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Paraashar Smriti
See also   Types of Vrat

Smriti created by sage Paraashar and known by his name as Paraashar Smriti is supposed to be the most benevolent for the Kali Yug. Paraashar himself has said:

Krite tu Maanavo Dharmstretayaam Gautamo Smritih ||
Dwaapare Shankh Likhitaa Kaalau Paraasharh Smritih ||
Meaning - Manu Smriti was most relevant in Sat Yug. In Tretaa Yug, Smriti created by Gautam had most relevance whereas in Dwaapar Yug, Shankh's Smriti was mostly recognized. But in Kali Yug, it is Paraashar Smriti that by and large shows the way to the ignorant people.

Paraashar Smriti endorses all those ideologies of human life which are capable of improving the life of common people in the present fourth age. Paradoxes are the main feature of human life in Kali Yug irrespective of region, culture and society.

Indications of Kali Yug
Sage Paraashar was the father of Ved Vyaas. In the first chapter of this treatise, Ved Vyaas requests his father to create such an ideologically and morally sufficient discipline that will help the people in Kali Yug to overcome their woes.

Sarv Dharmo: krite Jaata: Sarve Naashata: Kaalau Yuge |
Chaaturvarnyam Samaachaaram Kinchit Saadhaaranam Vad ||

Meaning- All these religions were created in Sat Yug and would be destroyed in Kali Yug. Hence, kindly outline some ordinary religious norms so that all the four classes could run their lives in a religious way.

Sage Paraashar too was fully aware of the attenuation that religion would suffer in future on the basis of his deep knowledge, that great sage contemplated on the problems which he thought would imminently afflict the religion in Kali Yug. Change is the only thing that remains constant in nature. Religion is also no exception to this rule. In twelve chapters, Paraashar Smriti preaches its whole moral discourses. Conduct and expiation are the main subjects of contemplation here.

Chapter 1-Conduct
This chapter describes the conduct and do's and don'ts of all the four classes.

Kalpe Kalpe Kshayotratyaa Brhamaa Vishnu Maheshwar |
Shruti Smriti Sadaachaar Nir-Netaraashch Sarvadaa ||

Meaning- At the time of re-genesis after Pralaya, Brahmaa, Vishnu and Mahesh appear and decide about Shruti (Ved), Smriti (religious text) and moral conduct.

Kalp is regarded as a single night of Brahmaa. As the night changes, similarly, Yug also changes. Therefore, religious norms are also subject to change.

Krite Sambhaashanaadev Tretaayaam Sparshanen cha |
Dwaapare Twanmaadaayaa Kaalau Patati Karmanaa ||

Meaning- In Satya Yug, a human being would be defiled just by conversing with the sinner. In Tretaa Yug, a mere touch of sinner was enough to defile a man. In Dwaapar Yug, eating the cereals given a sinner defiled a man. But in Kali Yug, man is subject to sins by his deeds alone.

Thus, a curse used to realize in an instant now takes a year to show its effect.

Conduct as per the class increases in the religion for that class. A person engaged in the conducts as per his religion is never at fault. But in Kali Yug, irreligion is more powerful than the religion. Hence it is even more necessary today than ever to abide by the path of religion.

Conduct of Braahman
Sandhyaa Snaanam Japo Homo Devtaa naam Cha Poojanam |
Aatithyam Vaishwadevam Cha Shat Karmaani Dine Dine ||

Meaning- Six routine tasks like three times bath, prayer at dawn and dusk, recitation, Hom (offerings to sacred fire), worship of deity, treatment of guests and offering sacrifices for the deceased ancestors are mandatory for a Braahman daily. Through these actions, a Braahman gets free from the sin he commits unknowingly.

A guest arriving at the end of these daily routine tasks is a means to provide a place in heaven. Hence, such a guest deserves respect no matter whether he is a friend or a foe, a fool or a savant. A cordial welcome should also be extended to such a guest like the ones already present. Even the guest arriving after dining is over should be welcomed with honor. Such a pious conduct of a householder today ensures his right to a place in heaven. A guest should not be asked to reveal his caste and creed for it indents the religion. Smriti also tells that a guest should never be insulted nor should one let a guest go dejected because then the deceased ancestors of the host starve for fifteen years.

