[INDOLOGY] sources on markers of girls' transition to adulthood

Walter Slaje walter.slaje at gmail.com
Sat Sep 5 10:34:37 UTC 2020

Below are some additional indications that could be followed up in the
course of your research.

Kind regards,


1) See *Richard Schmidt* (*Beiträge zur indischen Erotik*. 3. Aufl. Berlin
1922: 645–649) with source quotes on marriage age and also marks of

2) See moreover *Ram Gopal*, *India of Vedic Kalpasūtras*. Delhi 21983: 212
with relevant quotes (p. 220, n. 59) also on the important term *nagnikā*
(„naked“) in the context of the ideal marriage age:

*nagnikām* [=] *aprāptastrībhāvām* *ayauvanarasām* *upayaccheta* (“let him
approach a *nagnikā* girl for intercourse in whom the sexual
characteristics of a woman are not yet developed and in whom the menstrual
fluid (*yauvanarasa*) has not yet emerged.”).

*nagnikā*, defined as the “best” (*śreṣṭhā*) in the above passage of
*Mānavagṛhyasūtra* as cited by Gopal, seems actually to refer to the
absence of pubic hair (*ajātalomnī*) as also discussed, e.g., by
Bhaṭṭanārāyaṇa on *Gobhilagṛhyasūtra* 2.5.7. According to the latter’s
testimony there were Ācāryas who stipulated intercourse with prepubescent
married girls lacking pubic hair, if these girls themselves desired so:

*yady ajātalomny evātīva puruṣābhogārthinī syāt, tathā sati, *[…] *maithunaṃ
kartavyam ity eke ācāryā manyante*.

3) The Kashmirian *Kāṭhakagṛhyasūtra* determines the age of marriage of
girls at 10, at the very latest at 12 years (*daśavārṣikaṃ** brahmacaryaṃ
kumārīṇāṃ dvādaśavārṣikaṃ vā *KGS 19.2), on which Devapāla comments:
ūrdhvaṃ **brahmacarye kumārī **na** sthāpayitavyā pitrā **।* *agatyā **vā
dvādaśa **varṣāṇi nātikramaṇīyāni* ॥ (Devapālabhāṣya *ad* 19.2. ||

4) *Manusmṛti*

*triṃśadvarṣo vahet kanyāṃ hṛdyāṃ dvādaśavārṣikīm | tryaṣṭavarṣo 'ṣṭavarṣāṃ
vā dharme sīdati satvaraḥ* || MDhŚ 9.94 ||

“A 30-year-old man should marry a charming girl of 12 years, or an
18-year-old, *a girl of 8 years* - *sooner, if* his fulfilling the Law
would suffer.” (Olivelle 2005, p. 194).

There is a wider range of evidence for an ideal marriage age for girls aged
8 (*a**ṣṭ**avar**ṣ**ā*): To start with Pārvatī, Śiva’s wife, it is said
that she was married at the age of eight (8), i.e. before puberty, the
technical term for which is *gaurī* (significantly also used as an epithet
for her):

5) Jayadratha’s *Haracaritacint**ā**ma**ṇ**i*

*dev**ī** himavata**ḥ** putr**ī** k**ā**l**ī** n**ī**lotpalacchavi**ḥ** | *

*a**ṣṭ**avar**ṣ**ā** tapoyukt**ā** bhart**ā**ra**ṃ** pr**ā**pa dh**ū**rja*
*ṭ**im* || Hc 22.3 ||

*sā krīḍantī pitṛgehe śambhunā saha pārvatī* |

*dṛṣṭvā dṛṣṭvā vapuḥ śyāmaṃ nāhaṃ gaurīty alajjata* || Hc 22.4 ||

6) *gaurī* = *aṣṭavarṣā* = prepubescent:

*Brhadyamasmrti* (= *Parāśarasmṛti* 7.4):

*aṣṭavarṣā** bhaved gaurī navavarṣā ca rohiṇī |*

*daśavarṣā bhavet kanyā  ata ūrdhvaṃ rajasvalā* || YS 182v 3.21 ||

7) *Aṣṭavarṣā* marriage in the *Revākhaṇḍa* of the *Vāyupurāṇa*:

*puṇyāham adya saṃjātam ahaṃ tvaddarśanotsukaḥ |*

*kanyā** madīyā rājendra hy aṣṭavarṣā vyajāyata* || RKV 142.18 ||

*caturbhujo mama sutas triṣu lokeṣu viśrutaḥ | tasyeyaṃ dīyatāṃ kanyā
śiśupālasya bhīṣmaka* || RKV 142.20 ||

8) *Rāmāyaṇa*

Sītā, too, was married before the age of puberty as a “*kaumārī*”:

*svayaṃ tu bhāryāṃ kaumārīṃ ciram adhyuṣitāṃ satīm |*

*śailūṣa iva māṃ rāma parebhyo dātum icchasi* || Rām 2.27.8 (CE)||

The Gītā Press translates from an emic insight point of view: „who was
married to you before puberty”.

