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:

जन्मज्येष्ठेन चाह्वानं सुब्रह्मण्यास्वपि स्मृतम् ।
यमयोश्चैव गर्भेषु जन्मतो ज्येष्ठता स्मृता ॥ १२६ ॥

janmajyeṣṭhena cāhvānaṃ subrahmaṇyāsvapi smṛtam |
yamayoścaiva garbheṣu janmato jyeṣṭhatā smṛtā || 126 ||

In the Subrahmaṇyā text also, the invocation has been declared as to be done by the son who is eldest by birth. Between sons conceived as twins, seniority has been declared to be dependent upon birth.—(126)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

This is a declamatory text, supporting the view that seniority is to be determined by birth.

The ‘Subrahmaṇyā’ is the name of a mantra—text recited by the Chandogas at the Jyotiṣṭoma sacrifice,—occurring in the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa (63). The plural number in ‘Subrahmaṇyāsu’ is due to the multiplicity of verses.

In connection with this mantra, the ‘eldest son’ addresses the invocation to the father—‘Devadatta’s father offers the sacrifice.’ (Where it is the eldest brother who names himself).

Thus it is ‘seniority’ by birth that is real ‘seniority’ in the true sense; the ‘seniority’ based upon the position of the mother is only secondary, figurative.

Between sons conceiced as twins,’—those that have been simultaneously conceived—seniority is determined by birth.—(126)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

For the ‘Subrahmaṇyā verses’ see Aitareya Brāhmaṇa 6.3.

According to Rāghavānanda the meaning of the second half is that since between twins the one born first is the last conceived, the right of primogeniture is given to the son born last. This is the view hinted at by a passage in the Uttaracarita, where Lava says of his brother ‘prasvakrameṇa sa kīla jyāyān.’ (Act IV).

This verse is quoted in Vīramitrodya (Rājanīti, p. 37), which adds the following notes—That mantra is called ‘Subrahmaṇyā’ which, at the Jyotiṣṭoma sacrifice, is recited for inviting Indra; in this the ‘eldest’ son is represented as addressing the father; and it is the senior by birth that is regarded as the ‘eldest’; and in a case where the sacrificer has twin sons, even though the conception of both may have been simultaneous, yet the son that is born first is held to be the ‘eldest’; this is the made clear by a text of Devala’s where it is declared that of twins, that child is to be regarded as the ‘elder’ whose face is seen first In the Saṃskāra section we find the other view stated (see below).

It is quoted in Vivādaratnākara (p. 477), which has the following notes—The ‘Subrahmaṇyā’ is the mantra recited at the Jyotiṣṭoma by Chandoyas, when the form employed is ‘so and so, the father of so and so is sacrificing’; and here it is the elder son that is named; and he is the one that is born first.

It is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Saṃskāra, p. 161), which adds the following notes:—Between twins seniority is determined by birth in the womb; i.e., that child is ‘elder’ who is the first to be born in the mother’s womb; while the one born, i.e. conceived, later is regarded as junior; and it is not that seniority belongs to the child that comes out of the womb first; this conclusion is based on the fact that the child born later has been conceived earlier and would have been born earlier also, had not its passage outside been obstructed by the second child conceived later; the order of conception being the reverse of that of birth. It is only when both children are born simultaneously that seniority belongs to one whose face the father sees first—It goes on to add that this view has been held by ‘some people’ and in reality seniority must be determined by the priority of actual birth coming out of the womb.

It is quoted in Vyavahāra-Bālambhaṭṭī (pp. 461 & 702);—and in Saṃskāraratnamālā (p. 828), which has the following notes—‘Subrahmaṇyā’ is the name of a mantra used, at the Jyotiṣṭoma sacrifice, for inviting Indra; it is recited along with the name of the sacrificer’s son, and the rule is that it is the name of the eldest son that is pronounced; and it is the eldest by age that is taken; so in partition also; and between twins also, though they are conceived simultaneously, yet one that is born first is regarded as the elder of the two.


Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 9.122-126)

See Comparative notes for Verses 9.122-123.

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