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 5.60 [Sapiṇḍa: relationship as bearing on ‘Impurity’]

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

सपिण्डता तु पुरुषे सप्तमे विनिवर्तते ।
समानोदकभावस्तु जन्मनाम्नोरवेदने ॥ ६० ॥

sapiṇḍatā tu puruṣe saptame vinivartate |
samānodakabhāvastu janmanāmnoravedane || 60 ||

The ‘Sapiṇḍa-relationship’ ceases with the person in the seventh-degree and the ‘Samānodaka-relationship,’ when the origin and the name become unrecognisable—(60).


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Inasmuch as the present context is meant to provide information regarding the exact signification of the term ‘anvaya’, ‘family’,—and as the term ‘bāndhava’, ‘relation’ (of the proceeding verses) is meant to be construed with the present text also,—the meaning of the present verse is that persons born of the same family are called ‘Sapiṇḍas’ upto the person in the seventh grade. In view of the assertion—‘the son shall make offerings to those to whom his fathers make them’.—which lays down offerings to be made also by a person whose father is living; six persons become recognised as ‘Sapiṇḍas’ (the seventh being the offeror himself).

Further, according to the statement’—‘offerings are made to forefathers, counting one’s own self as the seventh’—the grandfather, the great-grand-father and other ancestors are called ‘Sapiṇḍas’; and yet, while the six ancestors are called ‘Sapiṇḍas,’ the six descendants, beginning with the son, are also called ‘Sapiṇḍas,’ Because the ‘offering of the ball’ is a single act, upon which, and in connection with which, the title ‘Sapiṇḍa’ becomes applicable,—the ‘son’ and other descendants also become associated with this ‘act as performed by the grandson, and other descendants respectively; consequently the person to whom one makes the offering, and along with whom he becomes the recipient of the offering—all these come to be called ‘Sapiṇḍa;’ and the reason for this lies in the fact that the ‘ball-offering’ is the only indicative in the present case; just as in the case of the assertion ‘you should come at conch-time (gun-time)’ the ‘conch’ is the only indicative of the time that is meant. Thus it comes to this that all descendants upto the seventh grade of the greatgrandfather of one’s great-grandfather are his ‘Sapiṇḍas’; and similarly the descending line of one’s descendants, and the descendants of his father, grand-father and the rest. The degrees are to be counted from that person from whom the two lines bifurcate. For instance, among persons who have a common grandfather, the seven degrees should be counted from that grandfather, and persons falling within those seven degrees would be the ‘Sapiṇḍa’. Similarly in all cases.

In dealing with the question of ‘Sapiṇḍa’, all that the text speaks of is ‘person born of the same family,’ and no mention of the caste is made; consequently persons belonging to the Kṣatriya and other castes also become ‘Sapiṇḍa’ of the Brāhmaṇa. It is for this reason that on the birth of such persons also the Brāhmaṇa remains ‘impure’ for ten days; while in their own case the period lasts for twelve days (for the Kṣatriya), thirteen for the Vaiśya and so forth. Thus then, in the case of the birth or death of the person of a different caste, or in that of the Sapiṇḍa of a different caste, the purification is governed by the period prescribed for the caste of the person concerned.

In the case of the Kṣatriya and other castes, their ‘Sapiṇḍa’-relationship to the Brāhmaṇa extends to three degrees only; as says Śaṅkha—“If of one person there are born several persons, of different mothers and diverse castes, these are ‘Sapiṇḍas’, with varying periods of purification; but the ball-offering extends over three degrees only.” In this passage the term ‘of different mothers’ means ‘born of mothers of different castes’; the term ‘of diverse castes’ has also been added in view of the fact that persons born of mothers of the same caste also are ‘born of different mothers’.—These are ‘Ekapiṇḍa’, i.e., Sapiṇḍa; but ‘with varying periods of purification’; i.e., the purification of each person is in accordance with his own caste; for instance, for the Brāhmaṇa in the case of the birth, etc, of his Sapiṇḍa of the Kṣatriya and other castes, the purification takes ten days; while for the Kṣatriya, in the case of the birth, &c. of his Brāhmaṇa Sapiṇḍa, it takes twelve days;—there is the further peculiarity in this case that ‘the ball-offering extends over three degrees only’; i.e., it is offered to persons within three degrees only.