The commentaries *Rāmāyaṇaśiromaṇi* und *Bhūṣaṇa* on this passage (Rām
2.30,8) confirm *kaumārī* as “*kumārāvasthāyāṃ eva vivāhitā*” (“married
already in the period of life of a ten to twelve years old maiden”).

*kumārī* = 1. “A young girl, one from 10 to 12 years old“ (Apte)

9) A significant term for a a sexually mature, fully developed girl is
*prauḍhā* (cp., eg., *Bhāgavatapurāṇa *4.25.21 (*a-prauḍhā* – “not yet
fully developed”), or *ūḍhā* (cp. *nava-ūḍhā* – “having just attained
puberty”, as in *Brahmavaivartap*., ch. 112).

Am Sa., 5. Sept. 2020 um 03:08 Uhr schrieb Madhav Deshpande via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info>:

> Hello Sundari,
>      I see these quotations from various texts embedded in the commentary
> Tattvabodhinī on Bhaṭṭoji's Siddhānta-Kaumudī, on rule 3168 of SK [p. 531,
> edition of SK with Tattvabodhinī, edited by Wasudev Laxman Shastri
> Panshikar, 7th edition, Nirnaya Sagara press, Mumbai, 1933]:  These are
> comments on the word *gaurī:*
> "गौरी त्वसञ्जातरज:कन्याशङ्करभार्ययो:" ... इति मेदिनी ।..."अष्टवर्षा तु या
> दत्ता श्रुतशीलसमन्विते । सा गौरी तत्सुतो यस्तु स गौर: परिकीर्तित: ।।" इति
> ब्रह्माण्डवचनं श्राद्धकाण्डे हेमाद्रिणोद्धृतम् । एतेन "गौर: शुच्याचार:"
> इत्यादि भाष्यं व्याख्यातम् ।
>    The end of the above passage uses the quote fromthe Brahmāṇḍa-Purāṇa to
> argue that the word *gauraḥ *used by Patañjali in defining a Brāhmaṇa
> does not refer to the skin color, but it has a Dharmaśāstric significance
> as "the son of a woman who was given at her age of eight to a learned and
> righteous Brahmin."  The same quote is used by the great Nāgeśabhaṭṭa in
> one of his commentaries. I have cited that in one of my publications, and I
> have to hunt down that reference.  But it is exactly the same argument.
>    On a personal level, the history of my own family shows the gradual
> change from that old standard for the age of marriage.  My grandmother was
> married when she was 9.  My two paternal aunts were married at the age of
> 14 or 15, and since that was considered rather too late, they were married
> to widowers.  My own mother was married at her age of 16.  This is an
> interesting trajectory of history within a single family.
>     With best wishes,
> Madhav M. Deshpande
> Professor Emeritus, Sanskrit and Linguistics
> University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
> Senior Fellow, Oxford Center for Hindu Studies
> [Residence: Campbell, California, USA]
> On Fri, Sep 4, 2020 at 5:09 PM Olivelle, J P via INDOLOGY <
> indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
>> The most straightforward statement in Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra 3.3.1:
>> A woman 12 years old has reached the age for legal transactions
>> (vyavahāra), as also
>> a man 16 years old.
>> Best,
>> Patrick
>> On Sep 4, 2020, at 5:23 PM, Sundari Johansen Hurwitt via INDOLOGY <
>> indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> I am looking for sources that explore the age at which a girl
>> traditionally becomes an adult woman (meaning, she transitions into defacto
>> adulthood by the standards of the time) in Hindu culture, prior to the 19th
>> century. I'm already aware of the Indian Penal Code setting the age of
>> consent for marriage for girls at 10 years old in 1860, and the history
>> following that.
>> In particular I'm looking for primary and/or secondary literature that
>> mention bodily processes, rites of passage, age, or other markers of that
>> transition to adulthood.
>> Many thanks!
>> -sundari
>> --
>> Sundari Johansen Hurwitt
>> sundari.johansen at gmail.com
>> sjohansen at ciis.edu
>> she/her
>> _______________________________________________
>> INDOLOGY mailing list
>> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
>> indology-owner at list.indology.info (messages to the list's managing
>> committee)
>> http://listinfo.indology.info (where you can change your list options or
>> unsubscribe)
>> This message is from an external sender. Learn more about why this <<
>> matters at https://links.utexas.edu/rtyclf.                        <<
>> _______________________________________________
>> INDOLOGY mailing list
>> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
>> indology-owner at list.indology.info (messages to the list's managing
>> committee)
>> http://listinfo.indology.info (where you can change your list options or
>> unsubscribe)
> _______________________________________________
> INDOLOGY mailing list
> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
> indology-owner at list.indology.info (messages to the list's managing
> committee)
> http://listinfo.indology.info (where you can change your list options or
> unsubscribe)

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://list.indology.info/pipermail/indology/attachments/20200905/47a847f7/attachment.htm>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list