Incest In Hindu Dharma

1. Brahma’s Incest With his Daughter

As per Hindu texts, Brahma had an incestuous relationship with his own daughter Saraswati. Such an act was committed by the creator Brahma. Puranas state that Saraswati was the daughter as well as the wife of Brahma, as per Skanda Purana Brahma had two wives Gayatri and Saraswati. There are several versions of this story. Some text says that Brahma was married to Saraswati and some say he had an incestuous relationship without marriage. Some say Brahma cohabited with Saraswati for propagation after marrying her and some say he cohabited with her for propagation without marriage, verses that talk about Brahma’s relationship with Saraswati for propagation don’t view the relationship as sinful. Some text says that Brahma and Saraswati were greeted and welcomed after their marriage and some text says that Brahma was punished for having an affair with his own daughter. Not only is this relationship morally wrong but this is also disgusting. Hindu apologists defend this by saying that Brahma being in a relationship with his daughter Saraswati is the reason Brahma isn’t worshipped by Hindus. The fact is that there are various reasons why Brahma isn’t worshipped. Some texts say that it was a consensual relationship, then why is Saraswati worshipped by Hindus? If rape/incest is the reason Brahma isn’t worshipped then almost every other Hindu god should be shunned by Hindus as they were all rapists, in fact, Hindus celebrate the rape of Vrinda by Vishnu as a festival called Tulsi Vivah. So, this argument of Hindu apologists is pathetic. The question isn’t why he isn’t worshipped or whether Brahma was punished, the subject of controversy is that Brahma, the so-called creator part of the Hindu Trimurti, indulged himself in such an immoral act.

The following verse portrays Brahma’s marriage with Saraswati and how they were welcomed in Brahma-Loka,

📚Brahma Vaivarta Purana Krishna Janma Khanda 35.11-13📚
On reaching Goloka Brahma achieved Sarasvati who happens to be the goddess of all the matter and had. emerged out of my lotus-like face. Achieving Sarasvati Brahma felt delighted, Brahma then himself permitted the god of love to short the arrows on him. Soon thereafter Brahma returned to my place and bowed before me. Owning Sarasvati who could attract the three worlds, Brahma took her to the secluded places and enjoyed her company.”  (source)

The Matsya Purana narrates that Saraswati was born from half of Brahma’s body, and initially, Brahma acknowledged her as his daughter. However, later, the newly born Saraswati’s beauty captivated Brahma, leading him to succumb to his desires. This lapse into lust caused Brahma to regret accepting Saraswati as his daughter,

📚Matsya Purana 3.30-44📚
With this view, He began to invoke Gayatri. After some time the goddess Gayatri, known under different names, viz. – Satarupa, Savitri, Sarasvati, Brahmani, etc., appeared in the form of a girl from the half portion of Brahma’s body who at the first sight mistakenly took Her for His daughter. Afterwards, the Creator, seeing that form of exquisite beauty, was fired with love and repeatedly uttered, “What an enchanting form!” At this, the Manasa putras of Brahma, i.e., Vasistha, etc., taking Savitri for their sister, began to express their feelings….. Brahma, fired with passion in her company, married Satarupa and began to pass his days in enjoyment inside a lotus. He enjoyed the company of Savitri for hundred years, and after a long time Manu was born to them.”  (source)

In Chapter 4 of the Matsya Purana, there is a conversation between Manu and the Vishnu avatar Matsya that justifies Brahma’s actions by explaining that Devas beget progeny in diverse ways,

📚Matsya Purana 4.1-11📚
The king said, “O Merciful! I feel awfully grieved to hear that Lord Brahma married Angaja. Pray, tell me why he was not regarded as having committed a fearful sin by having done so. Remove my doubts, O, Master of the Universe! by graciously explain to me why the offspring of Brahma were allowed to intermarry in their paternal circle without any regard for close-knit kinship.” The Lord Fish replied: “O king! such doubts only arise in the case of mankind, for men have atomic bodies and beget children in a different way, while the primeval creation is celestial in which Rajoguna predominates. The Devas not have supersensious bodies and they beget progeny in quite different ways. The celestial forms come into being in other ways, and it is very difficult for men having sensuous bodies to understand this great secret. Only supernatural intellect causes celestial creation; therefore those alone can understand its great sect who themselves possessed with such an intellect… O, King! the question of any prescribed order on prohibition does not arise in the deeds of the Devas. Only Their desire is taken into considered in whatever they do. Other beings reap the fruits of their karma (doings) which the Devas do not. No doubts should therefore be raised regarding the doings of the Devas, nor should beings having sensuous bodies think of doing the same deed. Besides this, as Lord, Brahma is the governor of the Vedas, so is the goddess Gayatri of the Brahmans (the sacred text, i.e., the Vedas). She is the better-half of the Lord, and this is why she appeared from his body…He committed no sin by marrying Her. In spite of all this, Lord Brahma felt ashamed for not being able to suppress His passion in presence of His manasa sons…”  (source)

