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:

भार्या पुत्रश्च दासश्च त्रय एवाधनाः स्मृताः ।
यत् ते समधिगच्छन्ति यस्य ते तस्य तद् धनम् ॥ ४१६ ॥

bhāryā putraśca dāsaśca traya evādhanāḥ smṛtāḥ |
yat te samadhigacchanti yasya te tasya tad dhanam || 416 ||

The wive, the son and the slave,—these three are declared to have no property; whatever they acquire is the property of him to whom they belong.—(416)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

These three are without property, even though they may acquire property. Property can belong to one who has possession; while whatever property the said persons acquire is in the possession of him to whom they themselves belong; so that the property of the wife belongs to the husband, that of the son to the father and that of the slave to the master.

“If these persons have no property, how can they be entitled to the performance of any rites? So that it would not be right to assert that—‘if two sons should have kindled the consecrated fire, they should offer the oblations to those for whom the father offers them.’ Then again, it is necessary for the husband and wife to perform religious rites jointly, the husband being exhorted not to ignore the wife in matters relating to religious acts, pleasure and wealth? If however the wife has no property, what would be her ignoring in regard to wealth? Further, the Śūdra also has got to make certain offerings of cooked food; and this also would be incompatible with the fact of his having no property. There would be no such incompatibility if the injunction regarding these offerings were taken as referring to such Śūdras as are free (and hence possess property). But as a matter of fact, slaves also have proprietary rights over their property, whioh is, on that account, called their own property. For these reasons it is wrong to say that ‘what they acquire is the property of him to whom they belong.’ This is exactly like the assertion ‘she whose son I am is not my mother.’ Further, if women had no proprietary right, there would be no sense in such śruti-declarations as—‘the wife should obey,’ ‘the wife should follow in the footsteps of her marrier’ and so forth.”

Our answer to the above is, as follows:—What is meant by the text is only that they are dependent, subservient; the meaning being that ‘without the husband’s sanction, the wife should not employ her wealth anywhere she may choose.’ Similarly with the son and the slave.

Others however hold that the ‘wife’ and the ‘son’ have been mentioned only by way of illustrating the status of the slave; and the latter is mentioned for the purpose of declaring, in reference to him alone, what follows in the next verse, which means that in times of distress the master should feel no hesitation in taking what belongs to the slave; as in reality it is the master’s own property.—(416)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Vyavahāra-Bālambhaṭṭī (p. 572).


Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 8.410-418)

See Comparative notes for Verse 8.410.

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