श्री याज्ञवल्क्यस्मृति: The Yajnavalkya Smrti with Commentary Balakrida

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Item Code: NZF459
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Author: T. Ganapati Sastri
Language: Sanskrit
Edition: 1982
Pages: 496
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 800 gm
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Book Description

It is well-known to the world of Sanskritists that in the introduction to his Mitakshara, the great Vijnanesvara acknowledges his indebtedness to Balakrida, the long and erudite commentary of his illustrious predecessor Visvarupacharya. Years ago, an incomplete copy of this work (beginning with a portion of the Brahmachariprakarana in the first Adhyaya and ending with the Samapatakaprakarana in the third Adhyaya), came into my hands from among the collection of manuscripts in the Palace Library of His Highness the Maharaja. Desirous of bringing out an edition of this work, I searched for complete copies and was able to secure five palm-leaf codices in Malayalam characters appearing to be three centuries old. The present edition of the Balakrida along with the text is based on these five manuscripts as well as on the one obtained from the Palace Library. The first two Adhyayas, namely, Acharadhyaya and Vyavaharadhyaya are now published as the first part of the work and the third, namely, Prayaschittadhyaya, the longest of the three, will ere long follow as the second part.

Two commentaries on the Balakrida, suitable to its deep and dignified nature were also procured; one of them mentions neither its own name nor that of its author, while the portion already available commenting on the introduction alone in the Balakrida ranges over 5,500 granthas. The second commentary known as Vachanamala does not mention its author’s name and runs up to a certain portion in the Brahmachariprakarana, the extent of the work so far obtained amounting to about 6,000 granthas. It cannot be far from right to infer that these commentaries when completely secured would be exceedingly voluminous. These fragmentary ones are not added to the present edition as it is thought proper to publish them separately after securing further portions.

From the following extracts of the Vachanamala.

We learn that there existed three other commentaries on the Balakrida: the first called Vibhavana containing an elaborate and exhaustive explanation of each word, and the second named Tika giving notes on the difficult words alone. These two are said to be very old works written by a venerable ascetic known as Vedatman, and the third is known to be a comparatively modern one, Amritasyandini by name, written by Somayajin who was the Paramaguru (the preceptor’s preceptor) of the author of the Vachanamala. All these were, also says the commentary, not available as complete works.

The commentary referred to above as mentioning neither its own name nor that of its author is found to be a long and elaborate commentary explaining each word of the Balakrida; and I am inclined to think that this might probably be the Vibhavana mentioned by the author of the Vachanamala. It is possible to surmise from this that Visvarupa’s commentary on Yajnavalkya had attained a wide celebrity and influence and had been accepted as an authority on matters of Achara, Vyavahara and Prayaschitta; as otherwise there could have been no necessity for its being commented upon by many great authors in various ways, and the author of the Vibhavana would not have asserted,

This means that it is on account of the blessings of Visvarupacharya that the world treads the path of virtue and is happy.

In course of time, however, the popularity of the Balakrida yielded in favour of the Mitakshara which reproduced the substance of the former in a simpler and easier form.

Let us now see what we can know of the personality of Visvarupacharya. The statement,

of the author of the Vibhavana shows that Visvarupacharya and Suresvaracharya were one and the same person. For, the word Suresa therein is the same as Suresvara and the former is used evidently to suit the metre. And accordingly we find the Vachanamala introducing Visvarupacharya the expounder of the Dharmasastras by the name of Suresvara in the following:-

The word Bhavabhuti prefixed to the name Suresvara is, I think, used in the sense of Sivabhuti; and it might be a title like Sivadasa, indicating the devotion of the author towards Siva, Similarly, we find Sankaravijaya making use of the name Visvarupa in the place of Suresvara in (Sarga III) and (Sarga IV). Let us again consider the following quotation from the Vivaranaprameyasangraha of Madhavacharaya,

The above verse is found in the Brihadaranyakavartika of Suresvaracharya (Adhyaya I, Brahmana IV), and the reference therefore of Madhavacharya to Suresvaracharya by the name Visvarupacharya leaves no room for doubt in regard to their identity. Besides, the similarity in style and method of exposition in the Naishkarmyasiddhi, a work popularly ascribed to Suresvaracharya, and in the Balakrida are also points in confirmation of our conclusion.

Now that the identity of Visvarupacharya and Sursvaracharya is established, the question of ascertaining the age of our author has proved casier for us. Tradition has it that Suresvaracharya , the ascetic of the Paramahamsa order, was, in his previous asrama, a staunch ritualist known as Mandanamisra, and having been defcated by the great Sankaracharya in a philosophical controversy, became a disciple of the latter and entered the ascetic order of life. If we can rely on this tradition, we may take Suresvaracharya to be a contemporary of Sankaracharya whom some scholars assign to the eight century A.D., while others to a far earlier period.

