The Markandeya Purana (Study)

by Chandamita Bhattacharya | 2021 | 67,501 words

This page relates ‘Marriage System (Introduction)’ of the study on the Markandeya Purana, one of the oldest of the eigtheen Mahapuranas preserving the history, civilisation, culture and traditions of ancient India. The Markandeyapurana commences with the questions raised by Rishi Jaimini (a pupil of Vyasa), who approaches the sage Markandeya with doubts related to the Mahabharata. This study examines various social topics such as the status of women, modes of worship, yoga, etc.

Marriage System (Introduction)

Marriage signifies the union of generally two individuals of the opposite sex. It is considered as a sacred bond and one of the most important duties of a house-holder. It is one of the sixteen saṃskāras and is regarded as the base of all the saṃskāras.

In early India, marriage was considered to be an obligation and rituals performed in accordance with social tradition.[1] Marriage contributes largely to the growth of Indian society since the ancient time. In the ancient times in India, whoever completes the first stage i.e. Brahmacaryāśrama education they were allowed to marry and a married person is considered to be complete.

The Aitareyabrāhmaṇa declares,

tasmād puruṣo jāyāṃ vittvā kṛtsnataramivātmānaṃ manyate /[2]

a man is considered to be incomplete without securing a wife.

The similar view is expressed in the Vedavyāsasmṛti thus:

yāvanna vindate jāyāṃ tāvadardho bhavet pumān /
nārdha prajāyate sarva prajāyetetyapi śrutiḥ

The Taittirīyaupaniṣad also advocates[4] marriage to be obligatory for all the people. According to Śatapathabrāhmaṇa,[5] a wife is one half of the husband.

The Mahābhārata also enumerates the various roles of a wife thus—

ardhaṃ bhāryā manuṣyasya bhāryāśreṣṭhatamaḥ sakhā /
bhāryā mūeaṃ trivargasya bhāryā mitraṃ marisyataḥ //[6]

It means the wife is the half of the body of a husband as well as support for the attainment of the object of human life, greatest friend and the friend of a dying one. According to the Bhāgavatapurāṇa, without wife and children life of a house holder is unbearable.[7] In this context the Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa contains various ways of marriage system. According to this purāṇa taking a wife through marriage has been considered as ‘holy’ or ‘conducive to merit’. This is the cause of gaining heaven and also of final emancipation. Without marriage there is endless bondage.

This is told to a Prajāpati named Ruci by his ancestors.

vatsa kasmāt tvayā puṇyo na kṛto dārasaṃgrahaḥ /
svargāpavargahetutvād bandhaṣṭenāniśaṃ vinā

Footnotes and references:


Vettam Mani, Purāṇic Encyclopaedia, p.878


Aitareyabrāhmaṇa, 1.2.5


Vedavyāsasmṛti, 2.14


Taittirīyopaniṣad, 1.11


ardho ha vā eṣāātmano yajjāyā tasmād yāvajjāyāṃ na vindate naiva tāvat prajāyate, sarvo hi tāvad bhavatyatha yadaiva jāyāṃ vindate / Śatapathabrāhmaṇa,


Mahābhārata, 1.68.40


so’haṃ śūṇye gṛhe dīno mṛtadāro mṛtaprajāḥ /
jijīvīṣe kimarthaṃ vā vidhuro duḥkhātvitaḥ // Bhāgavatapurāṇa, 11.7.70


Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa, 92.3

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