Semitic religions such as Islam and Christianity consider masturbation to be a sin. What about Hinduism? Please give some authentic quotes for the answers.

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    It doesn't say anything about masturbation in Christianity. It talks about lust, which can usually be associated with such, but the act itself is not mentioned. If you feel it does, please direct me to the verse. Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 21:45
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    @NuclearPeon - Christianity is not limited to Bible. Matter of fact, what matters far more is what the practitioners of a religion do, not what their book preaches. Majority of Christian dogma has jack shit to do with anything said in the Bible.
    – Davor
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 7:38
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    If the practitioners do not practice what Jesus taught, it isn't Christianity although it may be based on its influence. They may not be 100% accurate at deciphering the subtle nuances or they may miss important points and cultural references, but I disagree that Christianity goes beyond the bible; Not only does it include very old texts such as the Torah, but it's a collection of the most accurate and verifiable texts afterwards, esp. of the apostles. The dogma is inaccurate if the authority is anything but from God. I don't mean to hijack this question, but @KiranRS I am skeptical it's a sin Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 8:42
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    In college days people used to call this "Hath Yoga". Only in this website, I learned that, that meaning was not true!
    – iammilind
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 3:14
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    @FrankHestermann the bible is not a valid scripture on this site.
    – Wikash_
    Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 13:32

5 Answers 5


A glass can be looked on as half empty or half full. I think it is best to rephrase this question by asking instead - What does Hinduism say about continence (self constraint in sexual matters)?

Swami Nikhilananda in his writings on Hindu ethics says:

Besides the objective duties based on the castes and stages of life, there are laid down the common duties of men, the sadharanadharma, which are the foundation of the moral life. Manu, the lawgiver, enumerates these common duties as follows: steadfastness (dhairya), forgiveness (kshama), good conduct (dama), avoidance of theft (chauryabhava), control of the senses (indriyanigraha), wisdom (dhi), learning (vidya), truthfulness (satya) and absense of anger (akrodha)...the aim of Hindu ethics is to enable a man ultimately to conquer his lower self and attain freedom from passion, desire, and attachment.

All Hindu philosophers regardless of their conceptions of the supreme end of man, admit the empirical reality of the individual, endowed with volition, desire, will, conscience or consciousness of duty, emotion, etc. The goal of Hindu ethics is to train these faculties in such a way that they shall lead the individual to the realization of Moksha, or Liberation. Therefore all the schools of philosophy have described the virtues and their opposites in detail. It is expected of the moral agent that he should follow the former and shun the latter. We propose to discuss the virtues and their opposites according to the classification of Nyaya and of Patanjali's system.

Vatsyayana, in his commentary on the Nyaya aphorisms, classifies will as impious (papatmika) and auspicious (subha). The impious will leads to unrighteousness (adharma), and the auspicious will, to righteousness (dharma). Righteousness, it is necessary to add, is conductive to the Highest Good, whereas unrighteousness produces evil. The purpose of ethics is to subdue the impious and to manifest the righteous will."

Unrighteousness may take three forms, namely, physical, verbal, and mental, depending upon the condition of its functioning. Physical unrighteousness manifests itself as cruelty (himsa), theft (steya), and sexual perversion (pratisiddha maithuna); verbal unrighteousness, as falsehood (mithya), rudeness (katukti), insinuation (suchana), and gossip (asambaddha); mental unrighteousness, as ill-will (paradroha), covetousness (paradravyabhipsa), and irreverance (nastikya)."

Patanjali...describes the virtues that must be cultivated...chastity or continence...

The practice of continence, highly extolled by all the philosophers and mystics of India, implies, besides the literal meaning of the vow, abstention from lewdness in thought, speech, and action through any of the sense-organs. Through the practice of this virtue, one develops the capacity for subtle spiritual perception.

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    Good answers respond to what is asked and great answers clarifies thought I think this specific answer is in the second category, but would be a great help to ignorant people like me if you can simplify your style a little bit more, in that if you separate your answers from the quotations fro literature that would make it easier to ready and comprehend for people like me
    – skv
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 14:09

Hindu Scriptures describe masturbation as a sin.

The Parashara Smriti, Chapter 12 , Sloka 63 specifically deals with masturbation and provides an expiation(prayaschitta) for that sin too.

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  1. If a householder willingly causes the discharge of his virile seed otherwise than in sexual intercourse, he should recite the Gayathri verse one thousand times, and should perform three Pranayamas.

Now,for a student (Brahmachari) masturbation is a more serious sin because it then involves breaking of the vow (of celibacy).

Manu Smriti 2.180. Let him always sleep alone, let him never waste his manhood; for he who voluntarily wastes his manhood, breaks his vow.

So , masturbation is indeed a sin as per Hindu Sastras and the expiation is reciting the Gayatri Mantra 1000 times & doing 3 rounds of pranayama.


For those who don't know what technically constitutes a Pranayama-As per Manu, reciting the Gayatri verse 3 times while holding one's breath inside makes one round of Pranayama

User Yogi wrote in a comment

Not everyone can recite Gyatri, it needs initiation and only Bramhanas can recite it.

