Types of Marriage

  • Brahma: Marriage of a duly dowered girl to a man of the same class.
  • Daiva: The father gives a daughter to a sacrificial priest as a part of his fee.
  • Arsa: A token bride-price of a cow and a bull is given in place of the dowry.
  • Prajapatya: The father gives the girl without dowry and without demanding the bride-price.
  • Gandharva: Marriage by the consent of the two parties-love marriage.
  • Asura: Marriage in which the bride was bought from her father. It was looked down upon with disfavor by all sacred texts, though Arthashastra allows it without criticism.
  • Rakshasa: Marriage by capture, was practiced especially by warriors.
  • Paishacha: Marriage by seduction.

Of these eight forms the first four were generally approved and were permissible to Brahmans. Daiva marriage was considered ‘the ideal’. The other forms were looked down upon with varying degrees of disfavor. Gandharva marriage, which often might amount to no more than a laison, was surprisingly respected. A special form of the Gandharva marriage was the Swayamvara.

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