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TOP         =======UNDERSTANDING HINDUISM========


Click on underscored words to open paragraph
Marriage (Hindu Marriage Ceremony)

Forbidden Marriages

Polygamy (From Manusmriti & The Mahabharata)

Re-marriage (texts from Manusmriti)

Eight types of marriage rites

Hindu Marriage ceremony.
Explanations based on the writings of
Dr.S.R.Sehgal, M.A.Ph.D.                              

Pre-marriage ceremonies
(performed at their respective place of residence).

Having previously recited the Vedic Mantras in adoration of the Lord, invoking His blessings (Swasti Vachana) and prayed for peace on earth and goodwill to all beings (Shanti Prakarana) and having performed the usual Homa (Sacred fire ceremony), the bride and the bridegroom shall, at the appointed time, enter the altar (Vedi), specially erected for the performance of their marriage ceremony.

The Marriage Ceremony

[Note: The marriage ceremony may
be divided into three parts.]

         Part One   <Click here for full details)

  1. Reception of the bridegroom and his parents by the bride’s parents at the entrance gate of the hall.
  2. The reception of the bridegroom on the stage and giving of presents by bride’s father.
  3. Bride’s parents give their daughter away to the bridegroom.

  4. Part Two: <Click here for full details
    Marriage ceremony proper

  5. Sacred Fire Ceremony
  6. Solemn vows and joining hands
  7. Stone-stepping ceremony
  8. Fried-rice (popcorn) offered as oblations into the sacred Fire.
  9. Marriage knot symbolised by tying one end of the groom’s scarf with the bride’s dress.
  10. Walking around the Sacred Fire taking holy vows.
  11. The ceremony of Seven steps

  12. Part Three <Click here for full details

  13. Sprinkling of water, meditating on the sun and on the Pole star
  14. Cooked food offered as oblations into the sacred Fire.
  15. Benediction (blessings).

Part One

I. Reception of the bridegroom (Vara Satkaarah)

[Note: As soon as the bridegroom’s party arrives, they are warmly welcomed by the bride's parents, relatives and friends. At the entrance of the hall the threshold ceremony is performed. The officiating priest chants a few mantras of blessings and welcome. The threshold ceremony requires the bride’s mother to receive and bless the groom with rice, red tumeric powde (kumkum) etc., by applying tilak (red dot and uncooked rice) on the groom’s forehead. She sprinkles rice and red tumeric powder on the groom, and then blesses him with the palms of both hands- stretching them close to the groom’s head. Now the priest and the bride’s parents lead the bridegroom and his parents to the stage where they are given appropriate seats.All the other guests take their seats in the hall to witness the marriage ceremony.

To the accompaniment of ceremonial mantras by the officiating priest the bride’s parents welcome the groom by invoking God’s blessings and then offering the bridegroom a nutritious drink called Madhuparka. This is called the Madhuparka Ceremony, the origin of which dates back thousands of years when Rishis and sages of India used it as a way of welcoming guests.]

The bridegroom shall stand facing the east. The Bride shall stand facing the north. The bride (offering the seat or Asana, shall address the bridegroom as follows:

The bride:
AUM, The noble one may accept and take the seat.

The bridegroom:
AUM, I am taking my seat. [Om, Pratigrahnami].

The bride shall take her seat to the right of the bridegroom.

The bridegroom performs the Achamana and Angasparsha with water.
[Note: All Hindu religious ceremonies begin with two observances, namely Achaman or sipping a small quantity of water and angasparsha or touching one’s limbs with one’s right hand middle two fingers with a little water. Achaman is purificatory and conducive to peaceful attitude of mind. Angasparsha is intended to pray for physical strength and alertness. Achaman and Angasparsha are performed with the aid of Mantras].

Madhuparka Ceremony

Holding with his left hand a cup of Madhuparka (composed of honey, curd and ghee or clarified butter), after removing the cover and looking at the Madhuparka,

The bridegroom says:

  1. May the breeze be sweet as honey; may the streams flow full of honey and may the herbs and plants be laden with honey for us!
  2. May the nights be honey-sweet for us; may the
    mornings be honey-sweet for us and may the heavens be honey-sweet for us!
  3. May the plants be honey-sweet for us; may the sun be all honey for us and may the cows yield us honey-sweet milk!

