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:

एतैर्लिङ्गैर्नयेत् सीमां राजा विवदमानयोः ।
पूर्वभुक्त्या च सततमुदकस्यागमेन च ॥ २५२ ॥

etairliṅgairnayet sīmāṃ rājā vivadamānayoḥ |
pūrvabhuktyā ca satatamudakasyāgamena ca || 252 ||

By these signs shall the king determine the boundary between two contending parties; as also by long-continued possession and by flowing streams of water.—(252)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

When there is a dispute between two persons, inhabitants of two villages, the boundary is ascertained by means of the above-mentioned marks.

Long-continued possession’;—i.e, possession whose beginning cannot be traced, and not only ‘possession’ for three generations; the validity of the latter having been rejected above, Under verse 119; and also because the boundary of a village being public property, it is quite possible for encroachments being ignored for three generations. Some people read verse 149 without the mention of ‘boundary’; according to these, the validity of ‘possession’ as a proof is established in all eases; and yet it has had to be reiterated here, because, in view of the enumeration of the proofs of boundary, it might he thought that ‘possession’ is not a proof at all.

“What is the stream of water that is mentioned as an indication of the boundary?”

Just as in the case of new settlements, other various boundary-marks are set up, in the same manner, a flowing water-canal also should be built.

Or, the meaning may be that when a stream of water divides two villages, if, in one part of the village; that stream of water is found to be recognised, as the boundary, and there is dispute in another part,—in this case, the stream should be accepted as the indicative of the true boundary in the latter case also. Or, this may be taken as referring to a very large village; the sense being that when a village is located on one side of a river, it cannot he open to any inhabitant of the other bank to assert that he has his lands in the village on the

opposite side also. Or, the meaning may be that even when a certain part of a village has been cut off by a running stream, that same stream shall continue to serve as the boundary between the two villages,—provided that the portion cut off is a small one.—(252)


If, even on the inspection of the marks, there should be a doubt, the settlement of the dispute regarding boundaries shall be entirely dependent upon witnesses.—(253)


“How can there be a doubt, when the marks are there?”

If some one were to come and secretly remove the hidden marks to another place, this would give rise to uncertainty. And as for the open public marks—in the shape of the Nyagrodha and other trees,—it is not that these trees are to be found on boundaries only; as a matter of fact, they grow in other places also. It is for these reasons that the said marks are not always reliable, and hence doubts are likely to arise.

In a case where there is no possibility of such invalidating circumstances, the marks themselves are sufficient proof.

Dependent upon witnesses’—i.e., due to witnesses. The settlement, ascertainment, is such as has the witnesses alone for its basis. The meaning of the verse is that in cases where the marks are doubtful, or where there are no marks at all, the dispute regarding boundaries can be settled only by oral testimony.—(253).


Witnesses regarding boundaries shall be questioned in regard to the boundary-marks, in the presence of an assembly of villagers and also of the two contending parties.—(254)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Mitākṣarā (2. 151), which adds the following explanation:—‘By means of these marks, visible and invisible, as indicated by his ministers and others, the king should determine the boundary for those quarrelling over it.’

It is quoted in Vivādaratnākara (p. 204), which adds the following notes:—‘Satatam upabhuktyā’, by long unbroken possession—‘he should determine’, ‘nayet’;—‘udakasyāgamaḥ’ is flowing current of water;—in Vivādacintāmaṇi (p. 93);—in Kṛtyakalpataru (110b);—and in Vīramitrodaya (Vyavahāra, 139b).


Comparative notes by various authors

Nārada (11.6, 11, 27).—‘When a piece of land has been carried off by a stream, or abandoned by the owner, or when the boundry-marks have become obliterated, they shall fix the boundary according to inferences drawn from an inspection of the spot, and according to the traces of possession. Should there be no persons conversant with the true state of tilings, and no boundary-marks, then the King himself shall fix the boundary between the two estates as he thinks host. A field which has been held by three generations in succession, and a house which has been inherited from an ancestor, cannot be estranged from its legitimate owner by force of possession, except when the King wills it so.’

Bṛhaspati (19.14, 23, 24).—‘Those are witnesses in a suit of this kind who know the title of acquisition, the size, the duration of possession, the name and the characteristic features of the land in question. When land is taken from a person enjoying it without legitimate title or ownership, and given to a worthier person, the latter shall not he deprived of it. A house, tank, shop or the like having been used by a man since the time of its foundation, must not he taken away from him, nor diminished or altered.’

Kātyāyana (Vivādaratnākara, p. 205).—‘Possession is to be taken into consideration in the matter of deciding boundary-disputes; but only while there are witnesses deposing to the possession; and witnesses are of two kinds—those named in documents and those not so named.’

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