The above passage not only justifies the incest between Brahma and Saraswati but also clears many doubts. Some Hindu apologists are coming up with pathetic responses to Brahma-Saraswati’s incest for eg: “If Saraswati was Brahma’s daughter then who was her mother? She wasn’t his daughter.” And much more, Ganesh was created by Parvati from her waste all alone without a partner, yet Shiva is considered to be the father of Ganesh. There are many characters in the Hindu mythology who have taken birth without a father or a mother, like Sita who had no father and so on. So this is a pathetic excuse to justify the incest, the above verse from Matsya Purana like other verses clearly states that Brahma married his daughter, that should be enough to refute the rebuttal of apologists.

Another way the story goes is that Brahma had an incestuous relationship with his daughter, with the purpose of creating living beings,

📚Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.3📚
He was not at all happy. Therefore people (still) are not happy when alone. He desired a mate. He became as big as man and wife embracing each other. He parted this very body into two. From that came husband and wife. Therefore, said Yajnavalkya, this (body) is one-half of oneself, like one of the two halves of a split pea. Therefore this space is indeed filled by the wife. He was united with her. From that men were born.”  (source)

Adi Shankaracharya wrote on this verse,

”He, the Viraj called Manu, was united with her, his daughter called Satarupa, whom he conceived of as his wife. From that union men were born.” Adi Shankaracharya on Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.3 (source), The following verse 1.4.4 describes that she fled and transformed into various animals. Prajapati then took on the male forms of those animals and raped her, resulting in the birth of different creatures. This indicates that creation occurred through Prajapati raping his own daughter.

📚Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.4📚
She thought, ‘How can he be united with me after producing me from himself? Well, let me hide myself.’ She became a cow, the other became a bull and was united with her; from that cows were born. The one became a mare, the other a stallion; the one became a she-ass, the other became a he-ass and was united with her; from that one-hoofed animals were born. The one became a she-goat, the other a he-goat; the one became a ewe, the other became a ram and was united with her; from that goats and sheep were born. Thus did he project every-thing that exists in pairs, down to the ants.”   (source)

Brahmanas speaks of this illicit relationship as well,

📚Aitareya Brahmana 6.5.27📚
For the semen is like something unspeakable secretly poured forth into the womb. The sperm becomes blended. For when Prajapati had carnal intercourse with his daughter, his sperm was poured forth upon the earth (and was mixed up with it. This was done for making the sperm produce fruit.”  (source)

📚Pancavimsa Brahmana 8.2.10📚
Prajapati went on top of his own daughter Usas. His semen flew away. It was poured on this (the earth). He made it perfect, [thinking]: “Let this [Semen] of mine not be spoiled.” He made it [something] real, namely, cattle.”  (source)

📚Shatapatha Brahmana📚
Prajapati set his mind on his own daughter, either Sky or Dawn. ‘May pair with her; he wished. He made love to her. That indeed was a sin for the gods: a ‘He who acts thus towards his own daughter, our sister, [commits a sin].’ Those gods then said to this god who is lord of cattle. ‘An act of transgression he commits who acts thus towards his own daughter, our sister. Pierce him.’ Rudra, having aimed [him], pierced him. In the middle [of the act, his semen spurted forth. Thus indeed it was.”  (source)

