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:

बभूवुर्हि पुरोडाशा भक्ष्याणां मृगपक्षिणाम् ।
पुराणेष्वपि यज्ञेषु ब्रह्मक्षत्रसवेषु च ॥ २३ ॥

babhūvurhi puroḍāśā bhakṣyāṇāṃ mṛgapakṣiṇām |
purāṇeṣvapi yajñeṣu brahmakṣatrasaveṣu ca || 23 ||

In ancient times, at sacrifices performed by the sages, as also at sacrifices performed by Brāhmaṇas and Kṣatriyas, the sacrificial cakes were made of eatable beasts and birds.—(23)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The killing of beasts and birds has been prescribed in connection with the sacrifice named ‘Ṣaḍviṃśat-saṃvatsara’ (Twenty-six Years). This is what is referred to in the present verse. The Brāhmaṇa-passage bearing upon the subject is as follows:—‘At the end of the day the master of the house goes out hunting, and out of the flesh of the animals that he kills sacrificial cakes are made’.

In as much as the present verse is purely commendatory, no significance is meant to be attached to the past tense in the term ‘babhūva’, ‘were made’; hence the same thing is done now-a-days also.

The same holds good regarding the term ‘purāṇeṣu’, ‘in ancient times’. This also means that people should not consider that the said sacrificial practice has come into force in recent times only.—Or, the term may be taken to mean that ‘it should not be understood that there is nothing to sanction the practice of killing animals at sacrifices’.—Or, the term may be regarded as added for the benefit of those persons who are incapable of comprehending the meaning of the scriptures themselves, and who regulate their conduct entirely in accordance with the practices of other people, on the principle that ‘the right path is that whereby great men have gone’. The meaning is that ‘this practice is not of recent origin, it is without beginning’.

The ‘ancient sages’ are certain Brāhmaṇas, well-known for their austerities. Or, it may stand for a distinct species of beings; as described in the Mahābhārata and other works. In this connection it is not necessary to press the objection that—“If these sages belong to a distinct species of beings, they are like Gandhar vas and others, and as such, not entitled to the performance of sacrifices.”;—since the passage is a purely commendatory one, and as such, may be understood in any way one chooses.

Brahmakṣatriyasava’,—sacrifices performed by Brāhmaṇas and Kṣatriyas.—(23)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Vīramitrodaya (Āhnika, p. 537) quotes this verse as Arthavāda to the preceding verse, the meaning being as follows:—‘Inasmuch as in ancient sacrifices performed by sages, edible sacrificial cakes used to be made of animals and birds killed for the purpose, these may be killed by men of the present day also.’ That the sacrificial cake is to be made of the flesh of animals has been laid down in connection with the ‘Thirty-six-year Sacrificial Session’, about which we read that “on the closing day of which, the master of the house goes out a—hunting, and out of the flesh of the animals killed there the Savanīya sacrificial cakes are prepared.”


Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 5.22-23)

See Comparative notes for Verse 5.22.

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