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:

मातरं पितरं जायां भ्रातरं तनयं गुरुम् ।
आक्षारयंशतं दाप्यः पन्थानं चाददद् गुरोः ॥ २७५ ॥

mātaraṃ pitaraṃ jāyāṃ bhrātaraṃ tanayaṃ gurum |
ākṣārayaṃśataṃ dāpyaḥ panthānaṃ cādadad guroḥ || 275 ||

He who alienates the mother, the father, the wife, the brother, the child or the preceptor, should be made to pay a hundred; as also one who does not give the way to his preceptor.—(276)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Alienating’ means estranging (sowing dissension), by false insinuations; e.g., when one tries to sow dissension by making such assertions as—‘This mother of yours has no love for you, she has a great hankering after her other son, and has secretly given him a golden ring.’ Similarly when he sows dissension between the father and son, or between the husband and wife, or between brothers, or between the preceptor and disciple.

The term ‘child’ has been mentioned with a view to indicate the other member in the dissension. If this were not added, the punishment would apply only to one who would alienate the ‘mother’ from her son,—and not to one who would alienate the ‘son’ from his mother; though ‘alienation’ is always between two parties, yet that party is spoken of as being ‘alienated’ through whom the estrangement is attempted. Under the circumstances, if the ‘child’ were not mentioned, the punishment would apply only to one who would ‘alienate the mother’ by saying—‘this son of yours is not devoted to you, and is ill-behaved,’—and not to one who would ‘alienate’ the son, in the manner described before.

Others have explained the word ‘ākṣārayan’ as causing mental suffering; by making such statements as—‘I am going away from the country for the purpose of acquiring learning or wealth,’—when the fear of the going away of the son causes pain to the father and others; and hence this should not be done.

As regards the ‘preceptor,’ so long as he is alive, one should not go over to another, specially so long as he does not permit him to do so. In a case where the disciple causes mental suffering to his preceptor, by disrespect and such acts,—the man cannot escape by paying the fine of a hundred only; as ‘disregarding of the preceptor’ has been held to be a very serious offence.

The ‘alienating’ of the loving wife with children is attempted by telling her that her husband is going to marry another woman. Similarly that of the son with excellent qualities, by representing him to be otherwise.

If in any way, one does not give the way to his preceptor, bis fine shall be one hundred.—(275)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Ākṣārayan’—‘Defames, by causing dissension’ (Medhātithi),—‘accuses of a heinous crime’ (Govindarāja, Kullūka and Rāghavānanda),—‘accuses of incest’ (Nārāyaṇa),—‘makes them angry’ (Nandana).

This verse is quoted in Mitākṣarā (2.204), which (reading ‘Śvaśuram’ for ‘tanayam’) adds that this refers to cases where the wife is innocent of what is said against her, and. where the mother and the rest are even guilty of what is alleged. Bālambhaṭṭī adds the following notes:—‘Ākṣārayan,’ defaming,—‘adadat,’ not leaving in favour of;—what Mitākṣarā says in regard to this rule answers the objection taken against it by Kullūka, that some explanation should be found for the same penalty being prescribed for insulting all the persons mentioned here;—Medhātithi, on the other hand, adopting the reading ‘tanayam,’ has explained ‘ākṣārayan’ as causing dissension among the persons mentioned.

It is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Vyavahāra, 149b), which explains ‘bhrātaram’ as ‘elder brother,’ and adds that this refers to cases where the elders have done some mischief, and the wife has done nothing wrong;—in Parāśaramādhava (Vyavahāra, p. 295), which adds the same note as Mitākṣarā;—and in Vyavahāramayūkha (p. 99), which adds that the ‘brother meant here is the elder one, since he is mentioned along with the father and the rest,’ and adds that Mitākṣarā and other works have declared that this refers to the wife only when she is innocent, and to the mother and others even when they are guilty.

It is quoted in Vivādaratnākara (p. 250), which reads ‘tanayam,’ and explains ‘ākṣārayan’ as ‘subjecting’ to insult—and in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Vyavahāra, 44b).


Comparative notes by various authors

Viṣṇu (5.28)—‘He shall he fined a hundred Kārṣāpaṇaṣ for defaming a Guru.’

Bṛhaspati (20.13).—‘One reviling the sister or other relations shall pay a fine amounting to 50 Paṇas.’

Śaṅkha-Likhita (Vivādaratnākara, p. 250).—‘If one reviles the King’s officers or elders or Brāhmaṇas, he shall be chided or beaten or besmeared with cowdung, or made to ride a donkey, or fined to such an extent as would cure him of his arrogance.’

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