Manusmriti with the Commentary of Medhatithi

by Ganganatha Jha | 1920 | 1,381,940 words | ISBN-10: 8120811550 | ISBN-13: 9788120811553

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:

सहपिण्डक्रियायां तु कृतायामस्य धर्मतः ।
अनयैवावृता कार्यं पिण्डनिर्वपनं सुतैः ॥ २४८ ॥

sahapiṇḍakriyāyāṃ tu kṛtāyāmasya dharmataḥ |
anayaivāvṛtā kāryaṃ piṇḍanirvapanaṃ sutaiḥ || 248 ||

But after the Amalgamating Rite has been duly performed, the offering of balls shall be done by the sons, by this same method.—(248)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

After the Sapṇḍīkaraṇa or the Amalgamating Rite has been performed, offering should be made to all the three ancestors, by ‘that same method;’ i.e., in accordance with the procedure of the “Pārvaṇa-śrāddha,” The term ‘āvṛt’ means procedure, method; which is thus prescribed—‘The Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa Śrāddha should be performed, as preceded by the rite in honour of the gods;—the Pitṛs should be fed,—and among them the person just dead.’ By the term ‘Pitṛs’ here are meant the three ancestors beginning with the Grandfather, who have already entered the category of the ‘Pitṛs,’ by having been ‘united;’ these should be fed;—and ‘among them’—i.e., among those same Brāhmaṇas that are fed for the united Pitṛs, the ‘person just dead’ should be invited; as it is thus that he becomes united with the ancestors; and this rite is meant to bring about this union Though Viṣṇu reads—‘One should feed Brāhmaṇas in honour of the dead person, also in that of the father, grandfather, and greatgrandfather of the dead person,’—yet here also it is not stated that they shall be fed separately. So that, just as a sacrificial material intended for several deities is offered to them all in a single oblation, similarly, the Brāhmaṇa also may be fed in honour of several ancestors; and there would be no incongruity in this. In fact, it is only thus that the use of the term ‘saha’ (in our text) becomes justified; and thus also it is that one avoids the feeding of an even number of Brāhmaṇas at the rite in honour of the Pitṛs [as there would be, if the Brāhmaṇa fed in honour of the dead person were distinct from the three fed in honour of the three higher united ancestors.] Further, according to those persons who accept the second alternative mentioned in verse 125, and feed one Brāhmaṇa each at the rite, in honour of the gods and that in honour of the Pitṛs, only one man is fed in honour of the three ancestors; similarly, here also (the same Brāhmaṇa shall be fed for four).

“The same line of argument would apply also to the rule that ‘three persons should be fed at the rite, in honour of the Pitṛs;’ and there also each of these three men might he fed in honour of all the. Pitṛs; as there also there is no mention of their being distinct.”

How do you say that there is no such mention? We read in the Gṛhyasūtra—‘One ball alone shall not be offered to all,—this has been made clear by the term balls itself.’ Then again, it is said that ‘the cup dedicated to the deceased shall be poured into the cups dedicated to the Pitṛs;’ and if the cup of the deceased person were not distinct, from which cup could the water-offering be poured? If it be said that it would be poured out of the cup dedicated to all in common,—this would be highly improper; for that cup will have been dedicated to the three ancestors beginning with the grandfather, and not to the father (just dead); and it would not be proper to offer the water to the latter out of that which has been dedicated to others. It might be argued that the mixing up (laid down in the text just quoted) might be done after the water-offering has been made. But in that case, the said mixing would be done for the purposes of an entirely different offering; and this would be contrary to the injunction regarding the ‘pouring out,’ On the other hand, there is no incongruity in the method described by us above.

The next question that arises is—Who is it that is called ‘Preta,’ ‘departed,’ ‘deceased’ (mentioned by Viṣṇu above as one in whose honour Brāhmaṇas should be fed)? [The word meaning ‘dead’ should apply to all ancestors.]. As a matter of fact, however, no ball is offered to the great-grandfather after the Amalgamating Bite has been performed, since he has become united with the previous ancestors. Says the Smṛti,—

‘One who offers a separate hall to the united deceased, becomes by that act, the murderer of injunctions, as also of his father.’ And yet the ball is offered to the ‘deceased’ separately; and one and the same ball is not offered in common to all. In fact, the mantras that are recited at the rite also express the same idea —‘ye samānāḥ, &c.’