It is, however, a special feature of the Balakrida evidencing to its high antiquity as well as its author’s regard for ancient works, that among the multitude of works and authors that is cites as authority, there is none that is generally assigned to the Christian era, but all of them, being Vedic works and Smritis of the Vedic type and their authors, belong to the centuries that preceded Christ. Then again, when context required quotations from an authority on the Arthasastra, our author does not resort to Kautilya but to Brihaspati and Visalaksha, the predecessors of Kautilya, as is seen from the following,

This, I think, is quite as it should be. For it is the proper practice of a commentator that he should supply deficiencies in the statements of an author, advisedly left out to be learnt from other sources, by having recourse to those writers who are known either as ancient or as contemporary authority to the author himself, but not to those that are posterior to the author. Visvarupacharya must have taken the Arthasastra of Brihaspati and Visalaksha to be Arsha works known to Yajnavalkya and therefore quoted from them to supplement Yajnavalkya’s statements, but not from Kautilya who was posterior to Yajnavalkya. And as for the fact that Kautilya was later than Yajnavalkya there need be no shadow of doubt. When dealing with the Pratilomajaputras i.e., sons begotten by men of lower on women of higher castes, Kautilya defines Suta as a son begotten by a Kshatriya on a Brahmana woman and Magadha as a son begotten by a Vaisya on a Kshatriya woman, and hastens to restrict the application of his definition in the case of Suta of Puranic celebrity, and Magadha the panegyrist, both sprung up from the holy sacrificial ground of the king Prithu, by way of saying. This means that Suta otherwise known as Romaharshana who narrated the Puranas to Saunaka and Magadha who is mentioned along with Suta in the Puranas are distinct from Suta and Magadha born in the inverse order of castes; and that both of them excel the Brahmanas and Kshatriyas in purity of birth. This is quite in keeping with the Puranas which state,

This is Suta of Puranic celebrity, the pupil of Vyasa, not being born of the womb of a mother, was far above the Suta of the Pratilomaja class, and he was a Brahmana and an incarnation of God. Hence it is possible to infer that Kautilya otherwise known as Chanakya knew well of the Puranas, the story about the origin of Suta, the expounder of the Puranas, as well as their wide popularity. It is certain therefore that centuries must have intervened between Suta and Kautilya before the latter could have believed in the works of Suta as Puranas of archaic sanctity. When it is said that Suta flourished centuries before Kautilya, it naturally follows that Yajnavalkya (or a pupil of his) the author of the Smriti who studied his Yajurveda under Vaisampayana a contemporary of Suta also lived long before Kautilya. And accordingly we see that Kautilya reveal his high regard for and acquaintance with the Yajnavalkyasmriti by adopting it ad verbam ad sensum as well as by explaining and supplementing it when the latter treats of Sahasadandas in the second Adhyaya. The following are quoted here as instances. Here is a sloka from the Yajnavalkyasmirit:-

and a sentence of similar nature from Kautilya is this:-

Here are other slokas from the Yajnavalkyasmriti:-

The following are the parallel sentences from Kautilya:-

Compare one more instance from the Smriti:-

With Kautilya’s

It can be clearly seen from all the above quotations of Kautilya that the words in black alone are his own and that the rest are the same as those found in the Smriti. The word in the line is an adverb and means “of one’s own accord but not with the consent of Vidhava”, while in the Kautiliya means that is remaining taciturn without feeling lustful. When Kautilya says we should not take it to be anything other than his comments on of the Smriti. means the demand of Judges for statements on oath from witnesses and others. It is i.e., permissible for Judges, they being authorized in it for the conduct of judicial investigations. What is for one is also i. e., a right for the same, as it comes within the sphere of one’s duties or as it is worthy of being done by the same. While for others it is and as it does not come within the sphere of their duties or as it is not worthy of being done by them. It follows from this that the words are of the same meaning as also the words, and are, contrarily. And in the opinion of Kautilya this unauthorized demand for statements on oath is what is meant by the word of the Smriti. But the Mitakshara gives quite a different interpretation of the passage without consulting Kautilya on the point.

Similarly we should explain the sentences and to be of the same meaning. or means a privilege. And one having is and one deserving of. Thus the difference between and is but nominal and both really mean the same thing. We shall deal with this point in greater details in the introduction of our edition of the Arthasastra of Kautilya which we hope to publish before long.

The present work will, by all means, be very useful to students of Dharmasastra and especially to lawyers.


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