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In India a lot of women(both married & unmarried) fast for religious purposes.

Many Vratas are there all throughout the year viz:- Varalakshmi Vrata,Mangala Gowri Vrata,Rishi Panchami Vrata(specifically done by ladies)etc.

But I found the following surprising sloka from the Parasara Smriti which says that a married woman if fasts reduces the lifetime of her husband and eventually goes to hell.

Chapter 4,Sloka 17.

Pathou Jivati Ya NaaryuPoshyavratamaachareth
Ayusham Harate bhartuhu Saa Naari Narakam Vrajeth.

Meaning-If a woman,during her husband's life,observes areligious vow which involves a religious vow which involves a fast,that woman thereby shortens her husband's life ,and after death goes to hell.

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Similar slokas are there in other Smritis as well.For example the Vishnu Smriti says:

  1. No sacrifice, no penance, and no fasting is allowed to women apart from their husbands; to pay obedience to her lord is the only means for a woman to obtain bliss in heaven. 16. A woman who keeps a fast or performs a penance in the lifetime of her lord, deprives her husband of his life, and will go to hell.(Vishnu Smriti XXV )

What are the counter quotes from other Sastras?

  • It is generally considered ill-advised for married ladies to observe fasts too often. – user1195 Sep 12 '16 at 7:33
  • i think the key word here is 'apart from their husbands'. they can fast along with, or with permission from, their husbands, just not alone. e.g. ekadashi fast must be followed by everyone, man or woman. – ram Dec 24 '16 at 7:07
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There are countless verses in scriptures which counter this verse. Parashara Smriti is a Smriti text and Puranas are also Smriti text thus they have equal authority. Thus we can counter this verse by using Puranic verses as Authority.

Although there are countless counter verses in every Puranas. I have here used only Padma Purana.

Padma Purana Brahma Khanda chapter 5 states:

यानारिस्वामिसहितांकुर्याच्चहरिवासरम् ।
सुपुत्राभर्तृसुभगाभवेत्साप्रतिजन्मनि ।।

That woman who along with her husband, would observe a fast on the day of (i.e. sacred to) Vishnu, would have good sons and would be a favourite wife of her husband in every existence.

Similarly Padma Purana Shristi Khanda chapter 29 states:

एवंसंवत्सरयावदुपोष्यविधिवन्नरः ।
स्त्रीचनक्तंकुमारीचशिवमभ्यच्र्यभक्तितः ।।

Thus, for one year, a man or a woman or a maiden, having duly observed a fast at night and having devoutly worshipped Shiva for a year, should give a fully furnished bed at the end of the vow.

Similarly Padma Purana Shristi Khanda chapter 22 states:

नरोवायदिवानारीसोपवासव्रतंचरेत् ।
गर्भिणीसूतिकानक्तंकुमारीवाथरोगिणी ।।
यदाऽशुद्धातदान्येनकारयेत्प्रयतास्वयम् ।
इमामनंतफलदांयस्तृतीयांसमाचरेत् ।।
कल्पकोटिशतंसाग्रंशिवलोकेमहीयते ।
वित्तहीनोपिकुर्वीतयावद्वर्षमुपोषणम् ।।

If a man or a woman observes the vow of fast, (if) a pregnant woman or if a woman recently delivered, or a maiden or a sick woman observes fast at night (he or she would get unending fruit). When impure (i.e. during menstruation), she, being restrained, should get it done by someone else. He, who observes (the vow of) this Ananta-phalada (giving unending fruit) Trtijd, is honoured in Shiva's world for a full crore of Kalpas.

Thus as that verse of Parashara Smriti contradicts with so many other verses of Puranas and nor it is supported by Vedic verses, So it can be rejected.

  • Well Puranas should be generally valid & applicable throughout but for Kali yuga its Parasara Smriti thats applicable as the precise Dharma Sastra.This is clearly mentioned in the PS.So it should have priority.But since i asked for counter verses from other sastras ur answer is valid.In anycase in Kali fasts are not at all recommended.The reasons are mentioned in not only PS but other scriptures as well.When its self mortification(tapas)in Krita ,its Jnana in Treta ,Yagnas in Dwapar its Danam(charity) is the method in Kali--"Danameva Kalau YUge" – Rickross Sep 12 '16 at 12:40
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The heart of the śloka is not exactly that. It is reflected in Kāśī Khaṇḍa Chapter Four, Lōpāmudrā says the duties of a Pativratā as

व्रतोपवासनियमं पतिमुल्लङ्घ्य या चरेत् । आयुष्यं हरते भर्त्तु र्मृता निरयमृच्छति ॥ ३५ ॥

  1. If a woman observes vratā, upvāsa etc., without the approval of husband (disregarding the wish of husband) reduces the life span of husband and after death she goes to hell.

In answer to your doubt that "However,There is another sloka in it which is about women doing vratas or rituals without taking their husband's permission.It is said that such rituals have only approvals of Asuras." The intention to that śloka is in the same chapter which says

भर्ता देवो गुरुर्भर्ता धर्मतीर्थव्रतानि च । तस्मात्सर्वं परित्यज्य पतिमेकंसमर्चयेत् ॥ ४८ ॥

Husband is God, Husband is Guru, Husband alone is the Dharma, Tīrtha, vrata. So forsaking everything, a woman should worship her husband.

इदमेव व्रतं स्त्रीणामयमेव परो वृषः । इयमेका देवपूजाभर्त्तुर्वाक्यं न लङ्घयेत् ॥ ३० ॥

This is the vrata, this alone is the greatest piety; this is the only deva pūjā that she never transgresses the words of her husband.

क्लीबं वा दुरवस्थं वा व्याधितं वृद्धमेव वा । सुस्थितं दुःखितं वापि पतिमेकं न लङ्घयेत् ॥ ३१ ॥

She will never disregard her husband whether he be a eunuch, one in miserable plight, sick, old and senile, affluent or poor.

Such is the place of husband. So anything done without the approval of husband is considered very bad for a wife which is equivalent to doing bad (approval of Asuras i.e., not divine or desirable).

So a wife first taking approval of her husband can observe fasts, vratās etc.,

Hope this helps you

  • In Parshara Smriti the sloka is EXACTLY as given in the question.However,There is another sloka in it which is about women doing vratas or rituals without taking their husband's permission.It is said that such rituals have only approvals of Asuras. – Rickross Sep 26 '16 at 5:20
  • @Rickross even in Datta Sampraday book GuruCharitra it is said that woman should have consent from her husband for doing any vrata – ChintaMoney Sep 26 '16 at 10:11
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There is a sacred book in Datta Sampradaya called GuruCharitra which is based on life of Datta Avatar Swami Nrusimha Saraswati, in this book Swami Nrusimha Saraswati has preached women to do Vrata. There stories about Shani-Pradosh(शनि प्रदोष),Somvar Vrat,Ekadhashi vrat,Anant-Chaturdashi vrat in this book. Guru Charitra

  • You shold provide Link's pointing to the book's You are referring in answer.Here is the link of Shree Guru-Charitra archive.org/details/GuruCharitraMarathi pls. Add the link in Your answer – SwiftPushkar Sep 29 '16 at 0:11
  • @SwiftPushkar I will remember this from next time. Also thanks for the link. – ChintaMoney Sep 29 '16 at 5:17

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