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:

क्षेत्रजादीन् सुतानेतानेकादश यथोदितान् ।
पुत्रप्रतिनिधीनाहुः क्रियालोपान् मनीषिणः ॥ १८० ॥

kṣetrajādīn sutānetānekādaśa yathoditān |
putrapratinidhīnāhuḥ kriyālopān manīṣiṇaḥ || 180 ||

These eleven, the ‘soil-born’ and the rest, as here described, the wise ones call ‘substitutes of a son,’—taken with a view to the failure of a religious duty.—(180)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Substitute’—when the ‘principal’ is not there; which means that these other sons are to be taken only in the absence of the ‘legitimate’ son.

In other Smṛtis, these sons have been mentioned in a different order; e.g., the ‘secretly born’ occupies the fifth place in one text, while the sixth in another. But no significance attaches to the order in which these? are mentioned; this is what is indicated by the fact that there is no uniform order adopted by the Smṛtis. Even though no special significance attaches to the order, yet a distinctly useful purpose is served by it; as we shall explain later on.

These sons are taken ‘with a view to’— on account of—‘the failure of a religious duty’; i.e., with a view to prevent the transgression of the injunction that ‘one shall beget a child.’ This injunction is an obligatory one, and as such, must, be acted up to by the Householder. The principal method of doing this consists in begetting a ‘legitimate’ son; but in the absence of that, he may have recourse to the others here described.—(180)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

“These substitutes are not to be taken if there is a ‘body-born’ son (Medhātithi),—or an ‘appointed daughter’ (Kullūka).

This verse is quoted in Vivādaratnākara (p. 574), which adds the following notes:—‘Putrapratinidhīn,’ ‘substitutes of the Body-born Son and the Appointed Daughter’,—they perform the necessary functions only in the absence of these two;—the reason for this is supplied by the term ‘Kriyālopāt’—which means ‘on account of the risk of transgressing the injunction that one should beget children’;—the injunction is an obligatory one; and as such has to be obeyed by some means or the other; hence when the primary method of having children fails, one must have recourse to the secondary method of having substitutes.

It is quoted in Smṛtitattva, II, (p. 262), to the effect that the name ‘son’ is applied to the substitutes only figuratively;—in Aparārka (p. 97);—in Mitākṣarā, (3.259), to the effect that the substitutes are not really sons, they are so called because they perform the functions of the son;—in Vīramitrodaya (Saṃskāra, p. 207), which notes that those ‘sons’ whose bodies are made up of the constituents of the body of one of the two parents,—e.g. the ‘Kṣetraja,’ ‘Gūḍhaja,’ ‘Kānīvn’ ‘Paunarbhava’ and ‘Sahoḍha’—are called ‘substitutes because the constituents of the body of the other parent are wanting’;—and in the case of the Appointed Daughter, even though her body is made up of the constituents of the bodies of both parents, and as such she would appear to be exactly like a regular ‘son,’ yet she has been regarded as a ‘substitute’ or ‘secondary son,’ on the ground that being a girl, she has a body wherein the constituents of the father’s body are less than those of the mother’s; it is for this reason that Yājñavalkya has called her ‘equal’ to the ‘Body-born’ Son;—the son of the Appointed Daughter is ‘secondary,’ the constituents of the bodies of his grandparents existing in his body indirectly (through his mother). In the case of the ‘Dattaka,’ ‘Krīta,’ ‘Kṛtrima,’ ‘Svayamdatta’ and ‘Apabiddha,’ on the other hand,—where the ‘son’ is not born of either of the adoptive parents,—there is no connection at all with the constituents of the bodies of these latter; and in their case, their character of ‘secondary son’ would rest entirely upon the verbal authority of the texts, and in their case the term ‘pratinidhi,’ ‘substitute,’ would mean ‘anukalpa,’ ‘secondary alternative.’

It is quoted in Madanapārijāta (p. 837), which notes that these sons are not regular ‘sons,’ the name being applied to them only on the ground of their performing the functions of the son;—in Vyavahāra-Bālambhaṭṭī (pp. 552, 652 and 683);—in Dattakamīmānsā (p. 29);—in Dattakacandrikā (p. 48);—and in Vīramitrodaya (Vyavahāra 189b), which says that the reason for their being called ‘secondary substitutes’ lies in the fact that there have been no marriage and other rites performed.


Comparative notes by various authors

Bṛhaspati (25.33-34).—‘Of the thirteen sons mentioned by Manu, the Body-born and the Appointed Daughter continue the family.—As in default of clarified butter, oil is admitted by the righteous as a substitute, so are the eleven sons admitted as substitutes, in default of the Body-born son and of the Appointed Daughter.’

Brahmapurāṇa (Vivādaratnākara, p. 576).—‘While the Body-born son or the Appointed Daughter is there, the Kṣetraja and other sons, belonging as they do to different gotras, are only continuers of the family; and they perform the śrāddha as slaves.’

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