Alms and Donations
Recitation of God's name and making donations and giving away alms constitute religion in Kali Yug. Donation is the only intact support of religion today. Hence, it is the moral duty of the common householders today that they should recite God's name and make donations within their powers. Character of donation has also changed completely today. Sage Paraashar says:

Abhigamya Krite Daanam Tretaayaamhuya Diyate |
Dwaapare Yaachmaanaaya Sevaaya Diyate Kaalau ||

Meaning - In Satya Yug, the donor used to visit the home of the beggar to make donations. In Tretaa, the donor called the beggar to him, In Dwaapar, the donor made donations only when demanded but in Kali Yug, donor demands service from the beggar before making donations.

But one should take care that the donation must be made for good deeds and to a deserving person only.

Su-Kshetre Cha Su-Paatre Cha Hyuptam Dattam Nashyati |
Meaning - Sowing of seeds in a good fertile field and making donation to a deserving person never go futile.

Making donation is an easy and divine measure to ensure success of life in this world and in another. This dictate of sage Paraashar is still being followed faithfully. Like other religious actions, there are certain evolved norms to give away alms. First of all, pour water on the palms of the ascetic and then give him alms. According to Paraashar, alms given away in such way are as inexhaustible as the Mount Sumeru and the whole waters of the ocean. If a beggar arrives when a Braahman household is offering sacrifices for the solace of his deceased ancestors, the Braahman must divide the cereals in two parts and should reserve one to make offerings and donate the other as alms to the beggar.

Vaishwadev-kritam Paapam Shakto Bhikshurvyapohitum |
Na Hi Bhikshu-kritandoshaan-Vaishwadevo Vyapohati ||

Meaning - The sin committed unknowingly while offering sacrifices to the dead ancestors is done away with by the beggar. But, a crime committed against a beggar at such a moment is never done away with by the offering of sacrifices to the dead ancestors.

Offering Sacrifices to the dead ancestors: Offering sacrifices to the dead ancestors is one of the five great Yagya. During this ritual, a Braahman should make offerings to the sacred fire. Then, he should use the remaining cereals to offer to the dead ancestors and also to the animals and birds. If a Braahman does not perform this ritual, he is bound to suffer severe torments in hell and take reincarnation as a crow.

Norms for Dining
A Braahman should dedicate his food to God first. Then he should take it as a pious giving of God. While dining, a Braahman should not cover his head, should not face the south and should not put his hand on the left leg. These are all deeds characteristic of demons.

Conduct of Kshatriya
For Kshatriya caste (warrior class), sage Paraashar says that they should wield the arms and preserve the subjects and punish the culprits to keep them within the religious path. Defeating the enemies and preserving the earth, which contains seven oceans and great mountains are also duties of the Kshatriya.

Na Shreeh Kulkramajjaataa Bhooshanolikhitaapi Vaa |
Khadgenakramya Bhunjeet Veerbhogyaa Vasundharaa ||

Meaning - One doesn't get wealth in legacy nor it is hidden in the jewels. Brave people win it with the power of their sword and enjoy it because this earth is enjoyable only by enthusiastic brave people.

Continuous vigilance is the price for complete independence. And one gets real pleasure only in independence. In Panchtantra, Vishnu Sharma writes -
Udyamen Hi Siddhyanti Kaaryaani Na Manorathaih |
Na Hi Sooktasya Sinhasya Pravinshanti Mukhe Mrigah ||

Meaning - Only by making efforts, desires are fulfilled and not by thinking and thinking alone. Even, a deer doesn't enter the mouth of a sleeping lion though the lion is the king of beasts.

Preserving of his subjects is the greatest expiation for a king. A king is in fact the true servant of the people. Like the duties of a servant, duties of a king are also very difficult. Literally, being a king means being an ascetic. Country is the only friend of the king and his family as well. A king has to constitute a governing body for the preservation of his subjects. Kautilya says -
Sahaya Saadhyam Raajatwam Chakramekam Na Vartate ||
Meaning - Governance is a combined process. It cannot run on a single wheel.

Sage Paraashar dictates a king to realize a little bit of revenue from each of his subjects in order to meet the expenses of governance. Paraashar also describes the glory of a warrior and an ascetic that both of them are able to benefit the country.

Conduct of Vaishya
Paraashar says -
Laabh Karm Tathaa Ratnam Gavaam Cha Pratipaalanam
krishi Karm  Cha Vaanijyam Vaishya Vrittir Udaahritaa ||

Meaning - Economic give and take, sale and purchase of gems, rearing of cattle, agriculture and trade are the occupations of the Vaishya.