[Note: ‘honey-sweet’ = pleasant, advantageous, conducive to happiness.]

The bridegroom shall pour out the Madhuparka into three cups and then partake a little of it from each of the cups reciting the following Mantra:

The bridegroom:
The honey is the sweetest and the best. May I have food as sweet and health-giving as this honey and may I be able to relish it!

Gift of a cow

[Note: The bride’s father symbolically offers to the bridegroom a cow as a present. In olden times sons-in-law received real cows as gifts, since that was the most precious asset with which a newly wedded couple could start life. This part of the tradition has been preserved by a symbolical presentation. At the conclusion of the first part of the wedding ceremony, it is customary to present gifts to the bride. The bridegroom presents the bride with gifts of clothing and jewellery thereby acknowledging his life-long duty to provide her with the necessities of life.]

The father of the bride, offering to the bridegroom the present of a cow, a finger-ring or some other suitable article says:

The father of the bride
AUM, (Please) accept these presents.

The bridegroom:
AUM, I accept (these presents).

II. The giving away of the bride (Kanya-Danam)

[Note: ‘Kanya’ means daughter or girl. ‘Daan’ means giving away. This is an important part of the marriage ceremony in which the bride’s parents give her away to the groom by entrusting her to the bridegroom. The officiating priest chants appropriate verses in Sanskrit. The people in the audience (the public) is now notified that the parents have willingly expressed their wish and consent by requesting the groom to accept their daughter as his bride. As soon as the groom indicates his acceptance the bride’s parents place their daughter’s right hand into the bridegroom’s right hand. The parents now bestow their blessings on both the bride and the groom and pray to the Lord to shower His choicest blessings on them.]

The father of the bride, placing her right hand on the right hand of the bridegroom, says:

The father of the bride:
Be pleased to accept hand of my daughter (name of the bride) of the Gotra (here the surname of the family shall be given).

The bridegroom:
AUM, I do accept.

The bridegroom makes an Offering of the garment and the scarf to the bride to wear.

The bridegroom wears the garments and the scarf offered by the parents of the bride.

Then facing each other The bride and the bridegroom speak as follows:

Ye learned people assembled at this sacred ceremony know it for certain that we two hereby accept each other as companions for life and agree to live together most cordially as husband and wife. May the hearts of us both be blended and beat in unison. May we love each other like the very breath of our lives. As the all-pervading God sustains the universe, so may we sustain each other. As a preceptor loves his disciple, so may we love each other steadfastly
and faithfully.

- RigVeda X.85.47

Addressing the bride, the bridegroom says:
1.Distant though we were, one from the other, we stand now united. May we be of one mind and spirit!

2. Through the grace of God, may the eyes radiate benevolence. Be thou my shield. May thou have a cheerful heart and a smiling face. May thou be a true devotee of God and mother of heroes. May thou have at heart the welfare of all living beings!

Rig Veda X.85.44

The bride:
I pray that henceforth I may follow thy path. May my body be free from disease and defect and may I ever enjoy the bliss of your companionship!

Part Two
The marriage ceremony proper)

III. The Nuptial Homa (Vivah-homa or the sacred fire ceremony).

[Note: All solemn rites and ceremonies commence with the performance of Homa (sacred fire ceremony) among the followers of Vedic religion. The idea is to begin all auspicious undertakings in an atmosphere of purity and spirituality. This atmosphere is created by the burning of fragrant herbs and ghee and by the recitation of suitable Mantras. Also see Page ‘Mantras-Sacred Fire’].

The Achaman and Angasparsha are performed for the second time. The bride also participates.

The three Achaman mantras involve sipping of a little water three times.

The seven Angasparsha mantras involve touching water with the right hand middle two fingers apply the water to various limbs first to the right side and then the left side as follows:

Mouth 2.Nostrils 3.Eyes 4.Ears 5.Arms 6.Thighs 7. Sprinkling water all over the body.

IV. Acceptance of Hand (Pani-Grahanam).

The bridegroom rising from his seat and facing the bride, shall raise her right hand with his left hand and then clasping it says:

The bridegroom:
I clasp thy hand and enter into the holy state of matrimony so that we may be blessed with prosperity and noble progeny. Mayst thou live with me happily throughout life! Through the grace of the all-mighty Lord, who is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and in the presence of this august assemblage, thou art being given away in marriage so that we may together rightly perform our duties as householders.

