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:

अधोदृष्टिर्नैष्कृतिकः स्वार्थसाधनतत्परः ।
शठो मिथ्याविनीतश्च बकव्रतचरो द्विजः ॥ १९६ ॥

adhodṛṣṭirnaiṣkṛtikaḥ svārthasādhanatatparaḥ |
śaṭho mithyāvinītaśca bakavratacaro dvijaḥ || 196 ||

With eyes cast downwards, of cruel disposition, intent upon the accomplishment of his own ends, dishonest and falsely humble;—such is the Brāhmaṇa ‘who behaves like the heron’.—(196)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

‘Looking downwards’ is a mark of ‘heron-like behaviour.’ Or, the term, ‘adhodṛṣṭih’ may mean ‘whose ideas are ‘nīca,’ i.e., mean; he who is ever ready to do anything, who accepts gifts even from the lowest persons.

Niṣkṛti’ is cruelty; he, in whom this is the principal factor, is called ‘niṣkṛtika,’ ‘cruel,’ he who talks in an improper manner.

Falsely humble,’—who shows himself to be extremely gentle and harmless, but, in actual practice, turns out to be most harmful. For example, the cat pretends to be asleep, when intent upon catching its prey; similarly, the person whose righteousness is mingled with deceit, has been called ‘a man of cat-like behaviour.’ So also with the expression, ‘of heron-like behaviour:’ When seeking to catch fish, herons pretend to show as if they were taking no notice of the creatures in water, and yet all the time they are intent upon catching the fish.

The term ‘vrata’ denotes habit.

It has been shown above how there is no repetition in the several parts of the verses. Even if there were some real repetitions, there would be nothing wrong in this, as the verses contain definitions (of two distinct characters); and the repeated assertions make the fact more easily intelligible.

“What is the difference between the cat-like and the heron-like behaviour!”

We explain as follows:—The latter (one who is heron-like) is bent upon accomplishing his own ends, he does not thwart the purposes of other men; while the former (one who is cat-like), thwarts the purpose of other people, through sheer jealousy, even though his own interests be not served by it—(196).


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Mitākṣarā (on 1.130);—in Aparārka (p. 170), which explains ‘śaṭha’ as ‘stuck up’;—and in Saṃskāramayūkha (p. 66).


Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 4.195-199)

See Comparative notes for Verse 4.195.