Eight Types of Marriages (Vivah) according to the ancient Indian texts like Manusmriti, Mahabharata and Vedas are Bráhma, Daiva, Ársha, Prájápatya, Asura, Gándharva, Rákshasa, and Paisácha.
Detailed Explanation of Eight Types of Marriages (Vivah)
1. Bráhma Marriage
After completing his education and acquiring all the required skills, the groom’s family approaches the family of a suitable girl.
Bride’s father then enquires about the birth, conduct, character, learning, acquirements, and acts of the groom before bestowing one’s daughter.
Thus, it is considered to be the highest form of marriage in the scriptures. Also, there is no dowry involved in this.
2. Daiva Marriage
In this, the bride’s family waits for a suitable groom. If she doesn’t get married to a suitable groom till a specified time, her family look to marry her to a priest who officiates over sacrifices.
This type of marriage is considered inferior to Brahma marriage as it is degrading to womanhood.
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3. Ársha Marriage
Arsha means Rishi (or Sage) in Sanskrit.
In this form of marriage, usually, the groom is a Rishi (or a Sage). The bride is married off to a Rishi in exchange for two cows or a cow and a bull.
This is just to show that a sage does not possess extraordinary wealth. It usually happens when the bride’s family is not able to bear the expenses of their daughter’s marriage.
This form of marriage is also considered inferior because of the involvement of business like transaction in this.
4. Prájápatya Marriage
Unlike Brahma marriage, in this type of marriage, an eligible groom is enticed with wealth and presents by the bride’s father to marry her daughter. (This is according to Mahabharata)
It is also called as Kshatra form of marriage.
According to Manusmriti however, marriage is termed as Prájápatya when the father gives away his daughter with due honor saying “May both of you perform your civil and religious duties” and a verbal agreement to practice the dharma together.
5. Asura Marriage
In this form of marriage, the bride’s family is enticed by wealth in return for bestowing their daughter.
This usually happens when the groom is no match for the girl but still wants to marry her.
It is like buying a product by paying a huge amount of money. Thus this form of marriage is also considered inferior to Brahma marriage.
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6. Gándharva Marriage
It is synonymous with modern-day love marriage or elopement. The most famous example is the marriage of Dushyanta and Shakuntala in Mahabharata.
In this form of marriage, the couple either lives together out of love or mutual consent (synonymous with the modern-day live-in relationship) or marry each other out of their own free will without the consent of their families.
This type of marriage is very common during the Rig Vedic times as described in Vedas itself. In the Mahabharata also, Rishi Kanva (foster father of Shakuntala) described it as the best form of marriage. [Source]
7. Rákshasa Marriage
In this type of marriage, the girl is forcibly abducted by the groom by killing or defeating the bride’s family in battle.
8. Paisácha Marriage
This type of marriage is considered to be the worst or lowest form of marriage.
In this, the girl is abducted when she is asleep and intoxicated. Not only that, she is also seduced and molested during sleep (due to intoxication).
The last two forms of marriages are forbidden and prohibited in Hinduism.
Another thing to note is that the above eight types of marriages are only relevant in ancient. In present times, marriage should be done according to the Indian Constitution.
- Adi Parva, Chapter 73
- Adi Parva, Chapter 102
- Anusasana Parva, Chapter 44
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