Marriage (विवाह: संस्कार:)

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The term Vivaha (Samskrit: विवाह:) literally means (viśiṣṭaḥ vāhaḥ prāpaṇam) to make a girl attain wifehood, i.e. earlier there was "strītvam" (girlhood) and after marriage she attains "bhāryātvam" (wifehood) also. Vivaha Saṃskāra is the most important of all samskaras. The Grhyasutras presuppose that every man, in his normal conditions, is expected to marry and run a home. Denoted by the word "marriage" in English several Samskrit words are employed to denote the idea of marriage. These words are based on one or more elements of the vivaha itself. Vivaha (taking the girl away in a special way or for a special purpose, i.e., for making her one's wife), Udvaha (taking the girl out of her parental home), Parinayana or Parinaya (going around or making a pradakshina to the sacred fire), Upayama (to bring near and make one's own), Kanyadana (giving away of the Kanya in dana) and Panigrahana (taking the hand of the girl) are synonymous with each other.[1][2]

परिचयः ॥ Introduction

In Sanatana Dharma traditions the second stage of life after Brahmacharya is called the Grhasthashrama[3].A human being is not ordinarily self-sufficing. These are as a rule encouraged to enter the married life. In India monastic tendencies were discouraged until one had a normal expression of natural impulses. He who runs back from marriage is in the same boat with one who runs away from battle. Only failures in life avoid occasions for virtue. Marriage is regarded as sacred. When the Hindu descends from the adoration of the Absolute and takes to the worship of a personal deity, his deity has always a consort. He does not worship a bachelor or a virgin.[3]

Śiva is ardhanāriśvara, and his image signifies the cooperative interdependent, separately incomplete but jointly complete masculine and feminine functions of the supreme being. There is nothing unwholesome or guilty about the sex life. Through the institution of marriage it is made the basis of intellectual and moral intimacies. Marriage is not so much a concession to human weakness as a means of spiritual growth. It is prescribed for the sake of the development of personality as well as the continuance of the family ideal. Marriage has this social side. Every family is a partnership between the living and the dead.[3]

This Samskara was well developed and has distinctly found expression in the Rigveda the oldest literary text, as well as Atharvaveda. It is one Samskara which though performed on the individual, has a direct impact on the society as both husband and wife, as a unit of Grhasthaashrama they support the people of other ashramas namely, Brahmacharya, Vanaprastha and Sanyasa ashramas.

Institution of Marriage

The Hindu ideal emphasizes the individual and the social aspects of the institution of marriage. Marriage has its source in the family, rather than the family in marriage, and the very roots of the permanent union of the sexes are found in parental duties. It was the natural desire of woman for sufficient protection during the critical period of her confinement and for adequate protection of the child in its helpless state of infancy that drove her to select a permanent companion in life. In this selection she was very cautious, as she fully considered the fitness of the man and arrived at a mutual understanding before she gave herself away to him.[2]

Man is not a tyrant nor is woman a slave, but both are servants of a higher ideal to which their individual inclinations are to be subordinated. Sensual love is sublimated into self-forgetful devotion. Marriage for the Hindu is a problem and not a datum. Except in the pages of fiction we do not have a pair agreeing with each other in everything, tastes and temper, ideals and interests. Irreducible peculiarities there will always be, and the task of the institution of marriage is to use these differences to promote a harmonious life. Instincts and passions are the raw material which are to be worked up into an ideal whole. Though there is some choice with regard to our mates, there is a large element of chance in the best of marriages. That marriage is successful which transforms a chance mate into a life companion. Marriage is not the end of the struggle, it is but the beginning of a strenuous life where we attempt to realize a larger ideal by subordinating our private interests and inclinations. Seva (सेवा | selfless service) of a common ideal can bind together the most unlike individuals. Love demands its sacrifices. By restraint and endurance, we raise love to the likeness of the divine.[3]

For several reasons marriage was held in high esteem among ancient peoples. Doubtless, in rude pastoral, and even agricultural times, economic and social causes were at the basis of this esteem. Large family was a blessing. Marriage was a family affair rather than a personal one; indeed the generation of offspring was the supreme motive of every union to the end that a man’s house or family might not die out. By means of such union, the family was perpetuated, the inheritance of property provided for and the worship of ancestral deities continued. Therefore, celibacy was regarded a serious offence, was attributed the status of a crime in some civilizations.[2]

Spiritual Ideal

In an ideal marriage the genuine interests of the two members are perfectly reconciled, both the husband and wife complementing each other.

