‘salutation’ as obeisance with the prescribed formula.

There is a difference among—

  1. Pādopasaṃgrahaṇa (clasping the feet),
  2. Abhivādana’ (salutation)
  3. and ‘Namaskāra’ (bowing);

—the (1) being reserved for Teachers and Elders, (2) for people very much older than the saluter, and (3) for those only slightly older; so says Harihara; and Kalpataru also mentions ‘abhivādana’ and ‘Pādopasaṃgrahaṇa’ separately; Manu himself mentions the two separately in verse 216 below.

This verse is quoted in Aparārka (p. 54) as laying down that the saluting of illiterate persons is to be done in the same form as that of women;—also in Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra, p. 98), which adds the explanation:—‘To persons not conversant with the proper way of returning the salute along with the name of the saluter,—as also to all women—the salutation is to be offered only with the words ‘aham bhoḥ,’ ‘it is I, sir!’


Comparative notes by various authors

Vaśiṣṭha-Smṛti (13.1.1).—‘Here I am—he should say only this much, when saluting a person who is not learned enough to know the proper form of returning the salutation.’

Āpastamba (Aparārka, p. 54).—‘Elderly ladies one shall salute with bowing the head; all ladies are to be saluted with one’s name; not so one’s mother or the wives of Elders—say some.’

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