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...

Verse 4.247 [Accepting of Gifts]

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

एधौदकं मूलफलमन्नमभ्युद्यतं च यत् ।
सर्वतः प्रतिगृह्णीयान्मध्वथाभयदक्षिणाम् ॥ २४७ ॥

edhaudakaṃ mūlaphalamannamabhyudyataṃ ca yat |
sarvataḥ pratigṛhṇīyānmadhvathābhayadakṣiṇām || 247 ||

He may accept from all persons fuel, water, roots, and fruits, and food that is offered, as also honey and the gift of fearlessness.’—(247)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Fuel’—the wood, etc, to burn.

Food’—either cooked or raw.

Offered’—presented before him.

All this may be accepted from all persons;—i.e., even from Śūdras, or persons who may have committed minor sins; only avoiding the outcast, the accused, the Cāṇḍāla and other low castes mixed in the reverse order.’


Gift of fearlessness.’—Fearlessness is the form of a gift. This is mentioned by way of illustration. In fact, the ‘acceptance of a gift’ consists in accepting something which another person voluntarily offers; and the ‘possession of fearlessness’ is not of this kind; as, in this case, no one’s ownership ceases, nor is any one’s ownership produced (as there is in all cases of giving and gifts). It is for this reason that the term, ‘gift,’ has been used in this connection, only by way of eulogising the said promise. The meaning is that—‘just as, when one is passing through a forest or jungle, there is no harm in acceptiong (accepting?) the protection offered even by Cāṇḍālas, robbers, and such other persons, so also there is nothing objectionable in the accepting of fuel and the other things mentioned here.’

The rule here laid down applies to normal times; it is going to be declared later on that in abnormal times of distress, one may accept gifts even from Caṇḍālas and others.

The term, ‘offered,’ is, through proximity, to be construed with ‘food’ only, not with ‘fuel’ and the rest. Hence, in connection with these latter, even begging is not objectionable.

The general rule being—‘gifts should be accepted only from righteous twice-born persons,’ no one would think of accepting them from either unrighteous twice-born persons, or from Śūdras. Hut, in the case of certain things (fuel, etc.), begging is considered desirable. Hence the present text—(247)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Aparārka (p. 406), which explains ‘abhayadaksiṇā’ as ‘abhayadāna’, ‘gift of fearlessness’;—in Mitākṣarā (on 1.214);—in Parāśaramādhava (Ācāra, p. 190);—in Madanapārijāta (p. 220), which adds the following explanations:—‘edha’ is ‘fuel’,—‘sarvataḥ’ means ‘even from the Śūdra’,—the ‘gift of fearlessness’ being acceptable even from a Mleccha; all this refers to one who is still engaged in the receiving of gifts, not to one who has renounced the acceptance of gifts;—in Vidhānapārijāta (II, p. 249), which adds—‘sarvataḥ’ means ‘even from the Śūdra the ‘gift of fearlessness’ being acceptable from the Mleccha also;—in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Āhnika, pp. 35b and 37b);—and in Hemādri (Dāna, p. 56), which explains ‘edhaḥ’ as wood and ‘ahhyudyatam’ as ‘presented unasked.’


Comparative notes by various authors

Gautama (17.3).—‘Fuel, water, fodder, roots, fruits, honey, fearlessness, whatever is presented, couch, seat, house, conveyance, milk, curds, fried barley, vegetables, Priyaṅgu, garlands,—these should not be refused.’

Āpastamba (1.18.1).—‘Honey, uncooked flesh of the deer, lands, roots, fruits, safety, lodging, beasts of burden, fodder,—may be accepted even from Ugras.’

Vaśiṣṭha (14.13).—‘Food, even though belonging to a sinner, if it is offered and presented before him, without urging of any kind,—it may be accepted; so has held Prajāpati.’

Viṣṇu (5.7.10).—‘Fuel, water, roots, fruits, fearlessness, flesh, honey, couch, seat, house, flowers, curds, vegetables,—when these are presented to one, one shall not refuse them.’

Yājñavalkya (1.214).—‘Kuśa grass, vegetables, milk, fish, perfumes, flowers, curds, land, flesh, couch, fried barley, and water—these should not be refused.’

Aṅgiras (Aparārka, p. 406).—‘Grains in the harvesting ground, water in tanks and wells, milk in the cow-pen,—these may he accepted even from one whose food is not to be eaten.’

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