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:

दिवाकीर्तिमुदक्यां च पतितं सूतिकां तथा ।
शवं तत्स्पृष्टिनं चैव स्पृष्ट्वा स्नानेन शुध्यति ॥ ८४ ॥

divākīrtimudakyāṃ ca patitaṃ sūtikāṃ tathā |
śavaṃ tatspṛṣṭinaṃ caiva spṛṣṭvā snānena śudhyati || 84 ||

After having touched the Cāndāla, the menstruating woman, the outcast, the woman in child-bed, the dead body, or toucher thereof—one becomes pure by bathing.—(84).


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The ‘divākīrti’ is the cāṇḍāla; that it is so is clear from the fact that he is mentioned along with the worst untouchables, and also from the use of the name in the Mahābhārata, in course of a conversation between the Cat and the Mouse—‘at that time the Divākīrti became oppressed with fear’ (where it is the cāṇḍāla that is clearly meant). It cannot stand for the barber here; for the barber is among the touchables, and also because he is one whose food may be eaten (by the Brāhmaṇa). As for the rule laying down the necessity of bathing after a shave, this cannot be put forward in the present context, as the bathing in this case is necessitated by the consideration that, while one is shaving hairs are bound to fall on the body, and as, on falling from the body, they are unclean, it is necessary that one should bathe.

Tatspṛṣṭinam’, ‘the toucher thereof.’—This compound is to be expounded as—‘tasya spṛṣṭam, tadasyāsti’. The men who touch those mentioned above have also got to bathe.

Some people argue that, as the persons mentioned are not all in equal proximity to the term ‘tatspṛṣṭinam,’ ‘the toucher thereof,’ this refers to the ‘dead body’ only, and not to the ‘Cāṇḍāla’ and the rest. But others hold that since all are mentioned in the same sentence, and since the term occurs at the end of all the other persons mentioned, all these are present before the mind, and hence referred to by the pronoun ‘thereof‘; so that the construction intended is that all the terms up to ‘śaram’, ‘the dead body’, form one copulative compound, and then compounded with ‘spṛṣṭinam’, ‘toucher’; and hence when the term ‘the toucher thereof’ comes up, all the things spoken of by all the members of the copulative compound come to the mind. There is, on the other band, nothing to indicate that the term ‘toucher’ is to be connected with the ‘dead body’ only; for the simple reason that it is equally connected with the ‘outcast’ and the rest also. In fact, all that is clearly indicated is that the term ‘toucher’ is connected with some other term that has gone before; in a copulative compound however, each term is regarded as denoting all the things spoken of; and hence all these latter are equally closely related to the term ‘toucher’. Another construction that might be suggested is to construe the term ‘toucher thereof’ with the term ‘dead body’, and then with the other terms. But in this case, there would be nothing to justify the connection of the term ‘toucher’ with the ‘outcast’ and the rest.

From all this it follows that it is only on the strength of usage that a right conclusion can be arrived at.—(84)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

(Verse 85 of others.)

Tatspṛṣṭinam’—‘One who has touched these, i.e., the Divākīrti and the rest’ (Medhātithi, Nārāyaṇa and Nandana); ‘one who has touched a corpse’ (‘others’ in Medhātithi, Govindarāja, Kullūka and Rāghavānanda).

This verse is.quoted in Aparārka (p. 921), which adds the following:—Even though through its proximity to the term ‘śava’, ‘tatspṛṣṭinam’ would appear to mean ‘one who has touched a śava’, yet inasmuch as the ‘Divākīrti’ and others mentioned before also belong, like the corpse, to the category of ‘unclean things’, it is only right that one who touches the person that has touched all those should bathe. This agrees with Medhātithi.

It is quoted in Mitākṣarā (on 3. 30) to the effect that even when between the man and an unclean thing, there interposes a living thing (like the man who has touched the unclean things) the man has to bathe.

It is quoted in Madanapārijāta (p. 258) to the effect that the man who touches one who has touched the Divākīrti and the rest, should bathe; i.e., the touch of an unclean thing defiles also when it is indirect, being interposed by a living object (like the man touching the Divākīrti &c.).

It is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Āhnika, p. 202), which explains Divākīrti as ‘Chaṇḍāla’;—and in Vidhānapārijāta (p. 54), which reproduces the note made by Madanapārijāta is quoted in Parāśaramādhava (Ācāra, p. 257), which explains ‘divākīrti’ as ‘Chaṇḍāla’;—in Hemādri (Śrāddha, p. 796);—in Śuddhikaumudī. (p. 327), which explains ‘divākīrti’ as ‘chaṇḍāla’;—in Ācāramayūkha (p. 42);—and in Prāyaścittaviveka (pp. 159 and 468), which explains ‘tatspṛṣṭin’ as ‘one who has touched a dead body’.


