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:

आच्छाद्य चार्चयित्वा च श्रुतशीलवते स्वयम् ।
आहूय दानं कन्याया ब्राह्मो धर्मः प्रकीर्तितः ॥ २७ ॥

ācchādya cārcayitvā ca śrutaśīlavate svayam |
āhūya dānaṃ kanyāyā brāhmo dharmaḥ prakīrtitaḥ || 27 ||

When one himself invites a man endowed with learning and character and gives to him his daughter, after having dressed and worshipped (them),—this is called the “Brāhma” form.—(27)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The author now describes the exact nature of the several forms of marriage.

After having dressed.’—What is meant is a particular form of dressing, ordinary dressing being absolutely necessary (and hence implying no special regard). Hence the. meaning is—‘After having dressed with nice and suitable clothes, such as might be available at the place.’

Having worshipped;’—i.e., having done worship with bracelets, armlets and other ornaments, and also special modes of honouring, indicative of great affection.

There is nothing to indicate the connection of the ‘dressing’ and ‘worshipping’ with either the bride only or with the bridegroom only: hence they should be taken as relating to both.

Endowed with learning and character.’—This implies also the other qualifications of the bridegroom, mentioned in other law-books; such as ‘intelligent, loved by the people, having his virility carefully tested’ (Yājñavalkya, Ācītra, 55).

Himself;’—i.e., not previously requested by him.

Invites’ him;—i.e., gets the bridegroom to come, by sending bis own man.

This giving away of the daughter is the ‘Brahma form’ of marriage. Though the term ‘form’ is a general one, yet, in consideration of the context, it has to be taken as standing for marriage.

The upshot of this definition comes to be that ‘when a man obtains a wife without asking for it, and with due honour, it is the Brahma form of marriage.’

“The definition provided in the text cannot be right; as, in reality, ‘marriage’ is for the purpose of accepting a wife [so that the mere ‘giving’ by the father cannot be marriage.]”

The ‘giving’ spoken of in the text is meant to extend right up to the end of the marriage-ceremony; in fact, until the marriage has been performed, the ‘giving’ is not complete; it is at the time of ‘marriage’ that there is ‘acceptance’ of the girl by the bridegroom; and until this acceptance, the ‘gift’ is not complete. Specially, ‘giving’ here does not consist merely in the renouncing of one’s proprietary right; it extends up to the creating of the proprietary right of another person (the recipient). It is in view of this that the author is going to declare later on—‘the learned should regard the seventh step as the final stage of the marriage’ (5.152). Thus, then, it is at the time of marriage that the maiden should be given away; it is for this reason that the author of the Gṛhyasūtra has laid down the rites in connection with the Brāhma marriage as to be performed at the time of the marriage itself.

As for the ‘giving’ before the marriage, this is merely a verbal compact; and if no such compact has been entered into, it is just possible that at the desired time the marriage may not be actually performed; for in the absence of formal agreement, the father of the bride may not give her, or the bridegroom may not accept her. Hence it is necessary that before the actual marriage, a regular contract should be entered into, in some such form, ‘she is to be given by you and accepted by me.’ [Just as an internal sacrifice becomes naturally excluded when it is deficient in some essential factor and does not fulfil the conditions of the injunction.?]

Some people argue as follows:—“When the cow and such other things are given away for the purpose of obtaining a transcendental result, the giving is accomplished merely by the recepient accepting it with the proper texts and the same should be the case with all acts of giving. So that, in the case in question also, marrying occupying the same position as accepting, ‘marriage’ should be regarded as synonymous with acceptance; and the act of accepting consists in making the thing one’a own; as says the revered Pāṇini in Sūtra 1. 3. 56—‘The root yama with the prefix upa in the sense of making one’s own takes the Ātmanepada.’ From this it is clear that marriage is done only for the purpose of receiving the maiden.”

This, however, is not right. In fact, the ‘marriage’ is of the maiden that has been accepted, and it is for the purpose of making her a wife. The Injunction bearing upon marriage is not in the form that—‘one should accept the maiden by means of this rite;’ nor are the sacred texts recited at marriage such as signify the act of accepting; as is the case with such mantras as—‘devasya tvā pratigṛhṇāmi, etc.’

As for what has been said regarding the sense of making one’s own, such a sense is not incompatible with our view. The act of ‘marrying’ also is of the nature of making one’s own. The act of ‘giving’ only brings about the ownership of the recipient; and the act of ‘marrying’ creates a particular form of ownership. Further, the wife is not a ‘property’ in the same sense that the cow and other things are; the latter are property’ in the sense that they may be used in any way one likes, while the maiden married by one can be used only as ‘wife so that the relation between husband and wife is of that of a peculiar kind of ownership; as will be shown later on, under 5. 152.—(27).


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Arcayitvā’—Medhātithi and Kullūka take this as well as ‘ācchādya’ as referring to both the bride and the bridegroom;—Nārāyaṇa and Rāghvānanda refer ‘urcayitvā’ to the bridegroom only.

