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 8.388 [Laws relating to Civic Misdemeanours]

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

ऋत्विजं यस्त्यजेद् याज्यो याज्यं चर्त्विक् त्यजेद् यदि ।
शक्तं कर्मण्यदुष्टं च तयोर्दण्डः शतं शतम् ॥ ३८८ ॥

ṛtvijaṃ yastyajed yājyo yājyaṃ cartvik tyajed yadi |
śaktaṃ karmaṇyaduṣṭaṃ ca tayordaṇḍaḥ śataṃ śatam || 388 ||

If a sacrificer forsakes an officiating priest, and if an officiating priest forsakes a sacrificer,—each being capable of doing the work and free from disqualifications,—their punishment is one hundred each—(388).


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Officiating priest’—a person who performs the several acts in connection with ‘sacrificial performances’; e.g., the Ṛtvik, the Hotṛ, the Udgātṛ and so forth.

Though the name ‘officiating priest’ becomes applicable to the man only after his appointment, and continues so till the completion of the rites, yet the law that is laid down here pertains to the forsaking done before the actual appointment, and not to that during the performance of the rites that have commenced. And the titles are applied on the ground of past events; that is to say, it is only one who has had previous experience; as a priest who has the chance of being chosen again. In fact the title is applied, not only on the basis of previous experience, but also upon hereditary qualifications; as says Nārada—‘the man employed previously is self-chosen’; and further, this applies not only to the experience of a single generation, but to the family-traditions of several generations; as has been described in detail in the Mahābhārata in the sections dealing with Saṃvarta and Marutta.

The upshot thus is that those persons should be chosen as officiating priests who belong to the same family members whereof have been chosen in the past by the forefathers of the selector.

This same is applicable to the case of the ‘sacrifices’ also; the priests also should hare recourse to the same sacrifices with whose forefathers their forefathers may hare had dealings in the past.

Officiating priest’—the man who has performed the priestly duties, or one who belongs to the family of such a person.

If a man going to perform a sacrifice does not appoint such a priest, but ask some one else.

Capable of doing the work’—of sacrificing; i.e., conversant with the entire procedure.

Free from disqualifications’—i.e., not haring any such defect as a defective limb, or being accused of a serious crime and so forth.

If such a qualified priest, on being requested to officiate, refuses to do so, and does not accept the priesthood offered;—when the sacrificer is free from the said disqualifications and is fully learned.

In the case of both these forsakings, there shall be a fine of one hundred. If the priest forsakes the sacrificer he should be made to pay a hundred, and so also the sacrifices if he forsakes the priest.

This rule is applicable, not only to the case of the sacrificer and the officiating priest, but also to that of the Preceptor and the Pupil. As says Gautama (21.12-13)—‘The Priest and the Preceptor are to be forsaken only if they are deficient in learning, or happen to serve an outcast; by forsaking them otherwise one becomes an outcast.’

Some people hold that this law is applicable also to the case of the giver and the recipient.—(388)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Vivādaratnākara (p. 122), which adds that whether the fine is to be 200 or 100 is to be determined by the offence being intentional or unintentional, and also by the richness or poverty of the offender.

It is quoted in Aparārka (p. 837), which adds that this rule applies to such priests as are hereditary, or have been appointed by the man himself;—in Kṛtyakalpataru (91a);—and in Vīramitrodaya (Vyavahāra, 120a).


Comparative notes by various authors

[See the Text under 206, et seq.]

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