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:

पञ्च सूना गृहस्थस्य चुल्ली पेषण्युपस्करः ।
कण्डनी चौदकुम्भश्च बध्यते यास्तु वाहयन् ॥ ६८ ॥

pañca sūnā gṛhasthasya cullī peṣaṇyupaskaraḥ |
kaṇḍanī caudakumbhaśca badhyate yāstu vāhayan || 68 ||

For the householder there are five slaughter-houses: the hearth, the grinding-stone, household implements, mortar and pestle and water-jar;—by using which he becomes stricken.—(68)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

This verse serves to indicate the occasion for the prescribing of the ‘five sacrifices.’

Slaughter-houses’—i.e., it is as if they were slaughterhouses. Places where animals are killed for the purpose of their flesh being sold, or those where meat is sold, become sources of sin, by being used for the purpose of obtaining meat; similarly, the hearth and other things also, being sources of sin, come to resemble the ‘slaughter-house.’

As a matter of fact, there is no direct scriptural prohibition bearing specifically upon the ‘hearth’ and other things; nor is there any general prohibition regarding them. It is not impossible for men to have a desire for the heat (provided by the hearth). We do not find any such acts as are accomplished by means of the hearth, etc., which could be prohibited by other texts. Nor can the prohibition be inferred from what is stated in the present text itself; for the simple reason that it is clearly understood as to be construed along with the next verse (which is an injunction, not a prohibition); so that, if the present text were taken as a prohibition, this would involve a syntactical split; and further (the use of the Hearth, etc., being prohibited by this verse) the occasion for the performance of the ‘Five Sacrifices’ would be afforded only when the acts that are done by means of the Hearth, etc., would be done by means of other things. Nor, again, have the peculiar characteristics (of such acts) have been described anywhere, the presence whereof would indicate the similarity of certain acts (to the acts accomplished by means of Hearth, etc.) and their consequent prohibition. And a further result of this being taken as the prohibition of the Hearth, etc., and as such having no connection with the injunction of the sacrifices, would be that the sacrifices would be performed by such men as would eat food cooked by others (and thus avoid the use of the Hearth), or would use water directly from the river and other reservoirs (thus avoiding the use of the water-jar). Then, again, if a prohibition of the Hearth, etc., were intended, then directly prohibitive words would have been used in the text; why should it have been left to be inferred? Direct assertion is always more forcible, if the prohibitive implication were admitted for the purpose of indicating the expiatory rites to be performed in connection with the acts,—then the right thing would have been to include it under Discourse XI (where expiatory rites are dealt with). Further, such a prohibition might lead to the abandoning of the particular acts; but the use of the Hearth cannot be avoided; hence there can be no prohibition of them; and there being no prohibition, wherefore would there be any expiatory rite?

From all this it follows that the ‘Five Great Sacrifices’ are not to be performed for the destroying of sins; bub what is meant by saying that they serve to expiate,—destroy—the sin involved in the using of the Hearth, etc., which cannot be avoided for a single day—is that the daily performance of the sacrifices is absolutely essential and compulsory.

Becomes stricken’—the first consonant is v; and the meaning is that ‘he is stricken by sin, and is ruined in regard to his body and belongings, etc.;—or, (if we read ba) the meaning may be that ‘be becomes connected with (tainted with) sin the root (in ‘badhyate’) denoting overpowering.

Using’—i.e., employing for one’s purpose. When a man employs the hearth and other things for such purposes as present themselves, he is said to ‘use’ them.

Hearth.—place of cooking; the oven, etc.

Grinding-stone’—the stone-slab, and the grinding piece.

Household implement’—such things as the pot, kettle and such other household requisites.

Pestle and mortar’—by which corn is thumped.

Water-jar’—the pot containing water.—(68)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Upaskaraḥ’—‘The pot, the kettle and other household implements’ (Medhātithi);—‘a pot, a broom and the rest’ (Kullūka);—‘a broom and the rest’ (Rāghavānanda);—all these take the word in the collective sense, including all ‘household implements’;—Nārāyaṇa alone takes it in the purely singular sense of ‘the broom’ only.

This verse is quoted in Smṛtitattva (p. 533) as laying down the sources of ‘the sin of the slaughter house’;—it adds the following explanations:—‘Sūnā’ means occasions for killing’;—‘cullī’ is the cooking place’;—‘Peṣaṇī’ ‘grinding stone’;—‘upaskaraḥ’ ‘the broom and the rest’;—‘Kaṇḍanī,’ ‘mortar and pestle’;—by making use of these the man incurs sin.

Vīramitrodaya (Āhnika, p. 389) quotes the verse and adds the following explanations:—‘Sūnā’ is ‘occasion for the killing of living beings’;—‘Upaskaraḥ’ is ‘the broom, the pot, the stick and the rest’; ‘bādhyate’ (which is its reading for ‘badhyate’) means ‘is stricken—i.e., by sin accruing from the killing of animals’;—‘vāhayan’ means ‘making use of,’ ‘operating.’


Comparative notes by various authors

Viṣṇu (59.19).—‘Mortar and pestle, Grinding stone, Hearth, Water-jar, Household Implements;—these are the five slaughter-houses for the Householder.’

Hārīta (Vīramitrodaya-Āhnika, p. 389).—‘We are going to describe the Sūnās or slaughterings—by which is meant that which destroys living beings; these are of five kinds: The first slaughtering is done by people hurriedly entering water, by swimming, splashing, throwing about of water, catching of impurities, and moving in water; (2) the second they do by hurriedly walking in darkness or in dim light, or by trampling (upon insects); (3) the third they do by striking, collecting, capturing, grinding, tearing and so forth; (4) the fourth they do by attacking, rubbing, pounding and so forth; (5) the fifth by tiring, heating, sweating, frying, cooking and so forth. These are the five slaughterings, t he source of sin, which people do day by day.’

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