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:

ब्रह्मचारी गृहस्थश्च वानप्रस्थो यतिस्तथा ।
एते गृहस्थप्रभवाश्चत्वारः पृथगाश्रमाः ॥ ८७ ॥
सर्वेऽपि क्रमशस्त्वेते यथाशास्त्रं निषेविताः ।
यथोक्तकारिणं विप्रं नयन्ति परमां गतिम् ॥ ८८ ॥

brahmacārī gṛhasthaśca vānaprastho yatistathā |
ete gṛhasthaprabhavāścatvāraḥ pṛthagāśramāḥ || 87 ||
sarve'pi kramaśastvete yathāśāstraṃ niṣevitāḥ |
yathoktakāriṇaṃ vipraṃ nayanti paramāṃ gatim || 88 ||

The student, the Householder, the Hermit and the Renunciate,—all these, several stages emanate from the Householder.—(87). But all these, when observed in due order, a ccording to the scriptures lead the Brāhmaṇa who has (thus) acted according to the law, to the highest state.—(88).


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

(verses 6.87-88)

Objection:—“Inasmuch as the author has promised that he is going to expound the duties of the Renouncer of the Veda, the assertion of the sequence of the life-stages is entirely irrelevant.”

In answer to this some people have explained that the four life-stages have been mentioned in the present context with a view to show that ‘Renunciation (of the Veda)’ is not a distinct stage, being included among these same four; and the question arising as regards the particular stage in which it is included, the present verse points out that it is included in the state of the ‘Householder’; since the man has to dwell in the ‘house.’

Others however point out that the said ‘Renunciation of the Veda’ is to be included under the fourth stage of ‘going forth as a mendicant’, since it resembles this latter on this point that in both there is ‘renouncing of attachments’; nor is any need for including it under any one stage; because by virtue of the qualities of the man and of the Renunciate, the man would no longer have anything to do with sacrifices and other acts; specially as these have been enjoined by means of such specific words and expressions as restrict them to a definite lifestage.

“But if the man belongs to no life-stage, he would be liable to the penalty of the expiatory rite that has been prescribed for one who, for one year, remains outside the pale of all orders.”

Since such a state of things would have been brought about by the strict observance of the words of the text, how could there be any liability to an expiatory penance?

From all this it follows that the other orders have been mentioned in the present text for the purpose of eulogising Renunciation; and this serves the purpose of lending support to the view that the. combination of knowledge and action’ (as represented by the four orders) is necessary (for liberation).

In view of the fact that the house is the shelter, the dwelling-place, for all these orders, they have the Householder for their ‘source’, their support. Such is the explanation of the compound.—(88)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

(verses 6.87-93)

“According to the commentators, the following discussion (87-93) is introduced in order to show, (1) that there are four orders only, and that the Vedasannyāsika belongs to these, and does not form a fifth order, or stand outside the orders; (2) that as the order of the Householders is most distinguished, it is proper that a man may continue to live in his house under the protection of his son.”—Buhler.

(verse 6.87)

This verse is quoted in Puruṣārthacintāmaṇi (p. 445), which explains ‘gṛhasthaprabhavāḥ’ as ‘dependent upon the Householder’;—in Saṃskāramayūkha (p. 64), which has the same note;—and also in Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra, p. 173).

(verse 6.88)

This verse is quoted in Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra, p. 173), which says that ‘kramaśaḥ’ indicates that any inversing of the order of the Life-stages is forbiddenand in Saṃskāramayūkha (p. 64), which has the same note.


Comparative notes by various authors

(verse 6.87)

Gautama (3.2-3).—‘The four orders are—Student, Householder, Hermit and Vaikhānasa. The Householder is the source of these, because the others do not produce offspring.’

Āpastamba (2.21.1).—‘There are four orders:—Householder, Student, Hermit and Renunciate.’

Śukranīti (4.4.1-5).—‘The Brahmacāri, the Gṛhastha, the Vānaprastha and the Yati are the four compulsory stages for every Brāhmaṇa. The Brahmacāri is the disciple who wants learning; the Gṛhastha is for maintaining all men; the Vānaprastha is for restraining the passions and activities, and the Sanyāsi attempts the attainment of salvation.’

Baudhāyana (2.11-12).—‘The Student, the Householder, the Hermit and the Renunciate.’

(verse 6.88)

Gautama (3.1).—‘Some people declare that he who has studied the Veda may make his choice as to which among the orders he shall enter.’

Āpastamba (2.21.2).—‘If he lives in all these four orders according to the rules, without allowing himself to be disturbed, he will gain liberation.’

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