  1. With all my strength and resources, I have clasped thy hand; and thus united, we shall together follow the path of virtue. Thou art my lawfully wedded wife and I am thy lawfully wedded husband.
  2. God, the protector and sustainer of all, has given thee to me. From today, it devolves upon me to protect and maintain thee. Blessed with children, mayst thou live happpily with me as thy husband for the full span of human life (a hundred years).
  3. Following the divine law and the words of wisdom uttered by the sages, may we make a good couple and may God vouchsafe unto us a shining life of virtue and happiness.
  4. As God nourishes and sustains all creatures through His great forces like the sun, the moon, the earth, the air etc., so may He bless my wife with healthy and virtuous progeny and may you all assembled here bless her!
  5. I accept thee as my partner for life. I will not keep away even mentally anything from thee. I will share with thee all I enjoy. We will persevere in the path of virtue, surmounting all obstacles.

V. Solemn vows (Pratigna-Karanam)

The bridegroom taking the palm of the bride into his hand helps her to rise and then they both shall walk round the altar, the bride leading. Then facing the east take the solemn vows:

The bridegroom:
O virtuous one! I have accepted thee thoughtfully and so hast thou accepted me. Out of the fullness of love have I accepted thee and so hast thou accepted me. I am the Sama and thou art the Rik. I am the Dyau (heaven) and thou art the earth. We marry each other joyously. May we be blessed with bright, heroic and long-lived children!

The bride and the bridegroom:
Let us be devoted to each other. Let us share each other’s joys and sorrows, wish each other well and look upon each other with love and live for at least a hundred years. May we live happily for at least a hundred years. May we live, listening to sweet words for at least a hundred years.

VI. Ascending the slab(or stepping on the stone) [Shila arohanam or Shilarohanam]

[Note: ‘Shila’ means stone. ‘Arohan’ means ascending or
stepping upon. This is the stone-stepping ceremony. The mother of the bride assists her to step onto a stone and counsels her to prepare herself for a new life. A married couple is likely to encounter ups and downs, joys and sorrows, prosperity and adversity, sickness and health. In spite of difficulties facing them they are enjoined to remain steadfast and true to each other (just as a stone can weather any storm- rock- steady).

The bride shall place her right foot on the slab (stone), assisted by her mother or her brother. The priest recites a Mantra from the Atharva Veda (AV II.13. 4)

VII. The fried-rice offerings (Laja-Homah)

[Note: ‘Laja’ means puffed rice or barley like popcorn.]

The bride shall place the palms of her hands over those of the bridegroom and make three offerings (ahutis) of fried rice soaked in ghee (clarified butter).

The bride:

  1. I adore God, the unifier of hearts. Now that I am leaving my parents’ home for my husband’s, I pray that He may keep us perpetually united!
  2. With these offerings I pray for Long life for my
    husband and for the prosperity of all our relations!
  3. (Addressing her husband) In making these offerings for your prosperity I once again pray that God may bless this union of our hearts!

VIII. Circumambulation around the sacred fire

(Parikrama or Pradakshina or Mangal fera)

[Note: This is an auspicious and important part of the marriage ceremony. It consists in walking around the sacred fire (clockwise) four times.  This aspect of the ceremony and the one that follows, namely Saptapadi (seven steps)- constitute the most important art, in as much as it legalises the marriage according to Hindu custom and tradition. These two aspects of the marriage ceremony establish an indissoluble matrimonial bond between the couple.

In the first three rounds the bridegroom leads the bride as they circle together around the sacred fire. In the fourth (last) round, the bride leads the bridegroom around the sacred fire.

In each round around the sacred fire, an appropriate mantra is recited which expresses noble sentiments in relation to their future matrimonial life. Each round culminates in both the bride and the bridegroom placing offerings or ahutis of fried rice in the sacred fire. The Hindu religion emphasises enjoyment of life as well as the discharging of family, social and national responsibilities.

During the first three rounds, God’s blessings and help are sought; loyalty to each other is emphasised and; a promise to keep in mind the well-being and care of the future children is made.

In the fourth (last) round (led by the bride) the bride promises that she will lead her life according to the tenets of the Hindu religion, namely Satya and Dharma or Truth and devotion to duty, and that she will always ensure that the bridegroom can rely on her to carry out her family, religious and household duties.

