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In Hinduism, is it a sin if a couple decided to have no children?

TL;DR

I am 25 years old and leading a worse life throughout my life. I always wished I wasn't born here. When I think of my child, things pop up in my mind are

  • Unemployment
  • Poor wages
  • Unethical workplaces

so forth (unless she/he is the most brilliant child in Asia).

I can't choose to remain unmarried since I am just a normal human.

  • hey do not worry at all apply logic --- theoretically may be but in real may not be and sin is not such a big thing always sin's defination is those things from which human being should stay away from and its general thing not applicable to each and every case. remember in hindusim reason is the highest good – gunjan parashar Dec 28 '14 at 18:53
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    An infertile person would then be a born sinner wouldn't he? Thats not how god or religion is supposed to work. None of the religions, including hinduism have been 'updated' in last 30 years.. (they did get updates before... no more 'sati' or 'dowry' anymore right?). Don't look for practical answers in religious text. As long as you don't purposely hurt anyone, you are not committing a 'sin'. All the religious text is just a guideline in hinduism. It will catch up. – Swapnil Luktuke Dec 29 '14 at 3:58
  • My family members have a genetic decease, So I decided to be unmarried, because that decease may forward to my children. But I have a deficiency which is physical. Do you have any physical genetic syndrome? Yes, then it is ok. No, then go for a marriage and have a child. Your child will make his/her way by his/her own. Be Positive. It is good that you are normal human. Think about those who are abnormal or facing syndrome. – Mr. P Jan 6 '15 at 5:36
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    There was a guy who had skin decease. He wanted to merry and have children, but because of the decease no girl agreed. He was left out by society and lived a lonely life. Don't you think you can give better "child" to society than that guy? Who knows whether your child will be a great doctor or scientist in future, or he may change the history of the world. No life is worse, saints live in jungle and live a peaceful life, even without money. You can find better opportunities. If possible, you change your location. Move to better place with family. Be positive and find alternatives. Happy Life. – Mr. P Jan 6 '15 at 5:43
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Use your common sense. If you cannot afford to take care of a child properly, do not have a child. There will be greater bad karma bringing into this world a child that you cannot take care of properly than whatever karma gained from having a child.

Forget scripture, follow your heart. Remember what Jesus Christ said - "What you do to the least among you, you do to Me."

Adopt a child. There are many orphans and street children. Look upon the child as baby Gopala. You can realize God in this way. The karma gained from taking care of one of these poor miscreants will go a lot farther than any bad karma in not having a child of your own. Anything you can provide one of these will mean a total different life for them than the life they may have as a orphan.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    First is, the statement Forget scripture, follow your heart is very much uniwse and destructive in general. Due to the fault of the age of kali most people have lost the real knowledge, laws and message of the sages through which we, as Hindus, should live. People's hearts have become darker and tainted by material desires. If they follow their hearts only forgetting the scriptures then only chaos and disorder will prevail. People although know a lot about life here, hardly they know about the life hereafter. So forgetting scriptures is a bad idea. I am amazed you wrote "forget scripture"! – Be Happy Dec 29 '14 at 12:19
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    Please unlock the living wage question. It is a valid question. – Swami Vishwananda Dec 30 '14 at 6:23
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    1) The scriptures also say you should live the stage of brahmacharya with a teacher before garhasthya. How many householders are willing to quote their obligation to beget children but are willing to forget the scriptural injunction of brahmacharya with a teacher before the begetting! 2) Hindu references to my answer: a) Gita (VIII. 22.) and (X. 10.) and (VII. 17.) b) Isa Upanishad especially verses 9-11. c) Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna p 917 - textual knowledge of scripture is no good without discrimination and renunciation d) Shankaracharya's Upadesa Sahaasri verses 30-32 – Swami Vishwananda Dec 30 '14 at 8:21
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    A man will profit more by meditation alone than by scriptural study alone. Meditation alone will open the heart chakra and you will see your Ishta. Scriptural study alone will make you a pundit. – Swami Vishwananda Dec 30 '14 at 8:41
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    See also Gaudapada's Karika (II. 30). And Anandagiri - "A knower of Reality is never a slave of the Vedas. Whatever interpretation he gives to the Vedas is their true meaning." – Swami Vishwananda Dec 30 '14 at 10:33
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Yes, it is. In Hinduism it is a commonly known concept that everyone who is born on earth remains indebted to at least three things. These are known as the three types of rinas (debts). They are:

  • deva rina (debt owed to gods for providing us light, water, air, etc.)
  • rishi rina (debt owed to sages for providing their knowledge)
  • pitru rina (debt owed to forefathers for continuing the lineage).

