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 7.70 [Fortification (durga)]

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

धन्वदुर्गं महीदुर्गमब्दुर्गं वार्क्षमेव वा ।
नृदुर्गं गिरिदुर्गं वा समाश्रित्य वसेत् पुरम् ॥ ७० ॥

dhanvadurgaṃ mahīdurgamabdurgaṃ vārkṣameva vā |
nṛdurgaṃ giridurgaṃ vā samāśritya vaset puram || 70 ||

He shall live in a city, taking up his residence either in a ‘bow-fort’, or in an ‘earthen fort’, or in an ‘aquatic fort,’ or in an ‘arborial fort,’ or in a ‘human fort,’ or in a ‘hilly fort.’—(70)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Bow-fort’— surrounded by a strongly-built wall, built of bricks, double-storeyed, more than 12 cubits high) with its base like the palm and its top like the monkey’s head.

Earthen fort’— surrounded by earthen embankments.

Aquatic fort’—surrounded by unfathomable water.

Arborial fort’— surrounded, to a distance of four miles, with densely-packed large trees.

Human fort’— garrisoned by an army of four divisions, and filled with arms and heroic persons.

Hilly fort’— inaccessibly high, with a single pathway leading to it, supplied with water from an underground stream.—(70)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Parāśaramādhava (Ācāra, p. 406), as describing the various kinds of fortification;—in Mitākṣarā (on 1. 320) as describing the six kinds of fortification;—in Vīramitrodaya (Rājanīti, p. 202);—and in Vīramitrodaya (Lakṣana, p. 239), which adds the following explanations:—‘Dhanvadurgam’ is ‘the fortification in the midst of a desert’, called ‘durga’, because of its inaccessibility due to absence of water and other difficulties;—it suggests another explanation of the name—‘dhanvā’ is the name of a tract of land devoid of shelter and water; and a fort that is surrounded by such a tract of land is ‘dhanvadurga’; the meaning being that the king should make his fort, and then render its vicinity waterless and shelterless. It notes a third explanation of the name:—‘Dhanvan,’ ‘bow,’ indicates the ‘dhanvin’, ‘archer’; hence ‘dhanvadurga’ would mean a ‘line of defence consisting of of men armed with bows and arrows This, it says, is not right; as it involves the necessity of having recourse to metaphorical explanation; and also because we have never heard of such a ‘fort’; again because such a ‘line of defence’ could be very easily broken through; and lastly because this would be the same as the ‘nṛdurga’ coming later.—‘Naradurga’ is the line of defence consisting of the army; and this consists of elephants, chariots, horses and archers; and as this also would include archers, the separate name ‘dhanvadurga’ could not stand for the same sort of defence.—The ‘Mahīdurga’ is the ‘fort made of bricks and stones on the ground’;—some people explain it as a fort consisting only of an unevenly rugged tract of land;—the ‘Mahīdurga’ has been thus defined in Auśanasa Dhanurveda—‘That fort is called Mahīdurga which consists of a tract of land, portions of which are very high and others very low; it is equipped with all accessories, well guarded and filled with all means of offence and defence’. The ‘Jaladurga’ consists of that place which is surrounded by swift, and unfordable streams of water.—The ‘Vanadurga’ is a tract of land surrounded by impenetrable forests and trees.—‘Baladurga or Nṛdurga’ is that line of defence which consists in the dispositions of the army.—The ‘Giridurga’ is erected either on the summit of a mountain, or in a tract of land surrounded by hills.

It is quoted in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Saṃskāra, p. 72a):—and in Nītimayūkha (p. 64), which adds that Kāmandaka mentions the Airaṇadurga also.


Comparative notes by various authors

Mahābhārata (12.86.5).—‘Dhanvadurga, Mahīdurga, Giridurga, Manuṣyadurga, Mṛddurga, Vanadurga,—these are the six forts.’

Viṣṇu (3.6).—‘There shall he reside in a stronghold—either of desert, or of armed men, or of fortifications, or of water, or of trees, or of mountains.’

Yājñavalkya (3.20).—‘There he shall build forts for the protection of men and treasures.’

Kāmandaka (4.57).—‘The king should settle in a fortress which is extensive, environed by a wide ditch and secured with gates, strengthened with high massive walls and sheltered by mighty mountains, forests and deserts.’

Matsya-purāṇa (Vīramitrodaya-Rājanīti, p. 199).—‘The wise king shall build one of the six kinds of fort—the Bow fort, the Earthen fort, the Human fort, the Arborial fort, the Aquatic fort and the Hilly fort.’

Auśanasa Dhanurveda (Do.).—‘(1) The Bow fort is that which is devoid of water, abounding in pebbles, rough, without supports, beset with obstacles and poisonous insects, not admitting of easy locomotion, equipped with strong guards and free from disease. (2) The Earthen fort is equipped with all accessories, well protected, and supplied with implements, in places very high, and in places very low. (3) The Human fort consists of men related to the king hereditarily, obedient and contented, well-trained and under suitable officers, terrible, and ever alert. (4) The Arborial fort consists of the forest, with paths unknown, densely packed with trees, thickets and creepers and thorns extending far and wide. (5) The Aquatic fort consists of water which has only one entrance and that narrow, full of poison and such aquatic animals as are fond of touching, devouring and killing. (6) Hilly fort consists of a mountain, which is inaccessible, beyond the reach of arrows, fully equipped with all accessories and comforts.’

Mahābhārata (Vīramitrodaya-Rājanīti, p. 199).—‘The king shall gather for himself all the corn; what he cannot gather, that he shall burn; all standing crops also he shall destroy; he shall demolish all passages in rivers and over forts; he shall make all the water flow out; what cannot flow out, that he shall pollute; he shall uproot all small trees near about the fort; of the larger trees, he shall lop off all the branches.’

Bṛhaspati (Do.).—‘For the protection of his wife, wealth and people, as also of stores, the king has to build a fort with double walls.’

Matsya-purāṇa. (Do., p. 203).—‘The fort shall be surrounded by a ditch, equipped with walls and towers, as also with hundreds of guns and other machines.’

Viṣṇudharmottara (Do., Lakṣaṇa, p. 242).—‘The king shall build one of the six kinds of forts.’

Arthaśāstra (p. 119).—‘In the middle of the settlement, he shall establish a natural fort for purposes of war either in the form of an enclosed island, or high ground surrounded by deep ditches, called the water fort; or of stone, in the shape of caves, called the hilly fort; caves, or barren ground devoid of water and grass, called the Bow fort; Or of thicket-covered marshy land, called the Arborial fort. Of these the Water and Hill forts are for defence and the Bow and Arborial forts are for safety during times of distress.’

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