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 5.22 [Killing of Animals for Food]

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

यज्ञार्थं ब्राह्मणैर्वध्याः प्रशस्ता मृगपक्षिणः ।
भृत्यानां चैव वृत्त्यर्थमगस्त्यो ह्याचरत् पुरा ॥ २२ ॥

yajñārthaṃ brāhmaṇairvadhyāḥ praśastā mṛgapakṣiṇaḥ |
bhṛtyānāṃ caiva vṛttyarthamagastyo hyācarat purā || 22 ||

The commended beasts and birds may be killed by Brāhmaṇas for the purpose of sacrifice, and for the purpose of feeding their dependents; as Agastya did this of old.—(22).

 

Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

In connection with food fit to be eaten, the Text proceeds to sanction the act of killing.

If one’s dependents are very much pressed by hunger, and no other food can be found, then one may kill such birds and beasts as are fit to be eaten. The exact meaning of the term ‘dependent’ has been explained before (as standing for parents, wife etc.)

The mention of Agastya—that Agastya did the act—is only by way of recommendation.

The first half of the verse is purely commendatory; because the act of killing in connection with sarcifices is directly enjoined by the Vedic injunctions themselves (and as such does not stand in need of any sanction from the present text).

Commanded’—i.e., permitted as lit to be eaten.

This same thing is slated in the next verse in greater detail, as bearing upon the recommendation of certain acts.—(22).

 

Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Mitākṣarā (on 1.179) to the effect that just as there is nothing wrong in the eating of meat which is the remnant of sacrificial and Śrāddha offerings, so also there is none in eating that which is left after the dependents have been fed.

It is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Āhnika, p. 537), which adds that animals are to he killed for feeding one’s dependents, only when there is no other means of feeding them; and this implies also that there is no harm in one’s eating the meat himself that is left after the feeding of dependents;—and in Smṛtisāroddhāra (p. 301).

 

Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 5.22-23)

Vaśiṣṭha (4.5-8).—‘The Mānava text states:—“Only when he worships Pitṛs and gods or honours guests, he may certainly slay animals: on offering the honey-mixture to guests, and at rites in honour of Pitṛs and gods and at a sacrifice,—on these occasions only may an animal be slain.” The slaughter of animals at sacrifices is no slaughter. One may cook a big ox or a big goat for a Brāhmaṇa or Kṣatriya guest.’

Vaśiṣṭha (14.15).—‘It is declared in the Veda:—“At a sacrificial session which lasted one thousand years, Agastya went out to hunt; he had sacrificial cakes prepared with the meat of beasts and fowls good to eat.”’

Yājñavalkya (Do.).—‘One who kills animals against the law, dwells in terrible hell for as many years as there are hairs on the body of the animal.’

Yama and Paiṭhānaṣi (Do.).—‘One should not kill any animal for his own sake; if he cooks it for the sake of gods and Brāhmaṇas, he incurs no sin,’

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