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:

गोपः क्षीरभृतो यस्तु स दुह्याद् दशतो वराम् ।
गोस्वाम्यनुमते भृत्यः सा स्यात् पालेऽभृते भृतिः ॥ २३१ ॥

gopaḥ kṣīrabhṛto yastu sa duhyād daśato varām |
gosvāmyanumate bhṛtyaḥ sā syāt pāle'bhṛte bhṛtiḥ || 231 ||

If the hired cattle-keeper is one paid with milk, he shall, with the owner’s permission, milk the best out of ten; this shall be the ‘wages’ of the keeper, if he receives no other wages.—(231)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The author is going to describe the details regarding the ‘safe keeping’ (mentioned in the preceding verse).

One who ‘keeps’ the ‘cattle’ is the ‘cattle-keeper,’ the herdsman. Sometimes he is engaged on fooding and other kinds of wages, and sometimes on milk. Of these he who is ‘paid with milk shall milk the bestvarāmout of ten’;—or the ‘worst,’ ‘avarām,’—the initial ‘a’ being mixed up with the preceding vowel.

The wages are to be commensurate with the labour involved in the keeping. If the man receives nothing else,—in the shape of subsistence,—he shall take the milk of one cow. The exact wages, more or less, of the man shall be determined according to this rate. Thus for the work of looking after milch and non-milch cows, heifers, bulls and calves, the owner shall apportion to the keeper sometimes the third, and sometimes the fourth, part of the entire milk-produce.

This verse is meant only to alîord some indication of the subject. In fact in each individual case, local custom has got to be followed.

If the herdsman of the village omits to look after the eattle, with the idea of having his wages fixed beforehand, then he shall not. milk one of the ten cows, without having obtained the owner’s permission.

With the owner’s permission’;—this has been added for the purpose of precluding the possibility of the keeper taking the milk in lieu of the ‘fooding’ on which he has been engaged. The meaning is that if he milks the cow without the owner’s permission, he shall he punished.

This’—i.e., what has been just mentioned—‘shall be the wages if he receive no other wages’; i.e., this shall be the wages of the keeper engaged ‘on milk.’

Hired’—i.e., he who takes up the work of keeping the cattle for the purpose of making a living, and not for acquiring spiritual merit.

Or, the meaning of the verse may he that “if the man, entirely out of his own wish, takes the milk of every tenth cow, he shall he regarded as a thief; but if he has obtained the owner’s permission, then it becomes his due ‘wages,’ and there is nothing wrong.”

“But in the case mentioned in the verse also, if the man took the milk without the owner’s permission, he would be doing something wrong.”

True; but in this case he would be only liable to punishment, and he would not be a ‘thief’; while in the other case he would be either a ‘thief’ or a ‘misappropriator of a trust.’

This verse should have gone before; some people read it later on.—(231)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Vivādaratnākara (p. 170), which adds the following notes:—‘Kṣīrabhṛtaḥ’, whose wages consist of milk only;—‘duḥyad daśato varām,’ he should milk that cow (for himself) which is the best among ten cows;—‘,’ the said milk of the one cow;—‘pāle’, for the cowherd;—‘abhṛte,’ who is not paid any thing else in the shape of fooding, clothing, and so forth.

This is quoted in Aparārka, (p. 772) winch adds the following explanation:—That keeper of the cattle who has his wages paid in milk, shall, with the owner’s permission, milk the best cow among ten milch cows, taking that for himself,—this being the ‘wage’ of the cattle-keeper who does not receive wages in any other form;—in Vivādacintāmaṇi (p. 80), which explains ‘Kṣīrabhṛtaḥ’ as ‘one whose wages are paid in the form of milk only’;—he shall milk the best of ten cows;—‘abhṛte’, the keeper who gets no fooding and clothing,—and notes that this refers to the keeper of milch-cattle only:—in Kṛtyakalpataru (104b), which explains ‘Ksīrabhṛtaḥ’ as ‘one whose wages consist of milk only; he shall milk for himself that cow which may be the best among ten cows—but only once’; —‘abhṛte’ one who receives no food or clothing;—and in Vīramitrodaya (Vyavahāra, 136b), which says that the milk of the best among ten cows is to be taken by the cowherd only when he receives nothing else as wages.


Comparative notes by various authors

Viṣṇu (5.139).—‘If the cowherd milks a cow without permission, he shall pay twenty-five Kārṣāpaṇas as a line.’

Nārada (6.10).—‘For tending a hundred cows, a heifer shall be given to the cowherd as his wages every year; for tending two hundred cows, a milch cow, and he shall be allowed to milk all the cows every eighth day.’

Bṛhaspati (16.19).—‘A man hired for attendance on the wild cows of another person shall receive the whole milk every eighth day.’

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