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:

वैशेष्यात् प्रकृतिश्रैष्ठ्यान्नियमस्य च धारणात् ।
संस्कारस्य विशेषाच्च वर्णानां ब्राह्मणः प्रभुः ॥ ३ ॥

vaiśeṣyāt prakṛtiśraiṣṭhyānniyamasya ca dhāraṇāt |
saṃskārasya viśeṣācca varṇānāṃ brāhmaṇaḥ prabhuḥ || 3 ||

The Brāhmaṇa is the lord of the castes, on account of his distinctive qualities, of the superiority of his origin, of his observance of restrictive rules, of the peculiar character of his sanctification.—(3)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

“What is the reason that the Brāhmaṇa alone is entitled to what has been just stated, and not the Kṣatriya and the rest also?”

The reason for this lies in the fact that it is in connection with the Brāhmaṇa that the scriptures put forth commendatory declarations (like the present text).

On account of distinctive qualities,’—i.e., of peculiar characteristics; i.e., the excellence of his qualities.

These excellences are next pointed out—‘of the superiority of his origin,’—the Brāhmaṇa having sprung from the highest part of Prajāpati’s body. ‘Origin’ means source.

Observance of restrictive rules.’— Inasmuch as the drinking of wine has been forbidden specifically for the Brāhmaṇa, it is this ‘restrictive rule’ that is meant here. Or they may refer to the ‘observances of the Accomplished Student,’—such as the carrying of the bamboo staff and so forth,—which have been prescribed for the Brāhmaṇa only.

The peculiarity of his sanctification;’—this refers to the observances of the Accomplished Student; the ‘peculiarity’ consisting in such rules as ‘water reaching the heart’ (2.162) and so forth. It cannot mean the ‘Initiatory Rite,’ as this is done for the child only (and hence could not refer to the grown up Brāhmaṇa); it is only in the case of the Kṣatriya and the Vaiśya that it is done after the expiry of childhood.

For these reasons the Brāhmaṇa is the ‘lord’—controller—‘of the castes.’—(3)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Vaiśeṣyāt’.—‘Through pre-eminence,—of qualities’ (Medhātithi),—‘of race’ (Govindarāja, Kullūka, Nārāyaṇa and Rāghavānanda).

Niyamasya dhāraṇāt—‘On account of the observance of the restrictive rules, i.e., those prescribed for the Accomplished student’ (Medhātithi, Govindarāja, Nārāyaṇa and Rāghavānanda);—‘on account of his possessing superior knowledge of the Veda’ (Kullūka).


Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 10.1-3)

[See texts under 71 et seq. below.]

See Comparative notes for Verse 10.1.

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