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...

Verse 4.26 [The Harvest-Sacrifice]

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration and English translation by Ganganath Jha:

सस्यान्ते नवसस्येष्ट्या तथार्तुअन्ते (तथार्त्वन्ते?) द्विजोऽध्वरैः ।
पशुना त्वयनस्यादौ समान्ते सौमिकैर्मखैः ॥ २६ ॥

sasyānte navasasyeṣṭyā tathārtuante (tathārtvante?) dvijo'dhvaraiḥ |
paśunā tvayanasyādau samānte saumikairmakhaiḥ || 26 ||

At the end of the grains, the Brāhmaṇa shall perform the “New-Harvest sacrifice;” at the end of the seasons, the “Adhvara-sacrifices;” at the end of the solstices the “Animal-sacrifice;” and at the end of the year the “Soma-sacrifices.”—(26)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The term ‘sasya,’ ‘grains,’ stands for the Vrīhi and other grains;—‘end’ means exhaustion. The meaning is that when the previous supply of grains has become exhausted, he shall perform the ‘New-Harvest Sacrifice,’ i.e., the Āgrayaṇa sacrifice.

This does not mean that either the exhaustion of the previous supply of grain, or the coming in of the new harvest, is the reason or occasion for the performance of the Āgrayaṇeṣṭi; what is meant is that the eating of new grain is prohibited, until one has performed the Āgrayaṇeṣṭi. This is what has been said in the following text—‘Without having offered the sacrifice, one should not eat new grain.’ On these grounds, some people explain the verse to mean that ‘since one cannot eat new grains without having performed the Āgrayaṇa sacrifice, one shall perform this sacrifice.’

But, according to this explanation, it would mean that—if there has been no previous grain-supply, or, if there is no fresh grain-supply, or, if one has no desire to eat new grains, it would not he necessary to perform the Āgrayaṇa sacrifice. If the ‘end of previous supply’ be taken to be indicative of the coming in of the new supply [and there were nothing to prohibit the eating of new grains before performing the sacrifice], then it becomes possible to eat the new grain without having performed the sacrifice.

For these reasons, we conclude that here we have two declarations—(a) ‘he shall not eat without having performed the sacrifice’ (next verse) and (b) ‘at the end of the grains, &c.’ (present verse). The ‘end of grains’ is meant to stand for the coining of the new grain; since the coming in is certain, and as such can serve as the occasion for the sacrifice. The ‘end’ or ‘exhaustion’ (of the former supply), on the other hand, is uncertain; since, in the case of rich men, there are supplies that may last for three years. It is for these reasons that the author of the Sūtra has declared—

‘Without having performed the Agnihotra, one shall not eat out of the harvest,’ and ‘When one is satisfied for the year, one shall perform the Āgrayaṇa,’—and, further, ‘The new-grain sacrifice is to be doue in the autumn this last laying down the time for the sacrifice. So that the man, for whom there is no ‘end of the former supply,’ will observe the rule regarding autumn being the time for the sacrifice; which will not be done by another person (for whom there is ‘end of former supply’). In this way, both the declarations are found to have their use. If this were not the meaning, then the author would have said simply—‘On the coming of the new harvest, he shall perforin the New-Harvest Sacrifice.’ Since, however, the author says—‘without having performed the New-Harvest Sacrifice, one shall not eat of the new grains,’ it follows that even when the new harvest has come iu, if the man happen to have old corn left, he may wait-till the autumn (for the performance of the sacrifice); and, since the coming in of the new harvest forms the occasion for the sacrifice, the performance of the Āgrayaṇa is obligatory, even when the man has no desire to eat new grains.

At the end of the seasons’—According to the theory that ‘the season constitutes the year,’ what this portion of the text lays down is the performance of the Cāturmāsya sacrifices; in fact, it is these sacrifices that are referred to by the term ‘adhvara,’

End of the solstices’ means ‘beginning of the two solstices’;—the two solstices being the ‘northern’ and the ‘southern.’ At these, one shall perform the ‘Animal-Sacrifice,’ twice during the year. The author of the Sutra has said—‘This sacrifice is either six monthly or yearly.’

At the end of the year.’—The term ‘samā’ is synonymous with ‘year;’ and the ‘end’ of this is the śiśira, the later winter season. The present verse does not mean that the Soma-sacrifice shall be performed during the winter; what is meant is that—‘when the winter has passed and the spring has arrived, the Soma-sacrifice shall be performed.’ Says the Śruti—‘At each spring-season, one shall perform the Jyotiṣṭoma sacrifice.’

What the whole text means is that these constitute the obligatory rites, and, as such, shall be performed, somehow or the other, by even those who have renounced Vedic rituals.—(26).


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Aparārka (p. 217).


Comparative notes by various authors

Viṣṇu (59.5-9).—‘At each solstice, with the Paśuyāga;—during the autumn and the summer, with the Āgrayaṇa sacrifice;—also on the ripening of the Vrīhi and the Yava;—he who possesses grains more than what would be needed for three years,—each year, with Soma-sacrifice.’

Vaśiṣṭha (11.41).—‘The Brāhmaṇa must necessarily lay the Fires;—he shall perform the sacrifices of Darśa-Pūrṇamāsa, Āgrayaṇeṣṭi, Cāturmāsya, Paśu and Soma.’

Yājñavalkya (1.126).—‘Each year, the Soma,—at each solstice the Paśu,—and the Āgrayaṇeṣṭi and the Cāturmāsya also shall be performed.’

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