Vivaah in Braahman
By the Courtesy of Shivshankar Rao
(Marriage) was considered as the most important Sanskaar and is
mentioned even in Rig-Ved (10.85.6-47). This was required mainly for
performing Vaidik rites and for begetting worthy children.
Types of Marriages
There are 8 types of marriage - Braahm, Aarsh, Daiva, Gaandharv, Raakshas,
Praajaapatya, Asur and Paishaach. Braahman follow only the Braahm form. Here,
the father of the girl, without taking anything in return gives his daughter
who is fully bedecked to a respectable man of character and good education.
If the boy and the girl are from the same Gotra, marriage is not permitted.
Inter-caste marriages were allowed in ancient times, but were prohibited in
later times. Adult marriage was common in those days, but in later years
(Vashishth Smriti) even child marriages were allowed. This was later changed
after the Child marriage restraint act (1929 AD) came into force.
Steps in Marriage
The Dharm Shaastra prescribe various religious rites for the marriage -
Vaagdaan, Madhupark, Naandi Shraaddh, Pratisaar Bandhan, Paraspar
Sameekshan, Kanyaa Daan, Agni Sthaapanaa, Paani Grahan, Laajaa Hom,
Agni Parinayan, Ashmaarohan, Saptapadee, Sooryodeekshan, Hridaya Sparsh,
Griha Pravesh, Dhruv-Arundhatee Darshan, Thri Raatra Vrat.
In modern times, some of the practices have become absurd - like Kanyaa
Veekshan (with the Antar pata etc), Kaashee Yaatraa (even when the boy
has just returned from Banaaras Hindu University after completing his
Master’s degree). It has been reduced to a show business (and to exploit
the bride’s parents) where sanctity has been lost. Sometimes, it looks
as though the whole thing is being done for the sake of the video and
that stars and planets have a bearing on human lives is an ancient
belief existing in all cultures of the world. Ved mention Archaa Jyotish,
Yaajushaa Jyotish and Atharv Jyothish which deal with auspicious moments
for Vaidik sacrifices etc. Phal Jyothish was post-Vaidik.
Selection of Partners
The selection of the bride and bridegroom was done in ancient times
based on their age, dynasty, Gotra, education (for the boy only),
character etc. A boy from upper caste could marry a girl from another
caste if she was found suitable otherwise (Vashishth and Arundhatee are
examples) this was termed as Anulom marriage. All these things were
decided by the Aachaarya. Only then, the opinion and acceptance of the
boy/girl would be taken. The financial status of the parents of the boy
and girl was not at all a consideration. (dowry was not even conceived).
Incurable diseases would disqualify the person for marriage - piles, TB,
reduction of digestion, leprosy, fits, mental illness etc. If the boy had
longer hair on the body, it would disqualify him from marriage.
The Vaidik Marriage Procedure
Marriages were solemnized by complicated ceremonies with the recitation
of many Mantra believed to have spiritual efficiency. The bridegroom
decked in finery and attended by a train of friends and relatives
proceeds to the bride's home where he is received with Madhupark. Bride
and the groom enter the special pavilion separately and sit on either
sides of a small curtain. To the accompaniment of sacred verses, the
curtain is removed and the couple see each other for the first time. The
bride's father steps forward and formally gives her to the groom who
promises that he would not behave falsely to her in piety, wealth and
ghee and rice/ (roasted paddy) were made to the sacred fire. The groom
grasps the hand of the bride while she offered grains to the fire (called
Laajaa Hom) and he leads her round the fire with their garments knotted.
The couple next takes seven steps together, the bride treading on a small
heap of rice at each step- (explained separately below). They are then
sprinkled with holy water and they both reach the bridegroom's house. Here
again, a further sacrifice to the domestic fire is performed. In the evening,
it is necessary for them to look at the Polar star, a symbol of faithfulness
(Arundhatee Nakshatra Darshan). For three nights, the couple are expected
to remain continent (also called Tri-Raatra Vrat). On the fourth night the
husband performs a rite to promote conception and the marriage is consummated.