Those who are not initiated into Gayatri can simply do Pranayama without any mantra.A Pranayama, even if it's done without any mantra, is an effective method of destroying sins. But Pranayama done with mantras is even more effective in doing so (Note that these expiation measures are all additional information that are not exactly related to the question).

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    So, combination of "reciting the Gayatri Mantra 1000 times & doing 3 rounds of pranayama." has 1009 times Gayatri mantra (with 9 times during Pranayama)?
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 5:59
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    Yes but while chanting 1000 times one can chant loud whereas while chanting alongwith antara kumbhaka the recitation is only in mind because ur nose & lips will be closed. In general,doing pranayamas like the way mentioned above is an extremely powerful way of removing sins (even great sins) and comes handy when particular expiation rites are too difficult to perform.
    – Rickross
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 7:21
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    Thanks! BTW, you say Parashara Smriti is particularly Smriti for Kali Yuga. Are there any scriptures which say Parashara Smriti is for Kali Yuga other than Parashara Smriti? I'm not doubting Parashara Smriti but consider all Smriti as one and same. Also, Smriti contradicts with each other.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 7:43
  • @TheDestroyer Its not something that i'm saying.It is so said in PS.And as i have said,i don't know of any scriptures that contradicts with that view point.Possibly there are none.Also ,generally ,all Smritis(Dharma Shastras not puranas) say the same thing,so not much contradictions as such between them.So.other Smritis will also say the same thing about masturbation.Its just the explicit nature of the verse found in PS that makes it important in the context of the question.
    – Rickross
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 8:51
  • By Smritis i mean here "Dharma Shastras" like Vyasa,Manu,Daksha,Yajnvalkya,Parashara and others.
    – Rickross
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 8:54

Hinduism does not deal with social situations like Western religions do.

There are no chapters on how to deal with women, how to marry, how to divorce, how to have sex, whether to have drugs, whether to have alcohol etc etc. There are no 10 commandments.

There have been various books or literature on topics like society, class, sex etc, but that's on the side. They are again theories written by many people along the way.

Interestingly, if you see India as it is today, there is a lot of ingrained rules on how to live, marry, divorce. A kind of Hindu law. But all of those have come from centuries of learning, shaping, relearning, adapting, adopting, copying, debating, conflicting, dispelling, removing, curtailing, picking, dropping and how you like it.

As a society it slowly adopts what's best in the current context. Look at child marriage - It was prevalent 2 centuries ago. Now it is unheard of. Sati - prevalent 100 years ago. Now - unheard of. Women at work - unheard of 100 years back. 33% reservation for women in parliament - Now.

So, in a way, the religion has found a non-prescriptive way of dealing with internal change. And the core of it is is a simple idea

" Nobody is wrong. Nobody is right".

This concept is the basis of all values that came from India.

==> Debate, conflict, understand, Agree, Accept, Change and keep doing that in circles.

The one thing people outside of India may have noticed is that Indians are always fighting war of words with each other. Now thats the fundamental value that societies need to adapt, and to change.

In a short way, Masturbation was also debated in India by Vatsayana, and he was the first to say OK to it. I dont think, any conflicting ideas have come since then.

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    -1 just for your first sentence, 'Hinduism does not deal with social situations'. It is the biggest culture which deals with social situations than any other cultures. As an example, just see about Shodasha Sanskara. Pls consider editing your answer if it make sense.
    – user11
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 18:02
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    There is a difference between a Purana, a Vedas, and other treatise. Description of societies and how the people reacted have come through all the rest of the texts. We will live in confusion as to which ones are religious texts, and which ones are parables, or interpretative or reformative theories which came along the way. But thats fine. I would say that is the essence of Hinduism anyway. Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 15:14
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    @Raghuraman.K Agreed! With so much of western way of thinking around I can we still have to free ourself from the English ruling our heads. Its SAD that KamaSutra is considered as a religions text. Hinduism is ONLY concerned with breaking the Birth-Death cycle and break free from this Dukkhalay Ashashvatt Sansaar, AND NOTHING ELSE. Life is NOT a gift rather an opportunity. But its Kaliyuga...and such ignorance is "fine"!
    – Hindu
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 8:26
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    @Raghuraman.K, you must live in a very different India and follow a very different hinduism than what most hindus know : how to deal with women - manu smriti, apasthamba sutra . how to marry - manu smriti, apasthamba sutra . how to divorce - no chapter on this cos it is not allowed . how to have sex - no chapter on this cos people already know it . whom/when to have sex - manu smriti, apasthamba sutra . whether to have drugs - not allowed . whether to have alcohol - not allowed .
    – ram
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 4:25

As the question specifically mentioned the 3 famous religions of today's time, so below answer is based on them. It's important to understand what primary reasons led masturbation being categorised as sinful.

Rather than masturbation, the act of watching a women with bad intent is considered a grievous sin in hinduism, christianity and islam- which religion the person belongs doesn't matter.

