“Vedic” Marriage

Not to kill a significant portion of my astrological work, but to tell the truth: In everything I’ve read so far in Bhāgavatam (Cantos one through three) there was never once any mention of anyone consulting astrology to determine relationship compatibility, nor is there exact support for the idea that the parents select the marriage partner. The way it is told in Bhāgavatam it usually works that a woman selects a man who has similar interests, talents, focus, and character – and who is also naturally appealing to her. Then she presents the idea to her parents. I have only read one instance of the father disagreeing, and that was Dakṣa disagreeing with Satī, and as a result Brahmā had to order Dakṣa to allow the marriage to Shiva.

After the parents and daughter agree on the suitability of a man, the parents go to the man (often with the daughter directly involved) and make a proposal of marriage. If the man agrees, immediately or after some time, arrangements are set in stone, and things proceed.

Often the woman searches for some time. For example Devahūti was asking people about eligible men, she reviewed their suggestions without finding anyone compatible, until she asked Nārada for suggestions, and Nārada suggested Kardama.

So, I find no support for the idea that marriage should be based on (a) astrological calculations, or (b) arranged independently by parents. The Bhāgavatam portays a very rational, natural system.
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36 Comments

  1. Astrology is more or less guess work, it does not give the exact truth but based on Gunas and nature they try to match the characteristics of couple so that they can live happy Otherwise there is no need of astrology if the two people already given their made their mind after hearing the qualities of each other.

    They say, ” MIYA BIWI RAAZI TO KYA KAREGA KAAZI”– famous saying in India.

    You can ask any Indian person the meaning of this saying- if the boy and girl are ready to marry then priest also can not stop it.

    Ys
    vmdas

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  2. Ha-ha! Bold statment! ))
    Interesting to find ditails about Yoga-maya oranging many marriages for gopies in Vraja, sure enough against their will. All I know it was fake marriages, Yoga-maya’s trick. But some of them even had children… Would like to know your opinion.

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    1. Here we’re talking about ideal circumstances. Ideal circumstances for normal external things are often not the best circumstances for exciting internal things. Vraja līlā is a different story. It is ideal for the topmost rāsāsvāda (ecstatic bliss), not for the topmost external śānti and social equilibrium.

      In Vraja every gopi wants Krishna to enjoy parakīya rasa. Therefore they all want to get married to various gopas. Their dislike of those gopas does not indicate their lack of consent to marriage. Nothing in Vraja happens against anyone’s will, since the entire atmosphere consists of cintāmaṇī.

      Gopīs in mādhurya rāsa do not have children, that would create a flaw in the rasa, according to Śrī Rūpa – a defect in the alambana-āśraya. But in Bhauma-vraja sādhana-siddha-gopīs may have children.

      Good to hear from you Premāmṛta-jī. Do you agree with what I wrote? Anything to add?

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      1. Hare Krishna, dear Vraja Kishor!
        Please, excuse me for long delay in reply.

        In Vraja every gopi wants Krishna to enjoy parakīya rasa. Therefore they all want to get >married to various >gopas. Their dislike of those gopas does not indicate their lack of >consent to marriage. Nothing in Vraja happens >against anyone’s will, since the entire >atmosphere consists of cintāmaṇī.
        O! This is very wonderful point. Thanks! This is so deep and amazing!
        Good to hear from you Premāmṛta-jī.
        Thanks! I saw photos of you and Namarassa ji. Good to see both of you together.
        Do you agree with what I wrote?
        Yes. Think I have heard it somewhere before, but you certainly have a talent to describe things clear and short. So it could be stuck in mind and than easily digested. ))
        Anything to add?
        Yes. When? O! When the day will come, I’ll be up to the standart to freely discuss ujjvala nilamani in the company of such a devotees as you? ))

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  3. Very true. There was no business behind a marriage, but the intent to combine two persons with matching natures for their happiness. What we see today is Indian culture, based on a revised Vedic system. The use itself of astrology in general had anyway a completely different intent and understanding than in our days. Good post, thank you.

