Manusmriti with the Commentary of Medhatithi
Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration and English translation by Ganganath Jha:
त्रीणि देवाः पवित्राणि ब्राह्मणानामकल्पयन् ।
अदृष्टमद्भिर्निर्णिक्तं यच्च वाचा प्रशस्यते ॥ १२५ ॥
trīṇi devāḥ pavitrāṇi brāhmaṇānāmakalpayan |
adṛṣṭamadbhirnirṇiktaṃ yacca vācā praśasyate || 125 ||
The gods ordained three things pure for the Brāhmaṇas: what is not seen, what is washed with water and what is commended by word.—(125).
Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):
The mention of the gods is by way of commendation.
The term ‘Brāhmaṇa’ includes, according to usage, all castes.
‘What is not seen’;—a thing that, though lying in an unprotected place, is yet not actually seen to have been contaminated by the touch of the dog, the crow or such other things. The mere presence of such animals should not be made the ground for suspecting actual defilement, until it is actually perceived. Similarly there can be no harm in a man partaking of food prepared in the kitchen by cooks and others who may have done the cooking without having themselves undergone a cleansing process [if anything unclean is not actually perceived].
In this connection, no one should entertain the idea that—‘there would be nothing wrong in the partaking of food if the defilement were entirely unknown.’ As this would be contrary to what has been declared (in 5.20) regarding the sinfulness of eating certain things unintentionally.
Thus the conclusion is that a thing is to be regarded as pure in connection with which no contamination is known by any of the recognised means of knowledge. But when, even in the absence of definite proof, there be even the slightest and most far-fetched suspicion regarding contamination, the thing concerned should be washed with water. E.g. when from among a large number of dishes and cups lying in the same place, if even one has been seen to be contaminated by the touch of the dog or some such thing, all the rest of them also should be washed with water.
To this same category (of ‘what is not seen’) belongs also ‘what is commended by word.’ That is cultured men should be made to pronounce the thing to be pure. They say that things become pure by the Brāhmaṇa’s word. The present tense in ‘praśasyate’, ‘is commended’, has the force of the Injunctive.
Some people explain the‘commendation’ here spoken of as follows “When the person going to make use of a certain thing has seen it being defiled, even if he does not himself see it being purified, he should believe it to have been purified if cultured people assure him that it has undergone purification.”
This however is not right. Since the assertion of a trustworthy person has nowhere been spoken of as being unreliable, to assert it here would be a needless repetition.
Others have explained the term ‘what is washed with water’ as meant to be an example,—and the ‘unseen’ and the ‘commended by word’ as the two whose purity is here enjoined; the sense being—‘Just as what is washed with water is pure, so also should be regarded what is not seen and what is commended by word’
“If everything is pure, in which no contamination is cognised by either Perception or Inference or Verbal Authority,—then why should the Cāndrāyaṇa have been prescribed (under 5.21) as to be performed for the expiation of the sin of having partaken of defiled food, without knowledge ?”
What has been said under 5.21 is in connection with what is At for being eaten; while the present text deals with purification in general. Or, a distinction may be drawn between the two declarations, either on the ground of one referring to cases of more serious defilement than the other, or on the ground of one referring to times of distress and the other to normal times.—(125)
Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha
(Verse 127 of others.)
This is quoted in Madanapārijāta (p. 469) as laying down the means of satisfaction where defilement is only suspected;—in Smṛtitattva (p. 454), which adds the following note:—‘adṛṣṭam’ is ‘that which has never been known to be suspected of defilement’,—‘vācā praśasyate’—when a thing has been suspected of being defiled, if the Brāhmaṇas declare ‘may this be pure’, it has to be regarded as pure;—such being the explanation, it adds, provided by Dīpakalikā and Kullūka Bhaṭṭa;—in Hemādri (Śrāddha, p. 818);—in Nityācāropradīpa (p. 102) which explains ‘adṛṣṭam’, as ‘not perceived to be defiled’, i.e., where no defilement is known to exist by any means of knowledge,—‘nirṇiktam’, washed, when suspected of being defiled,—‘Vācā etc.’ if even after washing, there is some compunction, this is removed when the thing is commended;—in Prāyaścittaviveka (p 292);—and in Śuddhikaumudī (p. 459) which says that ‘brāhmaṇa’ stands for all the four castes.
Comparative notes by various authors
Mahābhārata (3.101.40).—(Same as Manu).
Baudhāyana (1.9.9).—‘The gods created for Brāhmaṇas three means of purification—ignorance of defilement, sprinkling with water and commending by word of mouth.’
Vaśiṣṭha (14.24).—‘They quote the following words of Prajāpati—The gods created for Brāhmaṇas, three means of purifying—Ignorance, sprinkling and commending by word of mouth.’
Viṣṇu (2?.47).—‘The gods have declared, as peculiar to Brāhmaṇas, three means of effecting purity—if the impurity has not been perceived, if the object is sprinkled with water, if, in doubtful cases, they commend it with speech.’
Yājñavalkya (1.191).—(See under 124 then)—‘What is verbally cemmended (commended?), or washed with water, or unknown (as defiled) is ever pure.’