Within the pale of their own castes however, for the Kṣatriya and other castes also the ‘Sapiṇḍa-relationship’ extends over seven degrees, exactly as for Brāhmaṇas; specially as in the words of Śaṅkha justed quoted, we find the qualifying terms ‘born of one person from different mothers’—it is only in relation to other castes that their ‘Sapiṇḍa-relstionship can be understood to extend over three degrees only. This same fact is still more clearly stated in the following Smṛti—text—‘In the case of impurity due to the death of those relations of the Brāhmaṇa who are descendants from the Kṣatriya, the Vaiśya and the Śūdra, the purification of the Brāhmaṇa comes after ten days, upto six, three and one stage respectively.’

In the case of the wives of different castes, if the husband is alive, the purification is determined by the time laid down for the husband. To this end it is said—‘In the case of birth and death among slaves, and among one’s wives of lower castes, the purification would be similar to that of the master or husband, but if the husband is not living, it shall be similar to that of their fathers.’

In place of the fist quarter of the text (instead of the words ‘sūte mṛte tu dāsānām—‘in the case of birth and death among slaves’) some people read ‘asavarṇāsutānām’ (‘of sons born of other castes’). If such be the reading, then such Śūdra-sons as live in the house of the Brāhmaṇa-father would be controlled entirely by the ways of the father, and hence their time of purification would be ten days in consideration of their father’s caste.

The term ‘dāsa,’ ‘slave’, in the text just quoted are meant to be those that have been hired; because for born slaves we have another rule,—viz:—‘Artisans, mechanics, female and male slaves, and king’s officers have been declared to be capable of immediate purification’. Bat this ‘purification’ should be understood to consist only in their touchability, and not as entitling them to the acts of offering gifts, feeding Brāhmaṇas and so forth; and the reason for this lies in the fact that all the names here mentioned are such as are based upon professions; which gives rise to the following questions—(a) Is the purification here laid down subversive of all the rules that have been laid down before?—Or (b) does it entitle the man to all acts?—Or (c) does it entitle him to a few of these only? And the conclusion that suggests itself is that the man is entitled to just those acts that may be necessary for the proper carrying out of the King’s business. Such also is the usage.

Objection.—“in the present context we do not find any prohibition of touching [how then can the text just quoted be taken as pertaining to touchability alone]?”

But in another Smṛti-text we read—‘The touching of the body is permitted after the bones have been collected;’ and also elsewhere—‘The Brāhmaṇas become touchable in three or four days; while at birth or death, purification comes in eleven days; in the case of the Kṣatriya there is touchability on the sixth or seventh day, and their food becomes pure in twelve days; in the case of the Vaiśya, touchability comes on the eighth or ninth day, but their food is pure in a fortnight; the Śūdra becomes touchable on the eleventh or twelfth day and the purification of his food comes about in a month.’ So says Hārīta; and yet another text also—‘The touchability of the different castes comes about in three, four, five and six days respectively; the food of the Brāhmaṇa becomes eatable in ten days, and that of the other castes two, three and six days later’.

The several alternatives mentioned in the above texts are he taken as based upon the exigencies of individual cases, as also upon the higher or lower qualifications of the persons concerned; e.g. the hired slaves of the Brāhmaṇa remain untouchable for time or four days, while-their born slaves become touchable immediately. Similarly, in the case of the other cutes also.

Wherever ‘immediate purification’ is mentioned, them should be bathing with all the clothes on.

As regards the purification of material substances,—all details are going to be explained later on.

Among girls also, the ‘Sapiṇḍa-relationship’ extends to three degrees. As says Vaśiṣṭha—‘For women who have got sons it is known to extend to three degrees.’ This limited ‘sapiṇḍa- relationship’ in the case of women however refers only to Impurity; as regards marriage what its extent should be has been already indicated before.

The final conclusion thus is that the seventh degree is the limit, and the persona up to and including the sixth degree are ‘Sapiṇḍas’. This is what is meant by the words—‘it ceases with the person in the seventh deree (decree?).’