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  4. I have read Mahabharata, Ramayana, and about 14 of the Puranas and I would have to agree in general with your statement. I have found maybe in the body of literature I have read only a handful of examples which would correspond to what is today called Vedic Marriage. In the royal society’s the majority of marriages take place via what is called Swayamvar or “woman’s choice” ceremony’s in which the women will either pick a man of their choice from a group of suitors or will devise some kind of challenge or test for the men to prove their value. Their is also a large portion of situations presented in which the Ghandarva or Love marriage takes place in which some king or warrior will approach a women and openly ask her if she wishes to marry him or visa versa in which a woman will come to a warrior and ask him to be her protector as it was to right of a woman to ask any Ksatria to be her protector.

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  5. The parents used to astrologically
    determine the character and tastes of the boy and girl,
    and when they corresponded, the match was selected:
    ‘This girl and this boy are just suitable, and they
    should be married.’ Other considerations were less
    important. The same system was also advised in the
    beginning of the creation by Brahma: ‘Your daughters
    should be handed over to the rishis according to taste
    and character.’”
    —Srimad Bhagavatam 3.24.15 Bhaktivedanta purport

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  6. “According to the Vedic system, the parents would
    consider the horoscopes of the boy and girl who were
    to be married. If according to astrological calculations
    the boy and girl were compatible in every respect, the
    match was called yotaka and the marriage would be
    accepted… Regardless of the affluence of the boy or
    the personal beauty of the girl, without this
    astrological compatibility the marriage would not take
    place.”
    —Srimad Bhagavatam 9.18.23 Bhaktivedanta purport

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    1. 9.18.23 describes a girl who fell in love with a king who saved her from a well. It has nothing to do with astrology. The purport itself is therefore a statement attributable to the esteemed author, but not to the Bhāgavatam itself.

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      1. Vedic varnashram society was guided by brahmanas. Astrology was a very important part of the culture and astrologers were consulted for every important decision and event. Girls were protected by parents and married at a young age. There was no intermingling between boys and girls of higher classes. Marriages were arranged by parents, who would naturally make sure their sons and daughters were happy with their arrangements. Today’s society is very different. Therefore that system cannot be transplanted in its entirety.

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        1. Without references to historical documents / śāstra – a thoughtful enquirer would not be moved by statements such as what you’ve made here.

          My point in the original post is that the param-pramāṇa, śrīmad-bhāgavatam shows no instances (as far as I know so far) of astrology being utilized to determine marriage compatibility. I also described, in the original post above, the system Bhāgavatam does repeatedly illustrate.

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  7. References for all of these statements would not be difficult to find, but would make my comments longer and more time-consuming to read. I don’t wish to bore anyone or take too much time. Anyone who is familiar with Vedic culture would not disagree with any of my statements, as I have not invented them. I have learnt them from my spiritual master, Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and the statements that he has made in his purports to Srimad Bhagavatam are based on the teachings of previous authoritative Vaisnava gurus.

    I understand what you are saying, and I would suggest that the lack of examples of astrologically arranged marriages in Srimad Bhagavatam may be because the personalities described in the Bhagavatam are of very high calibre such as kings, emperors, demigods, pure devotees, and divine beings. Their pastimes are extraordinary adventures. The svayamvara system of marriage is specially for princesses. Most of these personalities are noble ksatriyas or elevated brahmanas. The general society of ordinary people was guided by brahmanas and astrologers, and for them the system of astrologically arranged marriages was recommended. Even some personalities in the Bhagavatam may have also followed the same system, but it is not described because it was an ordinary part of day-to-day life, just as their is no account of their consulting ayurvedic doctors for health matters or priests to perform all their various rituals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting post, thank you. The point I have made is that I have not encountered any example of astrologically arranged marriage in Srimad Bhagavatam. And the selection of a partner by the woman is not reserved for Kṣatrīyas in a big ceremony, but is the common practice for sages as well.

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  8. Nice post and comments, thanks!

