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It is commonly quoted during discourses on vAlmIki rAmAyana, but I cannot find any verse in vAlmIki rAmAyana that contains this often quoted verse, which means 'without a son you have no chance of getting into heaven'. Online sites say it is said in 'shruti'. But what text of Shruti does it appear in exactly?

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The shloka you have quoted is found in Garuda Purana -Preta Kanda- Chapter 2-Shloka 4 As well as Devi Bhagavata Purana 1.4.15.16.

अपुत्रस्य गतिर्नास्ति स्वर्गो नैव च नैव च ।
येन केनाप्युपायेन कार्यँ जन्म सुतस्य हि ।।

There is no place for sonless person , the heaven is not for him. One must have a son by any means whatsoever. - Garuda Purana.

There is no prospect in the after birth of the sonless; never, never will Heaven be his. Without son, there is none other who can be of help in the next world. - Devi Bhagavata Purana

looking at the above shloka it is quite clear that it is from puranas and much different in composition than that of the style of mantras found in Vedas i.e. shruti. So it is highly unlikely that this shloka is present in shruti. And we can say that it belongs to puranas or later traditions than shruti. i.e. post panini.

  • I doubt this is about a "son". It is more likely to be used in the context of an "offspring". Hinduism is not a patriarchal tradition, so there is no preference for male/female offspring. But I guess, people will translate it to suit their or their community practices. – Ranjiv Kurup Aug 13 at 7:27
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    @RanjivKurup Yes , you are right Putra here means either a girl child or a boy. This is translation issue. But i think most users on this site are aware of this face and this topic is also discussed previously here. – SwiftPushkar Aug 13 at 9:51
  • @SwiftPushkar It would be great if u can highlight this translation issue in answer itself... :) – YDS Aug 13 at 17:18
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    @YDS -Ok ,I will add note in answer with explanation ,citing some ref. if found soon. – SwiftPushkar Aug 15 at 5:33
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The part of Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa where the commentators cite that verse is probably this:

tam ca rājā daśaratho yaśas kāmaḥ kṛtāṃliḥ |
ṛṣyaśṛṅgam dvija śreṣṭham varayiṣyati dharmavit || 1-11-8

yajñārtham prasavārtham ca svargārtham ca nareśvaraḥ |
labhate ca sa tam kāmam dvija mukhyāt viśāṃpatiḥ || 1-11-9

That king, the desirer of glory, the knower of virtue and the lord of people, namely Dasharatha will be requesting that best Brahman Rishyasringa with his palms adjoined in supplication for the conduct of ritual, for progeny and even for his heavenly abodes, and that king of all the quarters of earth will accomplish those desires from that eminent Brahman Rishyasringa. [1-11-8,9]

Commentary from the same website says:

Heavenly abodes are dependent on begetting sons:

aputrasya gatir naasti svargo naivaca naivaca

There is no way out [in other worlds] for those without sons... shruti scripture. Hence the request of Dasharatha is that way.


The śruti equivalent of this can be found in the Legend of Śunaḥśepa from Aitareya Brāhmaṇa (Ṛgveda) where Nārada says there's no place in heaven for men who don't have sons:

PAÑCIKĀ VII   ADHYĀYA III

The Legend of Śunaḥśepa.

vii. 13 (xxxiii. 1). Hariścandra Vaidhasa Aikṣvāka was the son of a king; a hundred wives were his, but he had no son from them. In his house dwelt Parvata and Nārada; he asked Nārada:

Since now men desire a son,

Both those that have and those that have not knowledge

What doth a man gain by a son?

Tell me that, O Narada.

He, asked in one verse, replied in ten:

A debt he payeth in him,
And immortality he attaineth,
That father who seeth the face
Of a son born living.
The delights in the earth,
The delights in the fire,
The delights in the waters of living beings,
Greater than these is that of a father in a son.
By means of a son have fathers ever
Passed over the deep darkness;
The self is born from the self
The (son) is (a ship), well-found, to ferry over.

What is the use of dirt, what of the goat-skin?
What of long hair, and what of fervour?
Seek a son, O Brahmans,
This is the world's advice.
Food is breath, clothing a protection,
Gold an ornament, cattle lead to marriage,
A wife is a comrade, a daughter a misery, (sakhā ha jāyā kṛpaṇaṃ ha duhitā)
And a son a light in the highest heaven. (jyotir ha putraḥ parame vyoman)
The father entereth the wife,
Having become a germ (he entereth) the mother,
In her becoming renewed,
He is born in the tenth month.
A wife hath her name of wife,
Since in her he is born again
He is productive, she productive,
The seed is placed here.
The gods and the seers
Brought her together as great brilliance;
The gods said to men

This is your mother again.
A sonless one cannot attain heaven, (nāputrasya loko 'stīti)

All the beasts know this;
Therefore a son his mother
And his sister mounteth.
This is the broad and auspicious path
Along which men with sons fare free from sorrow;
On it beasts and herds gaze
For it they unite even with a mother.

Thus he told him.

  • Thank you for the answer. I appreciate it. I read the link you shared in your response and it is clear to me that the authors of that book mis-translated that sentence in bold. 'naputrasya lokOstIti' means 'without sons our world/human world won't exist'. 'loka' does not mean swarga/vyOma, but means our plane of existence, i.e. the human/mortal life world. So that is an incorrect translation and that verse in Rk Veda means our world will cease to exist without sons, but not 'a sonless one cannot attain heaven'. – Vijay Sekhar Aug 13 at 15:55
  • Ok, if you read that verse in isolation, but what about: "And a son a light in the highest heaven. (jyotir ha putraḥ parame vyoman)"? You can find the Sanskrit verses from AB here. And an alternate translation here says: "9. He who has no child has no place (firm footing)..." - no place on earth or no place anywhere including the higher lokas? @Vijay – sv. Aug 13 at 16:12
  • I agree with "a son a light in highest heaven", but the 2nd translation is incorrect imho but that translator is not alone. It appears that these translators were influenced by garuda purana verse in making these translations. I did not read that verse in isolation btw, the context from verses preceding & succeeding it render my translation of it to be correct. Because the context is saying that this world doesn't exist without male children and even animals know it. Think about it, Janaka had no sons, yet he went to heaven (per Padma Purana). – Vijay Sekhar Aug 15 at 0:16
  • From my reading of the scriptures, I think the highest benefit from having a son is discharge of 'pitr runa' or debt to ancestors. That is again of course if that son performs his dharma of conducting vedic rites at appropriate times. In the definition of what dharma is, Manu did not include progeny in his 10 requisites - dhArti Kshama DamOstEyam indriya-nighraha dhIr vidya satyam akrOdho dashakam dharma lakshanam per Manu Smriti. – Vijay Sekhar Aug 15 at 0:18
  • 'Think about it, Janaka had no sons, yet he went to heaven (per Padma Purana)' - that must be an exception, not the norm? Since you mention Manu, he also talks about a hell called Put in 9.138: "Because the Son delivers his father from the hell called Put, therefore has he been called Putra" @VijaySekhar – sv. Aug 15 at 1:48

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