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 Title : The practic of Dowry or Dahej its form and nature in Vedic Times Author : Shri Radhakrishna Shastri

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The subjects, Literature and Society are often debated. Long drawn, serious debates, discussions also take on the propositions namely 'Literature is a part of society' and / or 'Society is a part of Literature'. There are also statements namely - "As is the literature so is the society" and vice versa. Literature moulds society and society gives shape to literature. Time, Period, Era or Epoch is the basis of all. It is Time and Period that matter in all these debates, discussions. Time has its own rules. Even God cannot break or override those rules, though of course time changes. Often literature follows reflections of Time, so also society does. It is also said "Kalaya Tasme Namaha". Salutation to Kals.

Once, sage Kardam prayed Oh God "I am desirous of a woman. I need one." Under the impulses, urges, inspirations emitted by God, Emperor Manu along with his queen Shataroopa and daughter Devahooti arrived at the ashram of Kardam situated on the banks of lake Bindu Sarovar. Emperor Manu offered his daughter Devahooti to the sage Kardama. Sage Kardama didn't ask for anything else. He didn't ask for any dowry as is the practice of the present times. Likewise even Sage Sowbhari was erudite and a great thinker. His writings on spiritual practices and subjects describe Mother. One day while he was deeply engrossed in contemplation or Tapasya on the banks of Yamuna, his mind went astray and quite casually focused on a couple of fish, that was enjoying the play of love or "kamkreeda". Sowbhari's mind got infatuated with that fish-couple. He want to King Mandhata and expressed his desire to have a girl. The king said, "Oh, Respected Sage, be pleased to go to my palace and choose any girl who accepts you." Sage Sowrabhi went to the king's palace and enchanted all the princesses there with the power of his handsomeness. As a result, all those princesses followed Sowrabhi. Sage Sowrabhi with the power of his penance created all sorts of things of worldly pleasures and comforts - chariots, horses and maid servants for those princesses whom he had taken as wives. Sowrabhi had not asked for any dowry from the king, though in the Dwapara Yug or in the era of Dwapara, king Devak had given Vasudev many elephants, horses, chariots, gold, and gold ornaments at the time of his daughter Devaki's marriage with Vasudev.

These charities or offerings made by Devak find a mention in Srimad Bhagwat. Let it be so. But even then this aspect of offering wealth is negligible, not so important. The main intention of Vasudev was to get only a bride for him. We in the ancient times no obstinate stand was taken for dowry. No pressure, persistence was there on the parents marrying off their daughters. Marriages were not held-up for not getting wealth, dowry from the parents of the brides. If the parents desirous of marrying off their daughters were capable of giving wealth as dowry then and then only that wealth was given. However in the present age, time, era the principle,"Sarve Gunaha Kanchanmashrayanti"
takes precedence over all other considerations and gets an upper hand in all social practices. Earlier, wealth used to originate from Dharma or Religion. Now a days Religion originates from wealth. In these times even God is considered inferior to wealth. Charwak's theory tells us that there is no God in actuality. Charwak was an atheist, a 'Nireeshwarwadi.' Only wonders, miracles are respected and honoured. Wealth has become the main basis for any marital or non-marital relationship. In our scriptures and Vedas no mention is made of the Dowry practice. Importance of charity, gifts, donations, offerings is described. Alongside, there is also astipulation that charity, donation, gifts or offerings should be made to worthy persons, deserving persons. If donations, charity, gifts and oferings are made to unworthy and undeserving persons the result is only misfortune, dangers and hall of black-holes. The importance of offering of a daughter is narrated in the statement,

"Gauri Dadan Nagaloke Vaikunthe Rohini Dadan"

This means, if a Gowri - an eight year old daughter is offered, the giver gets @#!*% and if Rohini - a daughter not eight years old is offered, the person offering so, gets heaven. But this offering, gifting or donating should be to a deserving and worthy person. If that is not done, then the giver gets only @#!*% and suffering. All said and done, mention of the said offering, gifting of donating is found. But nowhere in the scriptures of holy books of Indian culture, is it mentioned that the offering, gifting or donating or giving dowry should be made even when that act inflicts pain and suffering on the giver or the daughter / bride so obtained after getting dowry should be ill treated or subjected to suffering.

Dowry or wealth coming along with a bride is an extra or additional one as the bride herself is considered as wealth. In the modern time dowry is given to the parents of the bridegroom by the parents of the bride. It is said by Nirakta in a commentary.

"Stree Tu Nisargenaiwa Diyate Vikriyate Visrujyate Sahi
Pararthamevotpadhyate Ityabhaga Bhavati |"

A woman in the form of a daughter is made for others only and naturally she is fit to be offered or gifted in marriage. So she does not have her mother. Thus it is proved that the practice of giving dowry in marriage is unscientific. Even the selling of a bride is a taboo according to the scriptures, it is prohibited,

"Na Kanyayaha Pita Vidwan Gruhiyachhalkamanvapi |"
"Dadhyat Gunavate Kanyam Na Twevam Gunahitay |"

The bride's father should not take any money or wealth. Only that person who is above vices of desire, anger and greed is empowered to get a bride gifted to him. Any one who abducts a daughter given away in marriage is considered a thief and should be penalised accordingly. Even the abductor of a girl whose marriage is fixed should be penalised.