Sage Paraashar regards agriculture as the prime profession of Kali Yug. Such thinking is absent in other Smriti. Agriculture is stated to be a duty of the Braahman also.

Conduct of Shoodra
In the opinion of sage Paraashar, the first and foremost duty of a Shoodra is to serve the Braahman. Faithful discharge of this duty guarantees success of a Shoodra's life.
Shoodrasya Dwij Sushrushaa Parao Dharm Uchyate |
Anyathaa Kurute Kinchit Tadbhavetasya Nishpahalam ||

Meaning - Serving Braahman is the first duty of the Shoodra. All the other actions of a Shoodra other than this bear no fruit. Besides, serving the Braahman, a Shoodra may also carry out activities like selling salt and honey.

Chapter 2

In the second chapter, Paraashar Smriti describes the norms to be followed by the married people of all the four classes. Here again, agriculture has been given prominence.

Married Life
Apart from the six routine tasks, a Braahman must also supervise agricultural activities also.
Shat Karm Nirato Viprah | Krishi Karm Cha Kaaryet ||

It seems that as if sage Paraashar had an anticipation of the population explosion of Kali Yug. Hence, he had put this responsibility as an extra burden on the Braahman. Sage Paraashar states that agriculture is the excellent job for the people of all the four castes.

Chapter 3

This chapter considers the purification of the people from the effects of birth and death occurring in the families.
Jaate Vipro Dashahen Dwaadashahen Bhoomipah |
Vaoshyah Panch Dashahen Shoodro Maasen Shuddhati ||

Meaning - In the case of birth, Braahman gets purified in ten days, a Kshatriya takes twelve days, a Vaishya in fifteen days and a Shoodra takes one month to get purified.

Similarly, in the case of death, the same principle applies to all the four classes. Of course, in the case of death of distant relative, people may get purified in three days.

Chapter 4

This chapter describes the expiation for the sins arising out of evil deeds. It regards suicide as an abhorrent crime. Even those who carry out the cremation of the person, who had committed suicide, have to expiate for their sin.

Duties of a Woman
Regarding the duties of a woman, sage Paraashar says that a woman, who doesn’t serve even her disabled husband faithfully, turns the family into a hell.
Daridram Vyaadhitam Moorkham Bhartaaram Yaa Na Maanyate |
Saa Mritaa Jayaate Vyaali Vaidhavyanch Punah Punah ||

Meaning - A woman, who doesn’t regard her poor, diseased or ignorant husband, becomes a serpent after her death and faces widowhood again and again.

After her monthly periods, a woman must crave for intercourse only in the company of her husband.
Ritu Snaataa Tu Yaa Naaree Bhartaaram Nopasarpaati |
Saa Mritaa Narakam Yaati Vidhavaa Cha Punah Punah ||

Meaning - A woman, who does not dedicate herself after her periods to her husband, goes to hell after her death and faces widowhood in subsequent births.

Duties of a Husband
A husband, who does not accept the desire of his wife of having intercourse after her periods, commits a crime equal to killing an unborn child. Sage Paraashar asserts that, killing an unborn child is more severe sin than killing a Braahman. A sweet relation between the spouses is the key to a successful social life. Hence, they should help each other with dedication at the times of emergency. Husband should also respect his wife.

Chapter 5

This chapter describes the sin related to biting by the animals and the ways to expiate this sin.
Savrataastu Shunadashto |    Yastriraatramupavaas Et ||
Ghritam Kushodakam Peetwa |   Vrat Shesham Samaapayet ||

Meaning - If a dog bites a person during his fast, the person must observe continuous fast for three days and consume nothing except ghee and juices of the grass. When purified, he should complete his original fast. If a dog bites a woman, she may get purified instantly by sighting the Moon.

Chapter 6

This chapter describes the sin involved in the killing of birds and the ways to expiate it.
Kraunch Saaras Hansaashch Chakravaakam Cha Kukkutam |
Jaalpaadm Cha Sharbham Hatwaahoratrah Shuchih ||

Meaning - One must observe a day’s fast to get purified from the sin of killing a heron, crane, swan, geese, cock, hen, duck and grasshoppers.

