Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Manusmriti and Marriages

I was at my friends Brothers marriage this weekend. He is from a caste which is known for their very ritualistic approach to life, be it worship, marriage or any other event that requires the solicitation by Gods.

The priest kept saying that this was a "Brahma Vivah" or "Brahmana Wedding", which stuck me curious. I wanted to know, in what all ways, a man could be united with a woman in holy matrimony. I was kind of taken aback by my findings...

Not only does the Vedic Religion provide 8 ways of getting marriage, it varied from marriages for learned men, kings, workers and rouges (WTF...). Also i was amazed that Vedic Religion is not at all averse to love marriages as people are led to believe. It supports it as the third most approved way of getting married...

There are eight types of marriage described in Manusmriti (Laws of Manu):

  • Rite of the Brahmana (Brahma Marriage) where the father of the bride invites a man learned in the Vedas and a good conduct, and gives his daughter in marriage to him after decking her with jewels and costly garments.
  • Rite of the Gods (Daiva Marriage) - where the daughter is groomed with ornaments and given to a priest who duly officiates at a sacrifice during the course of its performance of this rite.
  • Rite of the Prajapati (Prajapatya Marriage) - where the father gives away his daugher after blessing the couple with the text "May both of you perform together your duties"
  • Rite of the Gandharva (Gandharva Marriage) - the voluntary union of a maiden and her lover, which arises from desire and sexual intercourse for its purpose.
  • Rite of the Rishis (Arsha Marriage) - when the father gives away his daughter after receiving a cow and a bull from the brightgroom.
  • Rite of the Asuras (Demons Marriage) - when the bridegroom receives a maiden after bestowing wealth to the kinsmen and to the bride according to his own will.
  • Rite of the Rakshasa (Rakshasa Marriage)- forcible abduction of a maiden from her home after her kinsmen have been slain or wounded and their houses broken open.
  • Rite of the Pisaka (Pisaka Marriage) - when a man by stealth seduces a girl who is sleeping or intoxicated or is mentally disbalanced or handicapped
The first 3 are the most sacred, the last two are strictly forbidden and are termed as barbaric. and the others are acceptable.

Wow... I never knew my culture was so open (though it is usually termed otherwise ). Makes me wonder if we should abandon Hinduism and go into the core of Vedic Religion which is about how to live life to the fullest, rather than trying to please the so called Gods by various rituals that we ourselves do not understand, which makes us hate our own culture.


Anjali Mohan said...

good research work , jaan!! . u told me abt this yday, so i thought of checking it out. its really good.

Madhu said...

Highly thought-provoking. Now a really elementary question:
Since the vedas themselves are split depending on the "caste" one belongs to, are all 8 advocated in each? or is there some sort of sub-classification?