Our answer to the above is as follows1The term ‘preta,’ ‘departed,’ does not denote the act connoted by the root ‘iṇ,’ ‘to go;’ in fact, it is used, not in its etymological, but conventional, sense of ‘one recently dead;’ certainly, one who has gone out on a long journey is not called a ‘preta’ (as he should he, if the term were used in its etymological sense). Further, the action of ‘going’ is present in the person who died long ago, as well as in one only just dead. It is for this reason that we have such expressions in the Śruti as—(a) ‘Prayannevāsmallokād-yesamānāḥ, etc.,’ and (b) ‘pretāyāmandinatrayam’—where the term ‘preta’ is applied to one recently dead. As for the text quoted above—‘he who would offer a separate ball to the deceased, etc.,’—the meaning of it is as follows: After the ‘Amalgamating Rite,’ the ‘Ekoddiṣṭa’ the ‘Unitary Rite,’ should not be performed,—whenever śrāddha is performed, it should he offered to all the three ancestors,—and on the date of death also, it should be offered to the three ancestors, and not to the Father only. It is thus that the method of the ‘Pārvaṇa-śrāddha’ has been mentioned in the present text,—by the words, ‘by this same method’—as to be adopted, in the Śrāddha in question also.

“The pronoun ‘this’ appears to stand for what forms the subject-matter of the present context; as pronouns, by their very nature, denote what is nearest to them; and in the present instance, what is nearest is the injunction regarding the ‘Unitary Rite.’”

Not so. If, even after the performance of the ‘Amalgamating Rite,’ the offering were made to one person only, then there would be no point in mentioning the two cases separately (as is done in 247 and 248). Further, the particle ‘tu,’ ‘but,’ clearly indicates deviation from the method of what forms the subject-matter of the context; the sense being—‘the rule that has been laid down pertains to the case where the Amalgamating Rite has not been performed; but this should not be applied to the case where the said Rite has been performed.’ From all this it follows that, even though the mention of the method of the ‘Pārvaṇa’ is more remote, yet it is that which is meant to be adopted, in the present connection. Further, if after the performance of the ‘Amalgamating Rite,’ whenever it would be necessary to perforin the ‘Unitary Rite,’ the offering to all three ancestors would be made on the Amāvasyā day,—then what would be the difference? For, in this case also, would not there be present the condition mentioned in the present text—‘after the Amalgamating Rite has been performed, etc., etc.’ Nor in the Institutes of Manu do we find any other time prescribed, such as ‘every year on the date of death etc.,’ to which the present text could be held to apply. So that (by the reasoning of the opponent), in all cases, it would be the ‘Unitary Rite’ that would have to be performed. And this would be contrary to the declaration of the Mahābhārata, where, in reference to the places of pilgrimage, it is said—

‘He satisfied his forefathers by means of śrāddha.’

As regards the text of the other Smṛti—‘livery year, the śrāddha shall be performed like the monthly performance,’—here also the ‘monthly śrāddha’ refers to the śrāddha on the Amāvasyā; as this latter is the archetype of all śrāddhas; and it is in connection with this that all the details have been prescribed. And it will not be right to take the term, ‘monthly performance,’ as standing for the Śrāddha performed every month during the year; because no specific details have been prescribed in connection with this latter, whereby it could be differentiated. As for the ‘Unitary Rite,’ the first of its kind is performed on the eleventh day (after death, (or the Brāhmaṇa), and on the thirteenth day (for the Kṣatriya), and so forth. Hence it cannot be right to refer to the ‘Unitary Rite’ by the term ‘monthly performance;’ the monthly performance is so called because of its connection with the ‘month’ as the time; but there is no connection between the Unitary Rite and any such time as the ‘month;’ it having been shown that it is connected with other points of time also. For instance, it having been declared that—‘becoming pure, one should make offerings to the Pitṛs,’ it follows that such offerings could be made before the end of the month, as well as after it; so that there is no reason for speaking of it by the name ‘monthly performance.’ As for the ‘Amāvasyā Śrāddha,’ on the other hand, its originative injunction containing the term ‘Pūrṇamāsa’ (the Full Moon Day, which literally means Full-Month),—the time being fixed by such texts as ‘the offering should be made monthly’—and no other time being mentioned in this connection,—and all the details of the Amāvasyā Śrāddha being found present in the Śrāddha in question also,—it is only right that this latter should be declared as having the details of the ‘Amāvasyā’ applicable to it.

The Śrāddha-offering with uncooked substances also has its archetype in the ‘Pārvaṇa-Śrāddha;’ and having this for its archetype, it would follow that the offering is to be made to three ancestors; and hence (in view of the possibility of this being accepted), the text enjoins the propriety of the ‘Unitary Offering’ only.

