The eight types of marriage in Hinduism

Jean-Claude Svadchii svadchi at
Fri Dec 6 08:34:50 UTC 1996

You can find in the zastras the list of the types of marriage in Hinduism.
Usually, there are eight types of marriage :
1) the brAhma type when the bride's father, on his own initiative, invites
his future son-in-law, possessed of sacred science and virtue, presents his
daughter with clothes and ornaments, and gives her to his guest.
2) the daiva type when the father, having just begun a sacrifice, arrays
his daughter and gives her to the officiant.
3) the ArSa type when the father, having received from the suitor one or
two couples of bull + cow for the celebration of a religious ceremony gives
him his daughter.
4) the prAjApatya when the father, having addressed the future husband and
wife with the words : 'Practise the dharma together !', gives his daughter.
5) the Asura type when the suitor, on his own initiative, having given
material goods to the parents and to the girl, the girl is given him (id
est : the girl is sold by her father as in the Roman marriage by 
6) the gAndharva type when both youths marry voluntarily
7) the rAkSasa type when, having killed or injured the opposing party and
having broken into its house, a man abducts a screaming and weeping girl
8) the paizAca type when a man secretely mates an asleep, drunken or mad

You can have a look at the MAnava DharmazAstra (3, 20-34) where the list
above comes from, NArada (12, 38-44), Gotama (4,6-15), ViSnu (24, 17-28),
MahAbhArata (Poona 1,67=Calc. 1,73, 8-13=2962-67), MahAbhArata (Poona
1,96=Calc. 1,102, 6-12=4086-92).
For systems with six elements (Pr. and Pai. disappear), see Apastamba (2,
5,11,17-20 and 12,1-3), VasiSTha (1,28-55).

For a structural analysis of the different types of marriage, a comparison
with the Roman ones, a study about the gAndharva marriage and woman's
freedom, studies about epic marriages (Herakles, Sigurdhr, Romulus and the
Sabines, BhISma match-maker) and for two epic misdeals (Brynhildr and
AmbA's vengeances)... and the information above, see Dumezil's Mariages
Indo-Europeens (Paris, 1979).  

May I end asking if somebody knows why the fifth type of marriage
(associated with wealth and with the vaizyas) is linked to the Asuras ? 


Jean-Claude Svadchii 
svadchi at

> >I recall once having read about seven different types of matrimony in
> >Hinduism, each distinguished from the other by the manner in which the
> >girl was given to, or taken by, the husband. I would like to know in
> >text(s) these marriages are explained in detail and also the names of
> >marriages.
> >
> >Off the top of my head (and therefore probably not exact) I remember one
> >type being where the girl was allowed to choose her own husband, another
> >where the girl was abducted by the husband, yet another when the devas
> >gave her to her husband.
> >
> >Thanks in advance.
> >
> >Regards,
> >Anshuman Pandey
> >
> >---
> >Anshuman Pandey | apandey at | University of Washington
> >
> >  "Life is an impossible scheme, and love an imperceptible dream. 
> >   Face the facts, that's what it's always been. Relax. What you 
> >   see is what you've seen, What you get is a new philosophy."

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