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:

नान्यस्मिन् विधवा नारी नियोक्तव्या द्विजातिभिः ।
अन्यस्मिन् हि नियुञ्जाना धर्मं हन्युः सनातनम् ॥ ६४ ॥

nānyasmin vidhavā nārī niyoktavyā dvijātibhiḥ |
anyasmin hi niyuñjānā dharmaṃ hanyuḥ sanātanam || 64 ||

By twice-born persons the widow shall not be ‘authorised’ in regard to another person; by ‘authorising’ her in regard to another, they would violate the eternal law.—(64)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

This is the prohibition of the practice of ‘authorisation’, which has been sanctioned in the foregoing texts.

In this connection, some people have held the following view:—“Inasmuch as the text contains the term ‘widow’, it prohibits the practice only with reference to the woman whose husband is dead; so that the impotent husband should still ‘authorise’ his wife; both the sanction and the prohibition would thus have distinct spheres of application.”

Others, however, have held the following opinion:—“The text, that sanctions the practice mentions the failure of issue as the occasion for it; and as a matter of fact, this occasion is equally present in both cases,—in the case of the husband being impotent or invalided, as also in that of his being dead. So that as the sanction, so the prohibition also, must be accepted as free from restrictions. Then again, a woman is called ‘vidhavā’ (widow) when she ceases to have any intercourse with her ‘dhava’ or husband; and this condition is equally present in both cases.”

It is this latter view that has to be accepted; as otherwise, the rules regarding ‘anointment with clarified butter’ and other details would not be applicable to the case of ‘authorisation’ by the impotent or invalided husband; because the text that lays down that rule uses the term ‘widow’—“He who has been authorised in regard to the widow, etc.’ (Verse 60). For these reasons, just as the preceding sanction, so the subsequent prohibition also, should be taken as free from all limitations. And thus the sphere of application of both being the same, we must take the case as being one of option. This option is possible only in view of the obligatory character of the injunction regarding the begetting of children; the case being analogous to the option bearing upon the ‘holding’ and ‘not holding’ of the Śoḍaśi Cups. If, on the other hand, the injunction of begetting a son were regarded as consisting in such assertions as ‘by means of a son one wins heaven’, and so forth, (where the act of begetting a son is put forward as loading to a certain desirable result), the effect of one having no children would only be the non-performance of the after-death rites. So that the results of the two acts (begetting of a child by ‘authorisation’ and not begetting a. child by that method) would be totally distinct; and under the circumstances, whence could there he any option? It is only when the sanction and the prohibition both hear upon the same object that there can be option; as is the case with the ‘holding’ and ‘not holding’ of the Śoḍaśi Cups.

It has already been pointed out that when an act is done along with all its subsidiary details, its results are fuller than what they are when it is done without those details; but so far as the accomplishment of the main act itself is concerned, there is no difference. So that, in this case the only effect would be that the man not having recourse to the practice would fail to obtain the benefits that would he conferred by the son; and if he has recourse to the practice with a view to obtaining those special benefits, then he would he transgressing the prohibition, and his act would stand on the same footing as the performance of the Śyena sacrififie (which is performed for the special purpose of obtaining the death of the enemy, and involves the transgression of the prohibition of all hilling).

“In connection with this object, the following point deserves to be considered in regard to the man who is ‘authorised’ (to have connection with the ‘widow’)—Why does he have recourse to the act? There is no such injunction for him as that ‘when one is authorised he should have intercourse with the widow’; as there is for the woman, in the form of the text (59)—‘the woman, being duly authorised, etc.’ It would not be right to argue that—“since the ‘authorisation’ of the woman can he accomplished only when her younger brother-in-law or some other male relation would also ad, the action of these latter also is implied by that same injunction (which prescribes theauthorisation’ of the woman),—since what is desired by the women is the Kṣetraja son (and this cannot be obtained without the action of the male).”

“This cannot be right, because the action of tin; male might proceed from carnal desire also.

“If the injunction did not imply the action of the male, there would be no sense in the rules laying down anointing with clarified butter and other details.

“These rules would not he meaningless; as their meaning would he that the son can he called ‘Kṣetraja’ only when he is born in the manner prescribed, and in no other circumstances.

“Some people have leld that the general injunction that ‘one must obey the injunction of his elders’ is what prompts the male in question.

“But if this were allowed, then one would he justified in drinking wine and doing such forbidden ads, by the wish of his elders to do so. As a matter of fact, one who would prompt the man to have recourse to such acts would not be an ‘elder’ at all. Then again, there is the law—‘The abandoning of the elder is enjoined, if he is vain or ignorant of what should and what should not be done, or has recourse to the wrong path’; and the ‘abandoning’ meant here can only consist in ceasing to work for the elder.

“This same reasoning does away with the following view also:—‘The assertion, (in 63) that by acting contrary to the rules relating to the details of the practice of ‘authorisation,’ the parties concerned become outcasts, implies the sanctioning of the action of both, in accordance with those rules. Otherwise, if the action of the man involved the penalty of outcasting in all kinds of intercourse, there would be no point in the declaration that he becomes an outcast under the special circumstances (of acting contrary to the rules).’

“Then again, the idea, that—‘in the case of there being no transgression of the rules the man alone becomes an outcast, whereas, when there is transgression of them, both parties become outcasts’—is also derived from the indicative power of the texts themselves.

“Thus then, the action of the youger brother in-law and other male relations has got to be explained (and justified).”

Our explanation is as follows:—Judging from the instance of Vyāsa and others, it has to be admitted that, in the begetting of the ‘Kṣetraja’ son, if one acts according to the behests of his elders, there can be nothing wrong in it In the case of Vyāsa and other great men, their action can never be regarded as having been prompted by carnal desire.’ Then, as for the argument that “the assertion that the parties become outcasts if they transgress the rules, is indicative of the act of the male”.—this cannot be right; for, if the male became an outcast, then, the son born of him would not be entitled to the performance of any rites; so that the begetting of the child would be absolutely futile. From all this, it follows that there is just a semblance of an injunction for the action of the younger brother-in-law or other male relations.—(64)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

“Verses 64-68 flatly contradict the rules given in the preceding ones. But it by no means follows that they are a modern addition, as held by Hopkins. For the same view is expressed by Āpastamba, 2.27.2-6, and was held, according to Baudhāyana, 2.3.34, by Aupajandhani. Moreover, Bṛhaspati Smṛti states expressly (Colebrook Dig. CLVII) that the contradictory statement occurred in the Mānava Dharmaśātra as known to the author.”—Buhler.

This verse is quoted in Mitākṣarā (2.136), as prohibiting niyoga;—again under 2.127, to the same effect, where Bālambhaṭṭī adds that ‘anyasmin’ means ‘other than the husband.’

It is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Saṃskāra, p. 737), which remarks that the term ‘vidhavā’ here stands for the woman, whose husband has died after the marriage has been performed;—then it seeks to reconcile the apparent contradiction between verses 59 and 60 (permitting Niyoga) on the one hand, and verses 64-68 (forbidding it) on the other; the sanction is meant for the girl who is widowed after verbal betrothal, before marriage; while the prohibition applies to one who is widowed after marriage; this, it adds, is made clear by verse 65, which refers to the ‘mantras recited during the marriage-ceremony.’ It concludes therefore that there is no room for any doubts regarding the opinion of Manu, adumbrated in Mitākṣarā.

It is quoted in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Vyavahāra, 38a);—in Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra, p. 226), which says that this prohibition is meant for the Kali-age;—and in Vīramitrodaya (Vyavahāra, 186a).


Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 9.60-68)

See Comparative notes for Verse 9.60.

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