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:

ब्राह्मणो त्वनधीयानस्तृणाग्निरिव शाम्यति ।
तस्मै हव्यं न दातव्यं न हि भस्मनि हूयते ॥ १६८ ॥

brāhmaṇo tvanadhīyānastṛṇāgniriva śāmyati |
tasmai havyaṃ na dātavyaṃ na hi bhasmani hūyate || 168 ||

The unlearned Brāhmaṇa becomes quenched in the same manner as the fire of dry grass. The sacrificial offering should not be presented to him; as no libation is poured upon ashes.—(168)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

This is re-iterated in the present verse, in order to indicate that, just as the thief and the rest are ‘defilers of the company,’ so equally blameworthy is the unlearned Brāhmaṇa also.

Others offer the following explanation:—The present verse is intended to indicate the occasional admissibility, to the offerings for gods, of such blind and other disabled, but learned, Brāhmaṇas as happen, at some particular time, to be free from any reprehensible practice; the sense of the text being—‘The unlearned Brāhmaṇa should be avoided, but why should not the offering be not presented to one who is learned?’ It is for this reason that the text mentions the ‘offering for gods’ So that what is meant is that, at the offering to gods, it is only the unlearned Brāhmaṇa that should be excluded, while those whose practices are reprehensible, and are on that account distinctly debarred by a direct prohibition, should be excluded from both the offering to gods and that to pitṛs,—and only from that to ancestors. Vaśiṣṭha has said: ‘If a person learned in the Veda happen to be stigmatised by such bodily defects as are regarded as defiling the company, such a person Yama declares to be unblameworthy; in fact, such a person is a sanctifier of the company.’

Becomes quenched in the same manner as the fire of dry grass;’—The fire of dry grass cannot cook the sacrificial offerings, and it becomes quenched as soon as the offering is thrown into it, and also becomes extinguished; anything offered into it does not become burnt to ashes; and hence such an offering becomes futile; since it has been laid down that ‘one should not pour libations into fire that is not burning brightly, the fire embodies all deities;’—exactly of the same nature as the fire of dry grass is the unlearned Brāhmaṇa. This is what the text means by the words ‘As no libations are poured on ashes;’ just as the fire of dry gross becomes turned into ash before (burning the offerings), and people do not pour libations into such fire, similarly, the unlearned Brahman is not fed.—(168)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Medhātithi is misrepresented by Buhler, who says that “according to Medhātithi the object of this verse is to admit virtuous and learned men, afflicted with bodily defects, as guests at rites in honour of the gods.” As a matter of fact, this explanation is adduced by Medhātithi as given by ‘others’; its meaning, given by himself being that ‘just as the thief and the rest are defilers of company, so equally blameworthy is the unlearned Brāhmaṇa also’,—exactly as Kullūka explains the verse.

This verse is quoted in Hemādri (Śrāddha, p. 465);—and in Śrāddhakriyākaumudī (p. 41).


Comparative notes by various authors

Mahābhārata (13.90.46).—[Reproduces Manu, reading ‘śrāddham’ for ‘havyam.’]

Mahābhārata (13.90.46).—‘Just as a butter-oblation that is poured in extinguished fire reaches neither the Gods nor the Pitṛs, so also what is given to the dancer or the singer.’

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