The perfectly ethical marriage is the monogamous one. The relation of Rāma and Sītā, or Sāvitrī and Satyavān, where the two stand by each other against the whole world, is idealized in the Hindu scriptures. In the absence of absolute perfection we have to be content with approximations. We need not, however, confound the higher with the lower.[3]

The recognition of the spiritual ideal of marriage requires us to regard the marriage relation as an indissoluble one. So long as we take a small view of life and adopt for our guide the fancy or feeling of the moment, marriage relation cannot be regarded as permanent. In the first moments of infatuation we look upon our partners as angels from heaven, but soon the wonder wears away, and if we persist in our passion for perfection, we become agitated and often bitter. The unrest is the effect of a false ideal. The perfect relation is to be created and not found. The existence of incompatibility is a challenge to a more vigorous effort. To resort to divorce is to confess defeat. The misfits and the maladjustments are but failures.[3]

The religious motives were equally operative in assigning such a great regard to marriage. Worship of ancestors and gods' was dependent on progeny, which could be obtained only through marriage.

Quite in keeping with these ideas, a man who did not marry was held in low scale. An anonymous quotation by Apararka on Yajnavalkya says, “O, King, a man, he may be a Brahmana, Kshatriya, a Vaishya or a Shudra, who is without a wife, is not fit for religious act.”

Dharmas of the Married Couple

The husband and the wife were together required to observe a code of conduct, and they had to discharge their responsibility jointly. In particular, they were together required to discharge five pious obligations namely; (i) towards the deities, (ii) towards parents, (iii) towards teachers and (iv) towards humanity (v) towards other beings. In effect the Panchamahayajnas, are the responsibilities vested on the Grhastha and this starts with the Vivaha samskara. This could be discharged only by living together with mutual love and fidelity throughout their life which is the sum and substance of dharma of husband and wife. To impress upon every couple this aspect Manusmriti -IX -101 and III-60 declared thus:[4]

अन्योन्यस्याव्यभिचारो भवेदामरणान्तिकः । एष धर्मः समासेन ज्ञेयः स्त्रीपुंसयोः परः । । ९.१०१ । संतुष्टो भार्यया भर्ता भर्त्रा भार्या तथैव च । यस्मिन्नेव कुले नित्यं कल्याणं तत्र वै ध्रुवम् । । ३.६० । ।

Meaning: Mutual friendship and fidelity is the highest Dharma to be followed by husband and wife throughout their life. he family in which husband and wife have mutual affection and respect always secures happiness and prosperity.[4]

The observance of the above directive throughout life by the husband and the wife is not only conducive to happiness and harmony in family life, but also essential for national or social life.[4]

Taittirīyasaṃhitā ( says that a Brāhmaṇa is born with three debts and the debts of sages and forefathers have to be cleared by performing Yajñas (sacrifices) and producing children –

जायमानो ह वै ब्राह्मणस्त्रिभिर्ऋणवान् जायते ब्रह्मचर्येण ऋषिभ्यः यज्ञेन देवेभ्यः प्रजया पितृभ्यः एष वा अनृणो यः पुत्री यज्वा ब्रह्मचारिवासी . . . jāyamāno ha vai brāhmaṇastribhirṛṇavān jāyate brahmacaryeṇa ṛṣibhyaḥ yajñena devebhyaḥ prajayā pitṛbhyaḥ eṣa vā anṛṇo yaḥ putrī yajvā brahmacārivāsī . . .

A Brāhmaṇa is born with three debts – he has to clear the debt of sages through Brahmacharya (celibacy), that of deities / Gods through Yajñas (sacrifices) and that of forefathers through producing children. Therefore the Brāhmaṇa would be debtless if he has children, performs sacrifices and maintains Brahmacharya.

Marriage and Social Issues

Marriages were arranged keeping the social issues in view. Manu regarded a good family as the most important from the eugenics point of view. Any marriage relationship with the best was encouraged by one desiring to raise his family to excellence and eminence.[1]

One of the serious problems human society is facing particularly in the west and which is spreading like an epidemic disease to our country also is disregarding the 'Dharma' of husband and wife, which brings about disruption of family life. This results in serious consequences to the children, their upbringing, their character and ultimately their whole life and attitude of life which not only ruins individual life and family life but also adversely affects national life as also humanity. This is due to the 'Throwaway attitude' which is replacing the value of gratitude. This is becoming a menace to human society. In view of this every individual is becoming totally selfish in that there is no attachment to anyone not even to parents, the spouse or even children or to any thing. Every individual wants to use an article so long as he pleases and the moment he finds a better article, he throws away the first and take the second and so on. This attitude towards articles of use ie., consumerism is posing a serious economic problem to human society. That itself is sufficiently disastrous. But unfortunately it is being extended to family life also. The resultant position is, in many cases husband and wife instead of realising that marriage is a life long bond with onerous responsibilities of begetting children, educating them and providing good citizens to the nation, think that marriage is only for physical enjoyment and the spouse can be replaced by another of ones liking at any time and for any reason whatsoever. In view of this, human beings are fast losing sexual morality, and as a result are becoming no better than animals. Such an attitude is wholly contrary to Dharma. It gives rise to serious social problems particularly in cases where husband and wife after marriage have children and thereafter each prefers to go for a new spouse. They do not care what happens to their children, about their education and their upbringing. Such an attitude also results in making a child an orphan when the parents are alive.[4]

