(Last Updated on : 06/12/2010)
Concerning Marriages in Arthashastra describes few types of marriages which are recognised by the state as well as father and mother. Marriages are one of the basic social activity which gives social sanctity to a new couple when united under the laws presented by the customs and traditions of a community. This trend has been equally expressed in Chapter II of book III in Arthashastra
which primarily highlights two classes of marriages one being Brahma marriage and the other being prajapatya marriage which is performed with the joint performance of sacred duties by both men and women. While in the first type gifts are offered along with the maiden's marriage while in the second type more stress is posed on the performance of rituals which are coherent with the customs of the society.
Concerning marriages the first class of marriage i.e. Brahma Vivah includes five types of marriages. Giving in marriage of a maiden for a couple of cows is called Arsha; giving in marriage to a serving priest as a sacrifice is called Daiva; while a voluntary union of a maiden with her lover is called gandharva; giving in the marriage a maiden after receiving plenty of money is called Asura; and abduction of a maiden is called Rakshasa. Abduction of a maiden and her marriage when asleep or in intoxication is called Paisacha marriage. While the first four types shall receive the permission and sanction of the society as well as father and mother as they are the ancestral customs, the fourth type shall require commitment by the parents as they receive huge amount of money against the marriage. The money thus received is supposed to be returned to the girl in case both the parents cease to exist. The last type however shall not receive the sanction of any and will be socially condemned.
Concerning Marriages Kautilya
then concentrates on the property of the women which includes means of subsistence as well as jewellery given to the bride during the time of her marriage. In case of means of subsistence valued more than two thousand shall be endowed on her name, while in case jewellery there is no limit. There shall be no guilt in case women try to use her own money to up bring her own child, daughter in law or for maintaining herself when her husband has left no option for her. In case of widows, she shall be free to use her property till she chooses to live a pious life. If in future she decides to marry any one else other than the one from her in laws community , she has to return the property which she received during marriage including jewellery but can continue possessing if she marries anyone from the in laws family only.
On the demise of her husband she shall have freedom to either live a pious life of widow all her life or shall have the right to remarry either of her choice or according to the choice of the father-in-law. In case she chooses to remain pious and devoted to her dead husband, she shall have the honour to use her property all her life till she lives.
In the chapter, Concerning Marriage Kautilya then takes up the issue of a man's remarriage. As mentioned in Arthashastra the husband of those ladies who bear male issues shall wait for eight years, those with no issues shall wait for 10 years while those with female issues shall wait for 12 years after which they shall be free to remarry. In case of the husbands having female issue if desires to have male sons can marry a second time. In case there is violation of these rules the husbands shall be compelled to pay compensation to the government. If the woman, on the other hand, finds the husbands to be ill character, traitor or likely to endanger the life of his wife or has fallen from caste or lost virility shall choose to remarry and abandon her previous husband.
Thus, in concerning marriage Kautilya lays down the procedure as well the social conditions of the Indian society. As a social institution marriage has been an important concern as it takes into consideration the earnings and profit received from both the families.