The bridegroom then places his hand on the bride’s head and states that henceforth she will be his wife and he will shield her against any danger or harm.

At the end of the four rounds they shall exchange seats, the bride taking her seat to the left of the bridegroom.]

IX. Seven Steps (Saptapadi)

The ends of their garments (the bridegroom’s scarf and upper garment of the bride) are tied together by the priest (signifying marriage knot).Then both shall stand facing the north. The bridegroom shall place his right hand upon the right shoulder of the bride.

They shall take the first step in the north easterly direction.

In taking these seven steps, the right foot shall always lead and the left foot be brought forward in line with it. Uncooked grains of rice (about a small handful) are placed in a line at equal distance at seven places. The bride and the groom take seven steps together, stepping upon first mound of rice with the right foot as the priest recites a mantra. Then stepping upon the second mount of rice with the right foot as the priest recites a mantra. (All seven steps are done the same way).

May the first step lead to food that is both nourishing and pure.

May the second step lead to strength (at the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels).

May the third step lead to prosperity.

May the fourth step lead to all round happiness.

May the fifth step lead to progeny (noble and virtuous children).

May the sixth step lead to long life.

May the seventh step lead to friendship (through harmony, understanding).

The bridegroom says:
Having completed the seven steps, be thou my life long companion. Mayst thou be my associate and helper in successful performance of the duties that now devolve upon me as a householder. May we be blessed with many children who may live the full duration of human life!

After the completion of the seven steps ceremony, the couple (with knots tied to each other) take their seats. The wife now takes her rightful place on the left side of her husband as the marriage is now religiously solemnized in its entirety. Now the couple are husband and wife. The husband garlands the wife and she in turn garlands her husband.

Part Three

X. Sprinkling of water (Abhishek).

The priest (or a brother of the newly wedded wife) shall sprinkle water on the foreheads of the bride and the groom. The priest recites mantras from the Rig Veda (RV X.9.1/2/3) during the sprinkling of water.

XI. Meditating on the sun.
(Soorya Darshanam dhyaanam va).

(Looking at or mentally visualising the sun, to give them power to lead a creative, useful and meaningful life).

The bride and the bridegroom together pray:
O God, who art the illuminator of the sun, may we, through thy grace live for a hundred years, hear for a hundred years, and speak for a hundred years. And may we never be dependent upon anybody. May we likewise live even beyond a hundred years!  
    -Rig Veda, VII. 66. 16)

XII.Meditating upon the Pole Star and the Arundhati Star (Dhruva dhyaanam darshanam va)

[Note: The Pole Star is stationary and fixed in its position, likewise the couple is expected to be steadfast and firm in fulfilling their vows and responsibilities.]

The bride:
Just as the star Arundhati is attached to the star Vasishtha, so may I be ever firmly attached to my husband!

Placing his hand upon the bride’s forehead

The bridegroom:
As the heavens are permanently stable, as the earth is permanently stable, as these mountains are permanently stable, and as the entire universe is permanent stable, so may my wife be permanently settled in our family! -Rig Veda X.173.4

(Addressing the bride)Thou are the Pole star; I see in thee stability and firmness. Mayst thou ever be steadfast in thy affection for me. The great God has united thee with me. Mayst thou live with me, blessed with children, for a hundred years!

XIII.Partaking of food (Anna praashanam)

In the last symbolic rite the couple make offerings of food with chantings of Vedic Havan Mantras (oblations of food in the Sacred fire). Having done that, the couple feed a morsel of food to each other from the residue of the offerings. This being the symbolic expression of mutual love and affection.

XIV.Benediction (Aashirvadah)

Placing his hand upon the forehead of the bride,

The bridegroom:
Ye men and women present here, behold this virtuous bride possessed of high attainments, and before ye disperse, give her your blessings!

All the people present shall pronounce the following blessings upon the couple.
1. O Lord, may this couple be prosperous!

2. O Lord, may this couple live in perpetual happiness!

3 O Lord, may this couple be ever infused with love for each other. May this couple be blessed with children and grand-children and live in the best of homes for the full period of their lives!

4. May you two live here together. May you never be parted. May you enjoy the full span of human life in the delightful company of your happy sons and grandsons!

Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih.

[Note: The Hindu wedding ceremony may vary in minor details from region to region and different priests may adopt some variations.]

