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...

Verse 11.1-2 [‘Snātakas’ and their Treatment]

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration and English translation by Ganganath Jha:

सान्तानिकं यक्ष्यमाणमध्वगं सार्ववेदसम् ।
गुर्वर्थं पितृमात्र्यर्थं स्वाध्यायार्थ्युपतापिनः ॥ १ ॥
न वै तान् स्नातकान् विद्याद् ब्राह्मणान् धर्मभिक्षुकान् ।
निःस्वेभ्यो देयमेतेभ्यो दानं विद्याविशेषतः ॥ २ ॥

sāntānikaṃ yakṣyamāṇamadhvagaṃ sārvavedasam |
gurvarthaṃ pitṛmātryarthaṃ svādhyāyārthyupatāpinaḥ || 1 ||
na vai tān snātakān vidyād brāhmaṇān dharmabhikṣukān |
niḥsvebhyo deyametebhyo dānaṃ vidyāviśeṣataḥ || 2 ||

He who is seeking for progeny, he who is going to perform a sacrifice, a traveller on the road, he who has given away all his belongings, he who is begging for his preceptor, he who is begging for his parents, he who is begging for study, a sick man;—(1)—these nine Brāhmaṇas, who are religious mendicants, one should know as ‘Snātakas’; to these penniless men gifts shall be given, in proportion to their learning.—(2)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

(verses 11.1-2)

The two verses together form one sentence; which lays down the several characteristics of the person seeking for gifts; the sense being that gifts shall be given, in proportion to their learning, to such penniless men as, having the said character of ‘seeking for progeny’ and the rest, may be seeking for gifts.

The term ‘religious mendicant,’ while qualifying the recipient of gifts, serves also as a condition that entitles the man to receive gifts. Thus it is that by laying down the character of the man fit for receiving gifts, the Author also indicates the occasions on which gifts may be given.

One seeking for progeny,’—h e who intends to marry for the purpose of obtaining children. It is for the marriage that money is required; and it helps in the obtaining of children indirectly. Inasmuch as the text has added the epithet ‘religious,’ one need not give gifts to one who is going to marry a second time, only through lust.

Similarly, ‘one who is going to perform, a sacrifice’ is to be understood as referring to one who is seeking for wealth in order to enable him to perform the Agnihotra and other compulsory rites.

The ‘traveller on the road,’—the person whose supply has run short during his journey.

Who has given away all his belongings’;—i.e., the man who has given away his entire property, as the sacrificial fee for the Viśvajit sacrifice,—and not by way of an expiatory rite.

He who is begging for study’;—though for the Religious Student, all that is laid down is ‘Vedic Study’ and ‘living on alms,’—yet enough should be given to him to provide for his clothing. Or, even one who has learnt the Veda may be seeking for the knowledge of what is contained in the Veda, though he may be living on alms.

Sick man’—one suffering from a disease.

The name ‘Snātaka’ has been mentioned here only with a view to eulogising the men spoken of. And the reason for applying this name lies in the fact that as a rule ‘begging for the preceptor’ and ‘begging for study’ are possible only for the Snātaka, the Accomplished Student; though for the Religious Student also it has been laid down that he shall do the begging for his preceptor.

Penniless’—destitute of wealth.

In proportion to their learning;’—i.e., much wealth shall be given to one possessed of much learning, and little to one possessed of little learning.

“All this that is stated here appears to be wholly irrelevant; as what the Author has declared is—‘I am now going to expound the law relating to Expiations’ (10.131).”

There is no force in this objection. In fact the whole context deals with the duties of men in the various stages of life. The several Expiatory Bites are of unequal nature, and hence these are mentioned along with those. And what is stated in the opening verse has been mentioned first, because it also indicates certain occasions for the performance of expiatory rites.

It bus been said that ‘gifts shall be given’; and the act of ‘giving’ can be accomplished only through something that may be given; hence the Author proceeds, in the next verso, to point, out what it is that should be given.—(1-2)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

(verses 11.1-2)

Gurvartham’.—‘For the purpose of maintaining his Teacher’ (Govindarāja, Kullūka and Rāghavānanda);—‘in order to procure the fee for his Teacher’ (Nārāyaṇa).

These verses are quoted in Madanapārijāta (p. 468), which adds the following notes:—‘Sāntānika,’ ‘for the sake of offspring’;—‘Sarvavedasa’, ‘one who has given away all his belongings’;—‘upatāpī’, one who is ill;—this is meant to permit only that much of wandering on the road and other deviations without which alms cannot be obtained.

It is quoted in Aparārka (p. 77);—and in Parā śaramādhava (Ācāra p. 429), which adds the following notes:—‘Sāntānika,’ one who seeks wealth for the purpose of marrying with a view to obtaining children;—‘Sarvavedasa,’ one who has been reduced to penury on having performed the sacrifice at which all his belongings have been given away as the sacrificial fee,—‘pitṛmātrartham’, one who seeks to serve his parents,—‘svādhyāyārthī,’ who seeks wealth for the keeping up of the teaching of the Veda,—‘upotāpī’, invalid;—the compound ‘svādhyāyārthyupatāpi’ is to be expounded as ‘the upatāpi, invalid, as along with the svādhyāyārthi’, i.e., both of these.

It is quoted in Hemādri (Śrāddha p. 354, and Dāna p. 30), which explains ‘sāntānikān’ as ‘those who seek to marry for the purpose of begetting offspring’,—‘adhvaga’ as ‘one who has started on a pilgrimage’,—‘sārvavedasa,’ (which is its reading for ‘sarvavedasa’) as ‘one who is performing sacrifice at which one’s entire property is given away as the sacrificial fee,’—and ‘upatāpi’ as an ‘invalid.’


Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 11.1-3)

Mahābhārata (12.165.1-3).—‘One whose property has been stolen, one who is going to perform a sacrifice, one who has read up to the end of all the Vedas, one who is seeking wealth for his teacher, or for the performance of rites to Pitṛs, or for the carrying on of Vedic study,—such Brāhmaṇas have been regarded as righteous beggars. To such poor men one should give gifts and also impart learning. In other cases the sacrificial fee should be paid; and to others, cooked food may he given outside the altar.’

Gautama (5.21-23).—‘Presents of money should be given, outside the Vedi, to persons begging for their teachers, or in order to defray the expenses of their wedding, or to procure medicine for the sick, to those who are going to offer a sacrifice, to those engaged in study, to travellers, and to those who have performed the Viśvajit sacrifice. Prepared food should be given to other beggars.’

Baudhāyana (2.5.19-20).—‘Presents of money should be given, according to one’s ability, to good Brāhmaṇas, Śrotriyas, and to those who have gone to the end of the Vedas, when they beg outside the Vedi, for the sake of their teachers, or for defraying the expenses of their marriage, or of medicine, or when they are distressed for livelihood, or are desirous of offering a sacrifice, or engaged in study, or on a journey, or have performed the Viśvajit sacrifice. Cooked food should be given to other beggars.’

Āpastamba (2.10.1-2).—‘The reasons for which begging is permissible are—tho desire to collect the fee for the teacher, the celebration of wedding, or of a Śrauta sacrifice, the desire to maintain one’s parents and the impending interruption of ceremonies performed by a worthy man. The person asked for alms must examine the qualities of the petitioner and give according to his power.’

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