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...

Verse 7.1 [Important Position of the King (rājan)]

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration and English translation by Ganganath Jha:

राजधर्मान् प्रवक्ष्यामि यथावृत्तो भवेन्नृपः ।
सम्भवश्च यथा तस्य सिद्धिश्च परमा यथा ॥ १ ॥

rājadharmān pravakṣyāmi yathāvṛtto bhavennṛpaḥ |
sambhavaśca yathā tasya siddhiśca paramā yathā || 1 ||

I am going to expound the duties of Kings; how the Lord of Men should conduct himself, how he came into existence and how excellent success accrues to him.—(1).


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

It has already been pointed out that the term ‘Dharma’ denotes what ought to be done, duty, so what the author promises in the present verse is that he is now going to describe what ought to be done by the King.

This duty is of two kinds—(1) pertaining to visible things, such as the ‘six courses of action’ and the like, and (2) pertaining to invisible things, such as the Agnihotra and the like. In the present context it is the former that is chiefly dealt with; and in fact it is only those forms of activity that are generally known as ‘kingly duties.’

The term ‘rājan’, ‘king,’ in the present context, does not stand for the Kṣatriya caste; it stands for that person who fulfills the conditions of having been anointed, possessing the rights of sovereignty and so forth. It is for this reason that the Text adds—‘How the Lord of Men should conduct himself.’—The use of the term ‘lord of men’ indicates that what is stated here is applicable to the person who has sovereignty over the people.

The duties expounded in the present connection are based, not all upon the Veda, but on other sources of knowledge also. Among those based upon other sources of information, those alone are stated here which are not contrary to the Science of Duty (Ethics). Says Kātyāyana—‘One shall renounce the Science of Politics and act according to the Science of Duty.’

Yathāvṛttaḥ,’ ‘how he should conduct himself’;—the compound is to be expounded as ‘yaḍyatprakārakam vā vṛttam yasya,’ a Bahuvrīhi compound; the third factor referred to by it being the King. If the compound were explained in the manner whereby the denotation of the words of the compound itself formed the principal denotation of the compound itself,—then it would have to be an Aryayībhāva (in the form ‘yathāvṛttam’).—‘Conduct’ stands for the action of protecting the people and also of accomplishing some transcendental ends.

Coming into existense’, being created; as is going to be described under verse 3—‘the Lord created the King’ and so forth.

Excellent’, highest,—‘success’, in the form of undisputed sovereignty.

This verse states the rewards of the due fulfilment of kingly duties (1).


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Rājanīti, p. 10), which adds the following notes:—We proceed to consider the exact meaning of the term ‘rājan’,—the question for determination being—(A) Is the name ‘rājā’ applied to any and every one doing the work of ‘protecting the people?’ (B) or only to one simply belonging to the Kṣatriya caste (C) or to that Kṣatriya alone who is duly anointed?

—Now in support of (A) we have the following arguments:—In popular usage the name ‘rājā’ is applied to any one who owns and performs ‘rājya,’ the functions of the rājā, king; and these functions are actually performed by the Brāhmaṇa and other castes also. In the Nirukta the etymological meaning of ‘rājā’ is explained as ‘rājate,’ ‘one who shines,’ i.e.,with royal glory; and this glory results only from the proper ‘protection of the people.’ The Veda also speaks of Soma as ‘the rājā of Brāhmaṇas,’ and again as ‘the rājā among the Gandharvas’;—in all these passages the term stands for the ‘lord,’ the ‘protector of the people.’

—In support of (B), the view that the term is applicable to the Kṣatriya caste, we have the following arguments:—Manu, having introduced the subject as ‘I am going to describe Rājadharma’ goes on to describe such duties as the protecting of the people and so forth, all of which pertains to the Kṣatriya, as is dear from the next verse which speaks of ‘protection’ as the principal ‘rājadharma’; from all which it is dear that it is the Kṣatriya alone that is entitled to ‘rājya,’ the ‘functions of the Rājā.’

It is in view of the ‘protection of the people’ being his duty that the Kṣatriya alone is entitled to carry arms and to make a living by arms. Yājñavalkya clearly declares ‘protecting of the people’ as the ‘principal duty of the Kṣatriya.’ Paṇini also lays down the affix ‘ṣyañ’ in the term ‘rājya’ in the sense of ‘function’ of the rājā, i.e., the Kṣatriya. Anointing also has been prescribed for the Kṣatriya only; the texts speak of the ‘anointing of the Rājā,’ which means that the ceremony is to be performed by one who is already a Rājā; and this can be true only of the Kṣatriya who alone is a ‘rājā’ (i.e., Kṣatriya) even before being anointed. Thus the primary denotation of the term resting in the Kṣatriya only, whenever it is applied to such Brāhmaṇas and other castes as do the work of the ‘rājā’ it should be understood to be used in a secondary or figurative sense.

—(C) The third view has been held by Medhātithi and Kulllūka, both of whom hold that the term is applicable to ‘any man who is equipped with anointment and such other qualifications, and who does the work of protecting the people.’ So also Haradatta on Gautamasūtra, and Mitākṣarā, the latter applying it to such ‘Householder as is equipped with anointment and other qualifications.’ On the ground of commonsense also the duties laid down for the ‘Rājā’ must be taken as pertaining to every one who has to do the work of ‘protecting the people.’ If they did not, then what would be there for the guidance of those non-Kṣatriyas who happen to be kings of men? Aparārka also declares that the duties prescribed pertain to these non-Kṣatriyas also; though it holds that the name ‘rājā’ is applicable only to that Kṣatriya who has been anointed.

Having stated the arguments for the three views, the author declares his own conclusion as that the word ‘rājan’ in the present context must apply to one on whom devolves the duty of protecting the people;—which is the first of the three views stated above.

See in this connection the Aveṣṭyadhikaraṇa (Mīmāṃsā-sūtra, 2.3.3.), where the conclusion is that the word ‘rājan’ is rightly and directly denotative of the Kṣatriya, and as the ‘protecting of the people’ is prescribed in law-books as the duty of the Kṣatriya, this ‘protection’ has come to be called ‘Rājya’ (Kingship) the ‘function of the King’; and thus when other castes are found, by chance, to perform this function, they have the title ‘rājā’ applied to them only metaphorically.—As for ‘anointment’, the Tantravārtika (Trans. p. 822) remarks that this also is prescribed for the Kṣatriya only. (See in this connection Tantravārtika, Trans. pp. 815-831, where the whole subject is discussed in detail).

Though such is the conclusion of the Mīmāṃsakas, the commentators on Manu are agreed that in the present context the term ‘rājan’ stands for any one who performs such functions of the king as ‘protecting the people’ and so forth. Aparārka combines the two views that it applies to such Kṣatriyas as perform the function of protecting the people.

This verse is quoted in Rājanītiratnākara (p. 2 b).

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