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:

देवान् ऋषीन् मनुष्यांश्च पितॄन् गृह्याश्च देवताः ।
पूजयित्वा ततः पश्चाद् गृहस्थः शेषभुग् भवेत् ॥ ११७ ॥

devān ṛṣīn manuṣyāṃśca pitṝn gṛhyāśca devatāḥ |
pūjayitvā tataḥ paścād gṛhasthaḥ śeṣabhug bhavet || 117 ||

Having worshipped the gods, sages, men, the Pitṛs and the household deities, the Householder shall eat afterwards what remains.—(117)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

This is a mere reiteration of the foregoing injunction of the performance of the Five Sacrifices, and of the time for the Householder’s eating.

Others, however, have explained this verse its actually laying down something different: The former verse has laid down the eating of remnants by both husband and wife; while this verse leaves aside the woman and lays down the eating by the man alone. And from this it would follow that the wife should eat before the servants and before also the husband. In this way, this becomes reconciled also with what has been said before (113) regarding ‘the feeding of friends, &c., together with the wife.’ Otherwise, if we assumed the latter to mean that the wife should not eat with them, we would be abandoning the most palpable construction of the sentence. As for what has been described in the Mahābhārata (regarding Draupadī eating after her husbands), that is a mere description, not an injunction. Even if it were an injunction, it could only be regarded as laying down an option.

This, however, is not right; as the present verse is a mere reiteration.

Nor is there any incompatibility of the singular number in ‘householder’ (with the idea that both husband and wife are meant); because in all things the Husband and wife operate conjointly; so that their companionship being the prime factor, the use of the Dual member does not become necessary. Just as in the text, ‘the Brāhmaṇa should set up the fire,’ even though the husband and wife have got to perform the rite jointly, yet there is no incongruity in the singular number. And why so? Because one of the two is the principal and the other is subordinate; and the subordinate cannot impose its number. Hence it is that the principal being one only, though the wife also comes in in fulfilment of her husband’s purpose, yet the singular number is the right form to use. The single word ‘householder’ denotes the wife also; and this is ip view of the joint functioning of the husband and wife; and this is possible only when both are conceived of jointly, and not if either both are regarded as principal, or both are regarded as subordinate. From all this it follows that the wife is not to eat before her husband; which establishes the conclusion that this verse is only a reiteration, intended to lend strength to the conviction (arising from the foregoing injunctions).

Some people have explained that, in the clause, ‘he should worship the household deities,’ the term ‘deities’ is only a laudatory re-iteration; and on account of its connection with the injunctive verb ‘should worship,’ the sentence contains an injunction of the worshipping as a subordinate factor. And they argue thus—“The primary denotation of the term ‘deity’ is not compatible with the act of worshipping; as the ‘deity’ in the primary sense can only be related to the acts of sacrificing and hymning. It is for this reason that the text has added the epithet ‘household,’—which means those in the house; and these can only be in the form of images. As those to whom sacrifices are offered can have no connection with the house.”

For these people also what is to be taken in the secondary sense is the ‘deity,’ not the ‘worshipping.’

But why all this? The simple explanation is that the deities to whom sacrificers offer sacrifices are called ‘house - hold deities’—(117)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Āhnika, p. 456) without comment;—also on p. 395, as indieating (along with verse 115) the necessity of making the Vaiśvadeva and Bali offerings both in the evening and in the morning;—and in Hemādri (Śrāddha, p. 581).


Comparative notes by various authors

Viṣṇu (67.42).—[Reproduces Manu.]

Baudhāyana (27.21).—‘One should eat the remnant left by the Pitṛs, the gods, the dependents, the parents and the teacher; such is the prescribed law.’

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