[Sacraments constitute an important part of Hindu religion. Sacraments in Hinduism are designed to build a solid foundation for righteous living. They are known as ‘Sanskaras’.Their purpose is to create and develop a religious and spiritual outlook in life.
The Hindu religion has instituted sixteen different Sanskaras (sacraments) meant for different phases of life from conception to marriage to old age and death. The word sanskara in Sanskrit means ‘to cause indelible impressions on the mind and to develop every aspect of one’s personality.’ Therefore it is necessary to understand and appreciate their significance and to derive benefit from their performance. Of the sixteen sanskaras in Hinduism, the sacrament of marriage or Vivah Sanskara is the most important. Marriage influences the personality of man and woman as life partners, enabling them to take their rightful place in society.]

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Forbidden Marriages

From Manusmrti (Laws of Manu) Chapter III

5. A damsel who is neither a Sapinda on the mother’s side, nor belongs to the same family on the father’s side, is recommended to twice-born men for wedlock and conjugal union.

[Note: ‘Sapinda’ relationship ceases with the seventh person ( in the ascending and descending lines). Manusmrti.V.60. ‘Twice-born’ also known as ‘dwija’ are Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas.]

6. In connecting himself with a wife, let him carefully avoid the ten following families, be they ever so great, or rich in kine (cows), horses, grain, or other property.

  1. (Viz.) one which neglects the sacred rites, one in which no male children are born, one in which the Veda is not studied, one (the members of) which have thick hair on the body, those which are subject to hemorrhoids, phthisis, weakness of digestion, epilepsy, or white and black leprosy.
  2. Let him not marry a maiden (with) reddish hair, nor one who has a redundant member, nor one who is sickly, nor one either with no hair (on the body) nor too much hair, nor one who is garrulous or has red eyes.
  3. Nor one named after a constellation, a tree, or a river, nor one bearing the name of a low caste, or of a mountain, nor one named after a bird, a snake, or a slave, nor one whose name inspires terror.
  4. Let him wed a female free from bodily defects, who has an agreeable name, the graceful gait of a Hamsa (swan) or of an elephant, a moderate quantity of hair on the body and on the head, small teeth, and soft limbs.
  5. But a prudent man should not marry a maiden who has no brother, nor one whose father is not known, through fear lest (in the former case she be made) an appointed daughter (and in the latter) lest he should commit sin.
  6. For the first marriage of twice-born men (wives) of equal caste are recommended; but for those who through desire proceed to marry again, the following females, chosen according to the direct order of the castes, are most approved.
  7. It is declared that a Sudra woman alone can be the wife of a Sudra, she and one of his own caste (the wives) of a vaisya, those two and one of his own caste (the wives) of a kshatriya, those three and one of his own caste (the wives) of a Brahmana.


[Note: The text above (7. "It is declared that a Sudra woman alone can be the wife of a Sudra,..........") refers to the practice of polygamy as practised in Hindu society. The above text can be paraphrased as ‘A Sudra male is allowed to have only one wife who should be chosen exclusively from his own caste. A Vaisya is allowed to have two wives; one chosen from his own Vaisya caste and the other from Sudra caste. A Kshatriya is allowed to have three wives; one chosen from his own Kshatriya caste, one from the Vaisya caste and one from the Sudra caste. A Brahmana can have four wives; one from his own Brahmana caste, one from Kshatriya caste, one from Vaisya caste and one from Sudra caste. Compare the following text from the Mahabharata.]

From The Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva
Section XLIV

Addressing King Yudhishthira

Bhishma said: A Brahmana can take three wives. A
Kshatriya can take two wives. As regards the Vaisya, he should take a wife from only his own order. The children born of these wives should be regarded as equal. Of the three wives of a Brahmana, she taken from his own order should be regarded as the foremost. Similarly, of the two wives permitted to the Kshatriya, she taken from his own order should be regarded as superior. Some say that persons belonging to the three higher orders may take,
only for purposes of enjoyment, wives from the lowest or the Sudra order. Others, however, forbid the practice. The righteous condemn the practice of begetting issue upon Sudra women. A Brahmana, by begetting children upon a Sudra woman, incurs the liability of performing an expiation.

That girl who has no brother nor father should not be wed, O chief of Bharata’s race, for she may be intended as Putrika of her sire.