The results can be seen in the dramatic rise in crime among the young, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, depression and poverty. The throwaway attitude which is the major cause of divorce, is spreading like an epidemic to all nations of the world. Only a sense of dharma of the husband and the wife can act as a check. If it goes unchecked the abandoned children become a menace and burden to the society. Particularly being unprotected by parents and parental affection, they become victims of bad habits and develop undesirable qualities, as a result they will have neither the moral nor the physical strength to bear the onerous responsibilities of the family and/or of the nation.[4]

The same throwaway attitude is also being extended to parents and other dependents. When utter selfishness overpowers selflessness ie., sacrifice which is one of the basic values of life and the throwaway attitude takes over, this is what happens. So long as parents are helpful by way of providing food and service and education, they are good, but the moment owing to old age and/or illness they require the support of their children they are regarded as a liability and burden and are being thrown away. They have to spend the evening of their life in "Vridhashramas". (Old Age Rescue Homes).[4]

Purpose of Marriage

The ancient texts reveal that the society even in those times was not based on barbarism where the both the sexes were promiscuous and unregulated. There was a purpose for marriages and they can be summarized as[1]

  1. To perform yajnas as both husband and wife were required to follow the prescriptions in the Vedas
  2. To procreate and save a man from Naraka (Naraka named Pum).
  3. To have sons and fulfill the Pitr rna.
  4. To enjoy material pleasures

The purpose of marriage, according to Rigveda was to enable a man, by becoming a householder, to perform yajnas and to procreate sons. Sukta 85 in Mandala 10 shows that the husband took a woman's hand in marriage, accepting her as wife for 'garhapatya (र्गार्हपत्यम्)', i.e., to perform yajnas.

गृ॒भ्णामि॑ ते सौभग॒त्वाय॒ हस्तं॒ मया॒ पत्या॑ ज॒रद॑ष्टि॒र्यथास॑: । भगो॑ अर्य॒मा स॑वि॒ता पुरं॑धि॒र्मह्यं॑ त्वादु॒र्गार्ह॑पत्याय दे॒वाः ॥३६॥ (Rig. Veda. 10.85.36)

Rigveda (5.3.2) and (5.28.3) speak of the cooperation of husband and wife in the worship of devatas. So, dharmasampatti (performing dharmik activities and thereby earn the Punya), prajaa (and consequent freedom from Naraka), and rati (sexual and other pleasures) are the principal purposes of marriage according to the Smrtis and Nibandhas. Manu states to this effect as follows

अपत्यं धर्मकार्याणि शुश्रूषा रतिरुत्तमा । दाराधीनस्तथा स्वर्गः पितॄणां आत्मनश्च ह । । ९.२८ (Manu. Smrt. 9.28)

Meaning: On the wife depends the procreation of sons, the performance of religious rites, service, highest pleasures, attainment of svarga for oneself and for one's ancestors).[1]

In the Saṃkalpa (the pledge made before any rite) of marriage, the following is stated –

धर्मप्रजासम्पत्यर्थं स्त्रियमुद्वहे dharmaprajāsampatyarthaṃ striyamudvahe

I wed this girl for Dharma, offspring and Artha (money matters and day to day life). Further it is asserted in scriptures –

या धर्मार्था सैव रत्यर्था या रत्यर्था सा धर्मार्था न भवति। yā dharmārthā saiva ratyarthā yā ratyarthā sā dharmārthā na bhavati ।

The bride who is accepted as wife for Dharma is also for sexual life but the one taken for sexual life cannot be for Dharma.

Eight Kinds of Marriages

Eight different kinds of marriages are recognized in the Hindu law books. Manu did not shut his eyes to the practices of his contemporaries. He arranges the different kinds of marriages in an order. While marriages in which personal inclination is subordinated rank high, those by mutual choice (gāndharva), force (rākṣasa), purchase (āsura) come lower. The lowest is paiśāca. When the lover ravishes a maiden without her consent, when she is asleep, or intoxicated or deranged in mind, we have a case of paiśāca marriage.

Marriages are divided into eight types –

ब्राह्मो दैवस्तथैवार्षः प्राजापत्यस्तथासुरः। गान्धर्वो राक्षसश्चैव पैशाचश्चाष्टमोऽधमः॥मनुस्मृतिः ३.२१॥ brāhmo daivastathaivārṣaḥ prājāpatyastathāsuraḥ. gāndharvo rākṣasaścaiva paiśācaścāṣṭamo'dhamaḥ॥Manusmṛtiḥ 3.21॥

Brāhma, Daiva, Ārṣa, Prājāpatya, Āsura, Gāndharva, Rākṣasa and Paiśāca are the eight kinds of marriages and the last one, i.e. Paiśāca is condemned.

