Marital rape has been one of the most controversial social issues raised by feminists over the last century. It has been widely recognised in the western world as a form of domestic violence and considered illegal. However, marital rape still remains a raging debate and legal in India. The current Indian Minister of Women & Child Development, Maneka Gandhi who earlier called marital rape "unacceptable" in July 2015 changed her stance on 10-Mar-2016 saying that it cannot be "suitably applied in the Indian context" due to factors such as poverty, illiteracy and religious beliefs".

A bench of judges in the Supreme Court of India, on 9-Aug-2017, stated the following regarding this issue:

Parliament has extensively debated the issue of marital rape and considered that it was not an offence of rape. Therefore, it cannot be considered as a criminal offence.

I would like to know the Dharmic point of view on this issue. Please quote scriptures and Hindu saints to support your answer.


1 Answer 1


The scriptures are divided on this. Viṣṇu Purāṇa says the husband shouldn't approach an unwilling wife while Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad suggests he should do whatever is necessary to pass on his genes.

Rules for Sexual Activity, Vishnu Purāṇa 3.11:

111. In proper time, under the influence of an auspicious planet and in an auspicious moment or on even nights (tithis) one should have sex with his own wife.

112 – 113. One should not approach a woman who is unbathed, sick, menstruating, unwilling, angry, un-recommended, pregnant, unskilled (adaksinam), in love with another (anya-kamam), lacking in libido (akamam) nor committed to another (anya-yoshitam), nor if she is hungry or over-fed. He too should also be free from all these imperfections.

114. When engaging in sexual intercourse (vyavayam) one should have taken a bath, be adorned with a garland and perfumes, and be in an aroused and affectionate mood, not disturbed by anxiety.

(The Hindu Sacrament of Marriage by Pandit Sri Rama Ramanuja Achari (srimatham.com)

From here, the Sanskrit word for 'unwilling' is nāniṣṭāṃ:

ṛtāv upagamaḥ śastaḥ svapatnyām avanīpate /
punnāmarkṣe śubhe kāle jyeṣṭhayugmāsu rātriṣu //

nāsnātāṃ tu striyaṃ gacchen nāturāṃ na rajasvalām /
nāniṣṭāṃ na prakupitāṃ nāpraśastāṃ na garbhiṇīm //

nādakṣiṇāṃ nānyakāmāṃ nākāmāṃ nānyayoṣitam /
kṣutkṣāmām atibhuktāṃ vā svayaṃ caibhir guṇair yutaḥ //

snātaḥ sraggandhadhṛk prītaḥ nādhmātaḥ kṣudhito 'pi vā /
sakāmaḥ sānurāgaś ca vyavāyaṃ puruṣo vrajet //

Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad

Chapter VI - Section IV - Conception and Birth as Religious Rites

  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. [6.4.1]

  2. Prajāpati thought, 'Well, let me make an abode for it,' and he created woman.

3-6. If man sees his reflection in water, he should recite the following Mantra: '(May the gods grant) me lustre, manhood, reputation, wealth and merits.' She (his wife) is indeed the goddess of beauty among women. Therefore he should approach this handsome woman and speak to her.

  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. [6.4.7]

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


  • Look at the last verse in the same chapter of Vishnu Purana Jun 8, 2018 at 1:16
  • 6
    you have misinterpreted the Brhadaranyaka Upansishad. It does not say he should do whatever is necessary. see my answer on these verses in another question. Jun 8, 2018 at 5:38
  • @NarayanaSharma What does it say?
    – user9969
    Jun 8, 2018 at 8:06
  • The brihadaranyaka upanishad is part of the ritual, there are many prerequisites before coming to that conclusion.
    – Anisha
    Jun 8, 2018 at 9:01
  • Which answer? I don't see any answer of yours here: Why Garuda Purana and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad ask to beat women? The only answer there says it's "symbolic" beating. Is that what you think it is? @SwamiVishwananda Jun 8, 2018 at 17:25

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