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:

कलविङ्कं प्लवं हंसं चक्राह्वं ग्रामकुक्कुटम् ।
सारसं रज्जुवालं च दात्यूहं शुकसारिके ॥ १२ ॥

kalaviṅkaṃ plavaṃ haṃsaṃ cakrāhvaṃ grāmakukkuṭam |
sārasaṃ rajjuvālaṃ ca dātyūhaṃ śukasārike || 12 ||

The Sparrow, the Plava, the Haṃsa, the Cakravāka; the village-cock, the Crane, the Rajjudāla, the Dātyūha, the Parrot and the Starling.—(12).


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Sparrow’, ‘Kalabiṅka’ (‘Kalaviṅka’), is the name of a village-bird described in the scriptures. Its prohibition being already got at by the general prohibition of all ‘village-birds’, the separate mention of the sparrow implies the catability of the female sparrow;—the term ‘kalabiṅka’ being a masculine just like the term ‘bull.’

Others have explained that this name has been added for the purpose of excluding (from the prohibition) the wild sparrow, which retires to the forest during the rains. They are called ‘village-birds’ because of their living in the villages during the greater part of the year; just as is the case with the ‘wild buffalo.’

The prohibition of the plava, the haṃsa, and the cakravāka being already got at from the general prohibition of all ‘web-footed birds’, the separate mention of these is for the purpose of emphasising the obligatory character of their exclusion.—the eating of the ‘Ātya’ and other ‘web-footed’ birds being regarded as optional.

Village-cock’—the specification of the ‘village -cock’ permits the eating of the wild cock.

“But why should there have been any suspicion regarding the non-eatability of the wild cock at all?”

Because another Smṛti text says simply—‘Among birds, the cock’, which indicates that all kinds of cock are equally ‘unfit to be eaten’; it is for this reason that this general statement line been sought by the present text, to be limited in its scope.

“But why cannot this he regarded as a case of option, since the present text permits the eating of the wild crick, which the other text forbids?”

This cannot he a case of option: it is a case of option only when there are two contradictory texts of equal authority hearing upon the same subject; in the present case however, there is no contradiction: there is no difference in the actual teaching of the two Smṛti-texts concerned: because it is quite reasonable to regard the general statement as restricted in its scope; specially as a third independent text has already been quoted above.

“If this be so, then the general prohibition regarding the web-footed birds may be taken as restricted in its scope to the Haṃsa and other specified birds: so that the prohibition does not extend to all crows and web-footed birds.”

This would have been the case if the Smṛti-treatises were not the work of a human author. In the case of works of non-human origin, if they proceed from different sources, there would be no useful purpose by making the general statement restricted to the particular case of the Haṃsa and other birds; while in the case of the work of human authors, if they proceed from different persons, it is quite possible that the person who knows the truth in its general form is ignorant of it in the restricted form, or the person who know it in the limited form is ignorant of it in the wider form; so that when we come to consider the source of the two statements, we assume the existence (in the Veda) of a general statement as the source of one, and a particular statement as the source of the other: and these two Vedic statements occurring in two different recensional texts, the only reasonable course is to construe them together, unless there are distinct injunctions bearing upon the two statements. Specially as no such complaint can be raised against the Vedas as—‘What is the use of the general statement if it is to be taken in its restricted sense?’ There is no room for such a complaint, because there is no author in the case against whom such a complaint could be raised. Specially as in the case of a Vedic statement, the only idea that is obtained is front the actual words of the text, only that which can be derived from the words themselves; and there can be no justification for the assuming of any other meaning, for any purpose whatsoever.

What the ‘Rajjudāla’ and other birds are is to be learnt from persons versed in the science of birds.—(12)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Āhnika, p. 540), which adds the following notes:—‘Kalaviṅka’ is the caṭaka, the sparrow; these being already included under ‘grāmanivāsinaḥ’, their separate mention is meant to indicate that they are always to be avoided; which implies that the ‘cāṣa’ and other ‘grāmanivāsi’ birds may be eaten. [All this hitter note is attributed to Medhātithi by the writer; but no words to this effect are found in Medhātithi; see Translation ].—The epithet ‘grāma’ in ‘grāmakukkuṭaḥ’ indicates that wild kukkuṭa is not forbidden; ‘sārasa’ in the bird called ‘puṣkara,’ which has a long neck, long feet and is of blue colour;—‘Rajjudāla’ is the wood-pecker;—‘dātyūha’ the black-necked bird;—‘Śuka’ is parrot;—‘sārikā’ is well known by its own name.

It is quoted in Hemādri (Śrāddha, p. 583).ted in Hemādri (Śrāddha, p. 583).


Comparative notes by various authors

Gautama (17.28-29).—(See above under 11.)

Baudhāyana (1.12.143).—‘Nor tame cocks and pigs.’

Āpastamba (1.17.32-33, 35).—‘Among scratching birds, the tame cock shall not be eaten; among pecking birds, the Plava shall not be eaten; nor the swan, the Bhāsa, the Brahmani duck, or the falcon.’

Vaśiṣṭha (14-48).—‘Among birds, the scratchers, the peckers, the web-footed, the Kalaviṅka, the water-hen, the flamingo, the Brahmani duck, th e Bhāsa, the crow, the blue pigeon, the osprey, the Cātaka, the dove, the crane, the black partridge, the grey heron, the vulture, the falcon, the white egret, the ibis, the cormorant, the peewit, the flying-fox, the night-flying birds, the wood-pecker, the sparrow, the Railātaka, the green pigeon, the wag-tail, the village-cock, the parrot, the starling, the cuckoo, the carnivorous birds and those living about villages (should not be; eaten).’

Viṣṇu (51.3.29).—‘Village-hog, village-hen, monkey, cow—on eating these one shall perform the Cāndrāyaṇa; shall fast for three nights if he eat the Kalaviṅka, Plava, etc.,etc.’

Yājñavalkya (1.172-174). (See under 11, 7 also.)—‘Kalaviṅka, Black crow, Kurara, wood-pecker, web-footed birds, Khañjarīṭa, and strange animals and birds—these one should avoid.’

Devala (Vīramitrodaya-Āhnika, p. 541).—‘The following birds should not be eaten: Crane, Swan, Dātyūha, etc., etc.’

Yama (Vīramitrodaya-Āhnika, p. 542)__‘The mushroom, the village-hog, the web-footed birds, cocks,—by eating these the twice-born becomes degraded.’

Śaṅkha (Do).—‘The partridge, the peacock, the pheasant, the white partridge, the Vārdhrīṇasa bird and the duck, these Yama has himself declared to be fit for eating.’

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