Here is an explanation of the eight forms of marriage:

  • Brāhmavivāha: Inviting a bridegroom, who is a scholar in Veda and Vedāṅgas etc. to bride's house, worshipping him as per the capacity and offering the girl.
  • Daivavivāha: A Ṛtvik (priest), who pleased his Yajamāna (the master) of the Yajña etc., by his priesthood, is offered ornaments, clothes etc., worshipped as per the capacity and offered the girl.
  • Ārṣavivāha: Having received a pair (or two) of cows, i.e. a cow and an ox, from the bridegroom as a token, the girl is offered.
  • Prājāpatyavivāha: The donor of the bride says to the groom: "I offer you my girl, both of you should perform the auspicious rites and have good offspring", worships him and offers the girl.
  • Āsuravivāha: Having paid some amount to bride's party, the groom weds the girl either in bride's house or elsewhere, with his own expenditure.
  • Gāndharvavivāha: It is nothing but the so called love-marriage.
  • Rākṣasavivāha: Marrying forcibly a scared girl after threatening her by several means.
  • Paiśācavivāha: Approaching the girl clandestinely, sedating her or taking her while asleep and marrying secretly.

The above is just the division of the marriages that were taking place in the society. Among the eight Brāhma, Daiva and Prājāpatya are considered as the best as the donor of bride (Kanyādātā) personally gathers information about the groom and proceeds depending on the virtues.

Vivaha Samskara

Bride and bridegroom

The bride and the groom in general should be free from bodily ailments, agreeable name, good gait and delicate limbs and must be of a good family and faultless lineage. The following factors are evaluated in choosing a bride or groom.

  1. Biological factors - certain body structure, defects, virility etc
  2. Psychological issues - such as intelligence, mental illnesses, epilepsy, etc
  3. Dharmik aspects - such as not being Sagotra or Sapinda of each other, should have vedic education in family etc
  4. Social aspects - such as a bride having brothers or not, if born of improper marriage, celibacy, character, education etc.
  5. Hereditary matters - such as whether the families have male progeny

The Apastamba grhyasutra (3.20) remarks that accomplishments of a bridegroom are that he must be endowed with good family, a good character, auspicious characteristics, learning and good health.[1]

बन्धुशीललक्षणसम्पन्नश्श्रुतवानरोग इति वरसम्पत् २० (Apas. Grhy. Sutr. 3.20)

Baudhayana (Dharmasutra 4.1.12) emphasizes on celibacy of the groom, states that 'a maiden should be given in marriage to one who is endowed with good qualities and who is a celibate (till then).[1]

Manu gives a list of types of families, girls from which should not be accepted for wedlock, even though the families may be “ever so great, or rich in cows, horses, sheep, grain, or other property”.

महान्त्यपि समृद्धानि गोऽजाविधनधान्यतः । स्त्रीसंबन्धे दशैतानि कुलानि परिवर्जयेत् । । ३.६ । । हीनक्रियं निष्पुरुषं निश्छन्दो रोमशार्शसम् । क्षयामयाव्यपस्मारि श्वित्रिकुष्ठिकुलानि च । । ३.७ (Manu. Smrt. 3.6-7)[5]

These families are:[6]

  1. One which neglects the dharmas, i. e. their duties and obligations according to the sastras.
  2. One in which no male children are born.
  3. One in which the Veda is not studied.
  4. One, where the members of which (a) have thick hair on their body or (b) are subject to any of the following: hemorrhoids, pthisis, weakness of digestion, epilepsy, and leprosy.

The third and fourth types of families have to be avoided due, it is evident, to biological considerations. They suggest that the smrtikaras were impressed by the influence of heredity on man. A maiden from a family in which there is a hereditary disease prevalent of the type mentioned above is quite likely to be a victim of that disease herself ; again she is likely also to transfer it to her progeny. Similar considerations of the influence of heredity seem to prevail with the smrtikaras when they prescribe certain other qualifications for the bride.

