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:

नार्थसम्बन्धिनो नाप्ता न सहाया न वैरिणः ।
न दृष्टदोषाः कर्तव्या न व्याध्यार्ता न दूषिताः ॥ ६४ ॥

nārthasambandhino nāptā na sahāyā na vairiṇaḥ |
na dṛṣṭadoṣāḥ kartavyā na vyādhyārtā na dūṣitāḥ || 64 ||

Neither interested persons, nor relations, nor helpers, nor enemies, nor persons of proved corruption, nor those afflicted with disease, nor the corrupted should be made witnesses.—(64)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The following persons are named, as showing those persons in whose case causes for telling lies are likely to be present.

Among these are (1) ‘interested persons’ —i.e., persons standing related to each other in the relation of the creditor, the debtor and so forth. If a person loses a ease through the deposition of one who happens to be his debtor, he is likely to become enraged at that very time and to press the debtor for immediate repayment of the debt; in view of this the debtor is likely to be swayed by a desire to keep the creditor pleased; and as such he cannot he a witness. Similarly, in a suit filed by the debtor against some one, his creditor would be swayed by the consideration that if the penniless suitor won his case, he would he able to repay his own dues; and as such he would he likely to depose falsely in his favour; for this reason he also cannot be a true witness.

Or, ‘interest’ mean purpose, object; thus persons who have some end in view,—who stand to gain from either party,—or from whom either party is likely to gain something—are called ‘interested’—their interest in the case being similar to that of the parties themselves.

Relations’—friends and relations knowing the insand outs of the case,—e.g., paternal and maternal uncles, etc.

Helpers’—those who have stood security and others similarly situated.

Enemies’—what these are is well known.

Persons of proved corruption,’—those who have home false evidence in other cases, or who have committed other forbidden acts.

Afflicted with disease,’—i.e., those affected by serious,—not paltry-ailments; this is what is implied by the term ‘afflicted.’ Those labouring under such afflictions are likely to lose temper, to forget things and to perjure themselves.

Corrupted,’— those who have committed a mortal sin, or have repeatedly committed minor sins. the term ‘of proved corruption’ is meant to refer to those who hare been convicted of, and punished for, a serious crime. Such persons are no longer regarded as ‘corrupted,’ because they have been brought under discipline by having paid to t he king the penalty for their sin.—(64)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Arthasambandhinaḥ’—‘Persons having money-dealings with either of the two parties’ (Medhātithi, Govindarāja, Kullūka and Rāghavānanda);—‘having an interest in the suit’ (Nārāyaṇa and Medhātithi, alternatively); ‘who have received benefits from the parties’ (Nandana).

Sahāyāḥ’—‘Sureties and the like’ (Medhātithi);—‘Servants’ (Kullūka and Nārāyaṇa).

This verse is quoted in Parāśaramādhava (Vyavahāra, p. 66);—in Vyavahāra-Bālambhaṭṭī, (p. 281);—in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Vyavahāra, p. 10a);—in Kṛtyakalpataru (29b);—and in Vīramitrodaya (Vyavahāra, 49a), which says that these texts set forth those qualities, which make a man unreliable as a witness, and it reproduces Medhātithi’s explanations of the words.


Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 8.64-67)

Gautama (13.2).—(See under 63.)

Āpastamba (2.29.7).—(See under 63.)

Vaśiṣṭha (16.28).—(See under 63.)

Viṣṇu (8.2-4).—‘The King cannot be made a witness; nor an ascetic, nor a learned Brāhmaṇa, nor a gamester, nor a thief, nor a person who is not his own master, nor a woman, nor a child, nor a perpetrator of violence, nor one overaged, nor one intoxicated or insane, nor a man of ill-repute, nor an outcast, nor one tormented by hunger or thirst, nor one oppressed by a sudden calamity, nor one wholly absorbed in evil passions;—nor an enemy or a friend, nor one interested in the subject-matter, nor one who does forbidden acts; nor one formerly perjured; nor an attendant; nor one who, without being appointed, comes and offers his evidence.’

