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:

उपाध्यायान् दशाचार्य आचार्याणां शतं पिता ।
सहस्रं तु पितॄन् माता गौरवेणातिरिच्यते ॥ १४५ ॥

upādhyāyān daśācārya ācāryāṇāṃ śataṃ pitā |
sahasraṃ tu pitṝn mātā gauraveṇātiricyate || 145 ||

In veneration, the Preceptor excels ten Sub-teachers; the Father a hundred preceptors, and the Mother a thousand Fathers.—(145)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

This verse lays down the relative superiority among the persons intended to be eulogised. The Preceptor is superior to the Sub-teacher, the Father is superior to the Preceptor, and the Mother is superior even to the Father. The specification of the numbers ‘ten’ and the rest is purely valedictory. All that is meant is that the following is superior to the preceding; hence it is that we have the expression ‘a thousand Fathers.’

Excels ten Sub-teachers’—i.e., he is superior to ten Sub-teachers.

“Why have we the Accusative ending here?”

The ‘ati’ (in ‘atiricyate’) is a preposition; the construction being—upādhyāyān ati (in reference to Sub-teachers);—and this means that ‘surpassing each of the ten sub-teachers, he becomes endowed with greater honour.’ Or, the ‘atireka,’ excelling (denoted by the verb ‘atiricyate’), means excess, the verbal root being used here in the sense of‘subjugation caused by excess’; the sense being that ‘by excess of respect he subdues ten sub-teachers’. Lastly, if we take the verb ‘atiricyate’ as the reflexive passive form, the Accusative ending becomes quite consistent; specially as the Vārtika (on Pāṇini, 3.1.87) speaks of ‘wide usage’ in connection with such transitive verbs as ‘milk,’ ‘cook’ and the like.

Objection.—“The very next verse is going to assert that the ‘Father who imparts the Veda is the superior while the present verse declares the Father to be superior to the Preceptor: and this is mutually contradictory.”

There is no force in this objection. According to etymologists the “Ācārya’ is not one who teaches; hence in the present verse the term stands for one who only performs the sacramental rites and teaches merely the rules of conduct;—Ācārya being one who makes one learn ā cāra. It is not necessary that one should always use only such names as arc current in one’s own science; e.g., the term ‘guru’ in the present treatise, has been declared to stand for the father, and is also used here and then; for the preceptor. From all this it is clear that the superiority of the father here meant is only over that person who confers upon one only a slight benefit, who only performs the Initiatory Rite and teaches the Rules of Conduct, and does not do any teaching.

The order of precedence being as here laid down, it follows that at a place where all these are present, the Mother is to be saluted first, then the Father, then the Preceptor, then the Sub-teacher.—(145)

The question arising as regards the order of precedence when the real Preceptor, and the Father who has performed the Initiatory Rite are both present,—the next verse supplies the answer.


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

The first quarter of this is referred to in Parāśaramādhava (Ācāra, p. 304).

The verse is quoted in Madanapārijāta (p. 31);—and in Vīramitrodaya (Saṃskāra, p. 478), where the following notes are added:—In point of veneration, the ‘Ācārya’ is superior as compared to ten ‘Upādhyāyas’, the Father is superior to a hundred Ācāryas, and the Mother is superior to a thousand Fathers;—the person spoken of as ācārya here is the person who performs the Upanayana and teaches the Sāvtrī only (not the entire Veda),—as is clear from the next verse where the man who performs the Upanayana and teaches the entire Veda is described as superior to the Father.

This same explanation is given by Medhātithi and Kullūka also. Govindarāja and Nārāyaṇa on the other hand, hold that the word ‘Pitā’, ‘Father’, stands for that Father who, having begotten the child, performs its Upanayana and himself teaches it the entire Veda.

This verse is quoted in Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra, p. 92), which adds that the Father meant here is one who is a mere Progenitor and has not performed any sacramental rites for the boy; in other eases, when he has performed these, it is the Father that is superior.


Comparative notes by various authors

Gautama-Dharmasūtra, 2.58.—‘Among elders the Ācārya is the highest; the mother—say some.’

Vaśiṣṭha, 13.17.—(Manu’s words reproduced.)

Yājñavalkya, 1.35.—‘These deserve to be respected in the order in which they are mentioned; the mother is more venerable than all of them.’

Bhaviṣya-Purāṇa (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra, p. 478).—(Manu’s words reproduced.)

Śaṅkha-Likhita (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra, p. 479).—‘One should not intervene between his Father and Mother; he may speak in favour of his mother: as she is the person that bore him and brought him up.’

Nārada (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra).—‘Of the two the Father is superior, on account of the supremacy attaching to the seed: in the absence of the Father, the Mother is the highest; and in her absence, the elder brother.’

Purāṇa (Parāśaramādhava, p. 304).—‘By law these are two gurus for man: the Father and the Mother; between these two, the Father is superior, then the Mother, then the elder brother.’

Vyāsa (Do.).—‘For ten months she keeps the child in her womb, suffering from shooting pains, then she gives him birth, being rendered unconscious in the process; devoted to her son, she regards him as superior even to her very life; who can recompense her even in a hundred years?’

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