According to some comments & answers to What are the after-effects of insulting gods/goddesses? it appears that in the grand scheme of things, the Karma theory is going take care of all those who speak ill of gods.

But my question is, does Hindu scripture contain any blasphemy laws? Does it recommend any punishments (daṇḍa) for these people?

E.g., Manu recommends these punishments for members of one varṇa insulting the other:

śataṃ brāhmaṇamākruśya kṣatriyo daṇḍamarhati |
vaiśyo'pyardhaśataṃ dve vā śūdrastu vadhamarhati || 267 ||

On abusing a Brāhmaṇa the Kṣatriya should be fined one hundred; and the Vaiśya one hundred and fifty; or two hundred; the Śūdra however deserves immolation. — (267)

. . .

dharmopadeśaṃ darpeṇa viprāṇāmasya kurvataḥ |
taptamāsecayet tailaṃ vaktre śrotre ca pārthivaḥ || 272 ||

If through arrogance, he [once-born] teaches brāhmaṇas their duty, the king shall pour heated oil into his mouth and ears. — (272)


1 Answer 1


Firstly, devanindā shouldn't be equated with 'blasphemy' of Abrahamic 'religions', which is the first mistake many who are coming from Abrahamic/western background may make by default. Blasphemy carries a heavy Abrahamic ideological baggage, which isn't valid in this framework.

Devanindā is undoubtedly a pāpa, as stated in many śāstras (which the OP already knows).
Now, the question of OP is that, is there any daṇḍa of devanindā, as an aparādha ?

Verbal nindā (vākyapāruṣya) of devatās, is indeed classified as an aparādha in some śāstras, with an associated fine-based daṇḍa, which is to be bestowed by a Rājā upon the aparādhin.

śvadeśagrāmayoḥ pūrva madhyamaṁ jātisaṅghayoḥ /
ākrośāddevacaityānāmuttamaṁ daṇḍamarhati //
~ Kauṭilya's Arthaśāstra (3.18.12)

Those who do nindā (ākrośa) of their deśa or grāma, are to be bestowed pūrva sāhasadaṇḍa (48-96 paṇa fine), those who do nindā of their jāti or saṅgha, are to be bestowed madhyama sāhasadaṇḍa (200-500 paṇa fine) and those who do nindā of devatās or caityas, are to be bestowed uttama sāhasadaṇḍa (500-1000 paṇa fine).

The max and min amount of paṇas for each of the three daṇḍas, mentioned in brackets, are stated in Kauṭilya's Arthaśāstra (3.17.8-10).

traividhanṛpadevānāṁ kṣepa uttamasāhasaḥ /
madhyamo jātipugānāṁ prathamo grāmadeśayoḥ //
~ Yājñavalkya smr̥ti (2.211)

Those who do ākṣepa of trivedins, rājā or devatās, are to be bestowed uttama sāhasadaṇḍa (1080 paṇa fine). Those who do ākṣepa of jāti or pūga (saṅgha), are to be bestowed madhyama sāhasadaṇḍa (540 paṇa fine) and those who do ākṣepa of grama or deśa, are to be bestowed prathama sāhasadaṇḍa (270 paṇa fine).

The amount of paṇas mentioned for the three daṇḍas in brackets, are stated in Yājñavalkya smr̥ti (1.366). As per Manusmr̥ti (8.138) though, the prathama, madhyama and uttama sāhasadaṇḍas are 250 paṇas, 500 paṇas and 1000 paṇas fine respectively. The difference in śāstras regarding the paṇa amounts of sāhasadaṇḍas, isn't of much significance.

So, as stated above, verbal nindā (vākyapāruṣya) of devatās was an aparādha with an associated fine-based daṇḍa. Unfortunately, this isn't followed in current-day India.


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