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:

त्र्यहं प्रातस्त्र्यहं सायं त्र्यहमद्यादयाचितम् ।
त्र्यहं परं च नाश्नीयात् प्राजापत्यं चरन् द्विजः ॥ २११ ॥

tryahaṃ prātastryahaṃ sāyaṃ tryahamadyādayācitam |
tryahaṃ paraṃ ca nāśnīyāt prājāpatyaṃ caran dvijaḥ || 211 ||

The twice-born, who is performing the Prājāpatya, shall eat in the morning for three days, then in the evening for three days, then for three days food got unasked, and for the next three days he shall not eat.—(211)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

Though it is the opening of the day that is called ‘morning,’ yet here the term stands for the forenoon.

This rule regarding eating in the morning precludes eating at random. It is only at midday that such random meals could be obtained unasked from people who would offer such meals in accordance with the rule that ‘gifts to men shall be made at midday.’ If this could be laid down as to he done in the morning, then the midday meal would be precluded, but not the evening meal. Thus between the two optional meals—of the morning and the midday—if one of them is further emphasised, the other becomes excluded. And this would be only right, since it is a penance that is prescribed here;—taking a single meal during the day having been mentioned among ‘penances.’ And it is also a ‘tapas,’ an austerity, in the sense that it causes inconvenience, ‘tāpayati.’ If the second meal were to be precluded, it would be the evening meal that would be so.

Others have held that when the text says that one should have sacrificial food in the morning,’ what is meant is that only a small quantity of food shall be taken. Because people who are in the habit of an early breakfast have only a light meal in the morning, and when the man hikes his meal only when the cooking has been finished, he is said to be an ‘ordinary eater.’

In the evening’—during the next three days.

After that, for three days, he is to live upon ‘sacrificial food’; since writers on Smṛti have declared that—‘Having oaten a little one should retiro to rest.’ In the case of eating ‘food got unasked,’ also, the food shall consist of ‘sacrificial food’ and shall be taken once only. In one’s own house also, when food is obtained by ordering the servants to ‘fetch food,’—it is food got after asking (not ‘unasked’), as ‘asking’ stands for any form of request, and is equally applicable to orders and requests also. So that in one’s own house also the man shall eat only that which his wife and others bring to him without his asking for it,—and not anything else.—(211)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in Parāśaramādhava (Prāyaścitta, p. 25), as describing the form of the ‘Prājāpatya’ penance;—again on p. 460 to the same effect;—in the Madanapārijāta (p. 710);—in Aparārka (p. 1236);—in Smṛtitattva (p. 481 and p. 541);—in Prāyaścittaviveka (p. 508);—and in Saṃskāraratnamālā (p. 781).


Comparative notes by various authors

Gautama (26.1-5).—‘Now we shall describe the Kṛcchras. During three days, he shall eat at the morning-meal, sacrificial food, and fast in the evening. Next he shall eat sacrificial food during another period of three days, in the evening. Next, during another period of three days, he shall not ask anything for food. Next, he shall fast during another period of three days.’

Baudhāyana (2.238).—‘Eating during three days in the morning only, during the next three days in the evening only, subsisting during another three days on food given unasked, and fasting during three days,—that is a Kṛcchra penance.’

Do. (4.5.6-7).—‘The Kṛcchra penance revealed by Prajāpati lasts twelve days, which are divided into four separate periods of three days; during the first period of three days, he eats in the day-time only; during the second, at night only; during the third, he subsists on food given without asking; and during the fourth, he lives on air. If one eats one day in the morning only, and on the following day at night only; on the next day, food given without asking; and on the fourth day, subsists on air, and repeats this three times,—that is called the Kṛcchra penance of children.’

Āpastamba (1.27.7).—‘The rule for the Kṛcchra penance of twelve days is the following:—For three days he must not eat in the evening, and then for three days, not in the morning; for three days he must live on food given unasked; and for three days he must not eat anything.’

Vaśiṣṭha (21.20).—‘During three days, he eats in the daytime only; and during the next three days, at night only; he subsists during another period of three days, on food offered without asking; and finally, he fasts during three days. That is a Kṛcchra penance.’

Viṣṇu (46.10).—‘Let a man for three days eat in the evening only; for another three days in the morning only; for further three days, food given unsolicited; and let him fast entirely for three days;—that is the Prājāpatya.’

Yājñavalkya (3.320).—‘When the Pāda-Kṛcchra is in some way repeated threefold, it is called Prājāpatya. [ Pāda-Kṛcchra being that in which the man eats once only during the day and night on one day, on the next day at night only, on the third day, food got unasked, and on the fourth day he fasts].’

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