Killing of peafowl is even severe sin. One must worship Lord Shankar to get free from the sin of killing a peafowl.

Chapter 7

This chapter deals with the matter of purifying water bodies. In the opinion of sage Paraashar, purification of ponds etc. can be achieved thus.
Vaapikuptgeshu Dooshiteshu Kadaachan |  Uddhyatya Vai Kumbharaatam Panchgyen Shuddhayaati ||
Meaning - If a small pond, well or tank has been soiled somehow, take out one hundred pitcher full of water from them and add cow’s dung, urine, milk and curd, ghee and honey to purify the water.

Chapter 8

This chapter describes the expiation for the sins committed unknowingly. It asserts that such sins should not be hidden because such a practice only adds to the sins. If a cow or an ox dies while tethering or yoking, expiation is necessary because those animals were under the honor and assisting him. Religious polymaths say:
Sa-chailam Vaagyatah Snaatwaa Kilanvaasaa Samaahitah |
Kshatriyo Vaath Vaishyo Vaa Tatah Paarshadmaa vrajet ||

Meaning - To expiate for the sin, a Kshatriya and a Vaishya must take a bath fully dressed silently and appear as such before the jury. If the same is suspected, sage Paraashar dictates that it must be expiated for leaving the food.

Chapter 9

In this chapter, sage Paraashar writes about the expiation for the sin of killing a cow.
Rodh Bandhan Yoktraani Ghaatashcheti Chaturvidham |
Ek Paadam Charet Rodhe Dwau Paadu Bandhane Charet ||

Meaning - If the cow or an ox dies due to forceful enclosure, tethering, yoking and killed deliberately, a sin equal to killing a cow results. One must observe a fast for a quarter of a day if death of the cow is due to forceful enclosure. For the death due to tethering, fast for half a day is required. If yoking is the cause of death, fast for three-quarters of a day and for deliberate killing, fast for a full day.

During the fast for a quarter of a day, removal of bodily hairs is required. For the fast of half day, shaving of the bodily hair, moustache and beard is required. Donation of a bull is required for the fast of three-quarters of a day while donation of two cows is required for a full day fast.

One must donate a pair of clothes - (dhoti and Kurtaa) to a Braahman to complete the fast of a quarter day and a saucer of bronze to complete the fast of half day.

Chapter 10

The 10th chapter describes the expiation required to wash the sins of having illegal carnal relations with women other than the wife. Sage Paraashar, it seems, had known that it would be a characterizing feature of Kali Yug. Hence, he says
Agamyaa Gamane Chaiv Shuddhau Chaandraayan Charet ||
Meaning- A man who has relations with other women than his wife, can get purified only by observing Chaandraayan Vrat (a fast devoted to the moon).

Those Braahman, who have illegal carnal relations with the women of low caste must observe a fast for three days and three nights continuously. Then, he must get shaven of his head hair including the normal tuft of hair left otherwise. And ultimately, he should observe the Praajaapatya Vrat.

Chapter 11

Sage Paraashar has prohibited the intake of polluted food and cereals of Shoodra. Provision of expiating the sins related to these two activities has therefore come into practice.
Amedhya Reto Go Maansam Chaandaalanmathaapi Vaa |
Yadi Bhuktam Tu Vipren Krichchhram Chaandraayan Charet ||

Meaning - If a Braahman consumes the food polluted by the flesh of a human being, cow, latrine etc. he should voluntarily observe Chaandrayan Vrat.

There is a provision of half of this expiation for the people of Kshatriya and Vaishya classes while a Shoodra must observe Praajaapatya Vrat to eliminate the sins of eating polluted food.

Similarly, regarding intake of Shoodra’s cereals, sage Paraashar says:
Shoodraanam Sooktaannanch Hya Bhojyasyaanna mev Cha |
Shankitam Pratishiddhaannam Poorvochchishitam Tathaiv Cha ||

Meaning - A man must expiate for the sins of eating cereals of Shoodra, Sootak, downtrodden, of suspicious origin, forbidden otherwise, or defiled food. There is a provision of Krichchhra Vrat.

Chapter 12

According to Paraashar Smriti, nightmares are akin to the sins and require proper expiation by taking a bath.
Duhswapnam Yadi Pashyedwa Vante vaa Kshaur Karmaani |
Maithuney Pret Dhoome Cha Snaanmev Vidhiyate ||

Meaning - If one has a nightmare in which he sees himself vomiting, getting shaven, having intercourse or sees smokes rising above a cremation ground, one should get purified by taking proper bath. Taking a proper bath, ill effects of a nightmare are removed.

