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:

देवदत्तां पतिर्भार्यां विन्दते नेच्छयाऽत्मनः ।
तां साध्वीं बिभृयान्नित्यं देवानां प्रियमाचरन् ॥ ९५ ॥

devadattāṃ patirbhāryāṃ vindate necchayā'tmanaḥ |
tāṃ sādhvīṃ bibhṛyānnityaṃ devānāṃ priyamācaran || 95 ||

The husband obtains his wife as a present from the gods, and not by his own wish; hence he should always support the faithful wife, thereby doing what is agreeable to the gods.—(95)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

What the verse means is that ‘the faithful wife should not be abandoned, even though she suffer from the defects of being disagreeable or of harsh speech and so forth’; and the rest of it is merely commendatory.

As for the rule that ‘he shall keep her confined in one room,’ which has been laid down in regard to the unfaithful wife,—this applies to a case where there has been a single act of transgression on her part; if the act is repeated, divorce must follow. Otherwise, there would be no point in the assertion that ‘he shall always support the faithful wife.’

As regards the declaration—‘when a woman has trans gressed, she shall have all her rights withdrawn, he dressed in dirty clothes and be given mere subsistence, being allowed to live in a degraded condition, lying upon the ground’ (Yājñavalkya, 170),—this refers to a case where the husband is willing and able to keep her; if however he is unwilling, then there must be divorce.

It is going to be laid down later on that food and clothing should be provided for oven such wives as have become outcasts, and so forth; but that has to be taken only as prohibiting banishment which would be involved in the starting of a life of living on alms, which forms part of the expiatory rite consequent upon such heinous sins as the murdering of a Brāhmaṇa and the like. This we shall explain later on. In any case, it is not incumbent upon the husband to support a wife who has turned unfaithful. Nor does the present text prescribe ‘casting off’ which might be interpreted as ‘avoiding intercourse with her.’

That the wife is a ‘present from the gods’ is implied by such Vedic texts and declamatory passages as—Soma gave her to Gandharva etc.,’ (Ṛgveda, 10.85.41).

Or, she may be called ‘a present from the gods’ in the sense that during the marriage-rite itself, the girl becomes the wife of the gods.

Obtains,—not by his own, wish.’ So that the wife does not stand on the same footing as cattle or gold picked up in the market. This is what is meant by the phrase ‘not by his own wish.’

What is agreeable to the gods.’—When one divorces his wife, who is a necessary factor in the offering of libations to the Viśvedevas, he is not in a position to do ‘what is agreeable to the gods.’ Hence, even though she be hostile, she has to be supported. But in the event of her becoming an outcast, and hence losing her rights, the husband may ‘supersede’ her.—(95)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Deva-dattā’—‘Given by the gods, Bhaga, Aryaman, Savitṛ and the rest mentioned in the Vedic text recited during marriages’,—‘from Agni’ (Nārāyaṇa);—‘from Soma, Agni and the Gandharvas’ (Medhātithi and Nandana).

This verse is quoted in Vivādaratnākara (p. 481).


Comparative notes by various authors

Mahābhārata (13.44.27).—‘That man obtains his wife as a gift from the gods is the teaching of the Law; he (who does not treat her well) falsifies the word of man and god.’

(See above, under 1.28.)

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