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:

रात्रौ श्राद्धं न कुर्वीत राक्षसी कीर्तिता हि सा ।
सन्ध्ययोरुभयोश्चैव सूर्ये चैवाचिरौदिते ॥ २८० ॥

rātrau śrāddhaṃ na kurvīta rākṣasī kīrtitā hi sā |
sandhyayorubhayoścaiva sūrye caivāciraudite || 280 ||

One should not perform Śrāddha at night; for the night has been declared to be ‘fit for demons;’—nor at the two twilights, nor when the sun has just risen.—(280)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Objection—“Inasmuch as it has been laid down that Śrāddhas shall be performed in the afternoon, where was there any possibility of performance at night (that it should have been considered necessary to prohibit it)? It might be argued that the specification of the time itself implies the possibility of performance at other times also. This may be true; but the specification contained in the words, ‘the afternoon is preferable to the forenoon,’ (278) clearly indicates that the performance is possible only at that time, in comparison with which the prescribed time has been declared to be ‘preferable;’ so that the only other time at which the Śrāddha might be performed is the forenoon (and never the night).”

In answer to this, some people offer the following explanation:—The present text serves to prohibit the performance at night, which might be possible under the direction that Śrāddhas shall be performed during lunar and solar eclipses. So that there being prohibition regarding the twilights and the night, and sanction regarding lunar and solar eclipses, there is option between the. two twilights and the two eclipses, as also between the lunar eclipse and night.

Others, however, have explained that ‘midday’ is a time different from both ‘afternoon’ and ‘forenoon;’ and the present prohibition implies that there should be no performance at that time also.

When the sun has just risen,’—the time being the forenoon, the prohibition applies to the first rising of the sun.

Fit for demons’—this is a purely reiterative exaggeration.—(280).


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Kālaviveka (p. 527) as forbidding the performance of Śrāddhas at night;—in Smṛtitattva, on p. 172, and again on p. 266 as precluding certain times for the performance of Śrāddhas;—in Puruṣārthacintāmaṇi (p. 373);—in Hemādri (Kāla, p. 586), which says that the night is excluded because Rākṣasas stalk

about at night, so that if Śrāddha were offered at night, the Rākṣasas would take it away; it should also not be done either in the morning or, in the evening twilight;—in Kṛtyasārasamuccaya (p. 37), which explains ‘Surye achirodite’ as within three muhūrtas of sun-rise;—in Kālamādhava (p. 157);—in Hemādri (Śrāddha, p. 329);—in Śrāddhakriyākaumudī (p. 305), which explains ‘surye &c.’ as ‘during the first muhūrta of the sunrise, which is forbidden in reference to Śrāddha only;—in Suddhikaumudi (p. 194);—in Hemādri (Śrāddha, p. 329);—and in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Śrāddha, p. 20b).


Comparative notes by various authors

Āpastamba-Dharmasūtra (2. 17. 23).—‘One shall not per form the Śrāddha at night.’

Viṣṇu (77. 8).—‘Wise men shall not perform Śrāddha either in the evening or at night; even during these times it should be done if Rāhu (Eclipse) becomes visible.’

Laghu-Śātātapa (94).—‘One shall not perform Śrāddha during the night, except during an eclipse; during the two twilights however, it should never be performed.’

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