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Adultery (Hinduism)

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Part of the Encyclopedia of Indian Religions book series (EIR)


Adultery, also sometimes found in the form of incest, is a consensual physical correlation between two persons who are not in conjugal relationship with each other. Adultery is considered sinful and wrong in Hinduism so much so that it is also unlawful and criminal under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code. The Hindu Dharmashastras forbid any type of sexual union/act – physical, mental, and emotional adultery – outside the socially sanctioned marriage institution [5]. According to Bhagavad Gita, a corrupt woman destroys family values which further leads to the destruction of the clan (1:40–42). And Manusmriti implored the ruler to free the State from adultery, assault, theft, defamation, and violence (5:154; 8:386–387).

In Shanti Parva of Mahabharata (Section CLVIII), there is a dialogue between Bhishma and Yudhishthira where Bhishma considered it as a major sin and recommended punishment for the one who is proven guilty [3]. For a woman, who abandons her husband of a...


  • Adultery
  • Hindu Scriptures
  • Ahalya
  • Bhishma
  • Saraswati

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  1. Bhaktivedanta PAC (1984) Śrīmad Bhagavatam: with the original Sanskrit text, its roman transliteration, synonyms, transl. and elaborate purports by A. C. Bhaktivedanta swami Prabhupāda. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, New York

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Correspondence to Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi .

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Dwivedi, A.V. (2018). Adultery (Hinduism). In: Jain, P., Sherma, R., Khanna, M. (eds) Hinduism and Tribal Religions. Encyclopedia of Indian Religions. Springer, Dordrecht.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-94-024-1036-5

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Chapter History

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    Adultery (Hinduism)
    18 June 2021


  2. Original

    Adultery (Hinduism)
    21 March 2018