As for Yājñavalkya’s declaration (Ācāra, 256)—‘For one year, every month, on the date of death, the Śrāddha should be performed; similarly, at the end of each year; the first Śrāddha being performed on the eleventh day (after death);’—here also it is the same method that is prescribed. There also it is the ‘Amāvasyā Śrāddha,’ that has been recognised as the archetype. Even if the ‘Unitary

Rite’ were connected with the ‘month’ as the time, it would not be right to make it borrow its details from the Rite here mentioned; as a beggar does not beg from another beggar; so that, since this also would be as much of an ‘Ectypal Rite’ as the ‘Unitary Rite’ itself (there could be no borrowing between them).

Further, there is only one Śrāddha; and the term ‘monthly’ being a generic one, there is nothing to indicate that it stands for the ‘Unitary Rite’ only.

In Yājñavalkya also we find the same thing. If Yājñavalkya’s text were taken as referring to what has gone immediately before it, then the method of the ‘Amalgamating Rite’ should be applicable to it; as the Śrāddha in question is found mentioned after this latter. Having said—‘this is the Amalgamating Rite,’ and ‘before the Amalgamating Rite,’—it is said immediately after this ‘on the date of death, &c.’

From all this it follows that not taking any account of mere proximity, the details that are indicated as belonging to it are those of the ‘Amāvasyā Śrāddha.’

The Mantras also support our view. It says—‘Become united with the previous ancestors, &c., &c.;’ and it is the person recently dead who is thus addressed; the plural number in ‘Saṃsṛjyadhvam; being purely honorific: as says the author of the Nirukta—‘In the expression etā utyā uṣasaḥ &c., the single Uṣas, Dawn, is spoken of in the plural, for the purpose of showing respect to it.”

“The term ‘Saṃsṛjyadhvam,’ ‘become united,’ should refer to those balls into which the ball offered to the deceased is thrown in; and this latter ball also should be referred to by words in the plural, ‘pūrvebhiḥ pitṛbhiḥ etc.’ For in this case it is only this latter plural number that will have to be regarded as figurative. Otherwise, if the plural verb ‘Saṃsṛjyadhvam’ also were taken as referring to the ball that is thrown in, the plural number in both would have to be regarded as figurative and unreal.”

There is no force in this also. Because as a matter of fact, what becomes united with each one of the balls is only a portion of the ball that is thrown in; as is clear from the direction—‘having offered the fourth ball, one should divide it into three parts and put it into the balls so that the three balls do not all become the container, at one and the same time; and it is only if this were the case that the plural number in ‘Saṃsṛjyadhvam’ could be applicable literally.

“If each of the three is referred to separately, even so, why could not the plural in ‘Saṃsṛjyadhvam’ and the indirect address be taken as referring to the balls into which the one ball is thrown in? Specially as the word ‘pitrvebhiḥ’ referring to the ball that is thrown in, it would not be right to refer to it by the pronoun ‘ebhiḥ,’ ‘these.”’

Well, the Mantra in question—‘Saṃsṛjyaḍhvam etc.’ not being an injunctive one, we need not trouble ourselves over its interpretation; it is, as a matter of fact, purely descriptive; and the description applies to what is enjoined; and in the present connection what has been enjoined is the uniting of the balls; so that this uniting is all that is indicated by the Mantra. As for the number (singular or plural), this is not directly enjoined (by any text), and hence also not obtained by implication; it becomes connected with the passage by mere probability, and this probability is recognised prior to the Mantra (which therefore could have no bearing upon it).

Some people have said that—“the term ‘fourth’ (in the text just quoted) may mean simply predecessor; so that the deceased (father) being the first, in relation to him the great-grandfather would be the ‘fourth’ predecessor.”

This also is not right. In fact, it is the ball offered to the deceased which is called the fourth,—this being the one which completes the number four, after the balls to his ancestors have been deposited. Further, the Śrāddha in question begins with the Pitṛs, and not with the deceased; since it has been declared that—‘one shall invite the Pitṛs, not mentioning the deceased.’ So that the order to be adopted would be that the first ball offered is to the father (of the deceased); and in regard to this also the following rule has been laid down; The dividing into three parts and the placing upon the balls to the Pitṛs are to be done of that same ball which is the fourth. All that is meant there is that ‘one should giveaway the fourth ball after having divided it into three parts;’ the connection of the ‘ball’ with the act of ‘giving away’ being clearly implied. When the question arises as to what is that which is to be divided into three parts,—it is the ball that is mentioned in close proximity which becomes connected with it. All doubts being set at rest by this, there is apparently no ground for connecting the term ‘fourth’ also with it.

Then again, when there is a doubt as to which ball is it that is to be divided, the answer is supplied by another Smṛti—‘Having offered four balls to each individual name, the offerer of the ball should divide the first with the two mantras beginning with ye samānāḥ.’ The one particular ball is called ‘first’ only in view of its being the first to be offered, and not because of its being related to the first ancestor. Because the great-grandfather would be the ‘predecessor’ of the grandfather, who, in his turn, would be the ‘predecessor’ of the Father; so that there being no definiteness, the exact meaning of the verse would remain uncertain. The order of the offering, however, is fixed by rule; hence in that there is no indefiniteness.