📚Brahma Viavarta Purana Krishna Janma Khanda 35.44-68📚
The lord of the universe handing over the arrows to kama, felt extremely delighted and looking at the daughter he thought of bestowing a boon on her…the creator of the universe who happens to be the lord of mantras was wounded and he lost his senses. On regaining his consciousness he found the girl there and became desirous of enjoying her company. The chaste girl fled from the scene in terror. Finding her father following her she felt terrified and ran for shelter towards his ascetic brothers. Keeping the girl with them, the ascetics looked at; Brahma, their own father with great anger and they spoke to him the words which were according to the Vedas, quite appropriate and the best. The sages said- It pain us a lot that you have indulged in such an action which is to be denounced by all. O creator of universe, you have indulged in the actions which are practiced by the degraded people. The noble people always look at the other women like their own mother and always control their senses. Such people are adored every where in the universe. You are yourself the creator of the universe and you intend to enjoy the company of your own daughter…”O father, your mind is infested with passion and you therefore disappear from the sight of sight of we people at a long distance. Though we are competent enough to reduce you to ashes but we still do not so taking you to be our father”…Thus speaking the sages offered their salutation at the feet of Brahma, everything is possible according to the moves of destiny. He stopped his Prdnavdyu (wind of life) and broke the Satcakra with the yogic practices and pushing it through the Brahmarandhra, his soul was about to leave his body. All the sages than engaged themselves in their respective assignment and Brahma feeling ashamed thought of ending his life.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
Thereafter, O great goddess, a pilgrim should go to the shrine situated to the west of Parnaditya. As already mentioned, it is adored by Brahma. It is on the banks of Sarasvati. O my beloved, I shall mention its origin. Listen with rapt attention. Even as Brahma was creating the four divisions of living beings formerly, a lady of lotus-like eyes with wonderfully exquisite beauty was born. Her neck resembled conch shell. Her tresses were fine. Her lips were like Bimba fruit and her waist was slender. Her navel was deep. She had excellent buttocks, fully developed breasts and hips. Her face was like the full moon. The ankles were hidden (under muscles) and her face wore a smile. She shone to such an extent that there was no Devi (Deva-woman), no Gändhärvi, no Àsurt and no serpent-girl who had a similar beautiful form. On seeing her richly endowed with beauty, Brahma became overwhelmed with love, O lady of excellent complexion. He requested her for granting him the pleasure of love-play. When he made this request, O great goddess, his fifth head assumed the form of an ass and fell down due to that sin in an instant. After realizing the great sin due to the lustfulness for his own daughter, he became extremely disgusted. He, therefore, went to the holy region of Prabhâsa.”  (source)

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 3.12.28-31📚
O Vidura, we have heard that Brahmã had a daughter named väk who was born from his body and who attracted his mind toward sex, although she was not sexually inclined towards him. Thus, finding their father so deluded in an act of immorality, the sages headed by Marici, all sons of Brahma, spoke as follows with great respect. O father, this performance in which you are endeavoring to complicate yourself was never attempted by any other Brahmã, nor by anyone else, nor by you in previous kalpas, nor will anyone dare to attempt it in the future. You are the supreme being in the universe, so how is it that you want to have sex with your daughter and cannot control your desire? Even though you are the most powerful being, this act does not suit you because your character is followed for spiritual improvement by people in general.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
Prajpati (i.e. Brahma) was formerly deluded, O Brahmanas. He desired like a lover of his own daughter named Vac (Speech) joyously. This daughter of Prajapati became ashamed on noticing his lecherous love for her. Hence she assumed the form of a Rohita deer. Inclined to have sexual dalliance with her, Brahma too took the form of a deer. As she went ahead in the guise of a female deer, he too followed her. On seeing him intent on having sexual intercourse with his daughter, all the deities condemned him: ‘This Brahma is committing a deed that should not be done, i.e. attempt to have sexual union with one’s own daughter. Thus they censured the creator and the Lord of the worlds. On seeing Paramesthin (Brahma) engaged in the forbidden act, Lord Hara took up the Pinaka bow and assumed the form of a hunter. He fitted one arrow to his bow. He drew the bow string as far as his ear and hit Brahma with his sharp arrow. Struck down by the arrow of the Annihilator of the three Puras, Brahma fell down on the ground.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
Formerly, in the beginning of Kṛtayuga, Brahmā attempted to have sexual intercourse with his own daughter who was richly endowed with beauty and youth. On seeing him like that I cut off his head with a sword into five parts in a great fury. Taking the skull (sticking to) the hand that attempted the murder of Brahmā, I immediately left the place in order to resort to various Tīrthas in heaven, earth and nether worlds and performed penances as well.”  (source)

