What do smritis and dharma shastras say about giving away one's children (boy/girl) to someone else as daana (i.e charity) or as a worker?

What is the take on giving children as daana? Not specific about kanyaa

  • 1
    could you add the technical term for it, like adoption, datta, or sveekaar.. now the way it sounds like 'giving children what'?
    – ram
    Nov 18, 2018 at 16:53
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    Giving away children means Dana? Thn we hv Kanya Dana.
    – Rickross
    Nov 19, 2018 at 6:28
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    @Rickross updated the question Nov 19, 2018 at 17:58
  • there is an episode about vishvamitra, richeeka and sunashena at a yagna, where the son is given
    – ram
    Nov 21, 2018 at 8:37

1 Answer 1


Donating the offspring, whether it is a son or a daughter, is considered as illegitimate. Exception is when it comes to marriage, but Kanya Danam is to be understood in that context as to how it is significant.

It is definitely not the same as say Bhu/Anna/Go/Vastra Danam.

Here is a reference from Apasthambha Dharma Sutras 2.14:

The custom of donating or selling one’s children is not recognized as legitimate. It is said in the Veda that at the time of marriage the groom should voluntarily give a gift to the bride’s father in order to fulfil the Law: ‘Therefore, the groom should give one hundred cows together with a chariot to the bride’s father. The latter should repudiate that gift.’ The term ‘sale’ used in connection with this rite is only a figure of speech, for their union is brought about through the Law.

to someone else as daana (i.e charity) or as a worker?

.... whatever might be the reason, as already made quite clear from the verses given above - Not allowed.

If it is the case of selling the offspring - then also not allowed. It is an Upapataka (minor sin resulting in Jatibrahmsa - loss of caste).

So, donating (giving away) one's own children, whether it's daughter or son, is generally forbidden by the Smritis.

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    So kanyadaan also not correct because they can not be given as charity but only given in wedding to continue the gotra of grooms family. Not as a daana. Nov 21, 2018 at 19:03
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    What about putra-sveekar - adoption ? If a couple is child-less, one of their relatives can 'gift' a child to them.
    – ram
    Nov 22, 2018 at 0:34
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    Yes Kanyadana also not supported (generally) .. Whn it is during marriage it has special significance because marriage hv so much religious importance.. @RakeshJoshi
    – Rickross
    Nov 22, 2018 at 6:28
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    @Rickross, isn't the term kanyadaan is a specific term for marriage ? what other types of kanyadaan can people do (whether sanctioned or not) ?
    – ram
    Nov 22, 2018 at 6:38
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    It is only relevant during marriage... otherwise forbidden .. Manu Smriti also mentions Kanyapradanam for the act besides mentioning Kanyadanam. @ram
    – Rickross
    Nov 22, 2018 at 6:44

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