    Srila Prabhupada says in this purport :

    “Not more than twenty-five years ago, and perhaps it is still current, parents in India used to consult the horoscope of the boy and girl to see whether there would be factual union in their psychological conditions. These considerations are very important.”

    http://vedabase.net/sb/3/21/15/

    In spite of his condemning persons who approach the Lord for material advantages, Kardama Muni expressed his material inability and desire before the Lord by saying, “Although I know that nothing material should be asked from You, I nevertheless desire to marry a girl of like disposition.” The phrase “like disposition” is very significant. Formerly, boys and girls of similar dispositions were married; the similar natures of the boy and girl were united in order to make them happy. Not more than twenty-five years ago, and perhaps it is still current, parents in India used to consult the horoscope of the boy and girl to see whether there would be factual union in their psychological conditions. These considerations are very important. Nowadays marriage takes place without such consultation, and therefore, soon after the marriage, there is divorce and separation. Formerly husband and wife used to live together peacefully throughout their whole lives, but nowadays it is a very difficult task.
    Kardama Muni wanted to have a wife of like disposition because a wife is necessary to assist in spiritual and material advancement. It is said that a wife yields the fulfillment of all desires in religion, economic development and sense gratification. If one has a nice wife, he is to be considered a most fortunate man. In astrology, a man is considered fortunate who has great wealth, very good sons or a very good wife. Of these three, one who has a very good wife is considered the most fortunate. Before marrying, one should select a wife of like disposition and not be enamored by so-called beauty or other attractive features for sense gratification. In the Bhāgavatam, Twelfth Canto, it is said that in the Kali-yuga marriage will be based on the consideration of sex life; as soon as there is deficiency in sex life, the question of divorce will arise.

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    1. Read the story you are quoting. Devahūti SELECTED Kardama, after hearing about him from Nārada – because she felt he was perfect for her. Her father than made the arrangements. Astrology was not involved. You misunderstand Śrīla Prabhupāda, who is simply saying that astrology was also used in Indian culture to ascertain if people were of similar disposition. This is post-classical Indian culture. In Bhāgavatam, I have not seen an example of compatibility being determined by astrology.

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  9. I applaud to Jagannathesvari mataji for this understanding, which definitely comes from her chastity. With all due respect to Vraja Kishor prabhu I should say: where from such ideas and conclusions? It looks like there is some lack of understanding of whole picture. Is it comes from lifestyle? Is it comes from association? Is it comes from ideological background? Whats the point of such study or conclusions? If you know, that women should be protected in all stages of life? By Father, Husband or Sons. I understand, that this is controversial topic, but please accept my words, as a goodwill and not as an offence. For example – How many male devotees in ISKCON has accepted this understanding about women protection? Simple basic truth. How many has given just a 2 sons to the wife, for at they can take care about her in oldage? This is a duty of every married man – his service, according to laws given by Supreme. So – I know devotee who did get 3 daughters, before His wife was gifted with 2 boys, one after another.
    Why I wrote all this? Because everything is connected – by fulfilling your duties, you start to understand whole picture.
    You will not separate words of Bhagavata person from Bhagavatam itself.

    Lets read story about Cyavana Muni:

    SB 9.3.9

    tad-abhiprāyam ājñāya prādād duhitaraṁ muneḥ
    kṛcchrān muktas tam āmantrya puraṁ prāyāt samāhitaḥ

    When daughter, by the reason of care of the dinasty was given to uncompitable old man:

    SB 9.3.20

    cikīrṣitaṁ te kim idaṁ patis tvayā
     pralambhito loka-namaskṛto muniḥ
    yat tvaṁ jarā-grastam asaty asammataṁ
     vihāya jāraṁ bhajase ’mum

    Ockey. You would say there is nothing about Astrology. But how about arranging?
    And it does not matter – emergency arranging comes from accepted and followed laws and principles practised all ower the 3 plantary system during the time immemorial. Revati.

    SB 9.3.29

    kakudmī revatīṁ kanyāṁ svām ādāya vibhuṁ gataḥ
    putryā varaṁ paripraṣṭuṁ brahmalokam apāvṛtam

    How one can come to conclusion that parents did not select marriage partners? Read whole SB 9.3 – read it. Please.

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    1. My opinion comes from Śrīmad Bhāgavatam – as I think is pretty evident in the evidence I present in the article.