[Note: Explanations by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli: ‘Putrika’: When a father happens to have an only daughter, he frequently bestows her in marriage upon some eligible youth on the understanding that the son born of her shall be the son, for purposes of both Sraddha rites and inheritance, not of the husband begetting him but of the girl’s father. Such a contract would be valid whether expressed or not at the time of marriage. The mere wish of the girl’s father, unexpressed at the time of marriage, would convert the son into a son not of the father who begets him but of the father of the girl herself. A daughter reserved for such a purpose is said to be a Putrikadharmini or ‘invested with the character of a son.’ To wed such a girl was not honourable. It was in effect an abandonment of the fruits of marriage. Even if dead at the time of marriage, still if the girl’s father had, while living, cherished such a wish, that would convert the girl into a Putrikadharmini. The repugnance to wedding girls without fathers and brothers exists to this day.]

[Note: The Mahabharata acknowledges the authority of Manu which becomes evident from the text reproduced below.]

From The Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva,
Section XLIV

Bhishma said: After the appearance of puberty, the girl (if not married) should wait for three years. During the fourth year, she should look for a husband herself (without waiting any longer for her kinsmen to select one for her). The offspring of such a girl do not lose their respectability, nor does union with such a girl become disgraceful. If, instead of selecting a husband for herself, she acts otherwise, she incurs the reproach of Prajapati himself. One should wed that girl who is not a Sapinda of one’s mother or of the same Gotra with one’s father. Even this is the usage (consistent with the sacred law) which Manu
has declared

[Note: In modern day India, as also in other countries where constitution of the country guarantees freedom of religious practices, it is a moot point that Hindus may have been prosecuted for practising polygamy in contravention of their constitutional rights. In India, for example, a person of Islamic faith can have four wives, but Hindus may be prosecuted for marrying more than one wife.]

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Let no prudent man, after giving his daughter to one (man), give her again to another; for he who gives (his daughter) whom he had before given, incurs (the guilt of) speaking falsely regarding a human being.
-Manusmriti, 4-71 (The Laws of Manu)

Though a man may have accepted a damsel in due form, he may abandon (her if she be) blemished, diseased, or deflowered, and (if she have been) given with fraud.
-Manusmriti, 4-72

If anybody gives away a maiden possessing blemishes without declaring them, (the bridegroom) may annul that (agreement or arrangement)) with the evil-minded giver.
-Manusmriti, 4-73

A man who has business (abroad) may depart after securing a maintenance for his wife; for a wife, even though virtuous, may be corrupted if she be distressed by want of subsistence.
-Manusmriti, 4-74

If the husband went on a journey after providing (for her), the wife shall subject herself to restraints in her daily life; but if he departed without providing (for her), she may subsist by blameless manual work.
-Manusmriti, 4-75

If the husband went abroad for some sacred duty, (she) must wait for him for eight years, if (he went) to (acquire) learning or fame (she must wait for him) six (years); and if he went for pleasure, three years.
-Manusmriti, 4-76

For one year let a husband bear with a wife who hates him; but after (the lapse of) a year let him deprive her of her property and cease to cohabit with her.
-Manusmriti, 4-77

She who shows disrespect to her husband who is addicted to (some evil) passion, who is a drunkard or diseased, (she) shall be deserted for three months (and be) deprived of her ornaments and furniture.
-Manusmriti, 4-78

But she who shows aversion towards a mad or outcast (husband), a eunuch, one destitute of manly strength, or one afflicted with such diseases as punish crimes*, shall neither be cast off nor be deprived of her property.
* (Some words may be missing as the meaning here is not clear.)
-Manusmriti, 4-79

She who drinks spirituous liquor, is of bad conduct, rebellious, diseased, mischievous, or wasteful, may at any time be superseded (by another wife).
-Manusmriti, 4-80

A barren wife may be superseded in the eighth year; she whose children (all) die (may be superseded) in the tenth (year); she who bears only daughters (may be superseded)in the eleventh (year), but she who is quarrelsome, (may be superseded) without delay.
-Manusmriti, 4-81

But a sick wife, who is kind (to her husband) and virtuous in her conduct, may be superseded (only) with her own consent and must never be disgraced.
-Manusmriti, 4-82

A wife who, being superseded, in anger departs from (her husband’s) house, must either be instantly confined or cast off in the presence of the family.
-Manusmriti, 4-83

