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...

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

सर्षपाः षड् यवो मध्यस्त्रियवं त्वेककृष्णलम् ।
पञ्चकृष्णलको माषस्ते सुवर्णस्तु षोडश ॥ १३४ ॥

sarṣapāḥ ṣaḍ yavo madhyastriyavaṃ tvekakṛṣṇalam |
pañcakṛṣṇalako māṣaste suvarṇastu ṣoḍaśa || 134 ||

Six ‘mustards’ make one middling ‘barley-corn’; three of these make one ‘guñjā-berry’; a ‘bean’ is made of five ‘guñja-berries;’ and sixteen ‘beans’ make one ‘gold-piece.’—(131)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

“The term ‘middling’ is likely to lead to mistakes. If the names here put forward are meant to be denotative of the size of the objects named, then the addition of the epithet ‘middling’ has some meaning,—the sense being that the size of the ‘Mustard’ here meant is that of a mustard grain which is neither too large nor too small. If, on the other hand, the terms are put forward as mere technical names, then there can be no sense in the term ‘middling,’—the term ‘barleycorn’ being a mere technical name (standing for the grain).”

This is not right. This is not a prose-treatise, that we should seek for the justification of every expression used; it is a metrical treatise, and as such sometimes even irrelevant expressions are introduced for the purpose of filling up the metre. As a matter of fact, however, there is some relevancy in the present case; if it were something wholly irrelevant it would interfere with the comprehension of the sentence as a whole, and would thereby vitiate its authority. But there is nothing irrelevant here; the fact is that the ‘barley-corn’ being mentioned in the middle of the entire table of measures—beginning with the ‘Triad’ and ending with the ‘Śatamūna,’—the epithet ‘middling’ has been added to it in the sense that the particular measure known as the ‘barleycorn’ occurs in the middle of the whole table of measures.

The term ‘pañcakṛṣṇalika’ is formed with the ‘ṭhin’ affix, the sense being ‘that which is made up of five ‘Kṛṣṇalas.’ If the reading is ‘pañcakṛṣṇalika,’ it should be treated as a Bahuvrīhi compound, ending with the ‘kap’ affix.

Sixteen of these ‘guñjā-berries’ make one ‘gold-piece.’—(134)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

The Kṛṣṇala is the same as the Raktikā (Vern. Ratti), equivalent to 122 grammes or 1.875 grains.

“The tines in court were reckoned as so many paṇas, one paṇa being the same as a karṣa = 16 Māṣa = 80 Kṛṣṇala. Some of the weights mentioned are, confined to gold —Suvarṇa and Niṣka; some to silver —Purāṇa and Śatamāna; and some are used for both—kṛṣṇala, paṇa māṣa, pala, dharaṇa, the last at times of copper.”—Hopkins.

This verse is quoted in Vivādaratnākara (p. 666) which explains ‘madhyaḥ’ as ‘neither large nor small’;—and in Parāśaramādhava (Vyavahāra, p. 115), which adds that the name ‘māṣa’ is applied to the sixteenth part of the ‘suvarṇa’, and ‘kṛṣṇala’ to the third part of the ‘kaṛsa’, which latter is the fifth part of the ‘māṣa’. It remarks that ‘karṣa’ is one of the names of silver.

It is quoted in Hemādri (Vrata, p. 53);—and in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Dāna, 4a).


Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 8.131-137)

See Comparative notes for Verse 8.131.

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