"Sakrut Padahayate Kanya Harastan Chaurdandbhak"

If any fault, flaw, distemper and disorder is found in a daughter and if such a daughter is offered in marriage by her parents then even such parents are punishable.

"Anakhyaya Dadd Dosh Ennay Uttamsahasam |"
In the same way if any fault, flaw, distemper or disorder is found in the bridegroom, then that bridegroom is punishable and he would not get any girl to marry him.
"Guhaeetwamano Dosham Dwigunam Vidante Damaha | Varasya Dattanashashcha Bhavet Stree Cha Vivartate | - Naradsmruti
Four categories of marriage are mentioned in scriptures. They are
"Brahma Vivah", "Dev Vivah", "Prajapati Vivah", & "Rakshas or Paishachik Vivah".

If a bridegroom is invited to the place of the bride and the bride is given to him in marriage with gifts and omaments and wealth according to the parents of the bride then such a marriage is called "Brahman Vivah".
"Shrutamshike Vidnyanay Brahmacharinerthine Deyati Brahmaha"
According to the opinion of Harit
"Vidhivad Vastrayugamdatwa Sahadharmashcharyatam |"
Let religious customs and practices be followed according to the prescribed rites. According to Hari's statement giving / offering a pair of a cow and a bull as dowry at the time of marriage is "Daiv Vivah". The pair of cow and a bull has to be taken from the bridegroom and offered as dowry. According to some priests, the pair of a cow and a bull has to be given only to the bridegroom. According to the opinion of Kalpataru, the gift / the offering / the donation of a cow and a bull given at the time of marriage of a daughter by her father belongs to the daughter. Even the "Prajapatya Vivah" lays emphasis on the practice of religious conduct of both the bride and the bridegroom. "Rakshas - paishachya Vivah" was considered to be despicable. In all these categories/types of marriages the focal point is the bride. Nowhere is Dahej or Dowry given as much importance and attention as is given to the bride. The modern meaning of the word Dowry or Dahej suggests that the word is from the world of economics. Dahej or Dowry is an economic concept that has somehow found a place of importance in matters of pure social bindings between two families. Dahej/Dowry means forcibly taking away wealth in order to accept a girl in marriage. The word Dahej is a corrupt derivative of the word Dahan or Burning. That which burns the heart of the father intending to marry of his daughter is Dahej/Dowry.

"Asuro Dravinam Danata"
That marriage which is conducted or performed by or after accepting money/wealth is called a "Demonic marriage" or "Aasur Vivah" and as such the practice of Dowry is also Demonic. The politeness of culture is contained in its purity and sacredness. When two families are brought together, the thread or tie that binds them together is the thread of love and affinity. The father of the bride and the father of the bridegroom or the fathers-in-law of both the families get related to each other after the conduct of the marriage. The word "Relation" in the English language is an equivalent of the word "Sambandhi" in the Hindi language. The word "Sambandhi" can be further explained as "Samadhihi Yasya Saha" from this point of view those who have equal intelligence become related to each other or become relatives.

Where there exists equal intelligence and wisdom there will be no scope or place for inequality for any cause or reason. But here, there is inequality everywhere. Not only that, hatred and animosity also find roots here. As a result, there rises an air of strong public abuse, slander and censure. In order to save people, particularly those who want to come together as "In-laws", it is necessary to follow the precept.
"Yathorev Samam Vittam | Yathorev Samam Kulam |
Tatha Maitri Vivahashchan Tu Pushta Vipushtayo |"
This means where there is equality of wealth and equality of heritage between the two families intending to come together as "in-laws" there and then only strong friendship and the act of marriage should be built. Any tie or relation between unequals is harmful and dangerous.
In order to uplift Indian society it is necessary to have the feeling of,
"Atmavat Sarvabhuteshu" The feeling of "I" ness should be found amongst all "Non I" - entitles. Identity of self should be seen in all the other manifestations. Love thy neighbour as thyself. Treat and protect thy neighbour as thyself. Help thy neighbour as thyself. Feed thy neighour as thyself.
The Nation can be served only when love and affection is developed amongst all the people. Evil practices like Dowry should be ousted from the society. Only then will the nation be uplifted. Panini says "Karmana Yamami Sa Sampradatan, Vipray Mam Dadati" Cows are offered to Brahmins. Here the word "Karma" conveys the meaning of "offerings given to eligible Brahmins". Such offerings should not be taken back or withdrawn. "Rajakasya Vastram Dadati" clothes are given to the washer man for washing but they are to be taken back or withdrawn from the washer man after they are washed. Clothes given to the washer man are not offerings, gifts or donations. Here the words
Danam, Sampradan To offer, to gift, to donate are to be understood in their fourth case, and not in any other sense or case. "Kanya-Dan" or offerings/giftings/donations made at the time of a daughter's marriage should be according to the will, pleasure and capacity/ability of the giver, Offerings, gifts and donations made under pressure, duress, fear and compulsion are not offerings, gifts, donations in the true sense of the word "Dan" or Charity.
A daughter given away in marriage along with such compulsive offerings, gifts, and donations is in fact sold out at a price.
The act of selling away of a bride and bridegroom are totally opposed by scriptures and holy books of Hindu religion.

Tag Names : Ved
Other articles of this author :
1 Emergence of Artistic flora in vedas
2 The language and script of Vedas
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