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:

कृत्वैतद् बलिकर्मैवमतिथिं पूर्वमाशयेत् ।
भिक्षां च भिक्षवे दद्याद् विधिवद् ब्रह्मचारिणे ॥ ९४ ॥

kṛtvaitad balikarmaivamatithiṃ pūrvamāśayet |
bhikṣāṃ ca bhikṣave dadyād vidhivad brahmacāriṇe || 94 ||

Having performed this rite of offerings, he should first feed his guest and then give alms in the proper form, to one who is mendicant and a ‘Brahmacārin’—(94)

 

Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The right definition of the ‘guest’ shall he given later on (in 102); when such a guest has arrived, he shall feed him first,—i.e., before all others that may be near the house and may be going to eat.

Alms to one who is a mendicant’—i.e., he should give it to a person that asks for it. The term ‘alms’ stands for the gift of a small quantity of food; it has been said that ‘it is a handful that constitutes alms;’ and this is well known among housewives.

In the proper form,’ to ‘a Brahmacārin’—to others even to a beggar that may be a disguised heretic, alms may be given,—but not in the proper form; but to the Brahmacārin it should be given ‘in the proper form;’ i.e., the giving is to be preceded by the syllable ‘svasti’ by the recipient; this is the ‘form’ referred to.

Or, the term ‘bhikṣu,’ ‘mendicant,’ in the text may be taken in the sense of the Parivrāṭ, the Renunciate,—and the term ‘brahmacārī’ in that of one who is still in the first stage of Studentship. The particle ‘ca’ occurs in the wrong place on account of exigencies of metre; it should occur after ‘brahmacārine.’

But under this explanation, no alms would ever be given to the Recluse (the person in the third stage.) Hence the right view appears to be to take the term ‘bhikṣu’ (mendicant) in the sense of ‘one who begs,’ and the term ‘brahmacārin’ (chaste) as a qualification of the former. And in this way the giving of alms to persons in all the three stages becomes regularly sanctioned. As for heretics, they are to be treated like outcasts (vide 92),—and the mention of ‘all’ (in 93) has already enjoined the helping in the form of giving food, according to one’s means, to all living beings.—(94)

 

Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Bhikṣave brahmacāriṇe’—‘To the Religious Student who begs for it’ (Medhātithi and Govindarāja);—‘to the Remmciate and to the Religious Student’ (Kullūka and Rāghavānanda; also suggested, but disapproved, by Medātithi);—‘the chaste beggar’ (third suggestion by Medhātithi and approved on the ground that it includes all the three,—the Student, the Hermit and the Remmciate).

The first half of this verse is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Āhnika, p. 392) as laying down that the feeding of the guests is to be done after the Bali-offerings; but adds that this is meant for those cases where the Śrāddha is not performed, as in the case of the Householder who has his father still living;—also on p. 434, where it explains that what is meant by ‘Pūrvamāśayet’, ‘should feed first’, is that the feeding should be done before the Nityaśrāddha, and applies to those cases where the ‘guest’ happens to arrive at that exact time.

 

Comparative notes by various authors

Vaśiṣṭha (11.3-5).—‘One shall make Bali-offerings to the Household deities; hiving offered a share to the Vedic scholar or to toe religious student, who may have arrived, he shall make the offering to the Pitṛs; then he shall feed the guests, in order of seniority; and then the members of his own household.’

Yājñavalkya (1.108).—‘Alms should be given, with due honour, to the recluse firm in his vow; and he shall feed only friends and relations as might arrive at the time.’

Viṣṇu (59.14).—‘Alms shall be given to the recluse.’

Pāraskara (2.9.12).—‘Food shall be distributed among the recluses and the guests, in due order.’

Baudhāyana (2.5.14).—‘The Praṇava, the Vyāhṛtis and the Sāvitrī constitute the five Great Sacrifices, which purify the Brāhmaṇa day after day; purified by these five Sacrifices, he makes offerings to the gods.’

Baudhāyana (2.6.5).—‘Day after day he shall offer to Brāhmaṇas food containing also roots, fruits and vegetables; thereby he accomplishes the Sacrifice to human beings.’

Baudhāyana (2.7.19).—‘First of all he shall feed the guests, then such ladies of the house as may he carrying; and then, with special care, the children, the old persons and those that may be ill.’

Āpastamba-Dharmasūtra (2.4.11).—‘He shall feed the guests first of all.’

Viṣṇu-purāṇa (Vīramitrodaya-Āhnika. pp. 429-430).—‘After having made the Bali-offerings be shall stay in the court-yard, expecting guests, till the cows are milked; when a guest has arrived, he shall welcome him with due honour, regarding him as Hiraṇyagarbha; at least one other Brāhmaṇa the Householder shall feed in honour of his father.’

Parāśara (Do.).—‘He shall not ask the guest either his gotra or his Vedic Rescension or the extent of his Vedic study.’

Vyāsa (Do.).—‘If a Bhikṣuka, seeker for alms, comes before the offerings have been made to the Viśvedevas, the Householder shall keep aside food enough for these offerings, and give the food to the seeker for alms. The Religious Student, the Renunciate, the Student seeking for knowledge, one who is supporting his preceptor, the way-farer and one who is suffering from want of livelihood,—these are to be regarded as Bhikṣuka, seeker for Alms.’

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