Gautamadharmasūtram (Chapter 4) prescribed the qualifications of a bride and bridegroom –

गृहस्थः सदृशीं भार्यां विन्दते अनन्यपूर्वां यवीयसीम् (४.१) gṛhasthaḥ sadṛśīṃ bhāryāṃ vindate ananyapūrvāṃ yavīyasīm (4.1)

One who wants to become a household should get a girl, who is of the same caste, not promised to others and younger in age. Kāmasūtra (3.1.2) recommends an age gap of three years between the bride and groom. Just like raw pepper causes phlegm and dry pepper kills the phlegm, a girl elder than the groom would affect the longevity of the groom. Āyurveda says this clearly –

बाला प्राणप्रदा प्रोक्ता युवती प्राणधारिणी। प्रौढा करोति वृद्धत्वं बृद्धा मरणमादिशेत्॥ bālā prāṇapradā proktā yuvatī prāṇadhāriṇī। prauḍhā karoti vṛddhatvaṃ bṛddhā maraṇamādiśet॥

A girl much younger in age would increase the longevity of the groom, a young girl, i.e. younger in age but not too younger, would help maintain the longevity of the groom, a girl older in age would cause early ageing and too older a lady would cause early death.

असमानप्रवरैः विप्राः (४.२) asamānapravaraiḥ viprāḥ (4.2)

The marriage should be between a bride and groom of different Pravaras. Smṛtis prohibited marriage between a bride and groom of the same Gotra (i.e. those who are the progeny of the same sage). A girl and a boy having Sāpiṇḍya (blood relation) should not marry:

ऊर्ध्वं सप्तमात् पितृबन्धुभ्यः। बीजिनश्च। मातृबन्धुभ्यः पञ्चमात्। (४.३,४,५) ūrdhvaṃ saptamāt pitṛbandhubhyaḥ। bījinaśca। mātṛbandhubhyaḥ pañcamāt। (4.3, 4, 5)

Seven generations above father or appointed father (who provides children through Niyoga / arrangement) and five generations above mother is the limit to select the girl.

As per the ancient Gṛhyasūtras and Dharmasūtras the girls were married around the time of puberty. Having brothers (sabhrātṛkā) is a must for a girl to be married, although some conditional procedure is offered for a girl without a brother (abhrātṛkā).

The Bride

Āpastambagṛhyasūtram prescribes the qualifications of a girl –

बन्धुशीललक्षणसम्पन्नाम् अरोगाम् उपयच्छेत्। आपस्तम्बगृह्यसूत्रम् ,३.१९॥ bandhuśīlalakṣaṇasampannām arogām upayacchet। Āpastambagṛhyasūtram 3.19॥

A girl having good relatives, virtues like obedience, auspicious physical characteristics and healthy should be married.

Here health means not having incurable disease like leprosy.

The Bridegroom

Āpastamba clearly states the qualifications of a good bridegroom:

बन्धुशीललक्षणसम्पन्नः श्रुतवान् अरोग इति वरसम्पत्।आपस्तम्बसूत्रम् ३.२॰॥

bandhuśīlalakṣaṇasampannaḥ śrutavān aroga iti varasampat । ibid. 3.2…॥

A boy, who is supported by good relatives, virtues like obedience, auspicious physical characteristics, educated and healthy is a good bridegroom.

Here health means without any incurable disease like leprosy.

Deciding a Bride

Āpastamba (and others) offers an easy way of selecting a bride –

यस्यां मनश्चक्षुषोः निबन्धः तस्याम् ऋद्धिः नेतरत् आद्रियेत इत्येके। आपस्तम्बगृह्यसूत्रम् ३.२१॥ yasyāṃ manaścakṣuṣoḥ nibandhaḥ tasyām ṛddhiḥ netarat ādriyeta ityeke । ibid. 3.21॥

In which girl the mind and eyes get fixed, i.e. the girl liked by mind and eyes of bridegroom, is good as a wife and there will be all round prosperity. Some sages say that if that is the case then the other qualifications need not be given much importance.

Needless to say marriage between a bride and groom belonging to the same caste (in Spanish "Custa" means "group") such as Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya etc. is recommended.

Matching of horoscopes

This tradition has been there in Indian subcontinent since time immemorial. The horoscopes of bride and groom are referred to an astrologer (Jyautiṣika) who, in turn would advise whether the pair would make a good couple or not. The Jyautiṣika would take into consideration aspects such as Grahamaitrī (rapport between the lords of Rāśis of bride and groom – this is important for Brāhmaṇas).

