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:

शुद्ध्येद् विप्रो दशाहेन द्वादशाहेन भूमिपः ।
वैश्यः पञ्चदशाहेन शूद्रो मासेन शुध्यति ॥ ८२ ॥

śuddhyed vipro daśāhena dvādaśāhena bhūmipaḥ |
vaiśyaḥ pañcadaśāhena śūdro māsena śudhyati || 82 ||

The Brāhmaṇa becomes pure in the days, the Kṣatriya in twelve days, the Vaiśya in fifteen days and the Śūdra in a month.—(82).

 

Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The alternative rales—limiting the period of impurity to ‘three days’, ‘four days’ &c.,—have been laid down above, in consideration of the character and learning of the persons concerned; and the present verse is added with a view to preclude those alternatives from the Kṣatriya and other castes. The mention of ‘ten days’ in regard to the Brāhmaṇa however is a mere reiteration.

In this connection the following question is likely to arise—“What is the text that restricts the period of impurity for the Kṣatriya to twelve days (or of the Vaiśya to fifteen days, and so forth) compulsorily, on the strength whereof the present verse is taken as precluding the other alternatives from them?”

This present text itself serves to indicate the time mentioned as applying to those castes. And in the face of this text, the other periods of ‘ten’ days and so forth, wherever mentioned, are understood to be merely indicative of the period specified for each caste. As a matter of fact, however, even in the presence of the present verse, the mention of ‘ten days’ need not be taken to be indicative (as just stated). For even though the section as a whole may pertain to all four castes, yet the alternatives mentioned can pertain only to that caste for whom the period of ‘ten days’ has been laid down. In another Smṛti-text it is with special reference to the Brāhmaṇa that it has been asserted that—‘the Brāhmaṇa may resume Vedic study after one day’; and it is to this that all the other alternatives mentioned in other Smṛti texts have to be taken as optional. In any case, on the eleventh day there is no impurity at all.

The author of the Vivaraṇa says that in the present verse special significance is meant to be attached to the use of the term ‘day’ (and it is the day that is meant, as distinguished from the night); so that there is no impurity on the tenth night; and hence it is only right and proper that invitations to the śrāddha on the eleventh day should be issued on the previous day. When a person is going to set up the Fire, the impurity shall be wiped off by the vigil kept daring the previous night.

This however is not right. If the term ‘day’ meant the day only, then on the other days also there would be no imparity daring the nights. It might be argued that those intervening nights would (all within the period of impurity by virtue of the general rule that ‘impurity due to death lasts for ten days’ (5.59). But what is the authority for denying a similar significant to the term ‘day’ in this context also?

Is is for these reasons that we have explained that throughout this context the word ‘day’ stands for the day and night. It is for this reason that in the preceding verse, where the day only is meant, we have the epithet ‘whole’, ‘kṛtsnam’ added to it.—(82).

 

Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

(Verse 83 of others.)

This verse is quoted in Smṛtitattva (II, p. 245) as laying down the period of impurity for each several caste;—in Gadādharapaddhati (Kāla, p.288);—in Kṛtyasārasamuccaya (p. 64);—in Nityācārapradīpa (p. 115);—in Dānakriyākaumudī (p. 21);—in Śuddhikaumudī (p. 6), which says that the meaning is that on the death of a Sapiṇḍa who is over six years and two months of age,—for the survivor who is ignorant of the Veda and has not set up the fires, but has passed through all the sacramental rites, the impurity in the case of the Brāhmaṇa lasts for ten days;—it adds that if death occurs before sunrise, then the preceding day is to be counted among the ten,—if the survivor is an Agnihotri or Vedic scholar, it is over in a single day;—and in Hāralatā (pp. 4 and 9).

 

Comparative notes by various authors

Gautama (14.2-5).—‘The impurity of the Kṣatriya lasts for eleven days; of a Vaiśya, twelve days, or according to some, half-a-month; and that of a Śūdra, a whole month,’

Vaśiṣṭha (4.26-29).—‘A Brāhmaṇa is freed from impurity, after ten days; a Kṣatriya, after fifteen days; a Vaiśya, after twenty days, a Śūdra, after a mouth.’

Viṣṇu (22.1-1).—‘The impurity of a Brāhmaṇa caused by the birth or death of Sapiṇḍas lasts ten days; of a Kṣatriya, twelve days;—of a Vaiśya, fifteen days, of a Śūdra, a month.’

Yājñavalkya (3.22-23).—‘The impurity lasts for twelve days for the Kṣatriya, fifteen days for the Vaiśya, thirty days for the Śūdra; but only half the time, if the person affected is one who remains firm in law.’

Aṅgiras (Aparārka, p. 911).—‘On the death of a Brāhmaṇa after tonsure, his relations are purified in three days; on that of a Kṣatriya, in six days; on that of a Vaiśya, in nine days; on that of a Śūdra less than three years old, in five days; on that of one three years old, in twelve days; on that of a Śūdra more than six years old, in a month.’

Ṛṣyaśṛṅga (Aparārka, p. 912).—‘In eases where the impurity of the Brāhmaṇa lasts three days, that of the Śūdra lasts twelve days; and that of the Kṣatriya and the Vaiśya, for six and nine days respectively.’

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