Agnyaanaat Prashya Vish mootram Suraasansprishthmev Cha |
Punah Sanskaaram Arhanti Treyo Varn Dwijaatayah ||

Meaning- If someone of Braahman, Kshatriya and Vaishya class consumes urine or wine unknowingly, he must begin his consecrations afresh.

In the purification rituals, one doesn’t have to wear buck’s skin, waistline, stick, fast etc. Praajaapatya Vrat is sufficient to get free from such sin.

Five types of bath have been identified.
Snaanaani Panch Punyaani Keertitaani Maneeshibhih ||
Aagneyam Vaarunam Brahmam Vaayavyam Divyamev Cha ||

Meaning - Five types of bath like Aagneya, Vaarun, Braahm, Vaayavya and Divya have been described as sacred baths by our great sages.

Smearing of whole body with ash is Aagneya bath. Bathing in water is known as Vaarun bath. Sprinkling of water on the body is known as Braahm bath whereas exposing the body to the dust rising due to impact of cow’s hooves is known as Vaayavya bath. Bathing in rainfall under the Sun is Divya bath.

Study of Ved by Undeserving People
If a Braahman doesn’t make offering to the sacred fire regularly, doesn’t pray every evening and morning and doesn’t study the Vedas, he is more a Shudra than a Braahman. Such a Braahman is powerless and Smriti allows certain flexibility to such a Braahman for the study of the Ved.
Tasmaad Vrishalbheeten Braahmanen Visheshatah |
Adhyetavyo Apyekdesho Yadi Sarv Na Shaktayate ||

Meaning - If complete study of Ved is out of power, a Braahman must necessarily study a part of Ved.

Prohibition of Shoodra's Cereals
A Braahman has a glory equal to fire. If he consumes cereals of a Shoodra or lives in the company of Shoodra, his glory is tarnished.
Shoodraanna Ras Pushti Aasyaa Apyadheeyaanasya Nitya Sah |
Japato Juhaato Vaapi Gatir-Oordhwaa Na Vidyate ||

Meaning - A man, though healthy and sound because of eating Shoodra’s cereals, cannot meet fortune no matter how much he studies Ved or makes offering to the sacred fire.

Norms for Eating
If a person, who has resolved to dine silently, speaks or has to speak during his meal must get up at once. All the people dining together must stand up together after finishing their meal.
Asnaatwaa Naiv Bhunjeet Hyaajapatwaagnimhooya Cha |
Parn Prishthe Na Bhunjeet Raatrau Deepam Vina Tathah ||

Meaning - It is not proper to dine without taking bath, reciting the name of God and making offerings to the sacred fire. One should not eat on the reverse side of plantain and without proper lighting during the night.

Norms for Earning Money
One should not take to just any means to earn money. Wisdom is said to be earning with due contemplation on religion and only as much as is required to raise the family.
Nyaayopaar-jitwitten Kartavyam Hyaatm rakshanam |
Anyaayen Tu Yo Jeevet Sarv Karm Bahishkritah ||

Meaning - Religion is earning money by just means to preserve one’s soul and foster one’s family. One, who runs his life by unjust means stays away from the pious deeds. Unjust means add to irreligion and irreligion leads to loss of life.

Decision of Expiations
The sin of snatching the land from the powerless people cannot be washed away from digging hundreds of ponds.
Drinking water directly immersing mouth in the river is also forbidden.
Vidyamaaneshu Hasteshu Braahmano Gyaan Durbalah |
Totyam Peevati Vaktren Shwaanau Jaayate Dhruvam ||

Meaning - If a stupid Braahman drinks water directly immersing his mouth in the river despite having hands, he certainly takes birth in a dog’s incarnation.

One should observe a fast for a day for having eaten cereals of a characterless Braahman. If a woman comes in menses within eighteen days of the previous one, she can get purified by taking a bath. A Braahman, who has stolen gold must go to the court with a mortar and confess his crime before the king. He is purified now, whether or not the king hits him with the mortar.

Thus, Paraashar Smriti shows the people of Kali Yug, the way of religious conduct.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 04/04/13