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:

निषेकादीनि कर्माणि यः करोति यथाविधि ।
सम्भावयति चान्नेन स विप्रो गुरुरुच्यते ॥ १४२ ॥

niṣekādīni karmāṇi yaḥ karoti yathāvidhi |
sambhāvayati cānnena sa vipro gururucyate || 142 ||

That Brāhmaṇa, who performs, in the prescribed manner, one’s sacramental rites beginning with the rites of impregnation, and supports him with food, is called the “Guru,” “Mentor.”—(142)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The mention of the ‘Rites of Impregnation’ indicates that the present verse lays down the fact of the Father being a ‘Mentor.’

Niṣeka’ ‘Impregnation,’ is the ‘Sprinkling of the semen’:—those acts of which the ‘Impregnation’ is the first or beginning; the term ‘beginning’ shows that all the Sacramental Rites are meant.

He who performs these rites and also ‘supports’—fosters—‘with food.’

Chaivainam’ is another reading (for ‘cānnena’). The meaning remains the same; as ‘supporting’ can be done only by means of food. The only additional sense obtained from this other reading is the reference, by means of the pronoun ‘enam,’ to the boy.

“As a matter of fact, ‘enam is only a relative pronoun; and the ‘Boy’ does not appear anywhere here as its antecedent.”

There is no force in this; for whom else (if not for the boy) are the Kites of Impregnation and the rest performed? And ‘reference’ is often only implied, not always expressly stated.

He who does not fulfil these two conditions, but gives one birth, is only a ‘progenitor,’ not a ‘mentor.’ Nor should the notion be entertained that, not being a ‘mentor,’ he should not be respected; as a matter of fact, he is the very first to deserve respect; as says the revered Vyāsa—‘The Father is the master, the source of the body, the benefactor, the life-giver, the mentor, the advisor, of all that is good, the visible God.’

The mention of the ‘Brāhmaṇa’ is only illustrative.—(142)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Parāśaramādhava (Ācāra, p. 302) as defining the ‘guru’, the clasping of whose feet has been prescribed;—also in the Prāyaścitta-kāṇḍa of the same work (p. 259), in support of the view that the term ‘guru’ denotes primarily the father only;—in Vīramitrodaya (Saṃskāra, p. 477), which adds the following explanatory notes:—‘Niṣeka’—the rites of conception; and the sacramental rites referred to are those beginning with these and ending with the ‘imparting of the Veda’;—‘sambhāvayati’ means nourishes. The performance of the rites of conception alone is sufficient to entitle the man to the title of ‘guru’; the other qualifications have been added only with a view to indicate that the person referred to here deserves higher honor than the Ācārya;—such is the view of Śūlapāṇi.

Madanapārijāta (p. 31) on the other hand, states that the term ‘vipraḥ’ stands here for the Father; from which it follows that a father who does not fulfil the conditions stated is not a ‘guru’ at all.

The verse is also quoted in Mitākṣarā (on 3.- 259, p. 1297) in support of the view that the term ‘guru' primarly denotes the Father, the title ‘guru ' belonging to the person who performs the conception and other rites, i.e., the progenitor himself;—in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Prāyaścitta, p. 11 b);—in Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra, p. 88), which explains ‘niṣeka’ as garbhādhāna, and adds that ‘annasambhāvana’ includes the ‘teaching of Veda’ also;—in Saṃskāramayūkha (p. 44), to the effect that the Father alone is the ‘guru’;—in Smṛtisāroddhāra (p. 356) to the same effect;—and in Prāyaścittaviveka (p. 128) to the same effect; but it combats the view that the Father only is entitled to be called ‘guru’.


Comparative notes by various authors

See also Manu, 149.

Yājñavalkya, 1.34.—‘He is the Guru who, having performed all the rites, imparts the Veda to the pupil.’

Yama (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra, p. 478).—‘He is a Guru who is fully equipped with knowledge of the Veda, has excellent character, with senses under control.’

Hārīta (Parāśaramādhava, p. 303),

Devala (Aparārka, p. 65),

‘The sub-teacher, the father, the elder brother, the king, the maternal uncle, the father-in-law, the protector, the maternal and paternal grand-fathers, the uncle, one of the superior caste,—these are gurus among males. The mother, the maternal and paternal grandmothers, the teacher’s wife, the uterine sisters of the father and of the mother, the mother-in-law, and the elderly nurse,—these are gurus among females,’

Vyāsa (Aparārka, p. 65).—‘Maternal grandfather, maternal uncle, paternal uncle, father-in-law are gurus; the elder brother, the Accomplished Student and the Ṛtvik are to be inspected like the guru. The mother’s sister, the maternal aunt, the mother-in-law, the nurse, the father’s sister, the paternal grandmother, the paternal aunt and the teacher’s wife are to be treated as the mother.’

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