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...

Verse 11.90 [Expiation of drinking Wine (surā)]

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

सुरां पीत्वा द्विजो मोहादग्निवर्णां सुरां पिबेत् ।
तया स काये निर्दग्धे मुच्यते किल्बिषात् ततः ॥ ९० ॥

surāṃ pītvā dvijo mohādagnivarṇāṃ surāṃ pibet |
tayā sa kāye nirdagdhe mucyate kilbiṣāt tataḥ || 90 ||

A twice-born person, having, through folly, drunk wine, shall drink wine red-hot; he becomes freed from his guilt, when his body has been completely burnt by it.—(90)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Though the text speaks of ‘twice-born men,’ yet what is said here is meant for the Brāhmaṇa only; says another Smṛti text—‘Hot wine should be poured on the Brāhmaṇa’ (Gautama, 23.1).

Through folly’—this is only explanatory.

Red hot’— Though the text uses the word ‘varṇacolour, yet it is mere heat that is meant; as is clear from what follows, about ‘the body being burnt.’—(90)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

The liquor Here meant is that distilled from ground grains, according to Medhātithi, Govindarāja And Kullūka;—according to Nārāyaṇa the death-penance is meant for all twice-born men partaking of liquor distilled from grains, and by Brāhmaṇas who have drunk any of the three kinds of liquor described under verse 95.

Mohāt’.—Nandana reads ‘amohāt’ and explains it as ‘not unintentionally’, ‘intentionally.’

This verse is quoted in Mitākṣarā (3.253), which explains ‘mohāt’ as meaning ‘ignorance of scriptural injunctions’.—It enters into a long discussion regarding the exact connotation in the present context, of the term ‘surā,’ and comes to the conclusion that it stands for the liquor distilled from ground grains; the partaking of which is equally heinous for all the three higher castes,—the drinking of the other two kinds, that distilled from molasses and that from honey, being sinful for the Brāhmaṇa only.

It is quoted in Madanapārijāta (p. 815), which adds the following notes:—‘Mohāt’ stands for ‘ignorance of the scriptures,’ and not for ‘ignorance of the nature of the liquid drunk’;—‘agnivarṇām,’ ‘heated to the extent of becoming red-hot’;—in Nṛsiṃhaprasāda (Prāyaścitta 9a);—and in Prāyaścittaviveka (p. 93), which explains ‘agnivarṇām’ as ‘hot as fire,’ and quotes Jikana to the effect that ‘mohāt’ means ‘intentionally.’


Comparative notes by various authors

(verses 11.90-93)

Mahābhārata (12.165.48).

Gautama (23.1).—‘They shall pour hot wine into the mouth of a Brāhmaṇa who has drunk wine; he will be purified by death.’

Baudhāyana (2.1.18, 19, 21).—‘If he has drunk Surā he shall scald himself to death with hot wine. For unintentionally drinking Surā, he shall perform the Kṛcchra penances during three months and then undergo a second initiation. They quote the following—“A Brāhmaṇa, a Kṣatriya or a Vaiśya who has unintentionally drunk the wine called Vāruṇī must be initiated a second time.”’

Āpastamba (1.25.3).—‘A wine-drinker has to drink exceedingly hot liquor, so that he dies.’

Vaśiṣtha (20-19, 22).—‘If a Brāhmaṇa intentionally drinks liquor other than Surā, or if he unintentionally drinks Surā, he must perform a Kṛcchra and an Atikṛcchra; and after eating clarified butter, be initiated again. But a Brāhmaṇa who repeatedly partakes of Surā shall drink liquor of the same kind boiling hot. He becomes pure by death.’

Yājñavalkya (3.253-256).—‘The man who drinks Surā attains purity by dying after drinking any one of the following things red-hot—Surā, water, clarified butter, cow’s urine and milk. Or he may perform the penance prescribed for Brāhmaṇa-killing, clothed in hair-cloth and wearing matted looks; or for one year he may use sesamum oil-cake or grains of rice at night only. If any one of the three castes unknowingly drinks the Vāruṇī wine, ho shall undergo initiation a second time. The Brāhmaṇa woman who drinks wine does not go to her husband’s regions; and in the world she is born as a bitch.’

Viṣṇu (51-1).—‘A drinker of wine must abstain from all religious rites and subsist on grains unseparated from the husk for one year.’

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