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:

सायं त्वन्नस्य सिद्धस्य पत्न्यमन्त्रं बलिं हरेत् ।
वैश्वदेवं हि नामैतत् सायं प्रातर्विधीयते ॥ १२१ ॥

sāyaṃ tvannasya siddhasya patnyamantraṃ baliṃ haret |
vaiśvadevaṃ hi nāmaitat sāyaṃ prātarvidhīyate || 121 ||

Out of the food cooked in the evening the wife should offer the Bali-oblation, without sacred formulas. This is the “Vaiśvadeva” rite which has been enjoined for both Morning and evening.—(121)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The first cooking has been described: the second rooking is now described.

Evening’—end of day, the advent of night; out(?) of the food cooked at that time all the rites pertaining to the ‘Fire Sacrifices’ have to be repeated, with the exception of the ‘Brahmayajña’ (Vedic Study) and the ‘Pitṛyajña’ (Śrāddha).

“All that the text says is that she should offer the ‘Bali-oblation;’ and in ordinary usage it is only the4 Bhūtayajña’ (the offering to elementals) that is called ‘bali.’ So that, whence do we get (out of the words of the Text) either the pouring of libations into fire, or the offering of food to guests &c.? in answer to this the following might be urged—‘The offering prescribed in the verse is spoken of by the name Vaiśvadeva, and the term, Vaiśradeva, denotes that the offering is meant for all, being prescribed for all gods (viśve devāḥ). In fact the term, both morning and evening, clearly indicates that the offering in the evening is to be precisely similar to that in the morning; it is for the purpose of conveying this sense that the term morning has been used. If it were not so, then, since the morning -offering has been already prescribed before, why should it have been necessary to say here that it has been enjoined for both morning and evening?” But in that case, the Brahmayajña and the Pitṛyajña also should have to be performed (in the evening also),”

Our answer to the above is as follows:—The phrase ‘out of the food cooked’ clearly indicates the doing of that alone which can be done with the food,— and not of the Brahmayajña, which is done by means of Vedic Study, nor of ‘Tarpaṇa’ (), which is done with water. We construe the words of the Text as follows ‘out of the food cooked, the Bali-oblation should be offered, and this rite, called Vaiśvadeva, is prescribed as to be done out of the food cooked, both morning and evening.’ That such is the meaning we deduce from the use of the term ‘food’ and that of the term ‘vaiśvadeva

Without sacred formulas;’—what is interdicted is the use of expressions containing the names of the deity and ending with the syllable ‘svāhā;’ such expressions, for instance, as ‘agnaye svāhā,’ and the like; no other sacred formulas have been prescribed in connection with the Vaiśvadeva offerings; the said expressions are called ‘sacred formulas’ (mantra) only with a view to eulogise them; the real character of ‘mantra’ cannot belong to any expressions not occurring in the Veda; all students of Veda accept that only as ‘mantra’ which forms part of the Veda, either in the form of Ṛk, Yajuṣ or Sāman; and the meaning of words is ascertained from usage only. Those expressions with which the Bali and other oblations are made are not found in the text of any Veda; all that the Śruti says is that ‘oblations should be offered to Agni and other deities;’ the use of the syllable ‘svāhā’ also in the offering of all oblations is enjoined in another text, which says that ‘oblations are offered to gods either with the syllable svāhā or vaṣaṭ;’ but the use of the syllable ‘vaṣiṭ’ has been restricted to the end of the ‘yājyāmantras only by the declaration ‘one should pronounce vaṣaṭ at the end of the yājyā.’ In connection with the syllable ‘svāhā,’ the grammatical rules lay down the use of the Dative affix. Thus it is that it becomes necessary to use such verbal expressions as ‘agnaye svāhā,’ and the like, because every secrificial offering is aimed for a deity, and it is only by means of words that we know for which deity it is aimed.

“Under the circumstances, as the use of these expressions is prohibited, how can the sacrifice he regarded as accomplished? For so long as the gift is not completed by the assertion ‘this is for you, it is no longer mine,’ the sacrifice cannot be regarded as accomplished. Merely giving up a thing, without special reference to a recipient, cannot be called a ‘sacrifice’.”

This is true: the verbal reference to the gods being prohibited, the wife shall make the reference mentally.Just as when the Śūdra pronounces the syllable ‘namḥ,’ the use of the Mantra being replaced in his case by that syllable—as declared by Gautama, who says ‘For the Śūdra the syllable namaḥ has been ordained as the mantra’ (10.64); and the utterance of the name of the deity is not permitted for him. And yet it has been declared that even in this case the offering to the Deity becomes duly accomplished. The revered teachers, however, have declared that it is only the syllabic ‘svāhā’ that is to be replaced by the syllable ‘namaḥ,’ and that the utterance of the name of the Deity has not been prohibited.

Question:—“ Who is the real performer of the Vaiśvadeva offering in the evening?”

Answer:—It has been already asserted that it is the wife, who will make the offering without mantras; and this because she will be near by.—(121)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Madanapārijāta (p. 315), which adds the following notes:—The first sentence here extends upto ‘nāmaitat’; ‘sāyamprātarvidhīyate’ being a totally distinct sentence; the latter serves to enjoin the necessity of making the Vaiśvadeva-offering both morning and evening. The meaning thus comes to be that it is only in the evening that the wife is entitled to perform the ‘Vaiśvadeva ritein the form of the Bali-offering. Some people hold that the ‘Bali-offering’ herein laid down as to be done by the wife indicates the Vaiśvadeva offering also, and is not meant to be a substitute for the latter.

It is quoted also in Saṃskāraratnamālā (p. 929), which 1ms the following notes:—One sentence runs up to ‘nāmaitat’, and ‘sāyamprātarvidhīyate’ is another sentence, laying down the two times for Vaiśvadeva offering. It is to this offering in the evening alone that the wife is entitled; and it is not right, as some people have held, that the name ‘Vaiśvadeva’ here stands for the entire rite of that name, including the Homa also; because Homa has been expressly forbidden for women. Others again have held that the singular number in ‘balim’ indicates that the only offering that the wife is to make is that which is made in the sky, i.e., the ‘Vaihāyasa-bali’. But this also is not right; because in the same context as the present, another text uses the plural form, ‘balīn haret’. Thus the conclusion is that the entire offering is to be made in the evening either by the man or his wife.

The verse is quoted also in Vīramitrodaya (Āhnika, p. 403), which adds the following explanation:—Bali-offering without mantras, with food cooked in the evening, is to be done by the wife only in the absence of the House-holder and his sons;—‘Homa’ by women being generally interdicted by several texts.

It is quoted in Aparārka (p. 145) which explains it to mean that—‘in the absence of males, the wife should offer Vaiśvadeva-bali without mantras.’


Comparative notes by various authors

Gobhila (1. 4.19).—‘The Bali is to be offered by the woman in the evening, and by the man in the morning.’

Gautama (Aparārka, p. 145).—‘The Vaiśvadeva-offering and the Bali-offering should be made both morning and evening, even though the man himself may not take any food.’

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