      Arrangements are made by the father and mother to fulfill the wishes of the daughter. Just read about the marriages of Devahūti or Diti.

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  10. And lets come closer to astrology.

    CC Ādi 15.29

    pūrva-siddha bhāva duṅhāra udaya karila
    daive vanamālī ghaṭaka śacī-sthāne āila

    pūrva-siddha — as it is already settled; bhāva — ecstasy; duṅhāra — of both of them; udaya — awakened; karila — was made; daive — also accidentally; vanamālī — Vanamālī; ghaṭaka — the marriage-maker; śacī-sthāne — at the place of Śacīmātā; āila — came.

    When the Lord and Lakṣmīdevī met, their relationship awakened, having already been settled, and coincidentally the marriage-maker Vanamālī came to see Śacīmātā.

    Vanamālī Ghaṭaka, a resident of Navadvīpa and a brāhmaṇa by caste, arranged the marriage of the Lord to Lakṣmīdevī. He was formerly Viśvāmitra, who negotiated the marriage of Lord Rāmacandra, and later he was the brāhmaṇa who negotiated the marriage of Lord Kṛṣṇa with Rukmiṇī. That same brāhmaṇa acted as the marriage-maker of the Lord in caitanya-līlā.

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  11. Devayani, out of affection (love) asked Yayati to marry her.

    SB 9.18.20-21

    taṁ vīram āhauśanasī prema-nirbharayā girā
    rājaṁs tvayā gṛhīto me pāṇiḥ para-purañjaya
    hasta-grāho ’paro mā bhūd gṛhītāyās tvayā hi me
    eṣa īśa-kṛto vīra sambandho nau na pauruṣaḥ

    Bhagavatam itsel says that such way of marrying is not SANCTIONED

    SB 9.18.23

    yayātir anabhipretaṁ daivopahṛtam ātmanaḥ
    manas tu tad-gataṁ buddhvā pratijagrāha tad-vacaḥ

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    1. anabhipretaṁ means “not sanctioned?” It means “unintentional”

      Love marriage is gardharva, which is a valid type of marriage. “Love marriage” means there is no formalities and no real ceremony, just love. It does not mean that love is not the primary factor in other types of marriage.

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  12. Ok thanks. But what verses stipulate that a vegetarian diet should be followed as a cultural requirement? I ask this beause Srimad bhagavatam is a literature with a specific aim. There are of course many other texts that are more detailed in mentioning things such as astrology. I am not sure why if SB doesn’t mention consulting an astrologer for marriage this has any real significance? Why do you think it does?

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    1. Well, in my opinion, whatever is not important enough to be included in Bhāgavatam isn’t important enough to be a part of any bhakti-centered culture.

      Regarding vegetarianism, I don’t think its a universal cultural requirement. Its a diet for sadhus, as far as I can tell.

      Please share which texts are more explicit in mentioning astrology used in a personal and interpersonal capacity.

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      1. My line of enquiry is really to seek a coherent debate on this topic.
        Therefore I would say that this debate is incomplete if evidence is not presented, that clearly shows when the vedic culture digressed away from a system of marriage as appears to be presented in SB, and when it adopted the system that Srila Prabhupada outlines in his various purports. Can you provide evidence of when this started?

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          1. Sure prabhu I understand.
            Does the Srimad bhagavatam actually state that the system of marriage it describes is the prescribed method for the people of kali yuga? Because it appears that Srila Prabhupada as a person bhagavata feels the need to align the verses with a vedic system of marriage that he has outlined in his purports. Basically he has translated a verse but has subsequently guided the reader on how to interpret the verse.

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          2. As the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is a scripture that exists ONLY during Kali Yuga, it is difficult to believe it would promote things that are inappropriate for the age, and not describe things appropriate for the age.

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  13. Well prabhu the Srimad bhagavatam describes alot of things that are not even possible for most average humans, let alone whether something is appropriate or not.

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      1. Well to be honest prabhu I actually thought your original post /observation was very interesting and hard to dispute. My use of the word appropriate isn’t necessarily aimed directly at the system of marriage the Srimad bhagavatam is describing. My point is more about whether this system is actually prescribed for the general masses in kali yuga.

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