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:

क्षेत्रेष्वन्येषु तु पशुः सपादं पणमर्हति ।
सर्वत्र तु सदो देयः क्षेत्रिकस्यैति धारणा ॥ २४१ ॥

kṣetreṣvanyeṣu tu paśuḥ sapādaṃ paṇamarhati |
sarvatra tu sado deyaḥ kṣetrikasyaiti dhāraṇā || 241 ||

In the case of other fields, the cattle-keeper should be fined a ‘paṇa’ and a quarter; and in all cases the crop shall be made good to the owner of the field; such is the established rule.—(241)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

In the case of ‘other fields’—i.e., other than those on the road-side or near the village;—if the crops are eaten, the fine shall be a ‘paṇa and a quarter.’

“The fine should be a small one, in the case of a field close by, as compared to that in the cue of one that can be reached after traversing a long distance, or which is situated outside the village. In the latter case the punishment should be heavy. For in this case there can be no excuse for the cattle being allowed to enter the field.”

There is no force in this; if a heavy fine were not inflicted in the case of fields close by, then every day, when the cattle would be going out or coming in, they would destroy all the fields near the village; while if there is a heavy fine imposed, people would be afraid of it and would take special care to keep them away. In the case of remoter fields, it is only seldom that cattle are taken to graze so far for the sake of some particular kind of grass; hence only a slight fine has been prescribed in this case.

In the case of these fields also, cattle without a keeper should be driven off.

In all cases the loss to the owner of the field has to be made good, the exact amount being determined by experts.

Kṣetrika’ is one who has possession of the field; the word being formed with the affix ‘ṭhak,’ the original term ‘kṣetra’ belonging to the ‘vrīhyādi’ group.

Such is the established rule’—laid down on the subject.

The use of the phrase ‘in all cases’ indicates that in the case of cattle without a creeper also, the loss has to be made good to the owner of the field by the owner of the cattle.

Though the term ‘cattle,’ ‘paśu,’ includes all such animals as the buffalo, the goat, the sheep, the camel, the ass and so forth,—yet, on the strength of the words of another Smṛti, it is restricted to cows only. Gautama (12.24-25) prescribes other fines in the case of animals other than the cow—‘In the case of the horse and the buffalo, the fine is to be ten, while in that of goats and sheep two each.’—(241)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Aparārka (p. 769), which adds the following—‘The meaning of the verse is as follows:—With the exception of those fields which have been specifically mentioned by Manu to be such that for damaging their crops cattle are not to be punished;—if the crops of any other fields happen to be damaged, then the keeper is to be fined one kārṣāpaṇa and a quarter’;—this should be understood as referring to repeated and serious damage:—‘and in all cases of damage to crops by cattle, the estimated produce of the field damaged should be given to the owner.’

It is quoted in Vivādaratnākara (p. 234), which adds the following notes:—‘Anyeṣu,’ in the case of fields other than those lying on the outskirts of the village and so forth;—the ‘cattle’ (to be fined) should here be taken as standing for the keeper of the cattle;—it being impossible for the cattle to pay a fine; the fine should be understood to be a paṇa and a quarter for each head of cattle;—and in Vīvādacintāmaṇi (Calcutta, p. 65), which explains ‘anyeṣu,’ as, ‘lying at a distance.’


Comparative notes by various authors

Gautama (12.21-26).—‘If the damage was done in an unenclosed field near the road, the responsibility falls on the herdsman and on the owner of the field. Five māṣas form the fine to be paid for damage done by a cow; six for a camel or an ass; ten for a horse or a buffalo; two for each goat or sheep. If the entire crop has been destroyed, the value of the whole must be paid in addition to the fine.’

Arthaśāstra (p. 60).—‘In the case of camels and buffaloes running away after grazing in the reserved pasture-land, one-fourth of a Paṇa should be realised; for cows, horses and asses, one-eighth; in that of small cattle, one-sixteenth. If they sit on the land after grazing, the fines shall be double; if they abide on the land, it will be quadruple. In the case of crops being grazed by cattle, the damage done shall be computed and double the amount of the value shall be the amount of the fine inflicted.’

Yājñavalkya (2.159-160).—‘If crops are damaged by the she-buffalo, there shall be a fine of eight māṣas; half of his, if by the cow; and half of that again, if by goat or sheep; if they have sat in the field after grazing, the fine shall be double.’

Do. (2.161).—‘The owner of the field shall receive the value of as much crop as may have been damaged; the keeper of the cattle should be beaten, and the owner should be punished with the aforesaid fine.’

Nārada (11.38-39).—‘When a man claims damages for crops grazed by cattle, that quantity of grain should be restored to him by the owner of the cattle which may have been consumed by the cattle in the estimation of the neighbours the cows shall be given up to the owner and the grain to the husbandman. In the same way a fine shall be imposed on the herdsman when crops have been trodden down by cows.’

Do. (11.31).—‘For damage done by a cow, he shall inflict a fine of one māṣa; two māṣas in the case of a she-buffalo; half a māṣa in the case of a goat trespassing with its young.’

Kātyāyana (Vivādaratnākara, p. 235).—‘The owner of the cow should be made to pay a quarter Paṇa; of the she-buffalo, two quarters; of goats, sheep and calves, one quarter is the fine ordained.’

Śāṅkha-Likhīta (Do.).—‘In the case of all calves, one māṣa; ten in that of the she-buffalo; sixteen in that of asses and camels; and four, in that of goats and sheep.’

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