This marriage is described by Manu[ref]ekaṁ gomithunaṁ dve vā varādādāya dharmataḥ |
kanyāpradānaṁ vidhivadārṣo dharmaḥ sa ucyate || MS iii.29[/ref]as between an average girl or middle class girl and a poor Rishi (seer) where the only gift given in dowry is two cows which shall be the means of sustenance of the family and are symbolic of ‘go-dhana’ or cattle wealth as well as a gesture to the fulfilment of dharma of protecting the cow.
There were assumptions by some authors that the parents could not get their daughter married off at the right age due to financial hardships and hence they gave her off to an old sage. However this is unfounded as we have not read about any of the old sages/seers ever marrying a very young bride at a ripe old age. This Ārṣa vivāha is considered auspicious and is meant for one and all where money is not going to have any importance in the marriage and where the parents are happy to have a learned man, who does not aspire for wealth and is contented with little, as a son-in-law.
When this marriage is maintained with meritorious deeds, it brings the blessings of emancipation of three generations of ancestors, three generations of descendants and the couple themselves as the seventh[ref]ārṣauḍhājaḥ sutastrīnstrīnh ṣaṭh ṣaṭh kāyauḍhajaḥ sutaḥ ||MS iii.38 ½[/ref].