Kujadoṣa (the defect of Mars placed in wrong house): This is a very important aspect in terms of compatibility between the horoscopes of bride and groom –

धने व्यये च पाताळे जामित्रे चाष्टमे कुजे। स्त्रीणां भर्तृविनाशः स्यात् पुंसां भार्याविनाशनम्॥ अगस्त्यसंहिता॥ dhane vyaye ca pātāle jāmitre cāṣṭame kuje । strīṇāṃ bhartṛvināśaḥ syāt puṃsāṃ bhāryāvināśanam॥ Agastyasaṃhitā॥

If Kuja (Mars) is placed in second, fourth, seventh, eighth or twelfth house (it is called Kujadoṣa) of the bride then it would cause the death of the groom and vice versa. The above said houses are to be counted from Lagna (ascendant), Rāśi (the house in which Moon is situated) and Śukra (Venus). However the Kujadoṣa gets nullified if there is any of the three relations of Guru (Jupiter) with Kuja, i.e. Parivartana (swapping of houses by Guru and Kuja), or association (both Guru and Kuja in the same house) or aspect of Guru to Kuja (Guru has fifth, seventh and ninth aspects). Similarly for those who are born in Kuja's own houses, i.e. Meṣa (Aries) and Vṛścika (Scorpio), Mitrakṣetra (friend's house), i.e. Simha (Leo) of Ravi (Sun), Mīna (Pisces) and Dhanus (Sagittarius) of Guru, Karkaṭaka (Cancer) of Candra (Moon), Uccakṣetra (zenith) i.e. Makara (Capricorn) – Kujadoṣa is nullified –

अर्केन्दुक्षेत्रजातानां कुजदोषो न विद्यते। स्वोच्चमित्रभजातानां पीडको न भवेत्कुजः॥ देवकेरळम् ॥ arkendukṣetrajātānāṃ kujadoṣo na vidyate । svoccamitrabhajātānāṃ pīḍako na bhavetkujaḥ॥ Devakeraḷam ॥

Further, there will be compatibility if Kujadoṣa is there in the horoscopes of both the bride and groom.

While fixing the Muhūrta (auspicious time) for marriage one has to take care of the conditions such as Jāmitraśuddhi (either no graha (ग्रह) in the seventh house from Lagnam / ascendant or there is Śubhagraha / auspicious graha in that house) etc. that are prescribed in the works on Jyotiṣam such as Kālāmṛtam, Muhūrtacintāmaṇi etc.

Auspicious time for marriage

Āpastamba rules that all the auspicious stars mentioned in Jyotiṣam (Astrology) have to be taken for marriage –

सर्वाणि पुण्योक्तानि नक्षत्राणि। आपस्तम्बगृह्यसूत्रम्, २.१३॥ sarvāṇi puṇyoktāni nakṣatrāṇi। Āpastambagṛhyasūtram, 2.13॥

For Sumuhūrta (an auspicious time span of forty eight minutes called Muhūrta) one should take all the stars said to be auspicious and listed in the works of Jyotiṣam (Astrology).

For want of space many more details related to Jyotiṣam with regard to marriage are not being provided but a few. The strength of Guru (Jupiter), who thwarts a hundred thousand defects and Śukra (Venus) who thwarts ten thousand defects is important.

Major events of marriage

Since marriage, unlike other  Saṃskāras, has a lengthy process, there will be many events. So, some major events are being explained.

  • Madhuparka: Literally it means "pouring honey". While receiving the bridegroom at the bride's house, honey etc. are offered just to honour the groom's party.
  • Parasparavīkṣaṇam: It means looking at each other. Just before the Muhūrta (fixed auspicious time) a piece of cloth is held between the bride and groom. At the time of Muhūrta the bride and groom look at each other while the groom recites a hymn (Ṛk – "abhrātṛghnīm"). Maṇgalāṣṭakas (auspicious verses such as "tadeva lagnam sudinam tadeva") are recited while the interposed cloth is held.
  • Kanyādānam (Gift of bride): It is in this rite that the father of the bride tells the bridegroom –

    धर्मे चार्थे च कामे च त्वया एषा नातिचरितव्या dharme cārthe ca kāme ca tvayā eṣā nāticaritavyā

    Meaning : You should not ignore this girl in terms of Dharma, Artha (money matters etc.) and Kāma (sex related matters).

Hereafter the bride is called Patnī / Bhāryā / Sahadharmacāriṇī while the bridegroom is called Pati / Bhartā etc. Together both are called Dampatī.

The groom then responds – नातिचरामि | nāticarāmi meaning "I shall not ignore."

Jaimini in Pūrvamīmāṃsā ( rules that both husband and wife have to do the rites jointly but not separately –  

स्ववतोस्तु वचनादैककर्म्यं स्यात् svavatostu vacanādaikakarmyaṃ syāt

In the case of a wife and husband with wealth, due to the Vedic sentence (dharme cārthe ca kāme ca nāticaritavyā) both are entitled to combinedly perform the same rite.

This is popularly referred to as दम्पत्योः सहाधिकारात् | dampatyoḥ sahādhikārāt meaning Since the wife and husband have to do things together.

Pāṇini (4.1.33) also confirms the above said aspect – पत्युर्नो यज्ञसंयोगे patyurno yajñasaṃyoge

Patnī (wife) is a word produced on the root Pati (husband) if both of them together perform the rites.

