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 8.332 [Robbery (sāhasa)]

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

स्यात् साहसं त्वन्वयवत् प्रसभं कर्म यत् कृतम् ।
निरन्वयं भवेत् स्तेयं हृत्वाऽपव्ययते च यत् ॥ ३३२ ॥

syāt sāhasaṃ tvanvayavat prasabhaṃ karma yat kṛtam |
niranvayaṃ bhavet steyaṃ hṛtvā'pavyayate ca yat || 332 ||

If the act is committed with violence and in the presence of men, it is ‘robbery’; it is ‘theft’ when done in the absence of men, and when it is denied after having been done.—(332)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

The taking away of what belongs to another is called ‘theft’; and on account of the denotation, of the root from which the word is derived, one who commits ‘theft’ is a ‘thief.’ But for cases of a particular kind of theft, special provisions have been made; that is why we have the present texts. In fact merely ‘taking what belongs to another’ cannot be ‘theft,’ because if it were, then in cases of debts and deposits also, punishments for ‘theft’ would have to be inflicted. The present texts have used a different name (‘sāhasa,’ ‘robbery,’ in place of ‘steya,’ ‘theft’) with a view to laying down different forms of punishment.

Is denied,’—i.e., having done the act, the man says ‘I have not done it.’

The act is committed’—such as causes pain to others, e.g., tearing clothes, setting (ire, taking away property and so forth. In the case of ‘setting fire,’ though there is no ‘taking away of property,’ yet it is regarded as ‘theft,’ because it is done secretly, and denied afterwards. But in cases of ‘theft,’ the punishment is determined by the nature of the article stolen; this would, therefore, not be applicable to the case of ‘setting fire.’ It is for this reason that the present section has been separated from that on ‘Theft.’

Act done with violence’;—since the text mentions ‘act’ in general, acts other than ‘the taking away of other’s property’ also, when clone with violence, would come under ‘robbery.’

“What punishment could there be in the case of the setting of fire, and such acts, when clone without violence?”

This we shall explain under the section on ‘Extirpation of Criminals.’

It is for this reason that, in a case where a house has been broken into, but nothing stolen, they declare the punishment to be what is laid down under ‘Extirpation of Criminals.’ Otherwise, this should have come under ‘Theft’ itself.—(332)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Ata eva sandhicchede & c.’ (Medhātithi, p. 1069, l. 10)—See Manu 9.276.

This verse is quoted in Parāśaramādhava (Vyavahāra, p. 298), which adds the following explanatory notes:—When the misappropriation of other’s property is done openly by force, even in the presence of watchmen and the king’s officers, then it is ‘Sāhasa’, robbery,—‘theft’ consists in misappropriating secretly during absence, or by fraud;—and when the man, after avoiding the king’s officers and taking away the property, subsequently through fear, hides it, then also it is a case of ‘theft.’

It is quoted in Vivādaratnākara (p. 286), which adds the following notes:—‘Anvayavat’ in the presence of the men guarding it,—‘prasabham,’ by force;—i.e., it is ‘robbery’ when the misappropriation is done without any attempt at concealment;—‘apavyayate’ hides, denies;—wherever there is misappropriation, it is ‘theft,’ which is of two kinds—(1) done in the absence of watchmen, and (2) done even in the presence of the watchman, but afterwards hidden.

The same work quotes it again on p. 350 where it adds the following explanation:—When the property is taken away in the presence of the watchman, this is what is called ‘sānvaya apahāra,’ which is robbery, but where it is taken away in the absence of the watchman, and then denied, it is theft.

It is quoted in ‘Mitākṣārā,’ (2.266), which adds the following notes:—‘Anvayavat,’ in the presence of the guardians of the property, the state officials and others,—‘prasabham,’ by force—where another’s property is taken away—it is called ‘robbery different from this is ‘theft,’ which is ‘niranvaya’—i.e., done either in the absence of the guardians of property and others, or through fraud;—and whenever the act, though committed in the presence of these persons, is concealed through fear, this also is ‘theft’ Bālambhaṭṭī has declared ‘kṛtvāpavyayate ca yat’ to be the generally accepted reading, and explains it as ‘conceals.’

It is quoted in Smṛtisāroddhāra (p. 329), which explains ‘anvayavat’ as ‘before the owner’s eyes,’ and ‘niranvayam’ as ‘behind the owner’s back’;—and in Vīramitrodaya (Vyavahāra, 150b), which adds the same explanation and adds that even in cases of robbery, if the accused denies the act in the court, it becomes a case of ‘theft.’


Comparative notes by various authors

Yājñavalkya (2.230).—‘The forcible taking away of what does not belong exclusively to one has been called Robbery. The penalty in this case consists of a fine double the value of the article; if the robbery is denied, it shall he four times that value.’

Bṛhaspati (28.2 et seq.).—‘Stealers are of two kinds—open (robbers) and secret (thieves); fraudulent traders, quacks, gamblers, dishonest judges, bribe-takers, cheats, persons pretending to interpret omens, or to practise propitiatory rites, low artists, forgers, hired servants refusing to work, dishonest umpires, perjured witnesses and jugglers—these are open stealers.’

Bṛhaspati (22.24).—‘Robbery is declared to be threefold as it may be of the lowest, middling or highest kind; the punishment in each case should also be of the lowest, middling or highest sort, according to the nature of the article.’

Nārada (Theft, 1 et seq.).—‘Two kinds of robbers stealing the goods of others have to he distinguished—the one kind, open and the other kind concealed. Open robbers are those who forge measures and weights, receivers of bribes, robbers, gamblers, public prostitutes, those who go about in disguise, etc., etc.’

Arthaśāstra (p. 100).—‘The taking away of an article, if accompanied by force, is called Robbery,— if not accompanied by force, Theft,—also when the act is denied.

Kātyāyana (Vivādaratnākara, p. 287).—‘When a thing is taken away forcibly, in the presence of watchmen, it is sāhasa, Robbery; if it is done secretly, it is steya, Theft.’

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