This verse appears to enjoin killing rape victims:

  1. When a woman has been enjoyed against her will, she shall be kept in the house well guarded, smeared (with ashes), lying on a low couch, and receiving a bare maintenance only.

  2. To atone for her sin, she shall be caused to perform the Krikkhra or Parâka penance, in case she had intercourse with her equal in caste; but if she has been enjoyed by a man of inferior caste, she shall be abandoned and put to death.

This is contrary to common sense and other shastras. Why does the woman sin for being the victim of rape?

Is this a problem of translation? What is the original sanskrit? Can someone provide a commentary for this verse?

Interestingly, the Brihaspati Smriti also says:

Fourthly, Brihaspati declares emphatically that any Smriti text opposed to the teaching of Manu has no validity (XXVII, 4).

  • From which chapter? Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 12:23
  • @NaveenKick Here: sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe33/sbe3381.htm
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 12:47
  • @NaveenKick Oh sorry, it is from a fragment of the almost extinct Brihaspati Dharma Shastra
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 12:48
  • 4
    Wiki says "While the manuscripts of Brihaspati Smriti (Bṛhaspatismṛti) have not survived into the modern era, its verses were cited in other Indian texts. Scholars have made an effort to extract these cited verses, thus creating a modern reconstruction of Bṛhaspatismriti." Also, not sure how it has many chapters while Sanskrit texts here and here have only few chapters.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 13:11
  • @TheDestroyer Yeah some of the more rare Dharmasutras have manuscripts of doubtful authenticity.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


Well, not only it is contradicting with common sense, it is also clearly against what Atri Rishi has to say in the Atri Smriti:

When, after delivery, the menstrual blood is seen, the woman becomes purified like pure gold. (192)

If despite her complete unwillingness, a woman is known deceitfully, forcibly or stealthily, that woman, unaffected by any sin, should not be renounced ; for she has not done so willingly. [Her husband] may hold congress with her at the time of the menses, [for a woman] becomes pure at the flowering time. (193, 194)

What is the fault of the victim here that she needs to be killed??


Updating with more verses from other Smritis.

The Vashishta Smriti says a wife can not be forsaken even if she is forcibly enjoyed. Killing of course is not even a consideration.

... by vedic rites, water by urine and faeces, and A woman is not polluted by a lover, a Brahmin fire by the act of burning.

Whether she has strayed on her own or has been expelled, whether she has been raped forcibly or abducted by robbers––a wife who has been defiled should not be forsaken; there is no law permitting the forsaking of a wife. One should wait for her to menstruate; she is purified by her menstrual period.

Vashishta 28.3

And, Apasthambha says such victims of rape should be protected by the king.

If a young man all primped up barges accidentally into the presence of another man’s wife or a young woman, he should be verbally reprimanded; but if he does so deliberately and with a malicious intent, he should be punished. If intercourse took place, his penis should be cut off along with the testicles. If it was with a young woman, he should be banished and his property confiscated. Thereafter, the king should support those women and from then onwards guard them from sexual congress. If they agree to perform the expiation, however, he should hand them over to their respective guardians.
Once the expiation has been performed, the guardians should treat them as before, for their relation- ship is based on the Law.

Apasthamba Dharma Sutras 2.26.8

  • 1
    Killing the victim is not suggested by any of the Smritis I hv quoted .. so I don't see any real contradiction issue here.. @Ikshvaku
    – Rickross
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 16:34
  • 5
    This appears to be commentary on the question and doesn't answer it. Question title clearly says: Is this verse from the Narada/Brihaspati Smriti telling to kill rape victims? I don't understand how the translations/contrary references from Atri, Vasishtha and Apastamba smritis are relevant. Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 18:58
  • 2
    @sv I am answering this part "This is contrary to common sense and other shastras. Why does the woman sin for being the victim of rape? " I am showing it is not a sin that it is required the victim to be killed... The Q tht u quoted in bold in ur comment does not require any answer ..because any one who can understand English is seeing that the verse is doing so..
    – Rickross
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 6:15
  • 2
    Also look at this meta post. To me this answer appears to be saying "that verse doesn't make sense, it shouldn't be there, here are the counter arguments/verses from other smritis" but that's not OP's main question. He's asking for word for word translation of the verse. Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 17:32
  • 2
    Thanks for these references. Hail common sense!
    – user16581
    Commented Nov 30, 2019 at 9:30

That alleged verse from the Brihaspati Smriti is not cited by the 9th century scholar, Vācaspati Miśra in his work known as Vivada Chintamani, which is a summary of Dharma based on several Dharma Shastras, in the section named Punishment of adultery, fornication, and rape.

In that section, Vachaspati Misra cites one verse from the Brihaspati Smriti:

enter image description here

And doesn't cite anything from the Brihaspati Smriti regarding rape, which he would've cited if that verse actually existed in the Brihaspati Smriti, which means that that verse is probably a late interpolation.

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