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:

माता पिता वा दद्यातां यमद्भिः पुत्रमापदि ।
सदृशं प्रीतिसंयुक्तं स ज्ञेयो दत्त्रिमः सुतः ॥ १६८ ॥

mātā pitā vā dadyātāṃ yamadbhiḥ putramāpadi |
sadṛśaṃ prītisaṃyuktaṃ sa jñeyo dattrimaḥ sutaḥ || 168 ||

When in times of distress, the mother or the father affectionately gives away, with water-libations, a worthy son,—that son is called ‘given’ (adopted).—(168)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

It would be more reasonable to read ‘ca’ ‘and,’ instead of ‘,’ ‘or’—‘The father and the mother’; the child belongs to both the parents, and cannot be given away, if either of them is unwilling.

Or, we may accept the reading ‘’ ‘or’; according to another text, which says—‘The father or the mother may give the child’; but when the father is spoken of as the superior of the two parents, this superiority pertains to other matters.

“Since there is the mother’s ownership also over the child, the father cannot have the sole right to give away the son.”

True; but there are texts declaring that in the absence of the parents (?) the child belongs to the owner of the seed. It is for this reason that the ‘father’ has been mentioned. Vaśiṣṭha also has declared—“The woman shall neither give away nor adopt a son.’

Worthy’;—this refers, not to caste, but to the presence of qualifications in conformity with the family concerned. Thus, it is that the Brāhmaṇa can adopt sons of the Kṣatriya and other castes also.

Affectionately.’—This has been added with a view to preclude greed and such motives for the giving away of the child.—(168)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Sadṛśam’.—‘Equal by virtue, not by caste’ (Medhātithi);—‘Equal by caste’ (Kullūka, Nārāyaṇa, Rāghavānanda and Nandana).

Mātā pitā ca’.—‘Mother and father, mutually agreeing’ (Kullūka),—‘mother, if there is no father’ (Rāghavā-nanda).

Prītisamyuktam’—‘Affectionately, not out of greed’ (Medhātithi);—‘not out of fear and so forth’ (Kullūka and Nandana);—‘not by force or fraud’ (Rāghavānanda).

Āpadi’.—‘If the adopter has no son’ (Kullūka and Rāghavānanda);—‘if the adoptee’s parents are in distress’ (Nārāyaṇa).

This verse is quoted in Madnapārijāta (p. 652), which adds the following notes:—‘Sadṛśam of the same caste; if the father is dead or gone to foreign lands, and the mother finds herself in distress, she is by herself, entitled to ‘give away’ the son; similarly if the mother happens to be insane or dead, the father, by himself, is entitled to give him away; in other cases the child can be given away only by the consent of both parents;—the addition of the term ‘āpadi’ means that no son can be given away in normal times; if he be given in normal times, the sin of it falls upon the giver, not the receiver, of the son.

It is quoted in Mitākṣarā (2.132), which adds that no son should be given under normal conditions,—this being a prohibition meant for the giver, not for the adopter (adds the Bālambhaṭṭī), who therefore incurs no sin;—and in Vīramitrodaya (Vyavahāra 188b).

It is quoted in Vīramitrodaya (Saṃskāra, p. 224), which adds the following notes—‘Āpadi’, during a famine and so forth;—if the child is given in normal times, the sin lies on the giver;—or it may refer to the adopter, in which case ‘āpadi’ will mean ‘when he has no son’,—also on p. 211, where ‘sadṛśam’ is explained as ‘of the same caste’;—it rejects the view of Medhātithi that the Ksattriya can be adopted by the Brāhmaṇa, and also that of the Kafpataru that the Brāhmaṇa can adopt a Śūdra, on account of their being opposed to Śaunaka, Gautama and Yājñavalkya.

It is quoted in Aparārka (p. 736), which adds the. following notes:—‘Adbhiḥ’ stands for all those details that accompany gifts;—‘āpadi’, during a famine and so forth;—or ‘āpadi’ may refer to the adopter, in which case it will mean ‘in the event of his having no son’;—‘sadṛśam’, of the same caste as the giver and the adopter;—‘prītisamyuktan’, not moved by fear, or any such motive.

It is quoted in Nirṇayasindhu (p. 176);—in Vivādaratnākara (p. 567), which adds the following notes—‘Āpadi’, when the adopter has no son;—‘sadṛśam’, of the same caste; but Medhātithi holds that the ‘equality’ is in qualities, not in caste;—‘prītisamyuktam’, free from all fear and such other motives;—and in Vyavahāramayūkha (p. 47), which reads ‘’ (for ‘ca’) and remarks that in the absence of the mother, the father alone may give away the son, or the mother may do it in the absence of the father; it goes on to controvert Vijñāneśvara’s view that the sin of giving away the son in normal times accrues to the giver, not to the adopter;—‘Sadṛśam’, equal in family-status and other qualifications, says Medhātithi; hence according to him the Kṣatriya also may be adopted by the Brāhmaṇa. But it prefers the view of Kullūka by which ‘sadṛśam’ means ‘of equal caste’.

This is quoted in Parāśaramādhava (Prāyaścitta, p. 38);—in Vyavahāra-Bālambhaṭṭī (pp. 557 and 692);—in Dattakacandrīkā (p. 48), which explains ‘āpadi’ as ‘when the adopter has no son’,—and ‘Sadṛśam’ as ‘belonging to the same caste,’—it notes Medhātithi’s opinion that ‘Sadṛśam’ means ‘possessed of equalities in keeping with the traditions of the family,’ and hence even a Kṣatriya could be adopted by the Brāhmaṇa, and adds that what this means is that ‘when the Brāhmaṇa, has a body-born son, his other sons of the Kṣatriya and other castes, even though not entitled to the offering of Balls and water, yet for purposes of perpetuating his name, they serve the purposes of a son’;—in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Vyavahāra 38a—and Śrāddha 4a);—in Kṛtyasārasamuccaya (p. 73), which explains ‘adbhiḥ’ as ‘water’ and notes that it includes Tila and the other ingredients also,—it explains ‘sadṛśam’ as ‘of the same caste’, and ‘āpadi’ as ‘in the event of the adopter having no son’,—it adds that ‘Prītisamyuktam’ (which is its reading for ‘prītisamyuktam’) means that the father or mother should make over the child through love and not through fear or covetousness;—and in Dattakamīmānsā’ (p. 9 and 20), which explains ‘āpadi’ as ‘during a famine or some such times of distress’,—and adds that if the parents give away the child during normal times, they incur sin.


Comparative notes by various authors

Baudhāyana (2.3.20).—‘He is called a Datta, adopted son, who, being given away by his father and mother, or by either of the two, is received in the place of a child.’

Vaśiṣṭha (17.28-29).—‘The second is the adopted son, whom his father and mother give in adoption.’

Viṣṇu (15.18-19).—‘The adopted son is the eighth; and he belongs to him to whom he is given by his mother or father.’

Yājñavalkya (2.130).—‘That son is called adopted whom the mother or the father gives away.’

Arthaśāstra (p. 41).—‘Similar in quality to the Body-born son is the adopted son, who is given away by the mother and the father, with water.’

Parāśara (4.22).—‘That son whom his mother or father gives away is called the Dattaka.’

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