There are other such debts like bhuta rin, but those three are primary. In Hinduism it is necessary for one to repay these debts so that he/she can be free. Without paying off these three debts one cannot attain liberation and will only fall down:

When he has paid the three debts, let him apply his mind to (the attainment of) final liberation; he who seeks it without having paid (his debts) sinks downwards. [Manu Smrt - 6.35]

It is a privilege unlike any other to be born as a human and to be brought up by parents. So we all have a debt towards our parents and forefathers who continued our lineage. This debt is known as pitru rina and it can be repaid by procreating off springs and continuing the lineage. So without having children one cannot get rid of the pitru rina. So generally in Hinduism one is required to have children. The scripture also says the importance of a putra (son) as he saves the father from a hell named put [Manu - 9.138].

Having said that it is worth mentioning that this law doesn't apply for someone who is a pure devotee of the Lord. One who abandoning all material desires and attachment only performs devotion of Lord Shri Krishna gets free from all these kind of debts:

devarṣi-bhūtāpta-nṛṇāṁ pitṝṇāṁ na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ gato mukundaṁ parihṛtya kartam
[SB - 11.5.41]

Meaning
O King, one who has given up all material duties and has taken full shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, who offers shelter to all, is not indebted to the demigods, great sages, ordinary living beings, relatives, friends, mankind or even one’s forefathers who have passed away. Since all such classes of living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, one who has surrendered to the Lord’s service has no need to serve such persons separately.


I can understand your views since I also marched towards a direction of unmarried life pondering over the futility of the worldly life. Having seen so much imperfection here not a single day goes by when I don't want to change things the way they are and make them better. But I would only say that, trying to not have children just because things are tough is not a proper and reasonable step. If conditions are too tough then you can take spiritual aid. Please take time and think over it wisely as decisions like these are very important in life and once the time goes away not any amount of later repentance can fill the hole in life.


Update

I have nothing against what other answers and comments are saying, but have everything against the statement forget scripture, follow your heart. It is one thing to be not able to follow the laws and rules set in the scriptures due to the age of kali and it is another to forget and discard them completely to follow whatever the heart says. Following the heart is good, but following the heart forgetting or undermining the scriptures is not good. But who am I to say what's good and what's not? It is the job of the scriptures to say that. So the Gita says:

He who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination. [BG - 16.23]

One should therefore understand what is duty and what is not duty by the regulations of the scriptures. Knowing such rules and regulations, one should act so that he may gradually be elevated.[BG - 16.24]

It is good to follow the heart, but one should also consider the scriptures in doing so and determining his duty accordingly. The sages know better, hence even the God incarnates follow the words of the sages. So we should not forget or disregard the scriptures and law books of Hinduism like Manu Smruti which contain the words of the sages.

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    You should add this quote from the Taittiriya Samhita of the Yajur Veda, which describes each of the three debts: sacred-texts.com/hin/yv/yv06.htm "A Brahman on birth is born with a threefold debt, of pupilship to the Rsis, of sacrifice to the gods, of offspring to the Pitrs. He is freed from his debt who has a son, is a sacrificer, and who has lived as a pupil:" Also, the Bhuta Rina you mentioned is described in verse 5 of this chapter of the Shatapatha Brahmana of the Yajur Veda: sacred-texts.com/hin/sbr/sbe12/sbe1231.htm – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 28 '14 at 4:20
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Yes, I know those are mentioned there but didn't have time to cross check the Sanskrit verses, so I skipped them. Thank you for the comment so that anyone can know this debt thing is from the scriptures and not that I made them up! – Be Happy Dec 29 '14 at 12:36
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    @jabahar Please read Shankaracharya's introduction to the Aitareya Upanishad - "The obstacles created by the threefold debt apply to the ignorant, who seek to attain the world of men, the world of the Manes, and the world of the devas, and not to those endowed with Self-Knowledge...no debt is incurred before one embraces the householder life...." ...sample from the commentary. – Swami Vishwananda Dec 30 '14 at 10:29
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    @jabahar Also Gita II. 42 - 46. And Asthavarka Samhita I. 11. - "A man who says he is free becomes free; a man who says he is bound remains bound. This popular saying is quite true: As you think so you become." – Swami Vishwananda Jan 4 '15 at 5:44
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    @@Vineet - Vedas, Vedanta (Upanishads), Ithihasas are very much the unalterable canon of Hinduism. Saying that Hinduism doesn't have any fixed set of religious teachings is absolutely wrong. Don't try to dump the neo-philosophies of so called modern babas and modern gurus. Hinduism's foundation is Vedas, Vedanta and ithihasas and it is eternal unlike the other thought processes. – user808 Apr 21 '15 at 10:31
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Is it necessary for one to have children?

