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 5.5 [Objectionable Food]

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

लशुनं गृञ्जनं चैव पलाण्डुं कवकानि च ।
अभक्ष्याणि द्विजातीनाममेध्यप्रभवानि च ॥ ५ ॥

laśunaṃ gṛñjanaṃ caiva palāṇḍuṃ kavakāni ca |
abhakṣyāṇi dvijātīnāmamedhyaprabhavāni ca || 5 ||

Garlic, leeks and onions, mushrooms and all that proceeds from impure things, are unfit to re eaten by twice-born men.—(5).


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The terms ‘garlic’ &c. are well-known among men.

The term ‘karaka’ is the name of a genus, sometimes regarded as the same as the well-known thing ‘kryāku’ (?); mushrooms also are ‘kavaka’; as it is forbidden under the name of ‘kavaka’, while the expiatory rite in connection with its eating has been prescribed under the name of ‘chatrāka,’ in verse 19; and no other thing (except the mushroom) is known by the name ‘chatruka’; nor will it be right to regard, on the basis of verbal similarity alone (between ‘chatrāka’ and ‘chatrākāra’, umbrella-shaped), all those things as ‘chatrāka’ which resemble the umbrella, are ‘chatrākāra’; as in that case the prohibition (of ‘chatrāka’) would apply also to the suvarchala and other things (which also are umbrella-shaped); and this would be contrary to all usage. Hence we conclude tha ‘chatrāka’ and ‘kavaka’ are one and the same thing. Says the author of the Nirukta—‘The chatrāka is kṣuṇṇa, since it is smashed.’ From this it is clear that the name ‘kavaka’ applies to those white shoots that grow out of the earth that has been ploughed; this is also in keeping with what is going to be said in connection withkavakas growing out of the earth’ (6.14); and it has also been just pointed out that the name applies to what is ‘smashed’ by a stroke of the foot. It is for this reason (of its being described as growing out of the earth, and of its being mashed by a stroke of the foot) that the prohibition (of ‘kavaka’) is not applicable to those vegetable growths that shoot out of the trunks of trees.

In medicinal treatises the kukuṇḍa has been described as ‘kavaka’; but this explanation (of the name on a purely conventional basis) cannot be accepted in the same manner as that in regard to the term ‘go’ and the rest. Further, as a matter of fact, in ordinary parlance the term ‘kavaka’ is always applied to a vegetable. Hence it is on the basis of usage that the exact signification of the term, wherever it occurs in a medical or other scientific treatise, should be ascertained, and we have already shown what that signification is.

Other things also, which resemble garlic and such things mentioned here, which resemble these latter in colour and smell, have been forbidden by Viṣṇu. In the Smṛti of Parāśara however the prohibition is by name, and this for the purpose of prescribing the special Expiatory Rite of ‘Candrāyaṇa’ in connection with it. From this it follows that ‘lavataka’, karnikāra’ and such other things are forbidden.

Things proceeding from impure substances’;—those that grow of impure things or are in contact with them.

Others have declared that it is not right to forbid those things that grow only out of impure things, these standing on the same footing as ‘mūlā’ (radish) ‘cāstuka’ (a kind of grass) and such other things (known to grow out of impure things);—so that the prohibition does not apply to those grains and vegetables growing in fields specially manured for the purpose of enriching the harvest.

This however is not right. Because from what the text says it is clear that all these things are equally unfit to be eaten. Further, what has been suggested might have been accepted, if it were absolutely impossible for anything to grow without the use of impure substances. There are some things however that grow directly out of impure substances, while there are some that grow out of mere connection with them; the right view to take therefore is that the prohibition applies to the former only, and not to the latter.

As regards meat, even though it grows out of semen and blood (both impure substances), yet the present prohibition does not apply to it; because it has been dealt with in a totally different context.—(5)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Āhnika, p. 510), which explains ‘amedhyaprabhavāni’ as ‘produced directly from human ordure, or in trees growing from seeds passed with human excreta’;—and in Smṛtitattva (p. 448), which reads ‘karakāṇi’ (for kavakāni) and explains it as ‘chatrāka,’ ‘mushroom;’ and explains ‘amedhyaprabhavāni’ as ‘produced from ordure and such things.’


Comparative notes by various authors

Gautama (17.32).—‘Fresh leaves, mushrooms, garlic, and exudations (from trees).’

Āpastamba (1.17.26, 28).—‘Red garlic, white garlic, onion and mushroom, are not eatable; so says the Brāhmaṇa-text.’

Vaśiṣṭha (14.33).—‘For eating garlic, onions, mushrooms, turnips, Śleśmātaka, exudations from trees, the red sap flowing from incisions, food pecked at by crows or worried by dogs, or the leavings of a Śūdra,—Atikṛcchra penance.’

Viṣṇu (51.3, 34, 36).—‘Garlic, onion, turnips, things having the same smell, village-pigs, village-cocks, monkey, beef,—on eating these also, the Cāndrāyaṇa is to be performed.—On eating mushrooms and Kavakas, the Sāntapana penance;—also exudations, products of unclean things, the red sap flowing from trees.’

Yājñavalkya (1.171).—‘Red or white exudations from trees, mushrooms flowing out of unclean things.’

Baudhāyana (Aparārka, p. 247).—‘Of trees planted on unclean ground, the flowers and fruits are not objectionable.’

Bhaviṣyapurāṇa (Vīramitrodaya-Āhnika, p. 511).—‘Garlic, leeks, onions, mushrooms, brinjals, gourds—by eating these, one’s caste becomes defiled.’

Brahmapurāṇa (Vīramitrodaya-Āhnika, p. 511).—‘The circular-shaped Kuṅkuṇḍa, the Caitya-shaped and Umbrella-shaped mushrooms,—all these were born out of the body of the Daitya.’

Taittirīya-Śruti (Vīramitrodaya-Āhnika, p. 512).—‘The red sap that flows from trees, or any sap that flows from incisions in trees—that is harmful.’

Yama (Vīramitrodaya-Āhnika, p. 513).—‘Garlic, leek, Vilaya, Sumuhha, mushrooms, onion,—these the wise man should always avoid.’

Hārīta (Vīramitrodaya-Āhnika, p. 511).—‘The mushroom, the village-hog, onion, garlic,—on eating these, the Brāhmaṇa, even though he be conversant with all the Vedas, becomes degraded.’

Devala (Vīramitrodaya-Āhnika, p. 511).—‘Śleśmātaka, Vrajaphalī, Kausumbha, Nālamastaka, and leek,—among vegetables, these are not eatable.—Onion, garlic, śukta, exudations, kucuṇḍa, the white brinjal, and kumbhāṇḍa,—these one should not eat.’

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