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:

एकोऽलुब्धस्तु साक्षी स्याद् बह्व्यः शुच्योऽपि न स्त्रियः ।
स्त्रीबुद्धेरस्थिरत्वात् तु दोषैश्चान्येऽपि ये वृताः ॥ ७७ ॥

eko'lubdhastu sākṣī syād bahvyaḥ śucyo'pi na striyaḥ |
strībuddherasthiratvāt tu doṣaiścānye'pi ye vṛtāḥ || 77 ||

A single man, free from covetousness, may be a witness, but not many women, even though pure,—because the understanding of women is not steady,—nor other men who are tainted with defects.—(77)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The evidence of a single person having been declared to be inadmissible, the present verse lavs down an exception in favour of one who is free from covetousness. So that if a man is known to be truthful, he is certainly admissible as witness. But women are never admissible,—be they one or many,—‘even though pure’—possessed of high qualifications; and the reason for this is that ‘the understanding of women is not steady’; fickle-mindedness is the very nature of women; while other qualifications are acquired, and as such liable to lapses through carelessness, idleness and so forth; so that their inherent fickleness remains as a constant factor. Just as in the case of a dyspeptic,—even though a certain amount of appetite may have been regained by the use of butter and other things, yet even the least neglect on their part, brings on the inherent Dyspepsia again. Consequently, on account of this uncertainty, there can be no confidence in women, even though they be highly qualified.

As for the declaration (in 70) that ‘in the event of no witnesses being available, women may be made witnesses,’—that refers to cases where they can be immediately questioned, and there is no possibility of their mind being tampered with by any person. When however there has been an interval of time, it is quite possible that they may be won over by the party whoso case is weak and who is in fear of losing it. So that in such cases their evidence is not admissible at all.

Other men tainted with defects;—even persons other than women,—and men,—who are ‘tainted’—beset—with such defects as love, hatred and so forth; i.e., men in whom those defects abound to a every large extent.

Though Love, Hatred and the rest, as being forbidden by the scriptures, have, already been declared by name to be sources of suspicion and dishonesty,—yet they are referred to here again, for the purpose of including those that have not been so mentioned by name, and all writers sanction the mentioning of the general and special aspects of the same tiling.

Some people have adopted the ‘a’ before ‘lubdha’ and construed the verse to mean that ‘even though free from covetousness, a single man cannot be a witness,—how much less then one who is covetous,’—and hence as permitting the evidence of two men.

Though the form ‘śucyaḥ’ is impossible, in view of Pāṇini 4.1.44, yet some people justify it as being in accordance with the Vārtika on 4.1.45—(77)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Smṛtitattva (II, p. 213), which adds the following notes:—‘Eko’ lubdhastu sākṣī’ is the reading adopted by Kullūka Bhaṭṭa; the other reading—‘eko lubdhastvasākṣī’—adopted by Jīmūtavāhana, is not right; because as a matter of fact, even several avaricious men would be asākṣī, and hence there would be no point in the term ‘ekaḥ.’ But admitting this reading, the verse could be taken as not admitting the evidence of one ‘avaricious man’, and thereby admitting that of one man who is free from avarice, even though he be ignorant of law. It is for this reason that Viśvarūpa and others have explained the meaning to be that when accepted by both parties, even a single man may be admitted as witness, and they have not laid stress upon the condition that he should be ‘conversant with law;—‘Dośaiḥ’ stands for theft and so forth.

This verse is quoted in Kṛtyakalpataru (32a).


Comparative notes by various authors

[Vide Texts under 64 et seq.]

Yājñavalkya (2.72).—‘Even a single man may ho admitted as a witness, by the consent of both parties, if he is versed in Dharma.’

Nārada (1.188).—‘Slaves, impostors and others described as inadmissible as witnesses shall he witnesses in suits of a specially grave character.’

Nārada (1.192).—‘By the consent of both parties, a single man may become a witness in a suit. He must be examined in public as a witness,—though he has been mentioned (in the Texts) as an incompetent witness.’

Do. (1.190-191).—‘A woman cannot he a witness; a woman would speak falsely from want of veracity.’

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