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:

यस्मात् त्रयोऽप्याश्रमिणो ज्ञानेनान्नेन चान्वहम् ।
गृहस्थेनैव धार्यन्ते तस्माज् ज्येष्ठाश्रमो गृही ॥ ७८ ॥

yasmāt trayo'pyāśramiṇo jñānenānnena cānvaham |
gṛhasthenaiva dhāryante tasmāj jyeṣṭhāśramo gṛhī || 78 ||

Because men in all the three states are sustained by householders only, with knowledge and food, therefore the householder’s is the highest state.—(78)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Because men in all the three states are sustained’—i.e., helped—‘with knowledge’—i.e., knowledge brought about by the expounding of the meaning of the Veda—‘and food,’ by the Householder,—therefore, ‘the Householder’s state is the highest’—best.

If we read ‘gṛhī’ for ‘gṛham,’ the compound ‘jyeṣṭhāśramaḥ’ should be expounded as a Bahuvrīhi; while with reading ‘gṛham’ it is Karmadhāraya.

Here also the specification ‘by Householders only’ serves only to re-iterate what is right and proper, and it does not mean that persons in the state of the Recluse and others are not to do the work of teaching. In fact, for the Recluse the work of teaching has been specially enjoined in the verse—‘he should perforin these great sacrifices, etc.’ (below, 6. 5). As for the Renunciate, it is true that the according of any help to anybody has been prohibited by the rule—‘he should take no part in injuring or helping’ (Gautama 3. 24-25); but the expounding of the meaning of the Veda has been actually enjoined among the duties of the Mendicant. Further, for the Recluse and the Renunciate, much effort would not be needed in the expounding of the Veda, as they are required to cultivate a high degree of knowledge, dispassion, thought-power and practice. As for the Religious Student, the work of teaching would interfere with his own proper work (of study); and as for the gift of food, how could this be possible for him, when he himself has been advised to live on alms?

Thus, since it is for the Housholder alone that the two are generally possible, the text has used the phrase ‘by Householders only.’— (78)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Medhātithi (P. 223, l.15) ‘Hiṃsānugrahayoḥ’—This refers to Gautama 3.24-25, where we read—

samo bhūteṣu hiṃsānugrahayoḥ | anārambhī |

This verse is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Āhnika, p. 457).


Comparative notes by various authors

Dakṣa (Vīramitrodaya-Āhnika, p. 456).—‘Because gods, men and animals are supported by the householder, therefore is the householder the best of all. The householder has been described as the source of the other three stages; whenever he suffers, the other three suffer with him;...... for this reason, the householder is to be guarded with due effort, and should be honoured and worshipped by the king, as also by the other three.’

Bṛhaspati (Do., p. 457).—‘In as much as it is from the householder that proceed the birth, growth and maintenance of all the life-stages,—he has been declared to be superior.’

Vaśiṣṭha (8.14.16).—‘It is the householder alone who offers sacrifices; it is he alone who performs austerities; among all the life-stages, that of the householder is the best; just as all rivers and rivulets find their final rest in the ocean, so do persons in the various stages of life find their haven in the householder; just as all living beings keep alive under the protection of their mother, so do they also live under the protection of the householder.’

Viṣṇu (59.27.29).—‘The religious student, the renunciate and the recluse, all these derive their living from the householders......... It is the householder alone who performs sacrifices; he alone performs austerities; he alone makes gifts; hence is the householder the highest of all. Sages, Pitṛs and Gods (,?) Elementals and Guests have expectations from householders; hence alone is the householder the highest of all.’

Gautama (3.1).—‘Of these, the householder is the source; the others being unproductive.’

Baudhāyana (2.6.29).—‘The teachers have held to a single life-stage; the others being unproductive.’

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: