Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 6.4.7:

If she does not willingly yield her body to him, he should buy her with presents. If she is still unyielding, he should strike her with a stick or with his hand and overcome her, repeating the following mantra: "With power and glory I take away your glory." Thus she becomes discredited.

How are the above rites moral? How can you beat wife if they do not agree to have progeny? Is there some text which says that wife has duty for husband for progeny?

For those looking for these slokas mentioned they appear in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Khila-kanda, Putramantha Brahmana. Some may write this as chapter 6 section 4, sloka 6, 7 & 8. This section outlines the putramantha rite.

Is this shruti or smriti? The rite doesn't seem Vedic.

Related: Why Garuda Purana and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad ask to beat women?


6 Answers 6


I think you have misunderstood the verses in question and have taken them out of context. It is important to read the first verse of this section 4 and the commentary. The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad with the Commentary of Sankaracarya reads (Swami Madhavananda translator):

VI.iv.1 The earth is the essence of all these beings, water the essence of the earth, herbs of water, flowers of herbs, fruits of flowers, man of fruits, and the seed of man.

The present section is introduced to lay down the method by which to obtain the kind of son who, by the manner of his birth and conception and by his good qualities, will help to achieve the worlds both for himself and for his father. Only a person who knows the meditation on the vital force and has performed the ceremony of the Mantha leading to prosperity, is entitled to this ceremony of the Mantha leading to the birth of a son. When a man wants to perform this ceremony, he should, after performing the former ceremony, wait for the right time of his wife....

and the commentary at the end of the 6th verse says "...therefore he should approach this handsome woman [his wife] and speak to her, when she has taken a bath after three nights."

and the 7th verse says:

  1. If she is not willing, he should buy her over; and if she is still unyielding, he should strike her with a stick or with the hand and proceed, uttering the following Mantra, 'I take away your reputation,' etc. She is then actually discredited.

...'I take away your reputation,'etc. As a result of that curse, she comes to be known as barren and unfortunate, and is then actually discredited

  1. If she is willing, he should proceed, uttering the following Mantra: 'I transmit reputation into you,' and they both become reputed.

First, it is sruti. Second, it does not condone wife beating. It says any hitting [and the strikes can be ceremonial, not literally] are only done after several prerequisites. First, they are married. Second, the husband knows the meditation on the vital force [not easy or accomplished by many]. Third, he has performed the Mantha ceremony. Fourth, she has bathed for three nights. Fifth, if after the husband has gone through all these prerequisites and being his wife she is unyielding, he should win her over with gifts. Not yielding, the strikes essentially are a form of renouncing the wife. The purpose of marriage is progeny. If a man has purified himself through all the steps mentioned above to have worthy progeny, and the wife is unwilling to help in the purpose of marriage, she should be renounced.

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    "the strikes can be ceremonial, not literal" -- are these your own words/interpretation or the commentator's/translator's? Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 21:26
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    "the strikes essentially are a form of renouncing the wife" - Is this again your own interpretation or the commentator's/translator's?
    – SMJoe
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 13:32
  • @SMJoe If she is not willing, he should buy her over, press his wishes through ornaments etc.; and if she is still unyielding, he should strike her with a stick or with the hand, and announcing that he was going to curse her and make her unfortunate, he should proceed, uttering the following Mantra: ‘I take away your reputation,’ etc. As a result of that curse, she comes to be known as barren and unfortunate, and is then actually discredited. This is a commentary by Śaṅkarācārya. So it is literal beating Commented Apr 25, 2021 at 14:44
  • There is no context which makes abuse okay, and nowhere does the verse talk about divorce."ajasha eba bhabati". There is a reason I do not identify as religious. If I support the saints of a religion, I will also be expected to make excuses for the monsters of it, and if I don't, I will be called a traitor.
    – Spero
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 19:32

The last sections of this chapter six - Brahmana 3-4 - of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad are describing a procedure for householders called Manthan" Karma for getting good wealth and good progeny.

As described by Adi- Shankaracharya in his commentary of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad this Mantha Karma is smarta procedure.

Objection: How can a ceremony that is enjoined by the Śruti be one in accordance with the Smṛti?

Reply: The Śruti here is merely repeating the Smṛti. Were it a Vedic ceremony, it would be related to the Jyotiṣṭoma sacrifice as a part is to a whole, and as such must conform to all the characteristics of the main sacrifice. But it is not a Vedic ceremony. For this reason it is also to be performed in the Āvasathya (household) fire1; and the entire procedure is to be in accordance with the Smṛti. So the vow in question is that of living on milk.

Since the ceremony is in accordance with the Smṛti, the manner referred to is that of the ‘Sthālīpāka.’[4]

We can also see this well described in another version of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad . See section 6.4.

This passage is a part of the Khila Kanda (supplementary portion) of the Upanishad and does not form the text proper, being a later addition. This opinion is held unanimously by Hindu scholars (refer to Shankaracharya’s commentary). This last chapter should not be considered as forming a part of the main body of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Further to the above, the last sections of this chapter six are the subject matter of Smriti. This Smriti explains the way of material prosperity (vital force), for the householder. The Sruti transcends this more mundane purpose of the Smriti. The Sruti that is the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is the highest knowledge which leads to liberation from worldly desire and the creation cycle. Therefore, we conclude, the inclusion of the Smriti text is not for the purpose of instruction but for the purpose of further contemplation on the way of a vital force as the way of rebirth.

Conclusion - So these passages are basically smiriti passages which are contemplation of Shruties and is to be considered subject matter of Smriti based on scholarly views.


That’s why you should never read colonial English translations of our texts, as they just haven’t got the concept of nirukta or bhavarth.

The verse is about “bringing up children” to be worthy people!

In the tradition, bringing up children is the responsibility of both husband and wife. And if you’re familiar with the sodasasamskara, then you know that for ensuring a proper upbringing of the child, each samskara should be well accomplished. This is a life long commitment to the welfare of the child and an essential partnership between husband and wife.

In fact, BU6.4.6 puts the onus on maintaining a conducive family atmosphere on the male as the female is considered divine lakshmisvaroop! 6.4.6 says the male must be well always groomed and well dressed at home as the wife is striyon me shresht, mere ghar ki shobha hai, sampatti hai, lakshmi hai, and therefore always be on your best behaviour and enable her to do her part.

6.4.7 goes on to suggest ways of keeping the wife engaged and committed to the objective of family life, which is to create a conducive atmosphere in which to bring up children, by talking to her nicely, bringing her gifts or items she desires such as clothes or ornaments, and even if absolutely necessary, to gently chide her with words such as saumya, sundari into remembering their responsibility by saying that the halo of the glory that the children bring by their deeds in the future will only enhance your own beauty and glow with such an accomplishment.


Don't go with any English translations. They are almost always wrong. English does not have the breadth or nuance needed to express Sanskrit verse. Nor do the colonial translators, much of them Christian missionaries, even understand the meaning of Bhavarth. Study the original verse and see what they mean. What's in Sanskrit is the exact opposite of the English translation! Here's a link to the original on the Govt Vedic Heritage Portal.


The sixth section should have been thrown out by Sankaracharya. It has obnoxious passages that are contrary to morality. The obnoxious passages tell us about ancient customs and should not be treated as Shruti.

Discourses on morality made with the aid of an intelligence that is derived from the true letter and the spirit of the scriptures, are worthy of praise and not those which are made with the help of anything else. Even the words heard from an ignorant person, if in themselves they be fraught with sense, come to be regarded as pious and wise. In days of old, Usanas said unto the Daityas this truth, which should remove all doubts, that scriptures are no scriptures if they cannot stand the test of reason.

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CXLII

One should realize that Vedic infallibility does not imply the acceptance of every word in it.

The appeal to the infallibility of the Vedic injunction is misconceived. The infallibility in question refers only to the unseen forces or apurva, and is admissible only in regards to matters not confined to the sphere of direct perceptions, etc ... Even a hundred statements of sruti to the effect that fire is cold and non-luminous won't prove valid. If it does make such a statement, its import will have to be interpreted differently. Otherwise, validity won't attach to it. Nothing in conflict with the means of valid cognition or with its own statements may be imputed to sruti.

REF: Srimad Bhagavad Gita Bhasya of Sri Sankaracarya translation by Dr. A. G. Krishna Warrier, p. 629.

Moreover neither Shruti, nor Smriti, nor ancient custom and tradition can override one's conscience.

Bhishma said, ‘He is said to be conversant with duty who knows duty as depending on four foundations.’

[four foundations, i.e., as laid down in the Vedas; as laid down in the Smritis; as sanctioned by ancient usage and customs; and as approved by the heart or one’s own conscience.]

Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CXXXII


The translation itself is wrong. It talks not about beating the wife with a stick or something, rather abstaining and controlling the sexual urges, hence taking away her "glory" by means of self control.

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