Thus then, the act of dividing into three parts having been connected with the fourth ball, this dividing should be done, on the strength of another Smṛti, in the order of the offering. Consequently, it is said in the Kāṭhaka that—‘it is clear that the dividing is of the previously dead,’;—we ask now—whence does it follow that this is clear?

It has been held that—“the offering is not made to the deceased because he has become included among the Pitṛs.”

This also is nothing. Because it is in accordance with a direct injunction that the offering is not made: ‘The ball does not go to the fourth;’ again ‘the ball proceeds to three only.’ As for the reading invented by the writer himself—‘he shall not mention the deceased,’ and the explanation of this as that ‘the deceased having become united with the Pitṛs, this text prohibits a further offering to him,’—the fact of the matter is that the reading of the text is not thus; in reality no prohibitive term is found in the text at all; what is found is the cumulative particle (‘ca’ instead of ‘na’). Even if the reading contained the negative particle, the same explanation would apply to this case which we have pointed out in connection with the prohibition of a separate ball for the deceased contained in the verse—‘yaḥ sapiṇḍīkṛtam etc. etc’.

As regards such assertions as—‘after the Amalgamating Rite the son shall perform for his parents, every year, the Unitary Rite, and for the rest the Pārvaṇa rite’,—and so forth, if there are really such passages (in authoritative works) then what is the use of the proclaiming of the name ‘Amāvasyā?’ In fact, these passages are not found in any of the well-known Smṛti texts recognised by cultured people.

For these reasons, we conclude that there is nothing to indicate any differentiation, from which we could deduce the fact that the balls offered to the ancestors are placed upon that offered to the deceased. For this same reason the established practice should not be abandoned. It has also been shown that this same view is in accordance with reason; Thus it is clear that some people have been led to accept the view that the balls of the ancestors are to be deposited, by construing the words of the text in a different manner.

In verse 247 here—where it is said that ‘For the twice-born person just dead, there should be performed the rite upto Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa, one should do the feeding at his Śrāddha without any in honour of the gods, and he shall offer one ball;’—The ‘Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa’ or ‘Amalgamating Rite’ should be regarded only as partially binding in a case where the Father has died, while the Grandfather is still alive; i.e., it is to be performed only when no regard is paid to the prohibition contained in the words ‘one shall not make an offering that involves the ignoring of a living person.’ When, however, one accepts the view that ‘there should be precedence etc. etc.’ then, the Grandfather should be left out and the dead father should be united to the higher ancestors. Similarly, the rite is only partially binding when the Father is offering the Śrāddha to his dead son. Similarly, too, when one’s wife dies without issue, the performance is only partially binding upon the step-son whose mother may be living.

Says the text—‘For those that die childless, others shall perform the rite, and those ladies again for those.’

The term ‘sutaiḥ,’ ‘sons’ in the text stands for children; though the presence of the term ‘suta’ might be taken to indicate the inclusion of the son’s substitutes also, if the particle ‘sva,’ ‘own,’ were not taken as precluding those others.—(248)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Burnell is wrong in saying that ‘verse 248 is apparently omitted by Medhātithi’ It is strange that scholars of the ‘Critical School’ should be making such statements on the strength of Mss. which they know to be imperfect and incomplete.

This verse is quoted in Smṛtitattva (p. 802) as likely to be interpreted as indicating the ‘offering of the Ball’ to be the principal factor. It combats this view and adds that in the compound ‘piṇḍanirvapaṇam’ the term ‘piṇḍa’ is to be understood as synonymous with ‘pitṛ’, so that what the compound means is ‘offering to the Pitṛs.’

Medhātithi (P. 286, l. 14)—‘Sapiṇḍīkaraṇaśrāddham &c.’ This appears to be a paraphrase of the verse, which is quoted also in Mitākṣarā (on ll. 253-254), where, however, the reading is ‘pretānna nirdishet.’ See below Bhāṣya, p. 289, ll. 15-20.


Comparative notes by various authors

Jātūkarṇa (Parāśaramādhava, p. 445).—‘When the father has become one of the Pitṛs, his son shall, year after year, and month after month, offer to him Śrāddha in the manner of the Pārvaṇa Śrāddhas.’

Jamadagni (Do.).—‘When the father or the mother has become amalgamated with the Piṭṛs, the body-born son shall offer to the parents, on the day of their death, in the manner of the Śrāddha performed on the moonless day.’

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