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 8.107 [Abstaining from giving evidence]

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

त्रिपक्षादब्रुवन् साक्ष्यं ऋणादिषु नरोऽगदः ।
तदृणं प्राप्नुयात् सर्वं दशबन्धं च सर्वतः ॥ १०७ ॥

tripakṣādabruvan sākṣyaṃ ṛṇādiṣu naro'gadaḥ |
tadṛṇaṃ prāpnuyāt sarvaṃ daśabandhaṃ ca sarvataḥ || 107 ||

The man, who, without being ill, does not give evidence for three fortnights, in regard to debts and other matters, should hear that entire debt, as also a penalty of the tenth part in all cases.—(107)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Fifteen days and nights make a ‘fortnight’; the aggregate of three fortnights is called ‘tripakṣam’; according to Pāṇini 2.4.17, the compound should have a feminine ending, but this is precluded by the exception that follows, regarding ‘pātra’ and other words (which include the word ‘pakṣa’ also).

“In that case the feminine form ‘tripakṣī’ should be impossible.”

The wrong gender in that case is to be regarded as a ‘Vedic anomaly.’

The Ablative ending in ‘tripakṣāt’ has the force of the participial affix ‘lyap.’

The meaning of the verse thus is that—‘He who after having waited for three fortnights, dees not give evidence, without being ill, should hear the burden of that debt’;—‘as also the tenth part out of it, as a penalty.’

Debts and other mailers’;—the addition of the phrase ‘and other matters’ indicates that what is said here applies to all kinds of suits; and the repetition of the term ‘debt’ is only by way of illustration. The meaning is that—‘in a suit where for the said time no evidence is given, the burden of the defeated party is to be borne by the witnesses.’

Gada,’ ‘illness,’ is meant to indicate other kinds of disability also; so that due cognizance should be taken of such conditions also as family troubles, fear of creditor and so forth.

The term ‘bandha’ following a numeral word, denotes penalty, and stands for the ‘tenth part.’

The terms ‘naraḥ’ and ‘sarvataḥ’ are added only for filling up the metre.

Others explain that the assertion ‘should hear that debt’ means that ‘he incurs the sin of stealing the amount of the debt.’

The meaning is that the man shall pay the tenth part of the fine that would be payable to the king by the defeated party.—(107)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Hopkins again misrepresents Nandana as reading ‘gatonaraḥ’ for ‘Narogadaḥ.’ It is clear that Hopkins had a very defective manuscript of Nandana’s commentary.

This verse is quoted in Kṛtyakalpataru (37b);—in Aparārka (p. 677), to the effect that it is only in cases relating to debts and the like that the absentee witness who is fit to attend, does not attend;—in Mitākṣarā (on 2.76) which adds that ‘agadaḥ’ stands for freedom from disease and state or divine oppression;—in Smṛticandrikā (Vyavahāra, p. 213), which explains ‘agadaḥ’ as ‘in good health,’—‘tadṛnam’ as that which can be proved by means of witnesses;—‘sarvam’ as ‘along with accrued interest,’ and ‘prāpnuyāt’ as ‘should be paid’;—and in Vīramitrodaya (Vyavahāra, 54b) which explains that ‘agadaḥ’ stands for the ‘absence of obstacles arising either from natural causes or from some action of the king.’


Comparative notes by various authors

Gautama (13.6).—‘If witnesses, on being asked, do not answer, they are guilty of a crime.’

Yājñavalkya (2.76).—‘A person not deposing as a witness should be made to pay, on the forty-sixth day, the entire amount of the debt (involved in the suit), along with the tenth part of that amount as penalty.’

Bṛhaspati (7.31).—‘If a witness, who is not ill, being summoned, does not make his appearance, he should be made to pay the debt and also a fine, after the lapse of three fortnights.’

Nārada (1.197).—‘He who conceals his knowledge at the time of trial, although previously he has stated to others what he knows, deserves specially heavy punishment; for he is more criminal than a false witness.’

Śukranīti (4.5.387).—‘The man who, when summoned, does not bear witness is punishable.’

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