  • Pāṇigrahaṇam and Pradhānahoma: Pāṇigrahaṇam (marriage) literally means "holding the hand" (of Patnī by Pati). "Pradhānahoma" is the principal fire for oblations (later there will be "Śeṣahoma" or remaining fire oblations). After holding Patnī's hand Pati combinedly performs the homa.
  • Lājahoma: Patnī offers fried grain (lājas) in fire for three times while Mantras are being recited.
  • Agnipariṇayanam: It means going around the fire. Reciting some Mantras the Pati along with Patnī makes Pradakṣiṇam around the fire and the water jar.
  • Aśmārohaṇa: The Patnī is made to tread on a millstone. The above three, viz. lājahoma, agnipariṇayana and aśmārohaṇa are done thrice, one after the other.
  • Saptapadī: Literally it means a rite in which the Patnī is made by Pati to walk seven steps.
  • Gṛhapraveśa: After Saptapadī the Pati takes Patnī to his house while reciting the following Mantras, which are significant –

    . . . मूर्धानं पत्युरारोह प्रजया च विराड् भव। सम्राज्ञी श्वशुरे भव सम्राज्ञी श्वश्व्रां भव ननान्दरि सम्राज्ञी भव। . . . mūrdhānaṃ patyurāroha prajayā ca virāḍ bhava । samrājñī śvaśure bhava samrājñī śvaśvrāṃ bhava nanāndari samrājñī bhava ।

    You sit on the head of your husband, i.e. be important (like the head for body) for me, have good number of children (ten children are the limit), be loved by father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law etc., i.e. maintain good relation with all of them.

There is Homa (oblation in fire) at the time of Gṛhapraveśa.

  • Dhruvārundhatīdarśanam: While reciting some Mantras, the Pati shows both the stars, viz. Dhruva and Arundhatī to Patnī at night on the day of marriage.
  • Āgneyasthālīpāka: Both, Patnī and Pati cook rice in a vessel and offer to fire (Agni) with Mantras. Patnī pounds the paddy and the Pati would see through cooking. After putting down the rice-vessel on Kuśas (holy grass) both Pati and Patnī, touching each other, have to offer the cooked rice as oblation to the fire, while Mantras are being recited. The rice is to be sprinkled with clarified butter (Abhighāra) twice, when the vessel is still on the hearth and after it is put down. In this rite Agni (fire) is the Devatā (deity). Sthālī is vessel and Pāka is cooking. So it is called Āgneyasthālīpāka.
  • Maṅgalasūtradhāraṇam: Tying an auspicious string with golden beads around the neck of Patnī by Pati. Maṅgalasūtram (the auspicious string) is considered important for a Patnī whose husband is alive. It is also a sign of a married woman.


It is important to present further discussion on

According to tradition friendship is established between people by walking seven steps together or speaking seven words  with each other –

साप्तपदीनं सख्यम् (पाणिनिसूत्रम् ५.२.२) sāptapadīnaṃ sakhyam (pāṇinisūtram 5.2.2) सख्यं साप्तपदीनं स्यात् (अमरकोशः २.८.१२) sakhyaṃ sāptapadīnaṃ syāt (amarakośaḥ 2.8.12)

This is a very important aspect of marriage. After completing the seven steps together with Pati, the Patnī would lose her father's Gotram (origin of inheritance from a sage) and needless to say would attain the Gotram of her Pati –

स्वगोत्रात् भ्रश्यते नारी विवाहात् सप्तमे पदे (स्मृतिः) svagotrāt bhraśyate nārī vivāhāt saptame pade (smṛtiḥ)

The bride would lose her Gotram in the seventh step in the marriage. Āpastamba clearly explains the procedure of Saptapadī –

अथैनामुत्तरेणाग्निं दक्षिणेन पदा प्राचीमुदीचीं वा दिशम् अभिप्रक्रमयति एकमिष इति ॥ (आपस्तम्बगृह्यसूत्रम्, ४.१५)

athaināmuttareṇāgniṃ dakṣiṇena padā prācīmudīcīṃ vā diśam abhiprakramayati ekamiṣa iti ॥ (Āpastambagṛhyasūtram, 4.15)

After Pāṇigrahaṇam, a cloth has to be spread on the north side of the fire in such a way that the end-part of the cloth is left in the east or north, rice is to be put on the cloth and the Pati makes the Patnī walk along on the rice towards east or north for seven steps placing the right foot first.

At every step the Pati recites a specific Mantra –

Step 1: एकमिषे विष्णुः त्वान्वेतु

ekamiṣe viṣṇuḥ tvānvetu

May Viṣṇu give you rice for your first step.

Step 2:ऊर्जे विष्णुः त्वान्वेतु

ūrje viṣṇuḥ tvānvetu

May Viṣṇu give you strength for your second step.

