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Women In The Sacred Laws
Kulapati's Preface The Author
Foreword Prologue
The Dharma Sutras Contemporary Evidence
The Manu - Samhita The Later Law-Books
Digest On Hindu Law Espirit Des Lois
Major Sections

THE LATER LAW - BOOKS

This explains the second of the four verses of the Parasara-Samhita. It may be rendered as follows: -

'That woman, who, when the husband is dead, performs the vow of chastity (Brahmacharyam) attains to heaven after death, like the Brahmacharins'.55  This is an exact replica of Manu, 56 which has been mentioned in the foregoing chapter and the full significance of which has also been discussed. It would not be far wrong if it is asserted that this verse came to be inserted into the Parasara Smriti soon after the, compilation of the Manu Smriti. The remaining two verses from Parasara, which represent the conditions of society of a much later period, may be translated thus: 

'She who follows her husband will abide in heaven for as many years as there are hairs on a human being, that is, three thousand crores and a half.' As a snake-catcher takes out a snake from a hole by force, in the same manner the wife (who immolates herself), taking out her husband (from hell) enjoys (heavenly bliss) with him.' 57

These verses show that through self- immolation a woman not only dwells in heaven herself, but raises up her husband also from hell. This shows that these verses came to be inserted when the Anumarana of a widow was considered to be vastly superior even to a life of asceticism, such as is prescribed as an alternative course by the Vishnu and Brihaspati Smriti. When exactly these two verses were inserted into Parasara is difficult to determine. It has been noticed above that verse 2 is an almost exact replica of Manu IX, 76.

In regard to the last two verses, they are found with a slightly different phraseology in other Smriti. Vijnanesvara, who commented upon the Yajnavalkya Smriti, 58 attribute them to Sankhangirasa, who seems to have been joint authors of some Smriti. Madhavacharya, who wrote a commentary on Parasara, traces the first of them to Harita, and the second to the Vyasa Smriti. It is difficult to say who copied from whom.

It appears, however, that these two verses were incorporated in Parasara after the model of Angirasa or Sankhangirasa; for Medhatithi, a commentator on Manu Smriti, refers to and condemns the practice of Anumarana, allowed by Angirasa.59  But he does not refer to Parasara at all, although practically the same verses occur there. On the other hand Medhatithi refers to Parasara in his gloss on Manu 60 in Connection with marriage being permitted to a woman who is confronted with any of the five well-known calamities.

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Women In The Sacred Laws
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