A look at the ancient texts shows us that there are different forms of marriage and were based on the customs, traditions, and convenience of the people. However, as per Vedas or Manusmriti, there are eight forms of Hindu marriage during the Vedic period.
As per the Vedas, marriage was the most important part of the Grihastha Ashram, and the different types of marriages are as below.
- As per the marriage type
- As per the varna system
- As per the gotra system
- Eight Types of Marriage Type
In this type of marriage, the groom is educated and acquires the needed skills before approaching the girl’s family to ask her hand in marriage. The girl’s father then learns about the birth of the groom, the family background, character, and acquirements before agreeing to the marriage. This is also known as the highest and the most respected type of marriage as per the scriptures. Also, there is no involvement of dowry in Brahma marriage.
Ganesh Puja is performed during the marriage rituals to remove any obstacles and bring happiness and prosperity in the couple’s life.
In this form of marriage, it is the bride’s family that waits for a suitable groom for a specific time. If the family is unable to get the daughter married at a specific age or time, she is then married to a priest who conducts sacrifices. This kind of marriage is considered inferior as it degrades womanhood.
The word Arsha means Sage or Rishi as per Sanskrit. In Arsha marriage, the groom is a sage or a rishi. The girl’s family marries her off to a Sage and receives two cows in exchange. The exchange at times also includes one cow and one bull.
The exchange of cows indicates that the rishi does not have much wealth. When the family is unable to the expenses of a wedding, they used to opt for the Arsha marriage. This kind of marriage too is considered inferior to Brahma marriage as it includes the exchange of gifts.
Prajapatya marriage is pretty much similar to Brahma marriage but involves dowry. The groom is showered with wealth and a lot of presents by the father of the girl before and during the wedding. This kind of marriage is also known as Kshatra marriage.
However, as per the Manusmriti, during Prajapatya marriage the bride’s father gives her away during the wedding with honour and blesses the couple to perform their duties (civil and religious) efficiently.
In Asura marriage, it is the family of the bride who is enticed with gifts and wealth in return. This mostly occurs when the groom is no match for the girl or is much elder than her. As it sounds more like a transaction it is considered to be a lot inferior to Brahma marriage.
Most of us who have read mythology or ancient texts might already know about Gandharva marriage. The biggest example of this form of marriage is Shakuntala and Dushyanta.
In Gandharva marriage, the couple stays together with mutual consent and out of love or wed each other without taking the consent of their families. Such types of weddings were seen in Mahabharata and in the Rig Vedic times.
Rakshasa marriage involves a wedding by force. Either the groom forcefully abducts the girl after killing her family, or after winning a battle.
This can be considered the lowest form of marriage, as the marriage occurs after abduction during sleep or by intoxication.
The eight types of marriage mentioned above were relevant only in ancient times. In the present era, marriages happen as per the marriage law of the Indian Constitution.
Wedding Based on Varna System
As per the sacred texts marriage also takes place in the Varna system. The two types of marriage as per the Varna system are, Anuloma Vivah and Pratiloma Vivah. In Anuloma Vivah, the groom is from higher varna than the bride. This kind of marriage was allowed as per the sacred texts.
In Pratiloma Vivah, the bride happens to be from higher varna than the groom. Such weddings were allowed as per the texts.
Wedding as per Gotra System
The use of Gotra can first be seen during the Vedic period. A gotra signifies that the individual is a descendant of a certain ancestor. The gotras are named after sages like Vashista, Gautama, Kashyapa etc.
As per Vedas and astrology, marriage was and is still not accepted between bride and groom with the same gotra as happen to have a common ancestor.
Different types of marriages mentioned here are to date frowned upon, and a few are prohibited as well. Though we did take a look back to the Vedic times and understood the various types of marriage, the Brahma form of marriage is the most acceptable of them all. What are your thoughts on this? Do let us know via a comment. Book professional Vedic pandit for marriage with Pujarambh at best price.