Step 3:त्रीणि व्रताय विष्णुः त्वान्वेतु

trīṇi vratāya viṣṇuḥ tvānvetu

May Viṣṇu give you the will power to perform Vratas (rites with specific conditions) for your third step.

Step 4:चत्वारि मायो भवाय विष्णुः त्वान्वेतु

catvāri māyo bhavāya viṣṇuḥ tvānvetu

May Viṣṇu give you comfort for your fourth step.

Step 5:पञ्च पशुभ्यो विष्णुः त्वान्वेतु

pañca paśubhyo viṣṇuḥ tvānvetu

May Viṣṇu give you cattle for your fifth step.

Step 6:षडृतुभ्यो विष्णुः त्वान्वेतु

ṣaḍṛtubhyo viṣṇuḥ tvānvetu

May Viṣṇu give you wealth of seasons for your sixth step.

Step 7:सप्त सप्तभ्यो होत्राभ्यो विष्णुः त्वान्वेतु

sapta saptabhyo hotrābhyo viṣṇuḥ tvānvetu

May Viṣṇu give you the mercy of the seven sages for your seventh step

After the Patnī is on the seventh step the Pati recites the Mantra "sakhā saptapadā . . . " – says Āpastamba –

सखेति सप्तमे पदे जपति

sakheti saptame pade japati

The Pati pronounces the Mantra starting "sakhā saptapadā" after the Patnī is on the seventh step.

The following (portion of) Mantra is recited by the Pati when the Patnī is on her seventh step:

सखा सप्तपदा भव। सखायौ सप्तपदा बभूव। सख्यं ते गमेयम्। सख्यात्ते मा योषम्। सख्यान्मे मा योष्ठाः। समयाव सङ्कल्पावहै। संप्रियौ रोचिष्णू सुमनस्यमानौ . . . । sakhā saptapadā bhava । sakhāyau saptapadā babhūva । sakhyaṃ te gameyam. sakhyātte mā yoṣam । sakhyānme mā yoṣṭhāḥ । samayāva saṅkalpāvahai. saṃpriyau rociṣṇū sumanasyamānau . . . ।

O! my wife, who made seven steps! Be a friend of mine; you who made seven steps, and me, both of us became friends. I got friendship and hereafter I would not part with you, do not part from me. Let us be together; let us take common decisions in household matters; let us have mutual affection; let us shine by mutual dependence and let us be with good minds . . .


The term is used to mean Patnī (wife). Literally it means "half of the body (of Pati)". This aspect is clearly stated in Veda itself:

अर्धो ह वा एष आत्मनो यज्जाया। शतपथब्राह्मणम्, ५.२.१.१॰, ८.७.२.३॥

अर्धो वा एष आत्मनो यत्पत्नी। तैत्तिरीयसंहिता, ६.१.८.५॥

ardho ha vā eṣa ātmano yajjāyā । śatapathabrāhmaṇam,…,॥

ardho vā eṣa ātmano yatpatnī । taittirīyasaṃhitā,॥

Jāyā / Patnī (wife) is certainly half of the body of Pati (husband).

Āpastamba rules out any difference between Pati and Patnī –

जायापत्योः न विभागोऽस्ति। पाणिग्रहणाद्धि सहत्वं कर्मसु तथा पुण्यफलेषु च।

आपस्तम्बधर्मसूत्रम्, २.६.१३.१६, १७॥

jāyāpatyoḥ na vibhāgo'sti । pāṇigrahaṇāddhi sahatvaṃ karmasu tathā puṇyaphaleṣu ca । Āpastambadharmasūtram,, 17॥

There is no any separation between Pati and Patnī, i.e. both are to be treated as a single entity. By Pāṇigrahaṇam (marriage) there will be togetherness between them in all rites and in the activities meant for Puṇyam (opposite of Pāpam / sin).

Patnī would partake the Puṇyam but not Pāpam of Pati.

A Patni being Ardhangini, Pati cannot do any religious ritual without her. She stands by his left side when he performs any religious performance.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Kane, P. V. (1941) History of Dharmashastras, Volume 2, Part 1. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. (Pages 427 - 541)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Pandey, Raj Bali. (1949) Hindu Samskaras, A Socio-religious study of the Hindu Sacraments. Banaras: Vikrama Publications. (Pages 261-405)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Radhakrishnan, S. (1926). Hindu view of life. George Allen And Unwin Ltd, London.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Jois, Rama M. (1997) Dharma, The Global Ethic. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Pages 62 - 65)
  5. Manusmrti (Adhyaya 3)
  6. Pandharinath H. Valavalkar (1939) Hindu Social Institutions with reference to their psychological implications. Bombay: Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd (Pages 158-159)
  7. Swami Sivananda (1999), All About Hinduism, Uttar Pradesh: The Divine Life Society.