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:

न पैतृयज्ञियो होमो लौकिकेऽग्नौ विधीयते ।
न दर्शेन विना श्राद्धमाहिताग्नेर्द्विजन्मनः ॥ २८२ ॥

na paitṛyajñiyo homo laukike'gnau vidhīyate |
na darśena vinā śrāddhamāhitāgnerdvijanmanaḥ || 282 ||

The oblation into fire made in connection with the rite in honour of the Pitṛs has not been prescribed as to be offered into the common fire; and for the Brāhmaṇa who has set up the fire, there is no Śrāddha apart from the Moonless day.—(282)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The ‘Homa,’ ‘oblation into fire,’ offered in connection with the Rite in honour of the Pitṛs is called ‘Paitṛyajñikahoma;’—this ‘has not been prescribed as to be offered into the common’—i.e., the Smārta—‘fire.’ That is, the Scriptures do not enjoin it as to be done in that manner. Hence it follows that the offering of Śrāddha ‘three times during the year’ is to be made by one who has not set up the Fire. Though this offering three times would be ‘offering into the common Fire,’ yet it would be as good as ‘not done,’ in comparison with what is done throughout the year. For instance, when a man who can eat a seer has eaten less, people are found to say, ‘he has not eaten.’

Older commentators have explained this as a reiterative supplement to what has gone in the preceding verse.

The right view to take, however, appears to be that what is said in the text is that the oblation into Fire, in connection with Śrāddhas, should not be offered into the ‘common Fire,’—i.e., such fire as has not been set up at marriage or other prescribed times. And this prohibition of the ‘oblation into Fire’ implies that details other than that may be done in the common fire. If such were not the meaning, then, in view of the fact that the ‘oblation into fire,’ offered by the person who has set up the fire, has been prescribed as part of the Pārvaṇa-Śrāddha, the person who has not set up the Fire would not be entitled to the performance of Śrāddhas at all; just as, in view of the fact that the blind person cannot do the ‘looking into the butter,’ he is not entitled to the performance of the Darśa Pūrṇamāsa sacrifi-ces. If it be, as we have explained it, then it comes to this that the Śrāddha performed by the man who has set up the fire would be accompanied by oblations into fire, while that performed by one. who has not set up the fire would be without such oblations. And in this, case, what is said here falls within what has been said in verse 212 above.

Some people have offered the following explanation:—“What is meant here is the Piṇḍapitṛyajña; and the oblation into fire that is offered at this is never offered into the Common Fire.”

Others have said that this is not right, for even so the person who has not set up the Fire might cook the oblation day by day and then offer it.

Others, again, assert that, in view of the phrase, ‘apart from the Moonless Day,’ it follows that by the person who has set up the Fire the Śrāddha should be offered every month; and that the rule regarding ‘three times in the year’ does not apply to him.

Others, again, have declared that such is not the reading.

What then is the meaning?

The meaning is that, apart from the Śrāddha performed on the Moonless Day, no other Śrāddha—such as the ‘Maghā-Śrāddha,’ and the like—is binding upon him; the former alone being necessary for him. For the person who has not set up the Fire, however, the Śrāddhas prescribed in connection with the winter, etc., also are obligatory.—(282)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Smṛtitattva on p. 174, as laying down that the Śrāddha during the ‘dark fortnight’ should be preformed on the Moonless Day;—on p. 35, II, as precluding the offering of Homa-libations in the ordinary fire;—and again on II, p. 136, to the same effect.

It is quoted in Vidhānapārijāta (II, p. 615), which remarks that it appears as if it were forbidding the performance of Śrāddha by a man ‘with the Fire’ on any but the Moonless Day; and proceeds to note that some people have taken this to mean that if a Śrāddha happens to fall on any other day, the man ‘with the Fire’ should do the ‘saṅkalpa’ on that day, but postpone the actual performance till the Moonless Day;—but trustworthy people have held that what is meant is that for the man ‘with the Fire,’ even if there should arise the necessity of performing a Śrāddha on another day, he should always wait till the Moonless Day.

This verse is quoted in Nirṇayasindhu (p. 111) which remarks that the first half assigns the reason for what is asserted in the second half. It quotes three opinions—(1) Some people accept this verse in its literal sense; (2) ‘our teachers’ hold that it is meant to forbid for the man ‘with the fire’ the performance of that Śrāddha only which is done in the form of the ‘Piṇḍapitṛyajña’;—(3) ‘our own opinion’ is that it serves to lay down that if any Śrāddha happens to fall on other days, the Man ‘with the fire’ should do it on the Moonless Day’;—in Puruṣārthacintāmaṇi (p. 369), which reproduces the note from Hemādri;—in Hemādri (Śrāddha, p. 1679) which explains the meaning as—‘The Agnihotri should not perform any Śrāddha in which the ritualistic details of the Darśa-Śrāddha are not adopted’; that is, he should perform the Śrāddha only in the manner of the Darśa-Śrāddha; it does not mean that ‘he should not perform any Śrāddha except the Darśa’;—and in Śrāddhakriyākaumudī (p. 7), which rejects the view set forth by Hemādri, attributing it to Halāyudha.


Comparative notes by various authors

Viṣṇudharmottara (Caturvargacintāmaṇi-Śrāddha, p. 2330).—‘One who has taken to the fire shall make the offerings into the Dakṣiṇāgni; one who is without the fire shall do it either in the Upasada fire, or, in the absence of fire, into the hands of a Brāhmaṇa, or in water.’

Vāyupurāṇa (Do.).—‘Having kindled either the Dakṣināgni, for purposes of Homa, or having kindled the ordinary fire simply for the purpose of having a fire, he shall offer the oblations for the accomplishment of the rite.’

Yājñavalkya (1.97).—‘Every day the householder shall perform the Smārta rites in the marriage-fire, or in the fire kindled at the time of inheritance; and the Śrauta rites in the sacrificial fire.’

Do. (1(?).236).—‘When going to pour the oblation into the fire, he shall take up the food overflowing with butter, and being permitted to go on with the offering, shall pour the oblation into the fire, in the manner of the Pitṛyajña.’

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