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 12.94 [Supremacy of the Veda]

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

पितृदेवमनुष्याणां वेदश्चक्षुः सनातनम् ।
अशक्यं चाप्रमेयं च वेदशास्त्रमिति स्थितिः ॥ ९४ ॥

pitṛdevamanuṣyāṇāṃ vedaścakṣuḥ sanātanam |
aśakyaṃ cāprameyaṃ ca vedaśāstramiti sthitiḥ || 94 ||

For Pitṛs, gods and men, the Veda is the eternal eye; the teaching of the Veda is beyond power and illimitable. Such is the settled fact.—(94)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

It is as if it were the ‘Eye’—being the means of perception; just as the eye provides the perception of colour, so does the Veda of dharma; hence it is spoken of as the ‘Eye.’

Eternal’—everlasting. This is meant to indicate the fact that the Veda is not the work of a personal author. If it were the work of such an author, then it would be affected by his weaknesses, and would therefore not be entirely trustworthy. Hence, inasmuch as we find the Veda free from all those excellences and defects that beset man, we conclude that it is not the work of any person, and on that account, is absolutely trustworthy.

Hence it is that, the Veda being absolutely trustworthy, it cannot be regarded as incongruous simply because of its teachings being contrary to facts of perception.

“If the Veda were to contain such teachings as ‘one should irrigate with fire’ or ‘burn with water,’ would this also not be incongruous?”

The analogy is not quite correct. In the sentences cited, visible objects with visible powers are spoken as accomplishing visible effects; and as such objects are amenable to other means of knowledge, it is only natural that, if there is any teaching contrary to these, it should be regarded as incongruous. In the case in question on the other hand, (i.e., of Duty) the subject, dealt with is such as is amenable to Injunctions only, a subject upon which no other means of knowledge can have any hearing at all,—bearing as they do only upon existing objects, (and not upon acts to be done); how then can there be any incongruity between these?

Then again, what is laid down here is that entities that are not self should be looked upon as the ‘Self,’ for the purpose of attaining ‘self-sovereignty’; so that wherever the notion of diversity is very rampant, it is only right that this should be set aside by constant, practice. For instance, love, hatred and other functions of the mind can be controlled by the practice of meditation; when for example, an enemy ceases to be an enemy if he is constantly looked upon as a ‘friend.’ All this can be ascertained by our own experience. In fact, the power of thought is so great that it can bring about the conception of non-existing things also; e.g., a lover separated front his object of love, sees her in everything. How much more possible is it then, my friend, in a ease where what is contemplated upon is the very truth? Thus then, how can one be justified in asserting that, what is asserted here appears to be contrary to the diversity that is actually perceived? In reality all things are of the nature of the ‘Self,’ and they appear as diverse only on account, of our being in the habit of looking upon them as diverse. It is the perceiving of this unity that is enjoined here; in which case there would be no chance of any such notions arising as ‘this is mine—that is not mine,’ and the like. This is what has been thus declared—‘The two syllables ma-ma (mine) connote death, and the syllables na-ma-ma (not mine) connote immortality.’

Thus then there is no incongruity at all (in the teaching of the Veda).

For pitṛs, gods and men.’—These are the words of the Veda itself. Even gods and others cannot perceive Duty and allied things without the help of the Veda; they are beyond their power;—and also ‘illimitable’—the number of Vedic rescensions being endless. Or, ‘aprameya’ means that no adequate conception can be formed of the Veda and its subsidiaries.—(94)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

This verse is quoted in the Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra p. 129).

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