But she who, though having been forbidden, drinks spirituous liquor even at festivals, or goes to public spectacles or assemblies, shall be fined six Krishnalas.
-Manusmriti, 4-84

If twice-born men (Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaisya) wed women of their own (caste) and of other (lower castes), the seniority, honour, and habitation of those (wives) must be (settled) according to the order of castes (Varna).
-Manusmriti, 4-85

Among all (twice-born men) the wife of equal caste alone, not a wife of a different caste by any means, shall personally attend her husband and assist him in his daily sacred rites.
-Manusmriti, 4-86

But he who foolishly causes that (duty) to be performed by another, while his wife of equal caste is alive, is declared by the ancients (to be) as (despicable) as a Chandala (sprung from the) Brahmana (caste).
-Manusmriti, 4-87

To a distinguished handsome suitor of equal caste should (a father) give his daughter in accordance with the prescribed rule, though she have not attained (the proper age).
-Manusmriti, 4-88

But the maiden, though marriageable, should rather stop in (the father’s) house until death, than that he should ever give her to a man destitute of good qualities.
-Manusmriti, 4-89

‘Let mutual fidelity continue until death,’ this may be considered as the summary of the highest law for husband and wife.
-Manusmriti, 4-101

Let man and woman, unite in marriage, constantly exert themselves, that (they may not be) disunited (and) may not violate their mutual fidelity.
-Manusmriti, 4-102

Thus has been declared to you the law for a husband and his wife, which is intimately connected with conjugal happiness, and the manner of raising offspring in times of calamity.
-Manusmriti, 4-103

If among all the wives of one husband one (wife) has a son, Manu declares them all to be mothers of male children through that son.
-Manusmriti, 4-183

On failure of each better (son), each next inferior one is worthy of the inheritance; but if there be many of equal rank, they shall all share the estate.
-Manusmriti, 4-184

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Eight types of marriage rites

From Manusmrti (Laws of Manu) Chapter III

20. Now listen to the brief description of the following eight marriage-rites used by the four castes (varna) which partly secure benefits and partly produce evil both in this life and after death.

21. They are the rite of Brahmana (Brahma), that of the gods (Daiva), that of the Rishis (Arsha), that of Prajapati (Prajapatya), that of the Asuras (Asura), that of the Gandharvas (Gandharva), that of the Rakshasas (Rakshasa), and that of the Pisakas (Paisaka).

22. Which is lawful for each caste (varna) and which are the virtues or faults of each (rite), all this I will declare to you, as well as their good and evil results with respect to the offspring.

23. One may know that the first six according to the order (followed above) are lawful for a Brahmana, the four last for a Kshatriya, and the same four, excepting the Rakshasa rite, for a Vaisya and a Sudra.

24. The sages state that the first four are approved (in the case) of a Brahmana, one, the Rakshasa rite in the case of a Kshatriya, and the Asura (marriage in that) of a Vaisya and of a Sudra.

25. But in these institutes of the sacred law, three of the five (last) are declared to be lawful and two unlawful; the Paisaka and the Asura rites must never be used.

26. For Kshatriyas those before mentioned two rites, the Gandharva and the Rakshasa, whether separate or mixed, are permitted by the sacred tradition.

27. The gift of a daughter, after decking her (with costly garments) and honouring (her by presents of jewels), to a man learned in the Veda and of good conduct, whom (the father) himself invites, is called the Brahma rite.

28. The gift of a daughter who has been decked with ornaments, to a priest who duly officiates at a sacrifice, during the course of its performance, they call the Daiva rite.

29. When the father gives away his daughter according to the rule, after receiving from the bridegroom, for (the fulfillment of) the sacred law, a cow and a bull or two pairs, that is named the Arsha rite.

30. The gift of a daughter by her father after he has
addressed the couple with the text, ‘May both of you
perform together your duties,’ and has shown honour to the bridegroom, is called in the Smrti the Prajapatya rite.

31. When the bridegroom receives a maiden, after having given as much wealth as he can afford, to the kinsmen and to the bride herself, according to his own will, that is called the Asura rite.

32. The voluntary union of a maiden and her lover one
must know to be the Gandharva rite, which springs from desire and has sexual intercourse for its purpose.

