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Can women work to earn a living or do they have to be dependent on their husbands for their sustenance ?

Since women are considered as Grih-Laxmi , I think working for them is sinful.

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  • Women should ultimately be dependent on their husbands, but they can supplement the household income by working themselves a little bit. But not too career focused.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 17:51
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    @Ikshvaku Since women are considered as grahlaxmi , I think working for them is sinful.
    – river
    Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 18:23
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    Draupadi used to take care of entire finances of Pandavas' vast palace and servants. She knew all their names and troubles. There is enough rewarding work for wives in managing household, teaching children, cooking, taking care of relatives etc. It's like their own company, whereas men usually have to work for someone else's company. But if women don't want to do these kinds of work, then you have to hire strangers - cook,nanny,therapist etc. to do these intimate works. Like they say in Hindi 'ma baap ke seva, or patni se pyar, dono ko naukar nahin rakhte'.
    – ram
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 2:53
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    yes, and the reason is doing these jobs might involve a dent on their safety/dignity/modesty at some point in their career, whether inflicted by self or others. @Vivikta
    – ram
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 8:35
  • Sometimes I find such questions irrelevant, especially in view of our current living. Anyway if Grahlaxmi adds to her status what wrong can that be!
    – Jay Thakar
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 18:15

3 Answers 3

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Short Answer:

As per Hinduism: Women are not even never allowed "to be on their own" in any place besides their home.
Thus, no question of "working (to earn a living)" arise.


Detailed answer:

A woman, as per smṛtis, is to be perpetually kept under care, guidance, and guardianship of either her father, husband, or sons. Shastras are of view - 'that a woman has no independent existence whatsoever.

Let's see some contextual verses regarding same:

Well, to start with, according to most Hindu scriptures women mustn't even step out of their house alone, let alone entertain any thought of working.

Here's what Vishnu Smṛti says:-

परगृहेष्वनभिगमनं ॥ २५.१० ॥
द्वारदेशगवाक्षेष्वनवस्थानं ॥ २५.११ ॥
सर्वकर्मस्वस्वतन्त्रता ॥ २५.१२ ॥
बाल्ययौवनवार्धकेष्वपि पितृभर्तृपुत्राधीनता । । २५.१३ ।।

  1. Not to resort to the houses of strangers (during the absence of her husband);
  2. Not to stand near the doorway or by the windows (of her house);
  3. Not to act by herself in any matter;
  4. To remain subject, in her infancy, to her father; in her youth, to her husband; and in her old age, to her sons.

Further,

Śukranīti IV.11

न विद्यते पृथक् स्त्रीणां त्रिवर्गविधिसाधनम् ॥

  1. Women have no separate right to the use of the means for the realization of the three-fold end, i.e,., virtue, wealth, and desires.

Thus, women have been forbidden by shastras to amass wealth independently.

Yājñavalkya Smṛti says same:

रक्षेत्कन्यां पिता विन्नां पतिः पुत्रास्तु वार्धके । अभावे ज्ञातयस्तेषां न स्वातन्त्र्यं क्वचित्स्त्रियाः । । १.८५ । ।

  1. When a maiden, her father ; when married, her husband ; and when old, her sons, should protect her. In their absence, the kinsmen (should take care of her.) The women are never independent.

This is what Vijñāneśvara says in his commentary (known as Mitākṣarā) on the above verse:

Besides, before marriage, " the father should protect the maiden from committing improper acts. After marriage the husband, in his absence, the sons, and in old age as well as in the absence of those mentioned above, the kinsmen should protect her. In the absence of the kinsmen, the king, on account of the following text of Āṅgīrasa: — "On the failure of both sides (the husband's and the father's relations), the king is the supporter and master of women." Therefore for women, there is never any independence.

Moreover,

In Manusmṛti Verse 5.154, Acharya Medhātithi in his manubhāṣya concludes -

" that women have been forbidden the freedom of life".

The same theme of 'women disallowed any kind of independence' is repeated in:-


Furthermore,

As per Acharya - Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji, echoing the words of orthodox shastras, he comments:-

I'm giving a summary of his outlook on "working-women". One can read the full tirade here.

  • Women working in the modern times is not only against Hinduism's values, but also a grave injustice to unemployed men, since such women take their jobs, and therefore women must refrain from working,

  • Women working in the office is the source of several evils in society.Thus, by staying at home, according to swamiji, women will not lose their most precious possession i.e., feminity.

  • Nature has assigned the job of child- bearing to women. However much we fight for equality we cannot change this fact of life. It is natural dharma of women to care for children and to be Grahalakshmis.


To Conclude:

As per major orthodox/traditional views, women aren't allowed to work to earn a living.

For modern/neo interpretation one may refer to views of Swami Vivekananda, etc., but explaining those views here is out of the scope of the present question.

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  • Btw were women allowed to work, when married?
    – Haridasa
    Commented Jan 9 at 20:09
  • I disagree partly with the Swami in current times but agree as well. However, I believe Manu is talking in terms of independence regarding freedom.
    – Haridasa
    Commented Mar 10 at 2:41
  • What do you think as a modern educated person about these? Do you agree with these? Do you think it is a good thing to speak about women by learned people like this? In case a Hindu Rastra is established, what if these things are made law? Commented May 13 at 8:45
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The extreme misogynistic verses quoted above are invalid because they discriminate against women. There is no reason to accept these awful verses. Women have every right to earn a living.

No discrimination

If a holy act is against the interest of other members of the society, it should not be practiced. It is Dharma which is the source of Artha and even of Kama.

Kurma Purana I.2.54

Ancient texts admit that women had lot of rights in the beginning.

... women formerly were not immured within houses and dependent on husbands and other relatives. They used to go about freely enjoying themselves as best as they liked. O thou of excellent qualities, they did not then adhere to their husbands faithfully, and yet, O handsome one, they were not regarded sinful, for that was the sanctioned usage of the times.

(Mahabharata, Adi Parva CXXII)

The awful verses quoted in another answer show the decline of Hindu society.

The correct answer to the above question is that it should be left to women to decide whether they want to earn their living.

"Are you then entirely satisfied with the position of women amongst us, Swamiji?"

"By no means," said the Swami, "but our right of interference is limited entirely to giving education. Women must be put in a position to solve their own problems in their own way. No one can or ought to do this for them. And our Indian women are as capable of doing it as any in the world."

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 5, Interviews, On Indian women - their past, Present and Future

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Bro, like I said: Vedas are the main scriptures, not Smrtis like that other dude said. But since some dude didn't like my answer, I'll just elaborate. If a Smrti or Shruti goes against Vedas, we reject them. Manusmrti, a lot of it, is about what women AT THE TIME were following. Also it's a Smrti not Vedas. IMHO, women can work, but not jobs where they become loud-mouthed. I'm a woman myself, hence why I took time to realize this..Women really carry Maa Kali's energy, if it's uncontrolled, She becomes destructive. But if She's calm, She is Maa Sita..Even in Maa Kali chalisa there's a line "Tu Hi Kaali, Tu Hi Sita.." My point is, as long as it's nothing against a woman's Dharam, it's fine. SitaRam!

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