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 3.2 [Entrance into the Household]

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

वेदानधीत्य वेदौ वा वेदं वाऽपि यथाक्रमम् ।
अविप्लुतब्रह्मचर्यो गृहस्थाश्रममावसेत् ॥ २ ॥

vedānadhītya vedau vā vedaṃ vā'pi yathākramam |
aviplutabrahmacaryo gṛhasthāśramamāvaset || 2 ||

Having learnt, in due course, three Vedas, or two Vedas, or one Veda, he should enter upon the state of the householder, having never deviated from the vows of studentship.—(2).


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The ‘learning of Three Vedas’ has been mentioned (in the preceding verse); the learning of ‘two’ and ‘one’ Veda, not having been mentioned anywhere, are here put forward us alternatives. The term ‘veda’ in this connection has been explained as standing for Recensional Text; ‘and what is meant is that one should learn three, or two, or one Recension of each of the three Vedas,—and not that three or two or one Recension of a single Veda should be learnt. Because the work to be learnt has been called the ‘Triplicate Science.’

Having learnt’—having got up, by means of the above described course of studentship.

He should enter upon the state of the householder’—The exact nature of;the ‘Householder’s stage’ is going to be described later on (Verse 4, below).—‘Enter,’ i.e., live; verbal roots having several meanings. The prefix ‘ā’ denotes limit.

One who has taken a wife to himself is called ‘householder,’ which term is used in its conventional, not etymological, sense; The term ‘house’ standing for wife; and he who takes his stand upon that house is called ‘Householder.’

The term ‘āśrama,’ ‘state,’ stands for all those duties, positive and negative, that have been prescribed (for the married man). Just as for the ‘initiated boy,’ there is ‘state of studentship’ till the Final Return from the Preceptor’s house, so for one who has married, it is the ‘state of the Householder,’

Nor deviated from the votes of studentship,’—i.e., he who has not broken the vows of not having intercourse with women. This epithet has to be regarded as a distinct sentence, in accordance with the usage of stories; the sense being that (a) ‘the boy should not deviate from the vows of studentship’ and (b) ‘he should enter upon the state of the Householder.’ If the whole were taken as a single sentence, then, as a result of this, one who has deviated from the vows would never be entitled at all to enter upon the Householder’s state. If, however, we take the epithet as an independent injunction pat forth for the man’s benefit (and not as a necessary condition for entering upon Householdership), then deviation from it makes the man liable to the penalty of expiation, but it does not make him unfit to enter upon Householdership.

By the words, ‘having learnt, he should enter,’ all that is meant is that the two acts should come in this order,—entrance upon Householdership following the ‘learning;’ and it is not meant that marriage should come immediately after study. Because where the words signify mere sequence, immediate sequence is not always meant. Hence daring the time intervening between ‘Vedic Study’ and ‘marriage,’ it becomes possible for the boy to carry on the study of Grammar and. other Sciences, which help in the understanding of the meaning of Vedic texts. In fact, it is only the learned man that is entitled to Householdership; and it is not like the ‘Vedic Study,’ to which the entirely ignorant boy is entitled. Though during boyhood, the boy is like a lower animal, incapable of understanding what he is entitled to, yet he is made to act either by his Father or by his Preceptor. In fact, the act of ‘Vedic Study’ by the boy falls within the Father’s province; the proper-teaching of the child being the Father’s duty; and the reason for this lies in the fact that it is only when the child has been properly taught that the Father is regarded as having duly fulfilled the injunction of ‘begetting a child.’ ‘Teaching’ of the child, again, consists in explaining to him what he should do and what he should not do. And, if the Boy fails to understand his duties when these are explained to him, he is led by the hand, like the blind man, and made to fulfil them; just as he is caught firmly by the hand and saved from falling into the fire or into the well, in the same manner, he is also saved from drinking and other evils leading to imperceptible effects. Or, again, just as a boy is made, against his wish, to drink a wholesome medicine, so in the same manner, he is also made to do acts prescribed in the scriptures. After he has become capable of understanding things a little, he is directed by means of such words ‘you should do such and such an act.’ Such being the case, when the Boy has learnt the Veda, he should be instructed by his Father or Preceptor in such words as—‘You have learnt the Veda, now you are fit for carrying on an investigation into what is contained in it,—hence you should now hear lectures on the subsidiary sciences.’ It is only when this advice has been given that the father is regarded as having fulfilled the duty of ‘begetting a child’; as it has been declared—‘the child is begotten only when he comes to understand his own duties.’

From all this it becomes established that one should not marry immediately after learning the Veda, until he has learnt what is contained in the Veda; and the words of the text have to be construed thus—‘Having learnt—i.e., after learning has been finished—one should continue to be firm in the vows of studentship (i.e., ‘of continence’). The cessation of continence having become permissible (after the Veda has been learnt), its maintenance is reiterated with a view to indicate that the other vows and restraints—such as the avoidance of honey, meat and the rest—may be withdrawn. The conclusion thus comes to be that, so long as the Veda is being learnt, the Boy should keep all his vows of studentship,—but when the learning of the Veda has been completed, and he continues his studies further for under standing what is contained in the Veda, he should abstain only from intercourse with women.

Though the term ‘brahmacharya,’ ‘vows of studentship,’ is ordinarily explained as standing for those observances and restraints that are kept up for the proper learning of the Veda,—yet in the present context it has been used in the sense of ‘avoiding intercourse with women,’—as we shall show later on.

In due course,’—i.e., according to that order of reading which is well known among students; i.e. first of all one should read the sixty-four sections of the Saṃhitā (of the Ṛgveda), then the Brāhmaṇa, and so forth, in the same order of sequence in which they may have been studied by his forefathers. In matters like this, no one can rightly say that ‘one should not follow either family traditions, or the dictates of morality, or orderly sequence.’ The meaning of all this is that ‘one should not abandon that Recensional Text which may have been learnt by his father and other ancestors.’—(2)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Medhātithi (p. 189, 1. 14)—‘Vedaśabdaḥ śākhāvacano vyākhyātaḥ’—Hopkins calls this ‘a later view’ and refers to Āpastamba 2. 6.5.

The first quarter of this verse is quoted in Mitākṣarā (on p. 24, l. 36), in amplification of Yājñavalkya’s statement that ‘Studentship is to extend over twelve years’, and the meaning is deduced that twelve years should be devoted to the study of each Veda.

This verse is quoted in Madanapārijāta (p. 131);—and in Vīramitrodaya (Saṃskāra, p. 505), where the note is added that—‘If one intends to perform the Jyotiṣṭoma and such other sacrifices, which can be performed only with the help of the three Vedas, one has to learn all the three Vedas, the Ṛk, Yajuṣ and Sāman;—if he is going to perform the Prākṣaumika and the Haviryajñas, he has to learn only, two, the Ṛk and the Yajuṣ;—while if he intends to perform only the Pākayajñas, he should learn only his own hereditary rescensional Vedic text; in the case of the other Vedas also, he should confine himself to only those rescensions which may have been studied by his forefathers, and not any one at random.

The verse is also quoted in Smṛtitattva (II, p. 587) in support of the view that every Brāhmaṇa is entitled to the study of various Vedic rescensional texts;—in Hemādri (Dāna, p. 680); in Saṃskāraratnamālā (p. 568);—and in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Saṃskāra, p. 49a).


Comparative notes by various authors

Yājñavalkya (3. 52).—‘Having unfailingly maintained his studentship, he shall marry a girl endowed with good qualities.’

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