The Samānodakarelationshipi.e. the name Samānodaka’—‘when the origin and the name become unrecognisable.’—‘Origin’—‘such a person is born in my own family’;—‘name’—‘he is descended from the father named so and so, and the grandfather named so &; so’;—when both these are ‘unrecognisable.’ That is, when either of these happens to be unknown, then also, the name in question is not applicable.

In the case of persons within the limits of ‘Samānodaka-relationship,’ all that people should do is to enter a river or some other water-reservoir, till the water reaches up to the navel,—they should face the south and, having offered water with the right hand upward, without looking back, should return home.—(60)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Aparārka, (p. 893), as providing the definition of the ‘Samānodaka’ relationship, and explains the meaning to be that this relationship subsists among all those people who clearly recognise a common ancestor;—in Mitākṣarā (on 1.253);—in Parāśaramādhava (Ācāra, p. 590);—in Vyāvahāramayūkha (p. 63) which, construes ‘Saptame’ as ‘Saptame atīte,’ so that the seventh also becomes included in ‘Sapiṇḍa’ relationship;—in Madanapārijāta (p. 427);—in Śuddhimayūkha (p. 37), which says that ‘vinivartate’ is to be construed with the second line also;—in Smṛtisāroddhāra (p. 230), which says that from the point where ‘Samānodaka’ relationship ceases, ‘Sagotra’ relationship alone remains;—in Nityācārapradīpa (p. 104), which quotes Medhātithi to the effect that all those who are descended from the great-grandfather of one’s own great-grandfather are his ‘Sapiṇḍas’;—in Hāralatā (p. 96), which has the following note:—Six ancestors beginning from one’s father are his ‘Sapiṇḍa,’ the seventh ancestor is not ‘Sapiṇḍa’; and the reason for this lies in the fact that one’s three immediate ancestors—father, grandfather and great-grandfather—are entitled to receive the ‘piṇḍa’ from him, and the next three ancestors—i. e., the father, grandfather and great-grandfather of the great-grandfather,—are entitled to the ‘smearings of his piṇḍa;’ while the seventh ancestor is not entitled to any share of Piṇḍa; it adds that the man himself is ‘Sapiṇḍa’ of his own six ancestors;—in Śuddhikaumudī (p. 52), which explains that the ‘Sapiṇḍā’ relationship ceases in one’s seventh ancestor, and ‘Samānodaka’ relationship extends upto that person who is known to be descended from ‘my such and such ancestor,’ and from the point where no such descent can be specifically pointed out, that relationship ceases and beyond that all are ‘gotraja’ only;—in Gadādharapaddhati (Kāla, p. 256), which reproduces Medhātithi’s remark quoted above;—in Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra, p. 181);—and in Vīramitrodaya (Vyavahāra, 209b).


Comparative notes by various authors

Gautama (14.13).—‘Sapiṇḍa-relationship ceases with the fifth or the seventh degree.’

Baudhāyana (1.11.2).—‘Amongst Sapiṇḍas, Sapiṇḍa-relationship extends to the seventh degree.’

Āpastamba (2.15.2).—‘On account of the blood-relations of his mother, and of his father, within six degrees,—or as far as the relation is traceable (he shall bathe, if they die).’

Vaśiṣṭha (4.17-18).—‘It has been declared in the Veda that Sapiṇḍa-relationship extends to the seventh degree; that for married females, it extends to the third degree.’

Viṣṇu (22.5).—‘Sapiṇḍa-relationship ceases at the seventh degree.’

Parāśara (1.3.8).—‘In the case of descendants of a different caste, the Sapiṇḍa-relationship (and the consequent impurity) ceases with the fourth degree; one’s descendant in the fifth degree, becomes excluded from the Sapiṇḍa-relationship.’

Matsyapurāṇa (Parāśaramādhava, p. 589).—‘Those beginning with the fourth ancestor, are Partakers of the Smearing; those beginning with the father, are Partakers of the Balls; the offerer of the hall himself is the seventh; thus does Sapiṇḍa-relationship extend over seven degrees.’

Paiṭhīnasī (Do., p. 590).—‘The Sapiṇḍa-relationship ceases beyond three from the mother and five from the father.’

Vṛddha-Parāśara (Do., p. 589).—‘Sapiṇḍa-relationship ceases with the seventh degree, in the case of their being all of the same caste; in the ease of their being of different castes, it ceases with the fourth degree.’

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