Manusmriti with the Commentary of Medhatithi

by Ganganatha Jha | 1920 | 1,381,940 words | ISBN-10: 8120811550 | ISBN-13: 9788120811553

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:

किं चिदेव तु दाप्यः स्यात् सम्भाषां ताभिराचरन् ।
प्रैष्यासु चैकभक्तासु रहः प्रव्रजितासु च ॥ ३६३ ॥

kiṃ cideva tu dāpyaḥ syāt sambhāṣāṃ tābhirācaran |
praiṣyāsu caikabhaktāsu rahaḥ pravrajitāsu ca || 363 ||

Yet he who secretly carries on conversation with these women, or with maidservants devoted to one master, or with female ascetics, should be made to pay something.—(363)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Secretly’—not in public, but in a solitary spot;—he who carries on conversation with the women of dancers and singers,—should be fined ‘something’—i.e., some small amount of gold—the thirtieth part of a ‘suvarṇa’ or some such thing; the exact amount being determined in conformity with the caste of the party concerned and the circumstances attending each case. The reason why some punishment is necessary lies in the fact that the women concerned are not entirely public women,—it is with the permission of their husbands that they admit paramours. It is on account of this fact of their not being independent that they should be approached, not directly, but through a go-between; for the purpose of ascertaining if the mesalliance has the husband’s sanction.

Holding conversation with them openly however,—when for instance, they are dancing and singing, and they are questioned regarding the tune or the timing and other details of the song,—this is not forbidden.

Maidservant’ is slave-girl; acquired by any one of the seven methods of acquiring slaves.

Devoted to one master,’—i.e., those that are the kept mistresses of any one man.

In the case of these last there is some ground for other kinds of punishment also.

“Is the term ‘maidservant’ meant to be a relative term,—meaning the slave owned by a certain master P Or does it denote simply a servant, just like such terms as ‘cook’ and the like?”

In the present context the term is used in the former sense The meaning being that when some one has intercourse with a slave girl or a prostitute kept by another man,—such woman is punished, just as a king’s slave would be. If however the girl has not been ‘kept’ by any one, then there is no wrong done. As the present text prescribes the punishment to be inflicted for ‘adultery’ with a woman ‘kept’ by another man.

We shall explain this in greater detail under the section on division of property.

Female ascetics,’—those having no guardian to look after them, e.g., Śilamitrā and so forth (?) These women hide their lascivious tendencies under the cloak of asceticism.—(363)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Pravrajitāsu’—‘Women without protectors’ (Medhātithi);—‘Female mendicants (Nārāyaṇa);—‘nuns’ (Kulluka);—‘Buddhist and other nuns’ (Rāghavānanda and Rāmacandra).

This verse is quoted in Vivādaratnākara (p. 387), to the effect that even in the case of the said women, if the man holds conversation secretly, he is to be punished. It adds the following notes:—‘Praiṣyāsu,’ slave-girls,—‘ekabhaktāsu,’ a woman kept by one man only,—‘pravrajitāsu,’ ‘Buddhist and other nuns’;—‘kiñcit, i. e., something less than the ‘Suvarṇa’ which has been prescribed (in verse 361) as the fine.

It is quoted in Bālambhaṭṭī (p. 285), to the effect that even in the case of the wives of actors and the rest, if a man holds conversation in solitary places, he should be fined some little amount; as these also are ‘wives of other men;’ similarly some little fine is to be imposed for conversing with such women as kept slave-girls, nuns and so forth.


Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 8.362-363)

See Comparative notes for Verse 8.362.

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