Hinduism and Adultery
Adultery is a consensual physical correlation between two individuals who are not married to each other. According to Hinduism dictionary,” Adultery is sexual intercourse between a married man and a woman not his wife, or between a married woman and a man not her husband.” In Hindu shastras, adultery is considered as a serious breach of dharma. Hinduism considers marriage as a sacred and a highly sanctified relationship.
Traditional view of Hinduism: - Hinduism is not based on a particular scripture or the wisdom of a lone spiritualist; instead Hinduism is a set of values and customs which have evolved over a span of time. Its ethnicity has been derived from varied religious activities developed in the Indian subcontinent that had common ideology, ethics and beliefs which represents its central dogma. Hinduism is an elaborate fusion of assorted religious trends and can be viewed from 3 major perspectives:-
1. the Vedas
2. the Upanishads
3. the epics and the Puranas
It had always been sanatan dharma for Indians, an eternal religion for Hinduism. Manusmriti was the eternal code of conduct for ancient Indians and the general public followed it religiously which say:- “Day and night woman must be kept in dependence by the males (of) their (families), and, if they attach themselves to sensual enjoyments, they must be kept under one’s control.” “Her father protects her in childhood, her husband protects her in youth, and her sons protect her in old age; a woman is never fit for independence.”
“While creating them, Manu allotted to women a love of their bed, of their seat and of ornament, impure desires, wrath, dishonesty, malice, and bad conduct.” Women were regarded as an object and property of men. Adultery was actually a married woman getting involved with a man other than her spouse. Adulterous relations or extra marital affairs involving a married woman attract more severe punishments than the ones involving an unmarried woman.
Hinduism does not support adulterous liaisons and it is considered a moral sin. Individuals who get involved in treacherous or illegitimate relationships have to face a lot of public disrespect and societal humiliation, generally in the rustic regions, where the social order is still conventional. Particularly in case of women, the consequences of adultery are much worse and extra marital affairs involving married women are rarely overlooked or pardoned. According to Hinduism, marriage is a sacrosanct association, which is not limited to one birth and extends over several lives. It is necessary to maintain the purity of marriage and to uphold matrimonial vows. Breaking the consecrated promise and the union of marriage recognized with deities as witness is a profanity and an appalling karma.
Adultery is being severely dealt with in ancient Hindu law books for ethical as well as social reasons. Adultery may lead to perplexity of castes, decrepitude of family standards and societal disarray.
According to Vishnu Purana 3.11, “A man should not think incontinently of another’s wife, much less address her to that end; for such a man will be reborn in future life as a creeping insect. He who commits adultery is punished here and hereafter; for his days in this world are cut short, and when dead he falls into hell.”
Adultery has never been accepted in Hinduism and even today the Indian society treats it as a wrongful deed.