Manusmriti with the Commentary of Medhatithi

by Ganganatha Jha | 1920 | 1,381,940 words | ISBN-10: 8120811550 | ISBN-13: 9788120811553

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:

अकृत्वा भैक्षचरणमसमिध्य च पावकम् ।
अनातुरः सप्तरात्रमवकीर्णिव्रतं चरेत् ॥ १८७ ॥

akṛtvā bhaikṣacaraṇamasamidhya ca pāvakam |
anāturaḥ saptarātramavakīrṇivrataṃ caret || 187 ||

He who, without being ill, omits for seven days, to beg alms and to offer fuel to the fire, shall perform the rites prescribed for the Avakīrṇin.—(187)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

He who, for seven days’—consecutively, ‘has omitted to beg alms and to offer fuel to the Fire,—without being ill’—while not suffering from any disease,—‘shall perform the rites prescribed for the Anakīrṇin’;—i.e., the expiatory rite the exact form of which is going to he described in Chap. 11?. (verse 118).

This is said here only for the purpose of showing the gravity of the offence; and it does not mean that the rite mentioned is to he actually performed in expiation of the omission. That this is so is shown by the fact that another Smṛti has laid down a much simpler expiation for this omission, viz.: ‘offering of clarified butter, etc.’ The following fact also is another indicative of the same conclusion:—If what is mentioned here were a real expiatory rite, then on the occasion of mentioning the conditions under which the ‘Amkīrṇin-rite’ are to be performed as an expiatory rite, the author would have mentioned these omissions also, in the same way in which he has mentioned ‘sexual intercourse with women.’

Some people interpret this verse to means as follows:—“It is necessary to do the two acts (of begging alms and offering fuel) for seven days only; having done them for seven days, if one drops them, there is no harm in this; and these seven days are to be the first ones after Upanayana.”

This however is not right; as it would lie in direct contravention to the direction that ‘this should be done till the Final Return from the teacher’s house,’—as also to what follows in the next verse.—(187)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Parāśaramādhava (Prāyaścitta, p. 438) as laying down the Avakīrṇivrata (actually prescribed in 11.118 in connection with the loss of chastity on the part of the Student) as applicable to other omissions also;—in Vīramitrodaya (Saṃskāra p. 485), in support of the view that the Begging of Alms is not optional, but compulsory, since the present verse prescribes an expiation for its omission, which clearly implies that the omission is sinful;—in Vidhānapārijāta (p. 498) to the effect that the omission of Begging alms involves sin; and again on page 500, where it is explained that the expiation here prescribed is to be performed in the event of repeated omissions;—and in Mitākṣarā (p. 1345, on 3. 281), where it is explained as laying down an expiation for those cases where the duty of ‘fire-tending’ is omitted without any such extenuating circumstance as being occupied with some other duty.

Nirṇayosindhu (p. 190) quotes it as laying down the expiatory rites due on the omission of the duties laid down for the Student.

It is quoted in Aparārka (p. 1142) as laying down the expiation for omitting the said duties, without sufficient reason;—in Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra, p. 111) to the effect that alms-begging is an obligatory duty;—and in Saṃskāraratnamālā (p. 357).


Comparative notes by various authors

Baudhāyana (1.2.5).—‘There is sin in omitting the alms-begging, sin in the non-kindling of fire; one who omits these for seven days should perform the Avakīrṇi-vrata.’

Viṣṇu (28.52)—(reproduces Manu’s words).

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