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:

सत्यं ब्रूयात् प्रियं ब्रूयान्न ब्रूयात् सत्यमप्रियम् ।
प्रियं च नानृतं ब्रूयादेष धर्मः सनातनः ॥ १३८ ॥

satyaṃ brūyāt priyaṃ brūyānna brūyāt satyamapriyam |
priyaṃ ca nānṛtaṃ brūyādeṣa dharmaḥ sanātanaḥ || 138 ||

He shall say what is true; and he shall say what is agreeable; he shall not say what is true, but disagreeale; nor shall he say what is agreeable, but untrue; this is the eternal law.—(138)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

In regard to what a man may be called upon to speak, he is restricted to telling the truth. The ‘true’ is that which is in strict accordance with what is seen and heard.

He shall say what is agreeable.’— This is a second injunction. It is only right to describe the nobility and other good qualities of a person, even without any purpose. Then again, it would be right to speak to a person of the birth of his son—‘O Brāhmaṇa, a son has been born to you’—if it were true; even though the speeker may not have any motive of his own in conveying the information; if it is not known to him already.

What is ‘true’ may be ‘agreeable’ as well as ‘disagreeable.’ An example of the ‘agreeable truth’ has been already shown, in the form of the assertion, ‘O Brāhmaṇa, a son has been born to you.’ An example of the ‘disagreeable truth’ we have in the form of the assertion, ‘Your maiden daughter is with child’. If this he untrue, it should not be spoken of, of course; but even if it be true, the fact of a virgin being with child is something that should not be spoken of. In such cases, if the man can help it, he should remain silent.

People might be led to think that, even when the girl is pregnant, it would be right to say, ‘she is not pregnant,’ as such an assertion would he ‘agreeable;’—with a view to this, the Author has added—‘He shall not say what is agreeable, but untrue;’ so that for the man who is the first to notice the signs of pregnancy in the girl, it would not do to remain silent.

This is the eternal law’— The Veda is eternal, hence the law laid down in the Veda is also eternal.—(138)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Aparārka, (p. 163) to the effect that only such truth should be told as is agreeable; it quotes the words of Vyāsa to the effect that ‘only such truth should be told as is beneficial to living beings.’

It is quoted also in Parāśaramādhava (Ācāra, p. 523);—and in Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra, p. 14).


Comparative notes by various authors

Gautama (9.68).—‘Devoted to truth and gentlemanly in his behaviour.’

Viṣṇu (71.73-4).—‘Not what is untrue;—nor what is disagreeable.’

Yājñavalkya (1.132).—‘He shall never expose himself to danger; he shall not, without reason, say what is disagreeable, nor what is not beneficial or untrue; he shall not be a thief, nor an usurer.’

Devala (Aparārka, p. 174).—‘Harsh words, calumny, hack-biting, lying, useless talk, cruel words are the six defects of speech; also speaking before a person of the defects of his country, family, caste, learning, arts, appearance, conduct, character, dress, body, livelihood; words productive of anger and fear, etc., etc.’

Dukṣa (Do., p. 175).—‘Lying, adultery, eating of forbidden food, etc., etc.’

Yama (Do., p. 176).—‘One should not either say or listen to wicked words, specially in regard to Brāhmaṇas.’

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