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:

रात्रिभिर्मासतुल्याभिर्गर्भस्रावे विशुध्यति ।
रजस्युपरते साध्वी स्नानेन स्त्री रजस्वला ॥ ६५ ॥

rātribhirmāsatulyābhirgarbhasrāve viśudhyati |
rajasyuparate sādhvī snānena strī rajasvalā || 65 ||

In the case of miscarriage, the woman becomes pure in so mamy days as there have been months; and the woman in her courses becomes fit by bathing after the ceasing of the menstrual flow.—(65)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

In the case of miscarriage, the purification, that comes after as many days as the months of pregnancy, can pertain only to the woman: us it is the woman that is directly spoken of in the verse. The rule for the purification, in this case, of her Sapiṇḍa-relation has to be sought from other Smṛtis and from usage. Vaśiṣṭha (4. 34) however has laid down the period of three days for all Sapiṇḍas—‘In the case of the death of a child less than two years old, and also in the case of miscarriage, the impurity lasts for three days.’

It is regarded as a case of ‘miscarriage,’ when it happens after three months and before the tenth month; others hold that it is to be so regarded when it happens before the ninth month. What is called ‘srāva’ (lit. flowing out) here is discharge before the right time, and not necessarily the flowing out of a liquid substance.

In connection with miscarriage, Gautama also has declared that ‘the period lasts for as many days as there have been months’ (14-15).

As a matter of fact, children born in the seventh month live; hence if miscarriage takes place in the seventh month, the period of impurity is full (ten days). But this is so only if the child is born alive; otherwise it is to be as many days as there have been months.

For the woman in her courses it has been ordained that she is purified by bathing after the flow has ceased; while another Smṛti text says that she becomes pure in three days. On this point the final conclusion is as follows: ‘Before three days, even though the flow may cease, she is not pure; while after three days she becomes pure even though the flow may not have ceased.’ In the text however, though the term used first is ‘becomes pure’, we find word ‘fit’ (sādhvī) used in connection with the menstruating woman; and this means that so long as the flow has not ceased, she is not fit for participating in the Vedic rites; and it does not mean that she is untouchable; as it has been declared that ‘the first four days have been condemned.’ The construction thus is—‘The woman in her courses, on the ceasing of the flow, by bathing, becomes fit’—i.e., fit for participating in religious rites.

The term ‘woman’ has been used with a view to include women of all castes; the foregoing verses having been explained as applying to the Brāhmaṇa. The text has used the term ‘woman’ in this verse with a view to guard against the idea that what is here laid down also applies to the Brāhmaṇa only. In the following verses also, where there is nothing to indicate the restriction of a rule to any particular caste, it is to be understood as applying to all castes; as for instance, the next verse which speaks of ‘persons whose tonsure has not been performed.’—(65).


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

(Verse 66 of other commentators.)

“Nārāyaṇa and Rāghavānanda think that this rule refers to miscarriages which happen during the first six months of pregnancy; and that from the seventh month, whether the child lives or not, the full period of impurity must he kept. Nārāyaṇa moreover asserts that in the first and second months the impurity shall last three days”.—Buhler.—‘Sādhvī’.—‘Becomes pure’ (Medhātithi and Kullūka);—‘chaste’ (Nārāyaṇa).

This verse is quoted in Mitākṣarā (on 3.20), which explains the second half to mean as follows:—‘The woman in her courses becomes pure—i.e., fit for religious functions—on bathing after the cessation of the menstrual flow; but as regards touchability, she becomes fit for it by bathing on the fourth day, even though the flow may not have ceased entirely.

The verse is quoted also in Nirṇayasindhu (p. 369);—in Śuddhikaumudī (p. 3);—in Hāralatā (p. 68), which says that, the plural number in ‘rātribhiḥ’ indicates that miscarriage is a source of purity only when it occurs in the third and subsequent months of the pregnancy, and that the mention of the ‘woman’ in the second line makes it clear that the impurity due to miscarriage also attaches to the wife only, and not to the husband;—and in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Saṃskāra, p. 25a).


Comparative notes by various authors

Gautama (14.17-18).—‘For miscarriage the impurity lasts for a number of days, equal to the number of months from conception;—or for three days.’

Baudhāyana, (1.11.31).—‘On miscarriage, the female remains impure for as many days as months that may have elapsed since conception.’

Viṣṇu (22.72).—‘The woman in her courses becomes pure by bathing, on the fourth day.’

Yājñavalkya (3.20).—‘On miscarriage, purification is brought about by the lapse of as many nights as the months (that may have elapsed since conception).’

Ādipurāṇa (Aparārka, p. 901).—‘If there is miscarriage within six months of conception, then purification is brought about by the lapse of days equal in number to that of the months; after six months the purification follows the ordinary rule of the caste. For the Sapiṇḍas, the purification is immediate.’

Vaśiṣṭha (Aparārka, p. 901).—‘On the death of a child less than two years old and on miscarriage, the Sapiṇḍas are impure for three days.’

Marīci (Aparārka, p. 901).—‘On miscarriage, for the Brāhmaṇa, the impurity lasts three days; for the Kṣatriya, four days; for the Vaiśya, five days, and for the Śūdra eight days. On miscarriage, the mother herself remains impure in accordance with the number of months, while the father and others remain impure for three days.’

Vṛddha-Vaśiṣṭha (Aparārka, p. 901).—‘On miscarriage, the woman herself is impure for as many days as the number of months; the man is purified by simple bathing; but after three days if the pregnancy had advanced.’

Smṛtyantara (Aparārka, p. 901).—‘Till the fourth month the miscarriage is called “Srāva,” Flowing out; during the fifth and sixth months, it is called “PātaFalling out; after that it is “Prasūti,” child-birth; and the impurity due to this last lasts for four days.’

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