Origin of the world

Commentary by Medhātithi. Translation by Ganganath Jha.

स तैः पृष्टस्तथा सम्यगमितौजा महात्मभिः। प्रत्युवाचार्च्य तान्सर्वान् महर्षीञ्छ्रूयतामिति ।४।

 

 

स तैः पृष्टस्तथा सम्यगमितौजा महात्मभिः । प्रत्युवाचार्च्य तान्सर्वान्महर्षीञ्च्छ्रूयतामिति ॥ ४ ॥

Being thus questioned by the high-souled, great sages, he, possessed of illimitable vigour, received them with reverence, and with proper courtesy answered them: “Listen.”

स मनुरमितौजास्तैर्महर्षिभिर्महात्मभिः पृष्टस्तथा तान् प्रत्युवाच श्रूयतामिति । तथा तेन प्रागुक्तेन प्रकारेण पृच्छ्यमानवस्तु प्रश्नविधिश्च प्रकारवचने तथाशब्देऽन्तर्भूतः । तेनायमर्थस्तथापृष्टस्तान् धर्मान् पृष्टः प्रत्युवाच ।

He - Manu - possessed of illimitable vigour being thus questioned by the high-souled great sages, answered them - listen. Thus - in the aforesaid manner; the word ‘thus’ which denotes method, includes the matter as well as the manner of the question; hence ‘thus questioned’ means ‘thus questioned i.e. questioned about duties - he answered.’

अथवा तथेति प्रकारमात्रमाचष्टे । पृष्ट इति पूर्वश्लोकात्पृच्छ्यमानविशेषो बुद्धौ विपरिवर्तत एव । तेन यत्पृष्टस्ततप्रत्युवाच श्रूयतामिति प्रश्नप्रतिवचनयोरेककर्मता सिद्धा भवति । तदा च तथाशब्दः श्लोकपूरणार्थः । आद्ये तु व्याख्याने तथाशब्दोपात्तैव प्रश्नप्रतिवचनयोरेककर्मता ।

Or, the word ‘thus’ may be taken as denoting manner only. As a matter of fact, however, the word ‘questioned’ already brings to the mind the details (matter as well as manner) of what has been questioned about; hence the meaning is ‘what he was questioned about, that the answered.’ Thus the question and the answer come to have the same objective.

Under this explanation, the word ‘thus’ becomes superfluous and only serves the purpose of filling the gap in the metre. Under the former explanation, however, the word ‘thus’ itself serves the purpose of showing that the questioning and the answering have both the same objective.

सम्यक्शब्दः प्रतिवचनविशेषणम् । सम्यक् प्रत्युवाच । प्रसन्नेन मनसा न क्रोधादियोगेन । अमितौजा अक्षीणवाग्विभवः । अमितमनन्तमोजो वीर्यमभिधानसामर्थ्यमस्येति । महात्मतया महर्षीणां धर्मप्रष्टृत्वं महर्षित्वं चाविरुद्धमित्याह महर्षीनिति । परार्थकारी सततं महात्मेत्युच्यते । तेन यद्यपि स्वयं विद्वांसोऽधिगतयाथातथ्याः - अन्यथा महर्षित्वानुपपत्तेः - तथापि परार्थमपृच्छन् । मनुः प्रख्याततरप्रमाणभावः । एतेन यदुच्यते तल्लोकेनाद्रियते । प्रत्ययोऽयं समुपास्यतेऽतः शास्त्रावतारार्थमुपाध्यायीकुर्मः । अस्माभिश्च पृच्छ्यमानः प्रमाणतरीकरिष्यते जनेनेति ।

The word samyak ‘with proper courtesy’ qualifies the answering: ‘he answered with proper courtesy’ i.e. gladly - not with anger or any other form of displeasure. Possessed of illimitable vigour - with undiminished power of speech; he whose vigour, power, capacity of exposition is illimitable, infinite.

The epithet ‘high-souled’ serves to show that there is no incompatibility in the persons being ‘great sages’ and at the same time ‘questioners’ (as if they themselves did not know what they were asking about); hence it is said ‘he answered the great sages.’ It is the philanthropic person that is called high-souled, hence the meaning is that though they themselves knew all about duties - otherwise they would not be great sages - yet they questioned Manu for the benefit of other people; the idea in their minds being as follows: Manu is a sage whose authoritative character is better known - what he says is always respected by people, he is always approached with trust and confidence, hence for the expounding of the treatise, we shall make him our teacher and when he is questioned by us, he will be regarded by the people as still more trustworthy.

अत एवार्च्य तान् सर्वानित्यर्चनमविरुद्धम् । अन्यथा शिष्यस्योपाध्यायात्कीदृश्यर्चेति । अर्चयतेराङ्पूर्वस्य ल्यबन्तस्य रूपमार्च्येति । पाठान्तरमर्चयित्वा तानिति ।

It is this explanation that justifies the statement in the text regarding Manu having received them with reverence. If it were not as we have explained, what would be the meaning of the reverence shown by the teacher to the pupil? The word of the text which means ‘having received with reverence’ must be explained as a participle formed of the root ‘arc’ (to worship) with the prefix ā and the participial affix lyap. Another reading is archayitvā tān.

अत्र यदुच्यते यदि मनुनाऽयं ग्रन्थः कृतः परापदेशो न युक्तः स तैः पृष्टः प्रत्युवाचेति । अहं पृष्टः प्रत्यब्रवमिति न्याय्यम् । अथान्यतर एव ग्रन्थस्य कर्ता मानवव्यपदेशः कथमिति ।

In connection with the present verse, the following question has been raised: “If the whole of the treatise has been composed by Manu himself, it is not right to attribute it to another person as is done in the statement ‘being questioned by them, he answered.’ The proper form would have been: being questioned by them, I answered. If, on the other hand, someone else is the author of the treatise, then why should it be called Mānava (of Manu)?

तदचोद्यम् । प्रायेण ग्रन्थकाराः स्वमतं परापदेशेन ब्रुवते - अत्राह अत्र परिहरन्तीति नैवमहं तैः पृष्ट इति । यो यः पूर्वतरः स स प्रमाणतरो लोकेनाभ्युपगम्यते - तत्प्रमाणं बादरायणस्येति । अथवा भृगुप्रोक्ता संहितेयम् । मानवी तु स्मृतिरुपनिबद्धेति मानवव्यपदेशः ।

There is no force in this objection. In the first place, it is a well known fact that in most cases the authors of treatises state their own views as if emanating from other persons - making use of such expressions as - in this connection “they” say or “they” meet this argument thus, and so forth; and the form “being questioned by them I answered” would not be in keeping with such usage; the reason underlying this fact is that the older the person the more authoritative he is regarded to be by the people. It is for this reason that we find Jaimini (1.1.5) stating his own view as emanating from Bādarāyaṇa. Or (another explanation is that) the treatise is a compilation made and related by Bhṛgu and since the original smṛti was compiled by Manu - it is styled Mānava.

प्रत्युवाच तान् महर्षीन् । किं तत् । यदहं पृष्टस्तत् श्रूयतामिति ॥ ४ ॥

He answered the great sages. What was the answer? “Listen to what I have been questioned about” (4).