What do different dharmashastras say about distribution of will among the heirs as well as inheritance by female children and other inheritance laws.


1 Answer 1


Hindu Dharma-Shastras do talk about this topic ,though not in detail and they tend to give more weightage to sons than daughters. Not because daughters are considered as inferior than sons , but the widespread belief in Hindu society that daughters are responsibility of their husbands and they are taught to support their husbands in generating and maintaining their wealth .

While searching we may find in Dharma-Shastras that daughters are given much less privileges than sons regarding this matter. Also different Dharma-Shastras expressing some different opinions in this topic .

One special note is that according to some scholars the second and most probable reason of above might be is that these texts are highly altered and there is no guarantee that we may be seeing the Dharma-Shastras in their original form. The western translators also tried to corrupt the texts as much as possible.

But in spite of all this let's now see what few of them are saying about women inheritance Starting from Manusmriti -:

The subject of inheritance of Women , Daughters is discussed in Section XVII - Property of one who has no Male Issue: the ‘Appointed Daughter of Manusmriti .

Manu smriti declares that separate property of the mother i.e. Stree Dhana is the share of the unmarried daughter alone and daughter’s son shall inherit the entire property of the man who has no son. In this case its said that father should appoint the daughter for her son as there is no difference between son of the son and son of the daughter. i.e. the grandson is alone alone is to inherit the property of father.

पौत्रदौहित्रयोर्लोके न विशेषोऽस्ति धर्मतः ।
तयोर्हि मातापितरौ सम्भूतौ तस्य देहतः ॥ Manu 17.133

pautradauhitrayorloke na viśeṣo'sti dharmataḥ |
tayorhi mātāpitarau sambhūtau tasya dehataḥ || 133 ||

In this world, between the son’s son and the daughter’s son there is no difference, in law; for the father and mother of each of them were both born of h is own body.

अपुत्रोऽनेन विधिना सुतां कुर्वीत पुत्रिकाम् ।
यदपत्यं भवेदस्यां तन् मम स्यात् स्वधाकरम् ॥ ॥

aputro'nena vidhinā sutāṃ kurvīta putrikām |
yadapatyaṃ bhavedasyāṃ tan mama syāt svadhākaram || Manu 17.127 ||

He who has no son may make his daughter an ‘appointed daughter’ in the following manner: [He shall mark the declaration]—‘The child that may bk born of her shall be the performer of my funeral rites.

मातुस्तु यौतकं यत् स्यात् कुमारीभाग एव सः ।
दौहित्र एव च हरेदपुत्रस्याखिलं धनम् ॥ Manu 17.131

mātustu yautakaṃ yat syāt kumārībhāga eva saḥ |
dauhitra eva ca haredaputrasyākhilaṃ dhanam || 131 ||

Whatever may be the separate property of the mother is the share of the unmarried daughter alone; and the daughter’s son shall inherit the entire property of the man who has no son.

So the manu smriti did not seems to give full privileges to women in case of inheritance of the property nor it is completely denying her right but suggesting that a women shall be taken care of her father before marriage and after by husband and then by the son. And in case of sonless father her son shall take the inheritance.

And this is what Naradiya Dharmashastra Chapter -13 - Partition of heritage says about women inheritance. According to Narada after the death of her husband a women shall receive an equal share of the property . And an unmarried sister should receive her share after the division.

12.Let the father making a partition reserve two shares for himself ; the mother shall receive an equal share with the sons , if they divided after her husband's death.

13.The eldest shall receive a larger share upon partition after the fathers death and for the youngest the smaller one is declared . the ret should take equal shares and so should an unmarried sister.

But Bṛhaspati smriti clearly declares daughters right on fathers property.

Just as the daughter has rights over her father’s property, even in the presence of the relatives, so is her son also the owner of the property of his mother’s father.

And finally the Apastamba Dharma sutras also clearly says that a daughter can inherit the property.

4 .Or the daughter (may take the inheritance).

So on conclusion Hindu Dharma-Shastras seems to be more concern about male children inheriting property rather than female childs. And all of them agree that the son less man should appoint his daughter and her son ( equal to his son's son ) should inherit the property.

Note These code books were written in ancient times when the socio-economic condition was totally different than todays time. And none of these rules are applied practically today in modern Hindu society.Daughters are having equal rights everywhere including property of father.

  • Can you give me the context of this verse "Women are powerless, have no inheritance, and speak more humbly than even a bad man. Krishna Yajur Veda Taittiriya Samhita" is this to be taken as rule?
    – Anisha
    Jul 17, 2018 at 7:06
  • Yes i will try to see in what context the above is said. Jul 17, 2018 at 7:11
  • @Anisha I think we should not take this passage literally i.e. word by word. But i think wives here means special powers associated with gods , the engries of god are often called as wives of gods ,we can see such a saying frequently in vedas. Its actually metaphor. The vedic language is in codified form , its intentionally done .So not to interpret the mantras in general way , or loukika manner. - archive.org/stream/KrshnaYajurvedaTaittiriyaSamhita06/… Jul 17, 2018 at 7:23
  • @Anisha The reason these energies are called as wives is that "as wives always stays with husband or near to them , these powers or energies always stays with gods.So for the purpose to sow close association the word wives are used.Kind of poetic but having deep meaning. I guesss. Jul 17, 2018 at 7:44
  • @Anisha I think false translation Jul 27, 2018 at 23:03

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