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:

न विप्रं स्वेषु तिष्ठत्सु मृतं शूद्रेण नाययेत् ।
अस्वर्ग्या ह्याहुतिः सा स्यात्शूद्रसंस्पर्शदूषिता ॥ १०३ ॥

na vipraṃ sveṣu tiṣṭhatsu mṛtaṃ śūdreṇa nāyayet |
asvargyā hyāhutiḥ sā syātśūdrasaṃsparśadūṣitā || 103 ||

One should not have a dead Brāhmaṇa carried by a Śūdra, while his own people are there. For it would be an oblation into fire, defiled by the touch of the Śūdra, and as such not conducive to heaven.—(l 03).


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Have carried’—have taken out.

While his own people are there’—i.e., men of the same caste. The use of the term ‘oblation into fire’ implies that the body should not also be burnt by the Śūdra.

The specification of the ‘Brāhmaṇa’ is not emphasised; for the Kṣatriya and the Vaiśya also the Śūdra’s touch is defiling; hence what the supplementary statement indicates is that the prohibition applies to the case of these two also.—(103).


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

(Verse 104 of others.)

According to Nārāyaṇa this rule is meant for Brāhmaṇas only; but Medhātithi says that the ‘vipra’ is mentioned only by way of illustration; the rule applies to all the three higher castes.

This verse is quoted in Mitākṣarā (on 3.20);—in Parāśaramādhava (Ācāra, p. 634), which reproduces the remark made in Mitākṣarā that the phrase ‘sveṣu tiṣṭhatsu’ is superfluous, in view of the assertion (in the second half) that the touching of the body by the lower castes is ‘asvargya,’ which would imply that the body should not be so touched, irrespective of the presence or absence of the dead person’s ‘own people’;—and in Śuddhimayūkha (p. 17).

It is quoted in Madanapārijāta (p. 395), which also adds the same remark;—and in Hāralatā (p. 120) which says —‘sveṣu tiṣṭhatsu’ means that if possible the dead body of a Brāhmaṇa should be carried by Brāhmaṇas alone, in the absence of Brāhmaṇas by Kṣatriyas, even by Vaiśyas in the absence of Kṣatriyas, and by Śūdras only when there are no Vaiśyas—‘asvargyā,’ this also refers to cases where twice-born persons are available.


Comparative notes by various authors

Viṣṇu (19.1).—‘One must not cause a dead member of a twice-born caste to be carried by a Śūdra; nor a Śūdra by a twice-born person.’

Yama (Parāśaramādhava, p. 634).—‘When a sacrificer dies, the Śūdra shall not carry his dead body; that dead person for whom the Śūdra carries fire, grass or wood, remains a ghost for ever and becomes defiled by sin.’

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