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Vivaah in Braahman

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Vivaah in Braahman
By the Courtesy of Shivshankar Rao

Vivaah (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 photographs.

The belief 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 pleasure.

Offerings of 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 girls.

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 –
तीर्थव्रतोद्यापनयज्ञ दानं मया सह त्वं यदि कान्तकुर्या:।
वामांगमायामि तदा त्वदीयं जगाद वाक्यं प्रथमं कुमारी।।
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 –
हव्यप्रदानैरमरान् पितृश्चं कव्यं प्रदानैर्यदि पूजयेथा:।
वामांगमायामि 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 –
कुटुम्बरक्षाभरंणं यदि त्वं कुर्या: पशूनां परिपालनं च।
वामांगमायामि 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 –
आयं व्ययं धान्यधनादिकानां पृष्टवा निवेशं प्रगृहं निदध्या:।।
वामांगमायामि 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 –
देशान्तरे वा स्वपुरान्तरे वा यदा विदध्या:क्रयविक्रये त्वम्।
वामांगमायामि 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 कामनीश्च।
वामांगमायामि 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.
Samvrataa samuchitaasyaakaram."
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.

Vivaah Sanskaar
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.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 01/14/14