A Wife is a Gift from the Gods- Manu Smrti (Post No 3325)

Compiled  by London Swaminathan


Date: 6  November 2016


Time uploaded in London: 18-08


Post No.3325



Pictures are taken from various sources.


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HINDU MARRIAGES (vivaha)—Part 1


(Following is the edited version of  Hindu marriage from the book The Hindu at Home written by The Rev. J E Padfield, published in 1908. He has described the five day marriage in Brahmins’ houses 100 yeaars ago in detail. I will post it tomorrow)

“The nuptial ceremony is considered as the complete institution of women, ordained for them in the Veda, together with reference to their husbands (Manu, ii. 67.)


HINDU laws and regulations on the marriage question take it for granted that all men and women must marry. It is only those who may be suffering from disqualifications of mind or body that do not marry. There are no old bachelors or old maids amongst the Hindus. It appears quite clear that in Vedic time there was some liberty of choice amongst both men and women, as to their partners; for it is thus written.


Love Marriage in not wrong!


“Three years let a damsel wait, though she be marriageable; but, after that term, let her choose for herself a bridegroom of equal rank.

If, not being given in marriage, she chooses her bridegroom, neither she nor the youth chosen commit any offence.


But a damsel, thus electing her husband, shall not carry with those her the ornaments which she received from her father, nor given by her mother or brethren: if she carries them away, she commits theft (Manu, ix. 90-92.)

A thirty year old man should marry a twelve year old girl who charms his heart, and a man of twenty four, an eight year old girl; and if duty is threatened, he should marry in haste.

A husband takes his wife as a gift from the gods, not by his own wish; he should always support a virtuous woman, thus pleasing the gods- 9-94-96

Vedic Age and Modern Kali Yuga


But whatever liberty may have existed in respect in ancient times it very certain that such is not the case now. The institution of child marriage has entirely destroyed that liberty.


Amongst Brahmins, and Vaisyas, a boy cannot be married until he has invested with the marks of the twice-born (upanayanam), though they are often married immediately after that event. Girls must be married before puberty and usually it is done  whilst they are quite young.


Marriages can only take place between those of the same caste and the same sect. there are also prohibitive degrees of tribe and family which marriages are not allowed. Amongst the larger sects this does not act much as an obstacle but amongst the smaller ones it often causes great difficulty.


There are also natural likes and dislikes, some of which are thus alluded to by Manu, and which evidently point to a period when marriages were settled at a more natural age, and in a more natural manner.


Don’t marry Talkative Girl!


“Let him not marry a girl with reddish hair, nor with any deformed limb, nor one troubled with habitual sickness, nor one either with no hair or with too much, nor one immoderately talkative, nor one with inflamed eyes.


“Let him choose for his wife a girl whose form has no defect, who has an agreeable name, who walks gracefully, like a swan, or like a young elephant, whose hair and teeth are moderate respectively in quality and in size, whose body has exquisite softness.” (iii. 8 and 10).


The two institutions of polyandry and polygamy exist in India. The former cannot be said as a Hindu institution; indeed it is utterly opposed and  abhorrent to very spirit of  Hinduism.  It is practised by such unorthodox Hindus as the Todas of the Nilgiris and the Nairs of Western Coast. But it is only a local and in no sense a universal custom.


Polygamy, however, is a true Hindu institution, and it is duly legislated upon in the various codes. Manu lays down the law as follows:

For the first marriage of the twice born classes, a woman of the same class is recommended; but for men who are driven by desire to marry again women in the direct order of the classes are to be preferred.

(iii. 13)


This only alludes to a state of things in those early Vedic days; in this Kali Yuga or degenerate age, though a man may have, and in some cases, should have, more wives than one at the same time, it can only be within strictly recognized caste limits.

One Wife from Each Caste!


One of the stories in the Vickramarkacharitra turns upon the fact of a Brahmin being allowed to take to wife a woman from each of the four castes. Now, however, no one, especially a Brahmin, dares to marry outside of his own caste; but, within these  limits, there are circumstances under which it is rather incumbent upon a Hindu than otherwise to take a second wife.


When can you marry a Second Wife?


Should his wife prove barren, or should all the male issue die, then very often, the husband will be pressed by the wife herself to re-marry, so that there may be surviving male issue, and thus the reproach of the family be wiped away and the future salvation of those concerned fully assured. This concession is, however, guarded round with conditions, some of which are thus stated by Manu:–


“A barren wife may be superseded by another in the eighth year, she whose children are all dead in the tenth, she who brings forth only daughters in the eleventh, she who speaks unkindly without delay.” (ix. 81.)

Another condition, not absolutely binding in all cases, is that the first wife should consent to the remarriage. It is not difficult to understand how reluctant a woman would naturally be thus to have a sharer in her husband’s affection.


The desire, however, for male issue, indeed the absolute necessity for a son, either born or adopted, is so overpowering that it is not so unusual a thing as might at first be supposed, for a woman, at all and any risk to her own personal happiness or the family, to strongly desire her husband to seek out another woman and bring her to his home.

Cousin Marriage!


Amongst the Telugu people ‘menarikam’, which means that a youth should marry his mother’s brother’s daughter, and a girl should marry her father’s sister’s son. Failing such relationships, the choice is left free, that is free within the proper limits of caste and sect.


There are, however, some sects of Brahmins who are opposed to this menarikam rule, thinking the blood-relationship is too close for marriage.


There is another bar to marriages amongst Hindus that does not exist amongst Europeans, and that is that a younger brother cannot marry until the elder one is married. Neither can a younger sister marry  before the elder one is disposed of. This is not a mere custom,  it is according to what is strictly laid down in the code. Manu says


Five people go to hell!


“He who makes a marriage contract with the connubial fire, whilst his elder brother continues un married, is called a parivetru and the elder brother a parivitti. The parivetru, the parivitti, the damsel thus wedded, the giver of her in wedlock and fifthly, the performer of the nuptial sacrifice, all sink to a region of torment (Manu, iii. 171, 172.)


To be continued…………………..



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