Christianity: https://christianity.stackexchange.com/a/52/49996 "The root of the matter is lust.

Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

I would say that the act itself is not the sin, it's the intent of the act."


Lust is described as a root toxin in Hinduism, followed by anger, greed, materialistic attachments {Kaam, krodh, lobh,moha).

Chapter 3: Karma-yoga TEXT 37 Sri-bhagavan uvaca kama esa krodha esa rajo-guna-samudbhavah mahasano maha-papma viddhy enam iha vairinam

God said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world.

Thus, it's always best to protect ourselves to prevent the cause of bad happenings by avoiding looking at females with bad intentions. Sin committed by thoughts: It is well-understood that nothing is hidden from God, not even our thoughts, so even if we plan devious activities in our mind, is accountable as a sin. Holding filthy conversation or hurling dirty comments towards a pregnant woman, or a woman on her periods, is a grave sin. Involving in acts of violence or uncivilized activities against, children, woman and any weak creature, is an unforgivable sin in the eyes of God.

Islam advises-

It is incumbent on women and girls to observe ḥijāb; it is equally incumbent on men to avoid looking in ḥarām way and keeping away from mixing with the opposite sex, which normally leads to temptation and corruption.As a matter of obligatory caution, one should not view pictures of non-maḥram women on television that are broadcast live. As for that which is not broadcast live, there is no problem in it provided it is done without ill intentions and the fear of falling in ḥarām.

Accordingly, there is no objection to it, as per Islamic law, if it is not done with lust, evil intention, and does not lead to a bad result. However, since watching obscene pictures is inherently intertwined with looking with sexual urge, and it is a precursor to committing ḥarām acts, it is, therefore, ḥarām.

In brief, the act of masturbation in itself isn't a sin, even night fall occurs in nature- but the ill ignorant intentions towards female gender accompanied degrades spiritual progress and consciousness by blocking the root chakra, which is the starting point for spiritual progress and experience God realizations.

Thus, the scriptures wants to protect the mentality of humans towards females, who have obtained the gifted body to play the role of nurturing mothers on the earth, which is a godly task in itself.


Shrimad Bhagawad Geeta Adhyay 14 Shlok 4:

SarvayoniShu Kaunteya MurrtayaH SaMbhavanti YaaH | Taasaam Brahma Mahat YoniH Aham BeejapradaH Pitaa ||

Whatever forms (of beings) are produced in all wombs, O Arjuna, the great Brahma (Prakriti i.e. the matter at large) is their womb (mother), while I am the seed-giving father to all beings.

The eightfold nature, O son of Kunti, is the mother that bears all the beings of different births and I am the father that casts the seed.

As per above sloka, males shouldn't take pride in thinking that they are father, but actually God is the ultimate father, we are just serving as his instruments, so therefore, one shouldn't take joy in wasting preciously rich sexual energy, as it can be a medium to better serve the holy purpose God described in the Bhagwad Gita-

Chapter 10: The Opulence of the Absolute TEXT 28 ayudhanam aham vajram dhenunam asmi kamadhuk prajanas casmi kandarpah sarpanam asmi vasukih

TRANSLATION Of weapons, I am the thunderbolt; among cows I am the surabhi, givers of abundant milk. Of procreators I am Kandarpa, the god of love, and of serpents I am Vasuki, the chief.

Purport for kandarpa: Kandarpa is the sex desire for presenting good sons; therefore Kandarpa is the representative of Krsna. Sometimes sex is engaged in only for sense gratification; such sex does not represent Krsna. But sex for the generation of good children is called Kandarpa and represents Krsna.

So, true contentment lies in keeping away from toxic habits through right knowledge rather than thinking whether one will be considered sinful by doing this or that- God's special form Yamarajji can only decide on that as such as he's rightly incharged of taking dead beings soul to heaven or hell based on the karmic sheet for further treatments.

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    When quoting others, you should use blockquotes. Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 19:07
  • Updated line1,pointed to the question itself instead. Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 5:51
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    I do not see any reference in your answer towards masturbation in Hinduism.
    – Wikash_
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 7:02
  • It's because there isn't any religious practice/sloka related to the act as such. So, have explained the possible sins one comes across. Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 14:17

Brihadâranyaka upanishad talks about prAyaschitta :

4. This, verily, indeed, it was that Uddâlaka Âruṅi knew when he said:-- This, verily, indeed, it was that Nâka Maudgalya knew when he said:-- This, verily, indeed, it was that Kumârahârita knew when he said: 'Many mortal men, Brahmans by descent, go forth from this world, impotent and devoid of merit, namely those who practise sexual intercourse without knowing this.' [If] even this much semen is spilled, whether of one asleep or of one awake, then he should touch it, or [without touching] repeat:-- 'What semen has of mine to earth been spilt now, Whate'er to herb has flowed, whate'er to water-- This very semen I reclaim! Again to me let vigor come! Again, my strength; again, my glow! Again the altars and the fire Be found in their accustomed place!' Having spoken thus, he should take it with ring-finger and thumb, and rub it on between his breasts or his eye-brows.

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