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:

कामं तु क्षपयेद् देहं पुष्पमूलफलैः शुभैः ।
न तु नामापि गृह्णीयात् पत्यौ प्रेते परस्य तु ॥ १५५ ॥

kāmaṃ tu kṣapayed dehaṃ puṣpamūlaphalaiḥ śubhaiḥ |
na tu nāmāpi gṛhṇīyāt patyau prete parasya tu || 155 ||

Well might she macerate her body by means of pure flowers, roots and fruits; but she should not even mention the name of another man, after her husband is dead—(155).


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

What has been said in the preceding verse is explained more specifically in the present verse.

As in the case of men, so in that of women also suicide is forbidden. As for what Aṅgiras has said—‘they should die after their husband’,—this also is not an obligatory act, and so it is not that it must be done. Because in connection with it there is an eulogium bestowed upon the results proceeding from such suicide. Thus then, the performing of the act being possible only for one who is desirous of obtaining the said result, the act stands on the same footing as the Śyena sacrifice. That is, in connection with the Śyena sacrifice we have the Vedic text—‘one may kill living beings by means of the Śyena sacrifice,’—and this makes the performance of this sacrifice possible; but only for one who has become blinded by extreme hatred; so that when the man does perform the act, it does not become regarded as ‘Dharma,’ a ‘meritorious act’; exactly in the same manner, when the widow happens to have a very strong desire for the results accruing from the act of suicide, it is open to her to disobey the prohibition of it and kill herself; but in so doing she cannot be regarded as acting according to the scriptures. From this it is clear that the act of killing herself after her husband is clearly forbidden for the woman. Further, in view of the distinct Vedic text—‘one shall not die before the span of his life is run out’—being contradicted by the Smṛti-text of Aṅgiras, this latter is open to bring assumed to have some other meaning. Just as in the case of the Smṛti rule ‘one should take the final bath after having read the Veda’,—the injunction of the bath, as pertaining to one who has not yet studied the meaning of the Vedic texts, has been taken as having a different meaning.

It may happen so that the widow is childless, has not inherited any property from her husband and has to maintain herself by spinning or some such work; and she does not wish to marry again, because her husband was very dear to her and any disregard for him would be against the scriptures and is even distinctly forbidden; so that knowing that in abnormal times of distress all transgressions are permissible,—as was the case when Viśvāmitra partook of the dog’s thigh—she might, being pinched for a living, be tempted to some transgression. It is with a view to such a case that the author has put forward the present text.

Under the stated circumstances ‘well might’ the woman ‘macerate’—reduce—‘her body’—‘by means of flowers, roots and fruits’;—i.e., she might maintain herself upon these, according as they may be available; ‘but she shall not even mention the name of another man’—by saying to him ‘you are my husband to-day’.

As for the text—‘When the husband is lost or killed or become a renunciate, or is found to be impotent, or become an outcast,—under these five difficulties, another husband is sanctioned for women’ (Parāśara—what is meant is that she may for the purpose of obtaining a living by doing such work of as that of the maid &c., have recourse to another man as her protector,— this being the literal meaning of the term ‘pati’.

This shall he fully dealt with under discourse IX.

This rule also is applicable to the woman whose husband has gone out on a journey.

The use of the term ‘kāmam’—‘well might’—is meant to indicate the author’s displeasure at the course of conduct suggested; the sense being—‘the emaciating of the body is bad, and worse still is the set of having intercourse with another man.’—(155).


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

(Verse 157 of others.)

This verse is quoted in Mitākṣarā (on 2.127), to the effect that never for her livelihood should the widow seek the shelter of another man;—in Varṣakriyākaumudī, (p. 576);—in Saṃskāramayūkha, (p. 119);—and in Vīramitrodaya (Vyavahāra, p. 186b).


Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 5.154-163)

See Comparative notes for Verse 5.154.

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