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:

तं प्रतीतं स्वधर्मेण ब्रह्मदायहरं पितुः ।
स्रग्विणं तल्प आसीनमर्हयेत् प्रथमं गवा ॥ ३ ॥

taṃ pratītaṃ svadharmeṇa brahmadāyaharaṃ pituḥ |
sragviṇaṃ talpa āsīnamarhayet prathamaṃ gavā || 3 ||

When, by the due observance of his duties, he has acquired the Veda and his heritage from his father, and is so inclined,—his father shall first honour him, adorned with garlands and seated upon a couch, with the “Cow.”—(3)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

When he has acquired the Veda and his heritage, the father shall honour him first with the cow,’ He who has acquired both, the Veda (‘Brahman’) and the heritage (‘dāya’) is called ‘brahmadāyādāharaḥ.’ ‘Dāya’ (Heritage) is what is given, i.e., property;—‘Brahman’ is ‘Veda’;—‘haraṇa’ is acquiring. It is only when the boy has learnt the Veda and received his share of the ancestral property from his father that he takes to the Householder’s state; a man without any property not being entitled to enter upon that stage. If the father happens to have no property, he should earn wealth by begging for the avowed purpose of marrying his son (and thereby maintaining his line), and then marry him.

Others explain the Veda itself as being the ‘heritage;’ and regard the present verse as a reiteration of the foregoing Injunction! for the purpose of indicating that it is to be learnt from the Father.

“It having been declared before that it is the Preceptor whose function it is to teach the Veda, why is it that the boy is now spoken of as acquiring the Veda and ‘heritage’ from his father?

The answer to this is as follows:—For him whose Father is living, the Father himself is the ‘Preceptor.’ It is only when the Father is not living, or when he is somehow incapacitated, that another person may act as the ‘Preceptor.’ By the appointing of another man as the ‘Preceptor,’ the Father’s title to act as one ceases. But, whether the Father himself teaches his son or some one else teaches him, it makes no difference.

Some people have urged the following argument—“In connection with the Upanayana, it has been laid down, as a compulsory duty that the ‘gift should consist of some very superior thing’ (Gautama, 25.6); from which it is dear that the function is to be performed by some one else (and not by the Father himself).”

This is not right. That the Fee should consist of a very superior thing is an Injunction in connection with the Upanayana, the Initiatory Rite; and whether the Initiator is the Father or some other Preceptor, neither of these persons requires any incentive to perform this function; and fees are paid only as incentives to service; nor is any incentive necessary in a case where the person engages in the work under the influence of some other form of prompting. For these reasons, the term ‘Fee’ in the context in question, being found incapable of conveying the sense of an incentive to work, must be taken as standing for some such gift as is made for the purpose of some transcendental results, just like the giving of gold. And it is the Father who should make the Boy the owner of enough wealth to enable him to make a gift of the ‘superior thing.’

If one were to insist upon the following argument—“it is not possible for the term fee to be used in any sense other than what is paid as an incentive to serve, and so long as a word can be taken in its primary sense, it cannot be right to have recourse to any secondary signification,”—then, in that case, the said Injunction of the Fee will have to be regarded as applying to such cases where, as in the case of Satyakāma Jābāla, neither the Father is alive, nor is there any other Preceptor appointed as the Father’s substitute, and where the Boy presents himself (to a Teacher) for Initiation. And it has been already explained that such a boy, having passed his childhood, is fully entitled to have his sacraments performed for himself.

Thus, in both cases, it is the Father’s function; he may do the initiating himself or get it done by another Preceptor.

Inclined’—i.e., who is inclined towards entering the life of the Householder,—and not him who is going to be a lifelong student, even though the latter may be returning home simply for the sake of obeying the rule regarding the completion of study.

Adorned with garland’—this is meant to include all the details that have been laid down by the authors of the Gṛhyasūtras in connection with the ‘Madhuparka’ offering.

Seated upon a couch’—seated upon a valuable sofa.

With the cow’—i.e., with the ‘Madhuparka’ offering. The offering of the cow in the ‘Madhuparka’ has been prescribed as an optional alternative; hence the term ‘cow’ here stands for that particular act (of offering) which is done by means of the cow.

Shall honour’—this is the duty of the Father or the Preceptor.

First’—i.e., before marriage.

Inclined’—i.e., lying down upon the couch for the purpose of receiving the offering.

By the strict observance of his duties’—this is a super-fluous reiteration; and it makes no difference whether it is construed with ‘acquiring the Veda and his heritage,’ or with ‘shall honour.’—(3).


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Medhātithi (p. 190, 1. 21)—‘Sāntānikatayā’—Apte explains ‘sāntānika’ as ‘a Brāhmaṇa who wishes to marry for the sake of issue.’ This is not quite correct. The word occurs in Manu 11. 1, where Kullūka explains it as ‘vivāhārthi,’ which has apparently misled the lexicographer. The word really means ‘he who is desirous of santāna, propagation of his race’, and is applied to the Father who, if poor, has to beg for the purpose of marrying his son.

This verse is quoted in Aparārka (p. 76), which adds the following explanation: When the Accomplished Student has been understood (pratīta) as inclined to take a wife;—he being ‘brahmadāyahara’—i.e., equipped with study of the Veda, and inherited property, i.e., being quite able to maintain a family;—if the father be devoid of property, he should acquire enough by means of begging, and then marry; and thus obtain the ‘domestic fire,’ without which he could not perform the Pākayajñas.—‘Sragvin’ indicates the presence of ornaments;—‘talpa’ is bedstead; when the young man is seated upon it his father ‘should worship him first with the cow’—i.e., with the Madhuparka.


Comparative notes by various authors

Āśvalāyana Gṛhyasūtra (1. 24. 2).—‘When, an Accomplished Student arrives, one should offer him the honey-mixture.’

Āśvalāyana Gṛhyasūtra (3. 9. 3).—‘Where people are going to worship him (the next morning), there he should, stay during the night.’

Gobhila Gṛhyasūtra (3. 4. 28. 33).—‘Having approached the Ācārya seated in his assembly, he shall look upon the assembly,—sitting down, he shall control his breath;—then the Ācārya shall worship him;—having brought over a chariot yoked with a pair of bullocks...;—he is to ascend the chariot;—starting either eastward or northward, he is to go round.’

Āpastamba Dharmasūtra (2. 8. 4. 5).—‘The Vedic Student deserves the Cow-honey-mixture;—as also the Ācārya, the Priest, the Accomplished Student, the King endowed with righteousness.’

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