This entry is part 3 of 10 in the series Ashta Vivaha

Vedic marriage concept

394All these definitions and the various models of marriage drawn lack a universal view of such a complex globally applicable phenomena that cuts through all kinds of societies and cultures. The view point of the Rishi’s is perhaps, based on the Kālachakra and the concept of Aṣṭa Lakṣmī [ref]लक्षते सर्वः अनय इति लक्ष्मी. lakṣate sarvaḥ anaya iti lakṣmi. m.lakṣate seeing, gaze, vigil, aim; sarva: all, everyone; anaya: evil course, ill luck misfortune, adversity[/ref]. In this paper we focus on defining the eight types for jyotiṣa use and subsequently these can be further developed to be more comprehensive and fully appreciative of Mallanaga Vatsyayana’s Kāmasutra or other social works.

There are eight kinds of marriage as defined in Manu Smṛti[ref]caturṇāmapi varṇānaṁ pretya caiha hitāhitānh |
aṣṭāvimānh samāsena strīvivāhānnibodhata || Manu smṛti iii.20[/ref] applicable to the four varṇa. These are Brāhma, Daiva, Ārṣa, Prajāpatya, Āsura, Gāndharva, Rākṣasa, and Paiśāca[ref]brāhmo daivastathaivārṣaḥ prājāpatyastathāasuraḥ|
gāndharvo rākśasaścaiva paiśācaścāṣṭamoadhamaḥ| MS iii.21[/ref]. These eight forms of marriage are also explained by Yajñavalkya[ref]ibid i.i, 58-61[/ref].

Manu has stated that he will explain the ‘dharma of each varṇa[ref]yo yasya dharmyo varṇasya guṇadoṣau ca yasya yau|
tadh vaḥ sarvaṁ pravakśyāmi prasave ca guṇāguṇānh|| MS iii.22[/ref]’ implying that these are the nature of the all beings of a particular varṇa and not governmental or social laws in any way. It is in the nature of someone belonging to a varṇa (profession or career) to imbibe the guṇa of that profession and very few saintly people like Saint Ramdas, the guru of Chatrapati Shivaji are not affected by profession and continue in their work like karma yogi – beyond the guṇa, as they have no attachment to the fruits of their karma or professions.

What Manu is trying to say is that it is in the nature of a murderer to find the mode of kidnapping or intoxicating a woman and raping or forcing her into marriage as natural way of thinking and this is what such a person shall have a tendency to do. The types of marriages that a person belonging to a varṇa resorts to is basically the nature of the person himself. Destiny is another factor as in the case of a lady who gets kidnapped and forced into marriage, this factor comes into being. Manu says that while explaining the nature (dharma) of each varṇa and guṇa (varṇa is not excluded from guṇa and the latter is as important a factor and should not be ignored). Based on the act of marriage the good and evils that will follow as a consequence is also being told by him and that this is not restricted to this birth alone and continues after death as well in addition to affecting the progeny from such a consummation of marriage.

Acceptability based on varṇa

Varṇa Manu’s advise Rishi advise[ref]caturo brāhmaṇasyādyānh praśastānh kavayo viduḥ |
rākśasaṁ kśatriyasyaikamāsuraṁ vaiśyaśūdrayoḥ| MS iii.24[/ref]
Brāhmaṇa(Intellectuals) Brāhma, Daiva, Ārṣa, Prājāpatya, Āsura, Gāndharva Brāhma, Daiva, Ārṣa, Prājāpatya Asura and Gandharva marriage is prohibited for Brāhmaṇa by the Rishi’s but Manu has diluted this condition
Kṣatriya(Warriors or Security related people) Prājāpatya, Āsura, Gāndharva, Rākśaśa Brāhma, Daiva, Ārṣa, Prājāpatya, Rākśaśa Manu has disallowed the spiritually higher forms of marriage for kṣatriya, vaiśya and sudra for perhaps ‘political’ reasons. He has also added Gandharva and Asura forms which are prohibited for Kṣatriya by the Rishis.
Vaiśya(Businessmen, traders) Prājāpatya , Āsura , Gāndharva Brāhma, Daiva, Ārṣa, Prājāpatya, Āsura, Gāndharva
Sudra(Physical Labor) Prājāpatya , Āsura , Gāndharva Brāhma, Daiva, Ārṣa, Prājāpatya 1 Āsura & Gāndharva
Prohibited form Āsura & Paiśāca[ref]pañcānāṁ tu trayo dharmyā dvāvadharmyau smṛtāviha |
paiśācaścāsuraścaiva na kartavyau kadā cana ||MS iii.25[/ref]
Paiśāca Most translators have missed this point that the Paiśāca marriage is prohibited although listed among the 8 forms explicitly as aṣṭamoadhamaṁ

Mixed forms of marriage

Manu has explicitly mentioned that these eight forms may not occur in their pure forms all the time and that for Kṣatriya[ref]pṛthakh pṛthagh vā miśrau vā vivāhau pūrvacoditau |
gāndharvo rākśasaścaiva dharmyau kśatrasya tau smṛtau || MS iii.26[/ref] the mixed form of Rākṣasa and Gāndharva is allowed traditionally.

In the case of mixed form then the activity involved in the marriage process has to be noted carefully and then a decision has to be taken whether to accept this or not based on what is ‘allowed’ for each varṇa (professional type). This also implies the existence of various types of marriages that is as exhaustive as the imagination of man and includes every kind of sexuality.

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