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:

हविष्यभुग् वाऽनुसरेत् प्रतिस्रोतः सरस्वतीम् ।
जपेद् वा नियताहारस्त्रिर्वै वेदस्य संहिताम् ॥ ७७ ॥

haviṣyabhug vā'nusaret pratisrotaḥ sarasvatīm |
japed vā niyatāhārastrirvai vedasya saṃhitām || 77 ||

Or, subsisting on ‘sacrificial food,’ he may walk along each stream of the Sarasvatī; or with food restrained, he may thrice recite the text of the Veda—(77)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Sacrificial food.’—Food fit for ascetics; such as Nīvara and other corns; also such village-produce as butter, milk and such things.

Along each stream.’—Of the Sarasvatī river there are several branch-streams; and along each one of these he should walk.

With food restrained’—desisting from food.

Text of the Veda’—consisting of the ‘mantra’ and ‘Brāhmaṇa’ portions. This he shall repeat thrice.

With regard to these Expiatory Rites, the following is the final conclusion:—(A) In the ease of one intentionally killing a common Brāhmaṇa, the ‘twelve-year-long penance’ is an alternative to ‘becoming the target, of armed men.’ The ‘twelve-year-old penance’ does not end in death; yet, if in the interval the man dies off by chance, the expiation would have been only half-done, and hence the purification not being complete, the guilt would not cease;—in the case of the other alternative, on the other hand, the man becomes freed from sin then and there; and it would be by sheer chance that the man, struck with arrows, would not die. Hence, in any particular case, the one or the other alternative expiation might be prescribed, in accordance with one’s wish.—(B) As regards ‘falling into Fire,’ this should be done only in cases where the individual Brāhmaṇa killed was endowed with Vedic learning and such other superior qualities; and this ‘falling’ should be in the sacrificial fire. They have a saying on this point.—‘For the Brāhmaṇa-slayer there are three conditions:—(1) dying, (2) cutting off of limbs with weapons, and (3) consignment to the

Sacrificial fire.’ There can be no duplication in the case of those penances that end in death; as, during a single life, no one can die twice. Hence, where such duplication is necessary, it should be secured by making the man suffer additional torture. In the case of the ‘Twelve-year Penance,’ no such duplication would be right; for what man is there who would he possessed of the energy of the gods, which would enable him to perform a rite for twenty-four years? Specially as, if at the end of a certain year, the man were to die off, the entire expiation would become frustrated.—(C) As regards the Horse-sacrifice (prescribed in 75), it is an optional alternative permissible for the three higher castes, only when it is possible for the person concerned to perform it—(d) As regards the ‘Gosava’ and other sacrifices (prescribed in 75), these would be admissible only in a case where the slaying is done unintentionally and the slayer happens to be a highly qualified person.—(E) ‘Walking eight hundred miles’ is admissible in a case where the killing is done intentionally and the person killed is a common Brāhmaṇa; and so on with the rest In 75, ‘tṛvṛtā’ (triple) is an epithet of ‘Agniṣṭutā.’ Similarly the ‘Svarjit-gosava’ and the ‘Abhijit-Viśvajit’ constitute two expiatory rites.—(77)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Mitākṣarā (3.249), to the effect that the food to be eaten should be ‘haviṣya’ only;—and in Aparārka (p. 1060), which adds that ‘niyatāhāra’ means that the food should be either small in quantity or of ‘haviṣya’ kind only;—the man becomes purified by reciting the text of the Veda three times,—or by being restrained in food and going along the Sarasvatī from its mouth upwards to its source.


Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 11.72-86)

See Comparative notes for Verse 11.72.

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