The word vivāha means leading away (of the bride from her father’s house), taking a wife, marriage with or without instruction (~dīkṣa).
Most marriages of the decent kind had an engagement followed by the wedding and this is what marks them out from the others as being socially acceptable forms. There can be other forms of social engagement for decency definitions based on different cultures and needs at a point of time. The traditional Greek marriage was in two stages called (1) the engue, a pledge like engagement in the form of an oral agreement between the bride’s kyrios (male guardian) and the groom, and (2) the ekdosis, which was transfer of family. Engagement can take various forms based on the method of communication used, social and cultural laws understood and obeyed and people and relations involved in the process.
adbhireva dvijāgryāṇāṁ kanyādānaṁ viśiṣyate |
itareṣāṁ tu varṇānāmitaretarakāmyayā ||Manu Smriti iii.35
Manu holds the view that mutual consent (engagement is basically an expression of mutual consent) should be contracted among all varṇa (profession types) while among the Brāhmaṇa, kanyādāna with libations of water is most auspicious. The moot point being made is that all sorts of contracts are made along with the marriage including dowry, bride-price or even promises of protection and support (especially in political/royal marriages) but this is not at all advised for Brāhmaṇa varṇa (intellectuals) who should marriages without any contractual obligation in the form of wealth, power or business.
Engagement is seen from the third and ninth houses which, for a Brāhmaṇa, include the dharma bhāva (ninth house) and the guru upadeśa (third house). A Brāhmaṇa is expected to have the highest ideals in these two houses and hence is advised by Manu to refrain from any kind of a commercial transaction, exchange of money or even a promise of protection or land etc., in exchange (lieu of) of marriage. Jupiter is the natural significator of the ninth house and the Brāhmaṇa is expected to keep the third and ninth houses pure with the regular recitation of the gāyatrī mantra (upadeśa of which is supposed to have been received at 7, 8 or 9 years of age). This is for those following the Satya Sanātana dharma while others following other religions or paths can recite their dharma prayers regularly. It is for this reason Praśna Mārga (Harihara) states that planets associating with Jupiter or from its sign the natives’ faith is to be ascertained.
Maharṣi Jaimini Upadeśa
Seventh house is the house of marriage and the ninth (dharma) from this is the third house. There can be four levels of dharma definition based on the nature of the sign in the third house as fire, water, air and earth (agni, jala, vāyu and pṛthvi tattva) or from its lord and planets therein. The third and ninth houses become crucial in marriage as these houses show the dharma of the marriage and that of the native respectively. The Sun has the responsibility of upholding dharma. The sign in the second from the Sun will have the Sun in maraṇa kāraka sthāna while those in the 6th, 8th or 12th from the Sun are in duṣthāna. This forms the ‘negative’ group – 2nd, 6th, 8th & 12th.
Manifestation of a bhāva is through its ārūḍha or image and the ārūḍha of the 3rd (A3) and 9th (A9) houses have to be examined for the manifestation of these houses. If these are in the negative group of 2nd, 6th, 8th or 12th houses from the Sun then these shall be destroyed by the Sun resulting in physical problems in begetting progeny or problems concerning children. Similarly the third (AS3) and ninth (AS9) houses from the Sun are examined and the ārūḍha of these houses if in the negative group (2nd, 6th, 8th or 12th house) from the Sun indicates bad karma done due to which progeny maybe lacking or afflicted. Gāyatrī mantra or dharma mantras (based on the religion or path of the native) are the best panacea.
Even if the ārūḍha of the third house (A3 or AS3) or the ninth house (A9 or AS9) is not in a negative group (2nd, 6th, 8th or 12th house from the Sun), the placement of Mercury and Venus in these houses can also deny progeny.
These houses of engagement viz. the 3rd and 9th, from the lagna and Sun, and the ārūḍha emanating from these houses forms the engagement plank and determines the marriage process and fruits of marriage are accordingly ascertained.
Definitions of marriage
Freedom of women and guardianship, which automatically implies lack of freedom, is an important consideration in the type/nature of the marriage and its definition in any society. Anthropology defines marriage as a socially approved sexual and economic union between a man and a woman. The reasons cited for the phenomena of universality of marriage are:
- Division of labour by sex based on the notion of husbands hunting and women gathering or in a more settled society husbands farming or agriculturists and women cooking.
- Prolonged infant dependency would require physical, psychological and economic support from both parents
- Sexual competition or the social need to limit conflict between males for the females in order to maintain cohesive group