📚Shiva Purana 5.4.27📚
Many times, Brahmā, deluded by Śiva’s Māyā, had the desire for sexual union with his own daughter and other women.”  (source)

2. Daksha Desired to Have Sex With his Own Sister

📚Shiva Purana 5.4.26📚
Daksa, son of Brahma deluded by Siva’s Mayä, had a desire for sexual intercourse with his sister along with his other brothers.”  (source)

3. Krishna Marries his Cousin Sisters

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.58.56📚
Bhadra was a princess of the Kaikeya kingdom and the daughter of Lord Krsna’s paternal aunt Srutakirti. The Lord married Bhadrã when her brothers, headed by Santardana, offered her to Him.”  (source)

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.58.31📚
My dear King, Lord Krsna forcibly took away Princess Mitravinda, the daughter of His aunt Rajädhidevi, before the eyes of the rival kings.”  (source)

4. Manu’s Incest With his Daughter

📚Shatapatha Brahmana📚
Manu said to her, ‘Who art thou?’ ‘Thy daughter,’ she replied. ‘How, illustrious one, (art thou) my daughter?’ he asked…With her he went on worshipping and performing austerities, wishing for offspring. Through her he generated this race, which is this race of Manu; and whatever blessing he invoked through her, all that was granted to him. Now this (daughter of Manu) is essentially the same as the Idâ; and whosoever, knowing this, performs with (the) Idâ, he propagates this race which Manu generated; and whatever blessing he invokes through it (or her), all that is granted to him.”  (source)

5. Rudra’s Incest With his Daughter

📚Rig Veda 10.61.5-7📚
(Rudra), the benefactor of man, whose eager virile energy was developed, drew it back when disseminated (for the generation of offspring) again the irresistible (Rudra) concentrates (the energy) which was communicated to his maiden daughter. When the deed was done in mid-heaven in the proximity of the father working his will, and the daughter coming together, they let the seed fall slightly; it was poured upon the high place of sacrifice. When the father united with the daughter, then associating with the earth, he sprinkled it with the effusion[Semen]: then the thoughtful gods begot Brahma : they fabricated the lord of the hearth (of sacrifice); the defender of sacred rites.”  (source)

6. Sasadvani Impregnated his Own Daughter

📚Rig Veda 3.31.1📚
The sonless father, regulating (the contract), refers to his grandson, (the son) of his daughter, and relying on the efficiency of the rite, honours (his son-in-law) with valuable gifts; the father, trusting to the impregnation of the daughter, supports himself with a tranquil mind.”  (source)

7. Yajnavalkya Accidentally Impregnates his Own Sister

📚Skanda Purana📚
She attended to his needs and stayed there performing penance. On a certain occasion, she had her monthly course during the day when she took her bath. She saw a rag kept concealed and so wore it as her undergarment. In the meantime, at night Yajnavalkya had an erotic dream in a place where there was none. As a result of the dream, there was an emission of semen in his loin cloth. It resembled a drop of blood. Since he was refulgent with his austere penance, it had the lustre of fire. The poor Brahmana woke up and found the piece of cloth defiled. He thought it not worthy of being touched and so cast it off and washed himself clean in accordance with the injunctions in the Smiti texts. Bath at night has been prohibited. So the Brahmana went to sleep again. At midnight the woman took this cloth and covered her vaginal aperture…Listen to what he said, O king: “O lady of auspicious Vratas, it is none of your faults nor mine. Of the foetus in your womb, fate alone is the cause. It has to be carefully preserved by you forever. It should not be destroyed. It should be awaited till the whole period is over.” The chaste lady was ashamed. Yet she said in distress, “So be it”. She nurtured the child in the womb till the normal delivery. As soon as the child was born, the Brāhmaṇa lady came to the root of a banyan tree. Abandoning the child there”  (source)

8. Sanajjata Accidentally had Sex with his Own Mother

📚Brahma Purana Gautami Mahatmya 22.8-10📚
Her son too wandered over many countries as a lecherous debauchee. As time passed he too came to Janasthana and lived there. The son of Dhrtavrata, the brahmin (Sanajjata) was desirous of a harlot. The lady Mahi too wanted men who would lavishly spend money on her. Due to the curious turn of fate the mother and the son had sexual union. She did not recognise her son nor did he recognize his mother.”  (source)