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:

यदि स्ंशय एव स्यात्लिङ्गानामपि दर्शने ।
साक्षिप्रत्यय एव स्यात् सीमावादविनिर्णयः ॥ २५३ ॥

yadi sṃśaya eva syātliṅgānāmapi darśane |
sākṣipratyaya eva syāt sīmāvādavinirṇayaḥ || 253 ||

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)

 

Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

“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).

 

Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Vivādaratnākara (p. 205), which adds the following notes:—‘Grameyaka’ are ‘village-residents,’—their ‘kula’ means ‘crowd’,—vivādinaḥ’, ‘of the disputants’, is to be construed with ‘samakṣam’, ‘in the presence of.’

It is quoted in Mitākṣarā (2.151) to the effect that the witnesses and Sāmantas should be put on oath and then questioned regarding the boundary, in the presence of corporations, guilds and so forth. Balambhaṭṭī has the following notes:—‘Grameyakāḥ’ are the residents of the villages,—their ‘kula’ are crowds; or ‘kula’ may be taken as standing for guilds and corporations &c.,—‘Sīmāni,’ ‘in regard to the boundary.’

 

Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 8.253-264)

Nārada (11.2, 3, 7, 8-10, 12).—‘In all disputes regarding landed property or boundaries, the decision rests with the neighbours, the inhabitants of the same town or village, the members of the same community, and the senior inhabitants of the district;—as also with those who live outside on the outskirts of the village, and who live by the tilling of fields situated in those parts, and with herdsmen, bird-catchers, hunters and other foresters. Should the neighbours speak falsely, when called upon to decide a question of this sort, they shall all be punished, one by one, by the King,—each having to pay the fine of the middlemost amercement. The corporation, the senior inhabitants of the district and the rest also shall receive the punishment; they shall have to pay the fine of the first degree, if they make false statements. The boundary should not be fixed by any one man singlehanded, even though he be a reliable person; this business should be entrusted to a plurality of persons, because it is an affair of importance. Should a single man undertake to fix the boundary, he should do so after having kept a fast, in a collected frame of mind, wearing a garland of red flowers and a red cloak, having strewn earth on his head. According to this rule, let all disputes he decided in regard to houses, gardens, water-reservoirs, sanctuaries and the rest, as also the space intermediate between two villages.’

Bṛhaspati (19.8-15).—‘In disputes regarding a house or field, the decision rests with the neighbours, as well as with the inhabitants of that town or village, or with members of the same community and the elders of the district;—likewise with husbandmen, artisans, servants, cowherds, hunters, gleaners, root-diggers, fishermen, kinsmen, criminals and robbers. After having been adjured by imprecations befitting their station, they shall determine the boundary, and shall indicate the marks deposited underground, as evidence. In default of witnesses and signs, even a single person, agreeable to both parties may fix the boundary, wearing a garland of red flowers and a red cloak, putting earth on his head, adhering to truth, and having kept a fast. Neighbours born in the district, though they may be living abroad, are natives of the place, and as such may he consulted in such disputes,—What they, as honest and impartial men, should declare, shall be held to be decisive;—thus justice will not be violated. 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 under dispute. The same rule holds good in all suits concerning immovable property. If the statements of the deponents do not agree, they shall be made to pay the fine of the highest degree.’

Yājñavalkya (2.152-154).—‘An even number of neighbours—four, eight or ten—shall determine the boundary, wearing red garlands and clothes and placing earth upon their heads. If they speak falsely, they should each be punished by the King with the fine of the middle degree. In the absence of persons cognisant with the boundary, and of boundary-marks, the King himself shall determine the boundary. This same rule applies to disputes relating to gardens, temples, villages, drinking fountains, houses and parks; as also to streams and drains of rain-water.’

Kātyāyana (Aparārka, p. 759, et seq.).—‘In the absence of witnesses, neighbours and senior inhabitants and natives of the district shall he consulted. In the absence of neighbours, disputes between lìelds, and also between towns and villages, should he determined by reference to even those who are not neighbours. When the immediate neighbours are found to be tainted with partiality, the next neighbours shall ho consulted;—so on and on; always discarding those interested and partial, the King shall determine the boundary in consultation with other natives of the place. If a single person, accepted by both parties, should seek to determine the boundary, he should proceed to do it, clad in red clothes and placing earth on his head. If even a number of men who have been brought together fail to determine the boundary, cither through fear or through greed, they should be made to pay the fine of the highest degree. If they speak without knowledge, they should be punished; and if, on reconsideration of the boundary, they be found to have deposed falsely, they should he made to pay the fine of the highest degree.’

Vaśiṣṭha (16.13-15).—‘In a dispute about a house or a field, reliance may he placed on the deposition of neighbours. If the statements of the neighbours disagree, documents may be taken as proof. If conflicting documents are produced, reliance may he placed upon the statements of aged inhabitants of the village or town, and on those of guilds and corporations.’

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