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:

शाल्मलीफलके श्लक्ष्णे नेनिज्यान्नेजकः शनैः ।
न च वासांसि वासोभिर्निर्हरेन्न च वासयेत् ॥ ३९६ ॥

śālmalīphalake ślakṣṇe nenijyānnejakaḥ śanaiḥ |
na ca vāsāṃsi vāsobhirnirharenna ca vāsayet || 396 ||

The washerman shall wash (clothes) gently on a smooth board of cotton-tree wood; he shall not carry clothes in other clothes; nor shall he allow them to be worn.—(396)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

the ‘cotton tree’ is a kind of tree; the board should be made out of this tree; because its wood is naturally soft and ‘smooth,’ so when the clothes are beaten upon it, their component parts do not become torn.

Gently’—so that the clothes being beaten do not become torn.

The injunction regarding the particular wood is not with a view to any transcendental result; hence there would be nothing wrong in using any other wood, if it satisfied the said conditions.

Smooth’—not rough.

Clothes’—belonging to one man,—he shall not ‘carry’— tie up and carry to the washing place—‘in other clothes’—belonging to another person; so that the clothes may not be torn by the tying, in which they undergo a great strain.

Nor shall he allow them to be worn’;—he shall not give over, for a consideration, to one man the clothes belonging to another, for wearing. This is what is meant by ‘allowing to wear’; the other man does the wearing, and it is the washerman that allows him to do it.

Since no penalty has been laid down in this connoction, we have to take it as consisting of the ‘māṣa of gold’ which has been laid down before.—(396)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Aparārka (p. 823), which adds the following notes:—The washerman shall not carry clothes tying them in cloth;—‘navāsayet,’ nor should he keep them in his house, or he should not allow them to be used by others on receiving cash-hire from them.

It is quoted in Mitākṣarā (2.238), which adds the following explanation:—The washerman shall wash clothes by rinsing them on a plank of cotton-wood, and not on stone; he shall not mix them up, i.e., shall not exchange them among the diverse owners, says Bālambhaṭṭī,—nor shall he keep them in his house;—if he does any of these things, he should be punished.

This verse is quoted in Vivādaratnākara (p. 313), which adds the following notes:—‘Śālmale,’ made of cotton-wood,—‘ślakṣṇe,’ soft,—‘nirṇijyāt,’ should wash,—‘nejakaḥ,’ washerman,—‘nacha vāsāṃsi vāsobhirnirharet,’ he should not carry clothes tied up in other clothes, to the washing-place,—‘na ca vāsayet,’ he should not let the clothes of one person be worn by another. The meaning is that if he does not act up to these rules, he becomes liable to punishment.

It is quoted in Parāśaramādhava (Vyavahāra, p. 311), as laying down rules for washermen.


Comparative notes by various authors

Yājñavalkya (2.238).—‘If the washerman wears the clothes belonging to others, he should he made to pay 3 Paṇas; and 10 Paṇas, if he sells or lets or pledges or lends them.’

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