Brihat Samhita

by N. Chidambaram Iyer | 1884 | 135,584 words | ISBN-13: 9788171104215

This page describes the praise of women (stri-prashamsa) which is the seventy-fourth Chapter of the English translation of the Brihat-samhita. This work, written by Varahamihira in the 6th century, is classified as jyotisha literature, also known as Indian astronomy. It contains however, also content regarding astrology, palmistry, agriculture, gardening, perfumes, medicines and various other encyclopedic topics.

Chapter 74 - On the praise of Women (strī-praśaṃsā)

1. In a country acquired by a king by conquest, the town is the most important place; in towns, houses are important places; in houses, the bed room is an important place; in it, the cot and the bed are important, and on it a woman (strī) bedecked with jewels forms the essence of the pleasures of royalty.

2. Gems derive beauty from women (strī); women derive no beauty from gems; for, women, when without gems, are lovely and provoke men’s desires, and not so gems when alone.

3. To kings struggling to conceal their desires when in public, anxious to conquer their enemies, meditating on a hundred schemes of administration either half executed or not attempted at all, obliged to follow the advice of their ministers, ever suspecting fear and failure in every attempt and buried in a sea of cares and anxieties, the embrace of an excellent woman is the only bit of pleasure falling to their lot.

4. In no world has Brahmā created a gem superior to woman (strī), whose speech, sight, touch, thought, provoke pleasurable sensations. Such a gem in the shape of a woman is the fruit of a person’s good, deeds, and from such a gem a person obtains both sons and pleasure. A woman, therefore, resembles the goddess of wealth in a family, and must be treated with respect, and all her wants must be satisfied.

5. It appears to me that those are bad men who, out of a dislike for all things, speak ill of women, and these men are never found to speak of the virtues of women.

6. Is there any vice with which women are not charged by men? Speak the truth. Those that reject women do so out of a stupid firmness of mind. According to Manu, women possess more virtues than men.

7. Somadeva has blessed women with personal purity[1]; the Gandharvas have given them pure speech; Agni-deva has allowed to them the privilege of eating any kind of food without restrictions. Women are, therefore, without faults.

8. The Brāhmaṇas, are pure in their feet; the cows, in their buttocks: the sheep and the horse, in their face, and women all over their body.

9. Women (strī) are exceedingly pure and are without faults. For, the menses remove their blemishes every month.

10. Those houses will meet with ruin as if by witch-craft, which are cursed by women who are not treated with respect.

11. The Śāstras say that a woman (strī) is both a man’s wife and mother[2], and men owe their birth to women. Those that speak ill of women, therefore, are ungrateful persons. How can you people be happy?

12. In the eye of the Śāstras, adultery in man or woman is equally condemned. Man neglects this condemnation, while women respect it. Hence, the superiority of women over men.

13. According to the Śāstras, a man that commits adultery shall dress himself in the skin of the ass with the hairy side without, and beg his meals for six months for his purification.

14. Though one might indulge in sexual pleasures for 100 years, the appetite for the same is not satiated. Whenever men refrain from sexual pleasures after the death of their wives, they do so because of their inability; while women after the death of their husbands boldly preserve their chastity, continuing in a state of widowhood.

15. A man who blames a faultless woman (strī) is not unlike a thief who. suspecting an innocent person to be a thief, sets up a hue and cry.

16. A man when alone with his wife speaks to her sweet language and no more thinks of her after her death; while a woman often enters the funeral pile along with her diseased husband out of her love for him.

17. A person who is fortunate enough to have an excellent wife, though he might be poor, appears to me as happy as a king. The main pleasures of a king are women and good meals. These serve as sticks to increase the fire of his desires.

18. That a pleasure like that of embracing a woman who has just attained womanhood, whose speech is short, soft, sweet and broken, whose bosoms arc high and large, and who herself is full of sexual passion, is not to be found in the house of Brahmā, the Creator, in my opinion.

19. In the Brahmaloka, the Munis, the Siddhas, the Celestial musicians may pay due honours to persons deserving them. What pleasures can there be in receiving such honours? These persons cannot be as happy as those who enjoy excellent women (strī).

20. From Brahmā down to worms, we find pairs indulging in sexual love. What is there to be ashamed of in the matter—one for which the Supreme Śiva assumed four faces.[3]

Footnotes and references:

1.

(a) and (b). The idea is one somewhat foreign to foreigners. A pure part is one the touch of which does not pollute a person though the part may suffer pollution.

(c) The Commentator interprets “these” to mean faults of the mind. As regards faults of the body, expiatory ceremonies are prescribed in the Śāstras.

2.

The idea is that a person is born over again in the shape of his own son.

3.

The allusion is to a visit paid to Śiva by Tilottamā, a dancing woman, attached to the Court of Indra. As she went round Śiva by way of worship, he was so much attracted by her beauty that he kept looking at her with four faces which he assumed, while his one face was directed towards his consort Pārvatī whom he did not wish to offend.