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...

Verse 8.267 [Verbal Assault (Abuse and Defamation)]

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

शतं ब्राह्मणमाक्रुश्य क्षत्रियो दण्डमर्हति ।
वैश्योऽप्यर्धशतं द्वे वा शूद्रस्तु वधमर्हति ॥ २६७ ॥

śataṃ brāhmaṇamākruśya kṣatriyo daṇḍamarhati |
vaiśyo'pyardhaśataṃ dve vā śūdrastu vadhamarhati || 267 ||

On abusing a Brāhmaṇa the Kṣatriya should be fined one hundred; and the Vaiśya one hundred and fifty; or two hundred; the Śūdra however deserves immolation.—(267)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Abusing’ is speaking harshly. In most cases it takes the following forms:—(a) Causing pain by addressing foul words;—(b) cursing without reason—‘O low-born one, may you suffer long’;—(c) giving false information; e.g., ‘your unmarried daughter is pregnant’;—(d) defamation, attributing to him serious or non-serious offences.

The punishment to be inflicted upon the Kṣatriya and the Vaiśya for abusing a Brāhmaṇa is as here laid down. In another Smṛti (Yājñavalkya, 2.2.10) however we read—‘If a defamation refers to a heinous offence, the penalty shall consist of the middle amercement; while if it refer to a minor offence, it shall be the lowest amercement.’

For the Śūdraimmolation,’—in the form of beating, cutting off the tongue, actual death, and so forth, to be adjusted in accordance, with the exact nature of the abuse.—(267)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Aparārka (p. 808), which adds that ‘vadha’ here means ‘cutting off the tongue’;—in Parāśaramadhava (Vyavahāra, p. 295);—in Mitākṣarā, (2.207),.where Bālambhaṭṭī adds the following notes:—‘Adhyardha,’ 150,—whether it should be 150 or 200 in any particular case is to depend upon the lightness or gravity of the offence,—‘vadha,’ beating and so forth.

It is quoted in Vivādaratnākara (p. 250), which adds the following notes:—‘Ākruśya’ stands for the ‘middle’ kind of defamation—says Pārijāta;—‘adhyardham śatam’, 150,—‘dve vā’, this alternative is prescribed in view of the comparative gravity of the defamation;—‘vadha’, beating, cutting off of the tongue and so forth.

It is quoted’ in Vyavahāramayūkha (p. 99);—and in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Vyavahāra, 44b);—in Vivādacintāmaṇi (Calcutta, p. 70), which explains ‘adhyardham’ as ‘one and a half’, and ‘vadha’ as ‘beating’, and says that the punishment, in the case of the Vaiśya and the Śūdra also, is for defamation;—and in Vīramitrodaya (Vyavahāra, 149a).


Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 8.267-270)

Gautama (12. 1, 8, 10-13).—‘A Śūdra who intentionally reviles twice-born men, by criminal abuse, or criminally assaults them with blows, shall be deprived of the limb with which he has offended. A Kṣatriya shall he fined one hundred, if he abuses a Brāhmaṇa. A Vaiśya who abuses a Brāhmaṇa shall pay one and a half (times as much as the Kṣatriya). A Brāhmaṇa abusing a Kṣatriya shall pay 50; half of that for abusing a Vaiśya; nothing for abusing a Śūdra.’

Yājñavalkya (2.206.207).—‘The fine is half for reviling one lower than one’s self, double, for reviling women and superior persons; thus shall the fine he inflicted in accordance with the superiority or inferiority of the castes concerned. If a person abuses another belonging to a higher caste, he shall be fined double and treble (of 50 Paṇas); if one abuses another belonging to a lower caste, the fine shall be reduced by half of the afore-mentioned.’

Arthaśāstra (p. 104).—‘Among the Brāhmaṇa, the Kṣatriya, the Vaiśya, the Śūdra and the Caṇḍāla,—if the succeeding reviles the preceding, the fine shall be 3 Paṇas;—if the preceding reviles the succeeding, it shall be 2 Paṇas.’

Viṣṇu (5.23, 33-35-38).—‘If the Śūdra uses abusive language, his tongue shall be cut off;—for using insulting language, he shall be fined a hundred kārṣāpaṇas;—for insulting a man by using bad language regarding his mother, the highest amercement;—for abusing a man of his own caste, he shall be fined twelve Paṇas; for abusing a man of a lower caste, six Paṇas;—for insulting a member of the highest caste, or of his own caste (at the same time), the same fine is ordained;—or if he only returns his insult, a fine amounting to three kārṣāpaṇas.’

Āpastamba (2.27.14).—‘The tongue of a Śūdra who speaks evil of a virtuous person, belonging to one of the first three castes, shall be cut out.’

Nārada (15-16.15-17, 22, 25).—‘A Kṣatriya who reviles a Brāhmaṇa must pay one hundred Paṇas as fine; a Vaiśya must pay one and a half hundred, or two hundred; a Śūdra deserves corporal punishment. A Brāhmaṇa shall he fined fifty Paṇas for calumniating a Kṣatriya; in the case of a Vaiśya, the fine shall he half of fifty; in the case of a Śūdra, it shall be twelve Paṇas. When a twice-born person offends against a member of his own caste, he shall pay twelve Paṇas as fine. When he utters calumnies which ought never to be uttered, the fine shall be twice as high. A once-born man who insults members of a twice-born caste with gross invectives, shall have his tongue cut out... With whatever limb a low-caste man offends against a Brāhmaṇa, that very limb of his shall be cut off; such shall be the atonement of his crime.’

Śaṅkha-Likhita (Vivādaratnākara, p. 251).—‘A Brāhmaṇa abusing a Kṣatriya should be fined 100; 50 for abusing a Vaiśya and ‘25 for abusing a Śūdra.’

Bṛhaspāti (20.6-11).—‘When persons equal in caste and qualities abuse one another, the punishment ordained for them is thirteen Paṇas and a half. For a Brāhmaṇa abusing a Kṣatriya, the fine shall be a half-hundred; for abusing a Vaiśya, half of fifty; for abusing a Śūdra, twelve and half. This punishment has been ordained for abusing a virtuous Śūdra who has committed no wrong; no offence is imputable to a Brāhmaṇa for abusing a Śūdra devoid of virtue. A Vaiśya shall he fined a hundred Paṇas for reviling a Kṣatriya; a Kṣatriya reviling a Vaiśya shall have to pay half of that amount as fine. In the case of a Kṣatriya reviling a Śūdra, the fine shall be twenty Paṇas; in the case of a Vaiśya, double that amount. The Śūdra shall be compelled to pay the fine of the first amercement for abusing a Vaiśya; the middle amercement for abusing a Kṣatriya 5 and the highest amercement for abusing a Brāhmaṇa.’

Śaṅkha-Likhita (Vīvādaratnākara, p. 248).—‘For abusing a person of a higher caste, the offender should propitiate him and pay a fine of three kārṣāpaṇas;—on insulting a man of the same caste as oneself the fine is twelve kārṣāpanas; and twenty-four, for insulting a person of superior qualifications.’

Hārīta (Do., p. 251).—‘For a low-caste man abusing one of a higher caste, the fine is eight Purāṇas (Purāṇa being equal to 32 silver kṛṣṇalas).’

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