by Jintu Moni Dutta | 2017 | 52,468 words | ISBN-10: 8120813057 | ISBN-13: 9788120813052
This page relates ‘Definition and Types of Marriage’ from the English study on the Malatimadhava of Bhavabhuti:—A Prakarana type of Drama in ten acts revolving around the love-story of Malati (from Padmāvatī) and Madhava (from Vidarbha). This study discusses the history of its author and the literary, social, religious, historical and cultural aspects of the Malatimadhava.
Marriage is the most important of all the Hindu Sacraments. Marriage was regarded as a sacrifice and one who did not enter the married life was called one without sacrifice. Marriage is not a licence for indulgence, but a human institution aiming at moderation in conjugal life and is symbolised by the trirātra-vrata observed at the end of the nuptials. The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa says that the wife is indeed half of one’s self. Therefore as long as a man does not beget a son he is not complete. But when he secures a wife and gets progeny and then he becomes complete. Hence marriage is a composite rite comprising several subordinate elements which have to be done in a certain order and the last of which is seeing the constellation of the seven sages, that brings about the status of a women as a person’s wife. Thus, it appeares that marriage is essential for every human being.
Types of Marriage
Different viewpoints of the śāstrakāras are found regarding the forms of marriage and their applicability in respect of different castes. The Baudhāyana Dharmasūtra recognises the four forms viz., Brāhma, Prājāpatya, Ᾱrṣa and Daiva as the proper forms for Brāhmaṇas. Again he has stated that the Gāndharva and Paiśāca forms in the list of marriage forms are meant for Vaiśyas and the Śūdras because of their unrestrained nature in respect of procurement of wives as they live by low occupations. Whereas, Manu prescribes the first six forms viz., Brāhma , Daiva, Ᾱrṣa, Prājāpatya, Ᾱsura and Gāndharva for the Brāhmaṇas and the last four viz. Ᾱsura, Gāndharva,, Rākṣasa and Paiśāca for the Kṣatriyas and Ᾱsura, Gāndharva and Paiśāca for the Vaiśyas and the Śūdras.
He has made two classifications, [the following first four forming a group of approved forms] viz.,
- Ārṣa and
While [the following remaining four forms are the group of unapproved forms] viz.,
(a) The Brāhma Marriage:
All the smṛtikāras give the first rank to this form of marriage. The Brāhma marriage is the approved form of marriage. In this form of marriage, the father of a maiden should choose a person who possesses good qualities like good family, good character, scholarship in the Vedas and should invite him to accept the hand of maiden in marriage. Here, it is prescribed that father gives his daughter by properly bedecking her.
(b) The Daiva Marriage:
The Daiva form of marriage falls under the proper forms of marriage. When the father gives away his daughter after decking her with ornaments etc to a priest, who duly officiates at a sacrifice during the course of its performance it is the Daiva form of Marriage.
(c) The Ᾱrṣa Marriage:
The Ᾱrṣa form of marriage falls under the category of righteous form of marriage. When there is a gift of one’s daughter after taking one pair of cattle a cow and a bull or two pairs only as a matter of fulfilling the law and not as a sell of the girl that is named as the Ᾱrṣa marriage. Yājñavalkya prescribes that the maiden is given over in marriage after accepting a pair of cows from the groom. Gautama prescribes one pair of cows and not two to be offered to the person having authority over the maiden.
(d) The Prājāpatya Marriage:
This form of marriage is approved form of marriage. Ᾱpastamba mentions only six forms of marriage. He excludes Prājāpatya and Paiśāca forms of marriage. The gift of a daughter after the father has addressed the couple with the words “may both of you perform your religious duties together” and after he has honoured the bridegroom with madhuparka is declared to constitute the Prājāpatya form of marriage  .This form of marriage is inferior to Brāhma marriage since the girl is given as a gift to the groom who solicits her hand.
(e) The Ᾱsura Marriage:
When the girl is given away at the father’s will after bridegroom gives as much wealth as he can afford to pay to the relatives of the girl and to the girl herself that is called Ᾱsura form of marriage.  The Ᾱsura form of marriage is regarded as the non-righteous forms of marriage. In the Ᾱpastamba Dharmasūtra, Ᾱpastamba does not mention the persons to whom presentations of articles should be made. Baudhāyana observes that wealth offered to the father or the guardian is intended for pleasing them.
(f) The Gāndharva Marriage:
This form of marriage is unapproved form of marriage. In Ᾱsvalāyana Gṛhyasūtra, Ᾱsvalāyana says that this form of marriage takes place after a mutual agreement has been made. The union of a girl and the bridegroom by their mutual consent is known as Gāndharva, which springs from the passion of love and has sexual intercourse as its purpose.
