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 2.169 [Meaning of Term ‘Twice-born’]

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

मातुरग्रेऽधिजननं द्वितीयं मौञ्जिबन्धने ।
तृतीयं यज्ञदीक्षायां द्विजस्य श्रुतिचोदनात् ॥ १६९ ॥

māturagre'dhijananaṃ dvitīyaṃ mauñjibandhane |
tṛtīyaṃ yajñadīkṣāyāṃ dvijasya śruticodanāt || 169 ||

According to the directions of the Revealed Word, the first birth of the twice-born man is from the mother, the second, after the Ggirdle-tying ceremony, and the third, after sacrificial initiation.—(169)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Mātuḥ—from the mother;—‘agre’—first—‘adhijananam,’—birth, of man.

The second, after the girdle-tying ceremony’;—i.e., after the Upamyana. The short vowel ‘i’ in the term ‘mauñjibandhane’ is according to Pāṇini 6-3-63, by which there is much latitude given in regard to vowels contained in proper names.

The third, after sacrificial initiation,’—such as the Jyotiṣṭoma and the rest. This initiation also has been described as ‘birth’ in such passages as—‘when the priests initiate the sacrificer, they bring about a repetition of birth.’

These arc the three births of twice-born men, described in tho Veda.

“In that case the man becomes thrice-born.”

Let that be so; as a matter of fact, the Upanayana is the basis of the name ‘twice-born’;—and it is on this name that the man’s title to the performance of Śrauta, Smārta and conventional rites is based. Tho mention of the first and third

‘births’ is simply for the purpose of eulogising the second one, which is the best of all births; [As regards the third birth] it is only the performance of sacrifices to which the uninitiated man is not entitled; while the one who has not undergone the Upanayana ceremony is not entitled to any religious act at all.

Others hold, that it is ‘Fire-kindling’ that is here spoken of as ‘sacrificial initiation,’ on the ground of its Leing the forerunner of all sacrifices. That Fire-kindling also is regarded as a ‘birth’ is shown by such passages as—‘he who does not kindle the fire is as good as unborn.’—(169)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Hopkins is not quite accurate in his interjectory remark—“So the twice -born has three births!” It is not every twice-born person that has three births; the third ‘birth’ belongs to only that twice-born person who is initiated for a sacrifice. Hopkins might as well exclaim in connection with the next verse—“So the twice-born has two mothers and two fathers!”


Comparative notes by various authors

Vaśiṣṭha (2. 3)—(reproduces the first part of Manu).

Viṣṇu (27. 37)—(reproduces the first part of Manu).

Yājñavalkya (1. 39).—‘For the first time, the Brāhmaṇa, the Kṣatriya and the Vaiśya are born from their mother; for the second time, out of the girdle-tying Rite (of Upanayana); it is for this reason that they have been declared to be twice-born.’

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