33. The forcible abduction of a maiden from her home,
while she cries out and weeps, after (her kinsmen) have been slain or wounded and (their houses) broken open, is called the Rakshasa rite.

34. When a man by stealth seduces a girl who is sleeping, intoxicated, or disordered in intellect, that is the eighth, the most base and sinful rite of the Pisakas.

35. The gift of daughters among Brahmanas is most
approved (if it is preceded) by a libation of water; but in the case of the other castes (it may be performed) by the expression of mutual consent.

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FromThe Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva
Section XLIV

King Yudhishthira said: I think the marriage of one’s daughter should be regarded as the foremost of all duties. Tell me, however, O king, upon what sort of a person should one bestow one’s daughter?

Bhishma said: Having enquired into the conduct and disposition of the person, his learning and acquirements, his birth, and his acts, good people should then bestow their daughters upon accomplished bridegrooms. All righteous Brahmanas, O Yudhishthira, act in this way (in the matter of the bestowal of their daughters). This is known as the Brahama marriage.

Selecting an eligible bridegroom, the father of the girl should cause him to marry his daughter, having, by presents of diverse kinds, induced the bridegroom to that act. This form of marriage constitutes the eternal practice of all good Kshatriyas.

When the father of the girl, disregarding his own wishes, bestows his daughter upon a person whom the daughter likes and who reciprocates the girl’s sentiments, this form of marriage, O Yudhishthira, is called Gandharva by those that are conversant with the Vedas.

The wise have said this, O king, to be the practice of the Asuras, viz., wedding a girl after purchasing her at a high cost and after gratifying the cupidity of her kinsmen.

Slaying and cutting off the heads of weeping kinsmen, the bridegroom sometimes forcibly takes away the girl he would wed. Such wedding is called by the name of Rakshasa. Of these five (the Brahma, the Kshatra, the Gandharva, the Asura, and the Rakshasa), three are righteous, O Yuthishthira. And two are unrighteous. The Paisacha and the Asura forms should never be resorted to.

[Note: Explanations by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli: Eight form of marriage are mentioned by Manu and five forms of marriage are described in the Mahabharata. Such parts of the Mahabharata are unquestionably more ancient than the Manu we know. There must have been an older Manu upon whose work the Manu we know has been based.]
          From Manusmrti (Laws of Manu) Chapter III

  1. Let the husband approach his wife in due season, being constantly satisfied with her alone; he may also, being intent on pleasing her, approach her with desire for conjugal union on any day except the Parvans.
  1. Sixteen (days and) nights (in each month) including four days which differ from the rest and are censured by the virtuous, are called the natural season of women.
  2. But among these the first four, the eleventh and the
    thirteenth are declared to be forbidden; the remaining nights are recommended.
  3. On the even nights sons are conceived and daughters on the uneven ones; hence a man who desires to have sons should approach his wife in due season on the even (nights.)
  4. 50 He who avoids women on the six forbidden nights and on eight others is equal in chastity to a student, in whichever order he may live.

  1. Women must be honoured and adored by their fathers, brothers, husbands, and brothers-in-law, who desire their own welfare.
  2. Where women are honoured, there the gods are pleased; but where they are not honoured, no sacred rite yields rewards.
  3. Where the female relations live in grief, the family soon
    wholly perishes; but that family where they are not unhappy ever prospers.
  4. The houses on which female relations, not being duly honoured, pronounce a curse, perish completely, as if destroyed by magic.
  5. Hence men who seek (their own) welfare, should always honour women on holidays and festivals with (gifts of) ornaments, clothes, and (dainty) food.
  6. In the family where the husband is pleased with his wife and the wife with her husband, happiness will assuredly be lasting.
  7. For if the wife is not radiant with beauty, she will not attract her husband; but if she has no attractions for him, no children will be born.
  8. If the wife is radiant with beauty, the whole house is bright; but if she is destitute of beauty, all will appear dismal.
  9. By low marriages, by omitting the performance of sacred rites, by neglecting the study of the Vedas, and by irreverence towards Brahmanas (priests), (great) families sink low.
  10. By sacrificing for men unworthy to offer sacrifices and by denying (the future rewards for good) works, families, deficient in the knowledge of the Veda, quickly perish.

But families that are rich in the knowledge of the Veda,
though possessing little wealth, are numbered among the great, and acquire great fame.

Related articles
Sacraments- Samskaras

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