(g) The Rākṣasa Marriage:
The Rākṣasa marriage is also non-righteous forms of marriage. This form of marriage is a capture or abduction of a girl by force. In this form of marriage the maiden is carried away, she weeps and her relatives are assaulted and slained. The marriage is celebrated in the absence of father or guardian of the bride and no question of payment of dowry or bride-price arises. 
(h) The Paiśāca Marriage:
The Paiśāca marriage falls under the non-righteous forms of marriage. In this form of marriage a man has intercourse with a maiden stealthily, while she is asleep or intoxicated or in disordered mind or unconscious.  This form of marriage is the most sinful of all forms.
In the Mālatīmādhava, Bhavabhūti has verily given the reference of two forms of marriage viz., the Prājāpatya marriage and the Gāndharva marriage. In the 2nd act of the Mālatīmāhava, it has been found that the king of Padmāvatī solicited Mālatī’s hand, the daughter of Bhūrivasu, minister of the king for the sake of Nandana. Bhūrivasu had made gift of his daughter to that Nandana, the pleasure minister of the king. Hence, it can be said that at first Mālatī’s marriage had accomplished by the Prājāpatya form of marriage as in the Prājāpatya form of marriage the father of the bride orally agrees to give the hand of his daughter to the selected bridegroom. Again it is also known that Mālatī was not satisfied with the decision of her father. Although Mālatī’s marriage with Nandana was commenced by the Prājāpatya form of marriage eventually her marriage was accomplished with Mādhava by the Gāndharva form of marriage
due to their mutual love. In the 6th act it is found that by the command of Kāmandakī Mālatī and Mādhava passing by the avenue of trees, went to the garden behind the Kāmandakī’s monastery to perform the marriage rite. Makaranda and Madayantikā also got married by the Gāndharva form of marriage. It is enumerated by the smṛtikāras that in Gāndharva form of marriage the bride and the bridegroom get united by their mutual consent. In this form of marriage, the parents of the girl did not settle the marriage, but the bride and the bridegroom arranged it out of sensual inclination. The method was called Gāndharva, because it was mostly current in a tribe called Gandharva, living on the slopes of the Himalayas.It was more prevalent among the Kṣatriyas than among any other section of the Hindu community, as they represented the freest element in the society. According to Gautama Dharmasūtra this method was praiseworthy, as it proceeded from mutual attraction and love. In the Mahābhārata, Kaṇva, the foster father of Śakuntalā says that the marriage of a desiring woman with a desiring man, though without religious ceremonies is the best marriage. Although Mālatī and Mādhava, Madayantikā and Makaranda, the two pairs had married without the consent of their guardian, eventually they had got approval from the king. Thus, it becomes clear that both righteous or unrighteous forms of marriage were prevalent among the people during Bhavabhūti’s time.
Footnotes and references:
Pāraskara Gṛhyasūtra, I.8.21
Gautama Dharmasūtra, IV. 6-13 ; Baudhāyana Dharmasūtra,I.11
brāhmo daivastathaivārṣaḥ prājāpatyastathāsuraḥ /
gāndharvo rākṣasaścaiva paiśācaścāṣṭamoadhamaḥ //
Manusmṛti, III. 21
ārṣe gomithunaṃ kanyāvate dadyāt /
Gautama Dharmasūtra, I.4.6
Ᾱastamba Dharmasūtra, II.12
sahobho caratāṃ dharmamiti vācānubhāṣya ca /
kanyāpradānamabhyarcya prājāpatyo vidhiḥ smṛtaḥ //
Vide, Apte, M. The Sacrament of Marriage in Hindu Society, p.145
Baudhāyana Dharmasūtra, I.II.20.7
Ᾱsvalāyana Gṛhyasūtra, I.6.5
icchayānyonyasaṃyogaḥ kanyāyāśca varasya ca /
gāndharvaḥ sa tu vijñeyo maithunyaḥ kāmasaṃbhavaḥ //
Ᾱsvalāyana Gṛhyasūtra, I.6.8
hatvā chitvā ca bhitvā ca krośantīṃ rudatīṃ gṛhāt /
prasahya kanyāharaṇam rakṣaso vidhirucyate //
suptāṃ mattāṃ pramattāṃ vā raho yatropagacchati /
sa pāpiṣṭho vivāhānāṃ paiśācaścāṣṭamoadhamaḥ // Ibid.,III.34
idaṃ tvaidaṃparyaṃ yaduta nṛpaternarmasacivaḥ sutādānātmitraṃ bhavatu sa hi no nandana iti /
vatsomālatīmādhavoitonirgatyavṛkṣagahanenagamyatāmudvāhamaṅgalār thamasmadvihārikāyāḥ pachādudyānavāṭaḥ //
Vide,Pandey,Rajbali., Hindu Saṃskāras, p.162
gāndharvamityeke praśaṃsanti snehānugatvāt /
sakāmāyāḥ sakāmena nirmantraḥ śreṣṭḥa ucyate /