There are 8 classical types of Marriages mentioned in the Law
Books. The three important ones that are currently practiced are:—
- Prajāpatya rite
In this form of marriage, the parents of a young, eligible and healthy Vedic student of high ethical standards and educational qualifications approach theparents of a girl with similar characteristics with an offer of marriage. This is the classical arranged marriage which is initiated by the boy’s parents.
- Brahma rite
In this type of marriage arrangement it is the bride’s parents who approach the parents of a prospective groom who has studied the Veda and is of good conduct and a suitable match for their daughter. This is the classical arranged marriage initiated by the girl’s parents.
- Gāndharva rite
This is a cohabitation by mutual arrangement between two consenting adults who are in love. This is the de facto form of marriage and is not necessarily accompanied by any formal religious nuptial rites. Although for legal purposes this form of marriage is recognised, the canon law recommends that the couple undergo a proper Vedic marriage ceremony at some stage.
The 4th rite is still practiced among some disadvantaged communities
- Arsha rite
In this case the parents of the bridegroom will offer the bride’s parents a ’bride price’ (śulka) — in ancient times it was a pair of cattle. This usually occurs when the bridegroom has no special qualities or has a few negative ones. This type of marriage while being canonically permissible is discouraged by the injunction never to sell one’s offspring, although the ’bride price’ is a form of compensation
rather than a purchase. Therefore in order to comply with the spirit of the Sacred Law the bride must be completely willing. If she agrees then the ’bride price’ can be considered as a ’gift’, If she is forced against her will then she is effectively being sold and this is unequivocally condemned by the Scriptures.
Choosing a partner
Qualities of the Groom
The first consideration is: how to choose a bridegroom and what qualifications make a person a very desirable bridegroom?
Yama offers the following helpful suggestions:—
‘One should seek for seven qualities in a bridegroom viz. good family, good
character, physical appearance, reputation, learning, wealth and [track record of] support [of relatives and friends]; the other matters need not be considered’.
Qualities of the Bride
Aśv. gr. I.5.3 says:–
‘One should marry a girl who is endowed with intelligence, beauty, a good character and auspicious characteristics and who is healthy’.
Āp.gr. (III.21) states a commonsense rule:–
‘A girl on whom his mind and eyes are riveted will bring him happiness (or
prosperity), he should pay no heed to other things; this is the view of some’.
The Kāma-sūtra quotes the view of Ghotakamukha:–
‘He should proceed to marry a girl on taking whom as his wife he would regard himself as blessed and would not be blamed by his friends (or persons in a similar station in life)’.
Manu II.238, however, allows one to marry a girl even from an inferior or
dysfunctional family provided she is a ’jewel among women’.
What and how ones Marriage is going to happen can be found in astrology.
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