Kinship systems

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 9 20:28:17 UTC 2000

>I give in the end some portions K. Mitra illustrating the importance
>of cross-cousin marriage in the North. Just as the bilingualism was lost,
>the later dharmashastras started insisting these weddings are wrong.
>Perhaps to reinforce the difference between IA and Dravidian ways of life.

1. The dharmasastras are predominantly meant for Brahmin families. Other
communities in the north may have emulated Brahmin customs and rules,
leading to a decrease in cross-cousin marriages.

2. The dharmasastras always made allowances where established custom
differed, e.g. cross-cousin marriages were allowed even for Brahmins, in the

3. Scientifically speaking, cross-cousin marriages (and also a woman
marrying her maternal uncle) are simply not a good idea, especially when the
pattern is repeated for a few generations. The whole point of sexual
reproduction is to increase genetic diversity. Marrying among close
relatives goes against this evolutionary trend. That something was
culturally followed by some groups of people at some point of time does not
mean that the custom should never undergo change.


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