Modern Mangal Sootra Not Mentioned
For the people who consider Mangal Sootra as their life of their married
life, this is to be noted here that the Mangal Sootra which is considered
a very sacred thing during the recent years, especially through the cinema
medium however, has not been found any mention in any ancient texts and
"Maangalyam Tantunaanen Mam Jeevan Hetunaa Kante Bandhnaami Subhage
Twam Jeev Sharadaam Shatam ... is of recent origin, so it has no place in
our Vaidik marriage ceremonies. Even among the marriage ceremonies of Seetaa
Jee, described in the 73rd Sarg of Baal Kaand of Vaalmeeki Raamaayan, several
other things are mentioned in that description, such as Laajaa Hom Naandee
Shraaddh, Go Daan Karm, Samaavartan, Rakshaa Bandhan, Abhyudaya Hom, Paanigrahan,
Kanyaa Daan, Vivaah Hom, Laajaa Hom, Sapt Padee, Griha Pravesh etc etc but not
Mangal Sootra. Perhaps, the system of wearing the Maangalya or Mangal Sootra
must have come during the middle ages when the foreign aggressors were kidnapping
the girls who were not married in order to provide an identity for the married
Position of Wife
There is an interesting mention of the position of wife in the words of
sage Vashishth. "Aatmaa Hi Daaraah Sarveshaam Daaraa Sam Griha
Vartin Aamatmeyamiti Raamasya Paalayishyati Medineem - means wife is
like Aatmaa for all householders, so, Seetaa being the Aatm Swaroop of
Raam could rule the kingdom as his representative.
Showing Arundhatee Nakshatra
Arundhatee the famous wife of the famous sage Vashishth is considered as
a paragon of wifely virtues. She is said to exist in the form of a
Nakshatra or a star. The Arundhatee Nakshatra is identified as the star
Alcor belonging to the Great Bear Group. It is a very dim and scarcely
visible star and the priest shows the brighter stars nearby and then
gradually directs the eyes to the real Arundhateee star. This is known
as Arundhatee Darshan Nyaaya or simply Arundhatee Nyaay. It signifies
the method of leading from the gross to the subtle, from the known to
the unknown, in logic and philosophy.
Seven Rounds of Fire
During the marriage of a Hindu couple, both the groom and the bride swear of 7
oaths after which only the marriage is understood to be complete.
First oath –
दानं मया सह त्वं यदि
त्वदीयं जगाद वाक्यं
This means that the Husband will do all fasts, Udyaapan, donation, etc, with his
wife only. This will only prove them to be husband-wife.
Second oath –
तदा त्वदीयं जगाद
कन्या वचनं द्वितीयकम्।।
The bride takes the second oath too and swears that her husband that he will
worship Gods by offering them Havya and worship ancestors by offering them Kavya
and only then she will be his wife.
Third oath –
यदि त्वं कुर्या:
पशूनां परिपालनं च।
तदा त्वदीयं जगाद
कन्या वचनं तृतीयम्।।
As per this Shlok, the bride says to the groom that if you take care of me and my family
and also animals, then I become your wife.
Fourth Oath –
तदा त्वदीयं जगाद
कन्या वचनं चतुर्थकम्।।
In this oath, the bride says to the groom that if you will earn and save money
with my suggestion and acceptance than I become your wife.
Fifth oath –
देवालयारामतडागकूपं वापी विदध्या:यदि पूजयेथा:।
वामांगमायामि तदा त्वदीयं जगाद कन्या वचनं पंचमम्।।
In this oath, the bride says to the groom that if you make Yathaa Shakti
(according to your capacity) Devaalaya temple), garden, well and pond, I will
become your wife.
Sixth oath –
वा यदा विदध्या:क्रयविक्रये
तदा त्वदीयं जगाद
कन्या वचनं षष्ठम्।।
As per this Shlok, the bride says to the groom that if you do a business in your city, state,
country or even abroad and take care of our family, and me then I will become your wife.
Seventh oath –
न सेवनीया परिकी
यजाया त्वया भवेभाविनि
तदा त्वदीयं जगाद
कन्या वचनं सप्तम्।।
In this last oath, the bride says to the groom that if in life you will never
touch any other woman apart from me then I will become your wife.
Sapt Padee - Taking Seven Steps Together
The most important part of the Vaidik marriage is taking seven steps
together. The bridegroom says -
"Sakhaa Sapt Padaa Bhaav. Sakhaayau Sapt Padaa Babhoov.
Sakhyam te gameyam. sakhyaatte maayosham.
Sakhyaanme maayoshtaah. samayaav sankalp Aavahai.
Sampriyau rochishnoo sumanasya Maanau.
Ishamoorjamabhi sam vasaanau sannowmanaagmsi.
Means - by keeping these seven steps together, you become my life long
friend. We have become friends. I will not forsake that friendship. You
should also keep this friendship. We have been united. May we live
happily for long with love and affection. Let us discuss on all issues
with understanding and love. May we live with a smiling face, with our
minds united. Let us together observe all the religious rites.
The Vaidik marriage is thus a sacrament (Sanskaar) and not just a contract. It
implies not just a biological or social union, but a moral and spiritual union
of husband and wife. It marks the beginning of a responsible and purposeful life
for the couple. It binds them with sacramental ties and sets the couple on a journey
of righteous living. The relationship between the two is governed by sentiments of
faithfulness, devotion to each other and other devotion to God.