This entry is part 1 of 10 in the series Ashta Vivaha

marriageThis is considered the best kind of marriage in which the parents of a boy who has finished his schooling (education) seek the hand of a suitable girl from her parents. Manu1ācchādya cārcayitvā ca śrutaśīlavate svayamh |
āhūya dānaṁ kanyāyā brāhmo dharmaḥ prakīrtitaḥ ||MS iii.27
advises that the groom should be at least knowledgeable of one of the Vedas (Ṛk Veda) if not all three (or four in Kali Yuga). The bride’s parents scrutinize the credentials of the groom to be before giving their consent and are advised to note his behaviour, conduct and learning before giving their consent for marriage of their daughter. There is no dowry or bride-price in this system as marriage and the alaṇkāra (ornament) of the bride is her knowledge and good conduct.

In any case, translators like Georg Būhler2Manu Smriti, Georg Būhler, Oxford, 1886 have grossly misinterpreted this śloka and have brought in “decking her (with costly garments) and honouring (her by presents of jewels)” perhaps due to the word of kanyā dānaṁ or the ‘donation of a girl’, which again is Manu’s world view and is not purely Vedic as it attaches a property value to womanhood and this is essentially amounting to degradation of women. In fact the vedic view is that both the bride and groom are well lettered in this type of marriage and are well behaved in their conduct and of noble character and the proposal is to be taken by the groom’s father or family and not from the brides family thereby giving due respect to the learned woman.

This is the best kind of marriage when performed and maintained with meritorious deeds brings with it the blessings of emancipation of ten generations of ancestors, ten generations of descendants and the couple themselves as the twenty-first3daśa pūrvānh parānh vanśyānātmānaṁ caikavinśakamh |
brāhmīputraḥ sukṛtakṛtmocayatyenasaḥ pitīnh ||MS iii.37

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1. ācchādya cārcayitvā ca śrutaśīlavate svayamh |
āhūya dānaṁ kanyāyā brāhmo dharmaḥ prakīrtitaḥ ||MS iii.27
2. Manu Smriti, Georg Būhler, Oxford, 1886
3. daśa pūrvānh parānh vanśyānātmānaṁ caikavinśakamh |
brāhmīputraḥ sukṛtakṛtmocayatyenasaḥ pitīnh ||MS iii.37