If you choose to get married, yes.

On duties never to be neglected, Taittirīya Upaniṣad (1.11) says:

स्वाध्यायान्मा प्रमदः । आचार्याय प्रियं धनमाहृत्य प्रजातन्तुं मा व्यवच्छेत्सीः । सत्यान्न प्रमदितव्यम् । धर्मान्न प्रमदितव्यम् । कुशलान्न प्रमदितव्यम् । भूत्यै न प्रमदितव्यम् । स्वाध्यायप्रवचनाभ्यां न प्रमदितव्यम् । देवपितृकार्याभ्यां न प्रमदितव्यम् ॥ ३ ॥

svādhyāyānmā pramadaḥ | ācāryāya priyaṃ dhanamāhṛtya prajātantuṃ mā vyavacchetsīḥ | satyānna pramaditavyam | dharmānna pramaditavyam | kuśalānna pramaditavyam | bhūtyai na pramaditavyam | svādhyāyapravacanābhyāṃ na pramaditavyam | devapitṛkāryābhyāṃ na pramaditavyam || 3 ||

3. From study swerve thou not. Having offered dear wealth to the teacher, cut thou not the progeny’s line. From the true it will not do to swerve, nor from Dharma, nor from welfare. Neither will it do to swerve from well-being, nor from study and teaching, nor from duties to Devas and Pitṛs.

Śaṅkarāchārya's commentary on the above:

Then, with the permission of the teacher, secure a suitable wife and prevent break in the line of descent. It will not do to bring about a break in the line of descent. That is to say, if a son is not born, attempts should de made to get a son by means of sacrificial rites such as the Putrakamya-iṣṭi, a rite performed with a view to get sons. This appears to be the meaning of the śruti because of the mention of three duties, “offspring, begetting, and propagation.”[12] Otherwise, the śruti would have mentioned only one,—that of begetting.

Swami Sarvananda of Ramakrishna Math on the same says:

Then should...progeny - i.e., after returning from the guru's house, or in other words, after the performance of the ceremony known as Samavartanam, one should take to a suitable bride for the procreation of children and thereby pay the debt of the fathers. This is an injunction of the Sruti not to remain outside any Ashrama. As soon as the student life is finished, one should enter into the householder's life or become a Sannyasin, but never remain in a state which is neither the one nor the other, that is called Antarashrama.

There is a further hint in this passage to the attitude one should have towards, the married life. One should look upon marriage not as an opportunity given for sexual enjoyment, but as a sacred duty towards the forefathers and the society inasmuch as by procreation of children the perpetuity of the family line is kept up and the departed forefathers get their offering from the family without a break, and also the social strength is maintained.

From the above commentaries, it appears that the purpose of marriage is procreation. So if one doesn't intend to have children, then they should become a Sannyāsi.

  • This is actually the most appropriate answer .One main reason for procreation after marriage is to have some one to offer the parents water which in turn brings them out a hell..So,after marriage a couple begets children for their own sake to start with.. – Rickross Dec 10 '16 at 5:11
  • Nice finding on scriptures & I am also of opinion of having children. This is the only way by which one can pass on the debt of one's own father. But in modern times, it's ought to be reconsidered. If one has a choice then adopting an orphan is also good for society. Our neighbors didn't have children for long, & they adopted one. – iammilind Dec 11 '16 at 3:29
  • According to Shankara, by son he means only son or child of any gender? – Tat Tvam Asi May 10 '18 at 11:55
  • @NarayanaSharma Good question, I asked about it here: Is the object of Putrakāmeṣṭi only a son or a child of either gender? – sv. May 10 '18 at 13:03

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