Yājñavalkya (2.70-71).—‘The following are not to be made witnesses:—Woman, child, aged person, gamester, one intoxicated or insane, one accused of a heinous crime, actor, heretic, forger, one with defective organs, outcast, a near relative, or one related in business, friend, enemy, thief, one addicted to violence, those beset with perceptible faults, one despised (by good men).’

Baudhāyana (1.19.13).—(See under 62.)

Nārada (1.157-162).—‘Incompetent witnesses have been declared by the learned to be of five sorts: (1) Actually declared by law to be incompetent, (2) incompetent on account of depravity, (3) incompetent by reason of contradiction, (4) one of uncalled for deposition, (5) one of intervening decease. (1) Learned Brāhmaṇas, devotees, aged persons and ascetics are those who have been declared by law to be incompetent, without any reason being given for it;—(2) thieves, robbers, dangerous characters, gamblers and assassins are incompetent by reason of their depravity, there is no truth to be found in them;—(3) if the statements of witnesses called by the King do not agree, they are rendered incompetent by reason of contradiction,—(4) he who, without being appointed to be a witness, comes of his own accord to make a deposition, is called a spy in the law-books and he is unworthy to bear testimony;—(5) where can any person bear testimony, if the claimant is no longer in existence, whose claim should have been heard? Such a person is rendered incompetent by reason of intervening decease.’

Nārada (1.177-192).—‘Those must not be examined as witnesses who are interested in the suit; nor friends or associates or enemies or notorious offenders or persons stained with a heavy sin;—nor a slave or an impostor, or one not admitted to Śrāddhas; nor a child, nor an oil-presser, nor one intoxicated, nor a mad man, nor a careless man, nor one distressed, nor a gamester, nor one who sacrifices for the whole village;—nor one engaged in a long journey, nor a merchant who travels to transmarine countries, nor a religious ascetic, nor one sick or deformed; nor a simple man, nor a learned Brāhmaṇa, nor one who neglects religious practices, nor a eunuch nor an actor;—nor an atheist, nor an apostate, nor one who has forsaken his wife or his fire, nor one who makes illicit offerings, nor an associate who eats out of the same dish as oneself, nor an adversary, nor a spy, nor a relation, nor one related by the same womb;—nor one who has proved an evil-doer, nor a public dancer, nor one who lives by poison, nor a snake-catcher, nor a poisoner, nor an incendiary, nor one who has committed a minor offence;—nor one oppressed by fatigue, nor a ferocious man, nor one who has relinquished worldly appetites, nor one penniless, nor a member of the lowest castes, nor one leading a bad life, nor one still a student, nor an oilman nor a dealer in roots;—nor one obsessed by a demon, nor an enemy of the King, nor a weather-prophet, nor an astrologer, nor a malicious person, nor one self-sold, nor one of deficient limbs, nor one living by prostitution;—nor one with bad nails or black teeth, nor one who betrays his friend, nor a rogue, nor a dealer in spirituous liquor, nor a juggler, nor an avaricious or cruel man, nor an enemy of the company of traders or of an association;—nor one who takes animal-life, nor a leather-manufacturer, or a cripple, or an outcast, or a forger, or a quack, or an apostate, or a robber, or one of the King’s attendants;—nor a Brāhmaṇa who sells human beings, cattle meat, bones, honey, milk, water or butter; nor a member of a twice-born caste who is addicted to usury;—nor one who neglects his duties, nor a judge, nor a bard, nor one who serves low people, nor one who quarrels with his father, nor one who causes dissension. These are the incompetent witnesses. When a heinous crime, or a robbery or adultery or defamation has been committed, the King should not inquire too strictly into the character of the witnesses. A child also cannot be made a witness; nor a woman, nor one man alone, nor a cheat, nor a relation, nor an enemy. By the consent of both parties even one man alone may become a witness in a suit.’

Bṛhaspati (7.29-30).—‘The mother’s father, the father’s brother, the wife’s brother, maternal uncle, brother, friend and son-in-law are inadmissible as witnesses in all disputes. Persons addicted to adultery or to drinking, gamblers, calumniators, insane, suitering, violent persons and unbelievers cannot act as witnesses.’

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