adoption & marriage: legal question

Patrick Olivelle jpo at UTS.CC.UTEXAS.EDU
Mon Nov 24 14:23:35 UTC 2003


The answer may lie in the institution of "niyoga" - where a sonless
man will "appoint" his daughter as his "son" -- putrikaa, someone I
call "female-son". Any sons such a "female-son" gets, is regarded as
the "son" of his maternal grandmother. Discussed at length by Hans
Peter-Schmidt in his "Some Rites and Rights of Women." What is found
in the Dharmasastras makes no reference to where the newly married
couple may reside, but it makes sense that they would reside with the
wife's parents rather than, as normal, with the husband's.


>For the Dharmazaastrins:
>In a story I have studied, Indian but available only in Tibetan (the
>tale of Utpalavar.naa), a man with a daughter, but no son, meets a
>young man, who is an orphan. He tells the young man he will give him
>his daughter in marriage if the young man will come to live in his
>house. The young man agrees, and marries the daughter. (the story
>gets interesting because the man dies, the son-in-law has a sexual
>liason with the widow=his mother-in-law, the wife finds out about it
>Question: is there any question of adoption possible here? The young
>man could make himself a svaayamdatta, as I understand it, but in
>that case --if I understand correctly--there is no way he could marry
>the daughter, right? He would then fall under all the restrictions on
>marriagable women (and agamyaa in general) that would apply to a
>natural son. Is this correct? (The text never says he is adopted.).
>Part of the reason I am wondering about this may be my long-held
>doubt about how things work in the, admitted entirely unrelated, case
>of Japan, in which young men are adopted as husbands for daughters in
>families without sons. Although Japan has no notion of pi.n.da as
>such in the Indian legal sense that would make the presence of one
>able to give the pi.n.da so important, the overall notion is the
>same, continuation of the line. I do not know how Japanese law or
>custom explains what should, prima facie, be the subsequent sibling
>incest of husband/adopted son and daughter.
>Any hints would be much appreciated, jonathan
>Jonathan Silk
>Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures
>Center for Buddhist Studies
>290 Royce Hall
>Box 951540
>Los Angeles, CA 90095-1540
>phone: (310)206-8235
>fax:  (310)825-8808
>silk at

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