This verse is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Saṃskāra, p. 847), where the following explanatory notes are added:—‘Ācchādya,’ ‘having dressed,’ with clothes;—‘arcayitvā’ ‘having worshipped’ with garlands, sandal-paint and so forth;—both these are to be done to the bridegroom, not to the bride; since both these are related to ‘āhūya’ ‘having invited,’ which cannot refer to the bride;—‘Svayam,’ ‘himself,’ should not be taken (as Medhātithi and Kullūka take it) as precluding the possiblity of the request for the girl coming from the bridegroom; as such preclusion would be inconsistent with the rule laying down the ‘selection’ of the bride by the bridegroom.—Further Baudhāyana says—“After ascertaining his Śrutaśīle, learning and character, one gives the girl to the Student who seeks for her,”—and here we find it distinctly laid down that there should be a seeking for the girl by the bridegroom;—in this passage ‘Student,’ Brahmacāri, stands for one whose observance of studentship has not suffered in any way.—‘The seeing’ spoken of by Baudhāyana consists in selecting the bride. That the father should ‘himself’ invite the bridegroom has been laid down as the peculiar characteristic of the ‘Brāhma’ form of marriage. Such also is the custom among the people of the south.

This verse is quoted also in Smṛtitattva (II, p. 106) in connection with a somewhat subtle discussion. The author holds the view that ‘marriage,’ ‘vivāha,’ is the act of taking a wife, and hence the ‘giving’ of the bride cannot be called ‘marriage,’ as the giving is done by the Father, while the taking of a wife is done by the Bridegroom. On this ground, he argues, the definition of the Brāhma form of marriage provided in the present text of Manu should not be explained as consisting in the ‘giving of the girl’; the word ‘Dānam’ has, therefore, to be explained differently, in its etymological sense ‘yasmai dīyate tat dānami.e., ‘dānam’ means ‘that for the sake of accomplishing which the giving is done’;—and as it is the Student’s ‘taking of a wife’ that is accomplished by giving, it is this ‘taking of the wife’ which should be taken as expressed by the word ‘dānam.’ He argues further that if the ‘marriage consisted in the giving of the girl, then the agent, person marrying, would be the bride’s Father, and not the Bridegroom. The author is conscious of the syntactical difficulty involved in his explanation, in connection with the participle ‘āhūya’, ‘having invited,’ which, as it stands, must have the same nominative agent as the ‘giving.’ But he brushes it off with the remark that the derivation of the verbal root in ‘āhūya’ being only a secondary factor, may be ignored, or we may supply some such word as ‘sthitaḥ’;—the meaning thus being—‘the man who takes the wife when he comes after being invited.’

It is interesting to note that the question raised by Raghunandana in Smṛtitattva has been anticipated and satisfactorily explained by Medhātithi (see Translation, p. 58).

This verse is quoted in Aparārka (p. 88);—in Dānakriyākaumudī (p. 9) as laying down the necessity of clothing the girl properly;—in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Saṃskāra, p. 61a);—and in Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra, p. 227), which explains ‘arcayitvā’ as ‘having worshipped him with offerings of ornaments and other tilings.’


Comparative notes by various authors

Gautama (4. 6).—‘One should give away his daughter, dressed and adorned, to a man who is endowed with learning, character, good conduct, and relations;—this is the Brāhma form.’

Baudhāyana (1. 11. 2).—‘The Brāhma form consists in giving the girl to a man who has kept the vows of the Religious Student seeking for wife, after having tested his learning and character.’

Āpastamba-Dharmasūtra (2. 11. 17).—‘In the Brāhma form of marriage, one should find out all about the relations, the character, the learning and the health of the man and then give to him the girl after having adorned her to the best of his power, for the purpose of hearing children and for companionship.’

Vaśiṣṭha (1.30).—‘That is the form of marriage in which the father gives away the girl to a person desirous of having a wife, after having made to him an offering of water.’

Viṣṇu (24.19).—‘The Brāhma form consists in inviting the qualified man and giving the girl to him.’

Yājñavalkya (1. 58).—‘When the girl, adorned to the best of one’s power, is given to a man who has been invited for the purpose, it constitutes the Brāhma form of marriage; the son born of these marriages purities twenty-one generations on both sides.’

Āśvalāyana-Gṛhyasūtra (1. 6. 15).—‘Having adorned the girl one should give her away, preceded by the water-offering; the son born thereof purifies twelve future generations and twelve past generations on both sides.’

Devala (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra, p. 847).—‘One should give away the girl, endowed with auspicious qualities, dressed and adorned, wearing now bangles, to a deserving man; this constitutes the Brāhma form of marriage.’

Saṃvarta (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra, p. 847).—‘One should give away—by the Brāhma form of marriage—his daughter, endowed with good qualities, after having adorned her with excellent ornaments, to a suitable bridegroom.’

Vyāsa (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra, p. 847).—‘One should give away the girl, dressed and adorned, after going round the fire thrice and pronounced the name and gotra; this is the Brāhma form.’

Yama (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra, p. 848).—‘The girl that is given away with water, they regard as Brahmadeyā.’

Hārīta (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra, p. 848).—‘When one offers a pair of clothes to a man and gives his girl to him, without deprecating or discussing him, directing him to jointly carry on Dharma, this is the Brāhma form of marriage.’

Śaṅkha-Likhita (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra, p. 848).—‘When one gives to a man of his own caste, who is well known to him, the girl who has not reached puberty,—this is the Brāhma marriage.’

Paiṭhīnasi (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra, p. 848).—‘One should give away the girl adorned with gold, before she has reached puberty.’

Brahmapurāṇa (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra, p. 848).—‘To a qualified bridegroom, you give the girl, with proper faith and confidence, after having adorned her to the best of your power and endowed her with wealth.’

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