Comparative notes by various authors

Gautama (14.30).—‘On touching an outcast, a Caṇḍāla, a woman impure on account of confinement, a woman in her courses, or a corpse,—and on touching persons who have touched them,—he shall purify himself by bathing in his clothes.’

Baudhāyana (1.9.5).—‘On touching a tree standing on a sacred spot, a funeral pyre, a sacrificial post, a Caṇḍāla, or a person who sells the Veda,—a Brāhmaṇa shall bathe in his clothes.’

Baudhāyana (1.11.36).—‘On touching one who sells the Veda, a sacrificial post, an outcast, a funeral pyre, a dog or a Caṇḍāla, he shall bathe.’

Vaśiṣṭha (4.37).—‘When he has touched a sacrificial post, a pyre, a burial ground, a menstruating woman, a woman lately confined, impure men, or Cāṇḍalas and so forth,—he shall bathe, submerging both bis body and his head.’

Viṣṇu (22.69).—‘After having touched one who has touched a corpse, or a woman in her courses, or a Caṇḍāla or a sacrificial post,—bathing is ordained.’

Yājñavalkya (3.29).—‘On touching a woman in her courses or persons suffering from impurity due to birth and death, one should bathe; on touching persons who have touched them he shall rinse his mouth.’

Saṃvarta (Aparārka, p. 921).—‘For one who touches one who has touched these, bathing has been enjoined.’

Viṣṇu (Do.).—‘On touching a woman in her courses, a corpse, a Caṇḍāla, human bone with fat, one should bathe with his clothes on.’

Chyavana (Do., p. 922).—‘One shall bathe with clothes on on touching an outcast, a Caṇḍāla, one who lives upon property belonging to gods, the village-priest, the Soma-vendor, the sacrilìcial post, a funeral pyre, a wood of the pyre, wine, wine-vessel, human bone with fat, one who has touched a corpse, a woman in her courses, one who has committed a heinous crime, or a corpse; after bathing, he should touch fire, repeat the Gāyatrī a hundred and eight times, bathe again and then rinse his mouth thrice.’

Bṛhaspati (Aparārka, p. 922).—‘An outcast, a woman lately confined, a Caṇḍāla,— on touching these intentionally one becomes purified by bathing with clothes on, touching fire and eating butter. On touching a person who has touched a corpse, a Caṇḍāla, a funeral pyre, a sacrificial post, a woman in her courses, intentionally, the Brāhmaṇa shall become purified by bathing.’

Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa (Aparārka, p. 923).—‘One whose food should not be eaten, a woman lately confined, a eunuch, a cat, a Caṇḍāla, a dog, a cock, an outcast, an excommunicated person, a corpse-carrier, a woman in her courses, a pig,—on touching these one becomes purified by bathing.’

Vṛddha-Yājñavalkya (Do.).—‘On touching a Caṇḍāla, a Pukkasa, a Mleccha, a Bhilla, a Pārasīka, one who has committed a heinous crime,—one should bathe with clothes on.’

Parāśara (Do.).—‘On touching a tree growing in a crematorium, a funeral pyre, a sacrificial post, a Caṇḍāla, a Soma-vendor,—the Brāhmaṇa should enter water with clothes on.’

Devala (Do.).—‘A Caṇḍāla, an outcast, a corpse-carrier, a woman lately confined, a woman in her courses,—on touching these one becomes purified by bathing.’

Vāyupurāṇa (Do.).—‘The woman in her courses, the woman lately confined, the dog, the Antyāvasāyin, the corpse-carrier,—on touching these there is impurity, from which one becomes purified by bathing with clay and with clothes on.’

Parāśara (Do., p. 926).—‘If one happens to touch a Caṇḍāla and the corpse and other things after sunset, he becomes purified by touching fire and gold.’

Aṅgiras (Parāśaramādhava, p. 257).—‘On touching a person who has touched a corpse, a woman in her courses and a woman lately confined or one outcast—one becomes purified on bathing with clothes on.’

Kūrmapurāṇa (Do., p. 258).—‘If one touches by chance a person who has been touched by a Caṇḍāla, a woman lately confined, or a corpse,—he shall sip water and do japa; if one intentionally touches the said person, he should sip water for the purpose of purifying himself.’

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