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:

धर्मेणाधिगतो यैस्तु वेदः सपरिबृंहणः ।
ते शिष्टा ब्राह्मणा ज्ञेयाः श्रुतिप्रत्यक्षहेतवः ॥ १०९ ॥

dharmeṇādhigato yaistu vedaḥ saparibṛṃhaṇaḥ |
te śiṣṭā brāhmaṇā jñeyāḥ śrutipratyakṣahetavaḥ || 109 ||

Those Brāhmaṇas, by whom the Veda, along with its supplements, has been learnt in the right manner, and who are guided directly by the revealed texts,—shall be regarded as ‘cultur ed.’—(109)


Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

This verse provides the definition of the ‘cultured’ man.

“The definition of the cultured man has already been provided under 2.13.”

But that verse has been suspected of having a totally different meaning; hence it cannot be regarded as providing the required definition. There is another statement—that man is cultured who is not affected by desires.’ But in this, ‘learning’ is not made a necessary condition. [Hence this also cannot be accepted as the requisite definition.]

When the Veda has been completely learnt and its meaning has been thoroughly grasped,—‘along with its supplements’—as described by the revered Vyāsa,—‘The Veda should be supplemented by Itihāsas and Purāṇas’;—by this the Smṛtis also became included.

The mention of ‘Brāhmaṇas’ is purely reiterative; since none other than the Brāhmaṇa is entitled to expound Dharma.

Guided directly by the revealed texts’—The revealed texts are their ‘direct guide’;—i.e., those for whom the Veda constitutes Perception and all other means of knowledge. What is meant is that they look upon the Veda as free from all defects, to the same extent that direct Perception is regarded as entirely trustworthy,—they do not rely upon those means of cognition that are based entirely on reasonings; they regard the Veda itself as embodying ‘reasoning’ also, and do not seek to establish the authority of the Veda by means of arguments.

Or, the phrase may mean that ‘they rely upon such Vedic texts as are directly found’;—i.e., they look upon these directly perceptible texts as the sole means of ascertaining what is Dharma (right) and what is Adharma (wrong).—(109)


Explanatory notes by Ganganath Jha

Śrutipratyakṣahetavaḥ’—‘Those who have learnt the Vedic text, also facts of perception and reasonings’, or ‘those for whom the perceptible Vedic texts are the sole means of discriminating virtue and vice’ (Medhātithi);—‘who are the cause of the teaching of the subjects perceptible in the Veda’ (Govindarāja),—‘who are the causes of making the revealed texts perceptible by reciting them’ (Kullūka);—‘those for whose knowledge and exposition of the Law, the causes consist of Hearing and Perception by the senses’ (Nandana).

This verse is quoted in Smṛticandrikā (Saṃskāra p. 6) as defining the ‘Śiṣṭa.’


Comparative notes by various authors

Vaśiṣṭha (1.6-7).—‘He whose heart is free from desire is called śiṣṭa. Acts sanctioned by the sacred law are those for which no worldly cause is perceptible.’

Vaśiṣṭha (6.43).—‘Those Brāhmaṇas in whose families the study of the Veda and the subsidiary sciences is hereditary, and who are able to adduce proofs perceptible by the senses from the revealed texts, must be known to be śiṣṭa, cultured.’

Baudhāyana (1.1.5-6).—‘Śiṣṭa, cultured, forsooth, are those who are free from envy, free from pride, contented with a store of grain sufficient for ten days, free from covetousness, and free from hypocrisy, arrogance, greed, perplexity and anger. Those are called cultured who, in accordance with the sacred Law, have studied the Veda together with its subsidiaries, know how to draw inferences from it, and are able to adduce proofs perceptible by the senses from the revealed texts.’

Āpastamba (2.29.14-15).—‘The indications for doubtful cases are—“He shall regulate his course of action according to the conduct which is unanimously recognised in all countries by men of the three twice-born castes, who have been properly obedient to their teachers, who are aged, of subdued senses, free from avarice and hypocrisy.” Acting thus he will gain both worlds. Some people say that the remaining duties must be learnt from women and from men of all castes.’

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