Marriage in Sanātana Dharma was or is never a personal matter instead it is a social matter and responsibility. We all know that, there is no concept of "divorce" in Hinduism. But somehow, our law today is as such. People have divorce for different reasons. If a person gets a divorce by getting accused of something he or she has not done. I believe most laws today are in favor of women. On the other hand, there also many cases of women who were harassed by their in-laws and husbands. I've personally have seen such cases both in case of men and women.


  • Case-1: If a girl elopes after marriage or takes a divorce by false accusation on the husband and his parents just to remarry or be with another male who is dear to her. Is that allowed? Is that justified in anyway? What would happen to her and her family? What happens to her divorced husband and his family? Is he allowed to remarry or has to stay a lifelong bachelor without marriage?

  • Case-2: Same questions as above with the man-woman roles reversed.

Because people who take divorce willingly upon agreement, that is their problem. But the cases in which either wife or husband is of bad character and gets a divorce by force (i.e., by blackmailing that he or she will do suicide or kill) or by strategy, the innocents are getting punished whose life and family is getting ruined.

More Questions:

  • Is remarriage for the innocents (man or woman) allowed as per Hindu scriptures? Are there any prayaschitha karmas (compensatory or purification rites)?

  • If a divorced male or female does any puja or holy bath or japa or any punya karma, will he or she get punya? Are they even allowed to do any punya karma at all?

NOTE: Please support your answers using scriptures or words of acharyas.

  • May be the user meant "What happens as per scriptures?" like going to hell or what about pitrus.
    – Student
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 21:36
  • Welcome to Hinduism.SE! You should avoid asking "Is that justified in anyway?", "What would happen to her and her family?" etc. as that will lead to debate. So I've struck-out those in your question. Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 21:40
  • @Anonymous, It's Too lengthy to answer. You have to change your questions and make it as one otherwise readers got confused to answer. If you don't wanna do that, for better understand of Divorce and Remarriage read this link: 16108.com/dharma/training/divorce.htm
    – CR241
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 22:08
  • @CR241 The OP is an unregistered user. Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 3:46

3 Answers 3


In Hinduism, the bond of marriage has a great importance. Marriage is seen as a way to achieve Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha. Marrying once/monogamy is given an importance. Monogamy is one of the reasons which made Sri Rama a model for our generations.

Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Mahaswami (Kanchi Periyava) while explaining the greatness of marriage in Hinduism:

In our religion the man-wife relationship is not concerned with the mundane alone. It serves the Atman as well as the good of mankind. In other religions too marriages are conducted, say, in a church with God as witness. But ideal of marriage is not as lofty as ours. The purpose of marriage in our religion is to purify the husband further and to impact the wife fullness as his devoted and self-effacing companion. There is no such high purpose in the marriage of other religion. In other countries the man-woman relationship is akin to a family or social contract. Here it is an Atman connection. But this very connection is a means of disconnection also of freeing the Atman, the self, from the bondage of worldly existence. There is no room for divorce in it. Even to think of it is sinful.

An excerpt from Hindu Dharma: The universal way of life.

Manu states the importance of marriage and bestowal of a bride in a marriage as follows:

Let no intelligent man, after having given his daughter to one man, give her again to another; for he who gives and then gives is guilty of deceit. (Manu 9;71)

sakṛdaṃśo nipatati sakṛt kanyā pradīyate |
sakṛdāha dadānīti trīṇyetāni satāṃ sakṛt || 9.47 ||

Once is the partition of inheritance made,once is a maiden given away; once does one say ‘I give’; each of these three comes only once.

We all know that, there is no concept of "divorce" in Hinduism.

Yes, the concept of divorce and remarriage are very rare. Even though Hindu dharma gives much importance to the bond of marriage, it has given certain conditions under which divorce and remarriage is allowed. These must not be taken advantage of to annul the marriage.

In present social conditions, divorce or remarriage is considered as an anathema by most orthodox Hindus. But only some knew that there are certain conditions under which annulment of marriage and divorce is allowed.

But while he is explaining about annulment of marriage:

vidhivat pratigṛhyāpi tyajet kanyāṃ vigarhitām |
vyādhitāṃ vipraduṣṭāṃ vā chadmanā copapāditām || 72 ||

Though a man may have accepted a damsel in due form, he may abandon her if she be blemished, diseased, or deflowered, and if she has been given with fraud.

yastu doṣavatīṃ kanyāmanākhyāyaupapādayet |
tasya tad vitathaṃ kuryāt kanyādāturdurātmanaḥ || 73 ||

If anybody gives away a maiden possessing blemishes without declaring them, the bridegroom may annul that contract with the evil-minded giver. (Manu 9;73.)

Similarly in Yajnyavalkya Smriti:

If a man gives away a girl without mentioning her defects, he should be fined with the highest amercement; but the man that abandons a faultless girl betrothed to him should be punished; and if he falsely attributes defects to her, he should be fined one hundred. (1.66)

In Vishnu Smriti:

He who forsakes a faultless wife should be punished like a thief.

  • If there is a lack of Harmony between husband and wife, then divorce is allowed.

    For one year let a husband bear with a wife who hates him; but after that let him deprive her of her [share] of the property and cease to live with her. [But he should still make arrangements for her clothing and food.] (Manu 9;77.)

  • Alcoholism in either parties is a justification for divorce:

    She who drinks spiritous liquor, is of bad conduct, rebellious, diseased (with leprosy), violent, or wasteful of money, may at any time be superseded by another wife. (Manu 9;80)

    One who drinks wine, or is diseased, or guileful, or barren, or destructive of wealth, or harsh-tongued, or brings forth only female children*, or bears malice towards her man,—shall be superseded. (Yajnyavalkya 1.73)

Conditions of a remarriage:

  1. If the maiden is married to blemished man without his declaring them.

    In Narada Smriti:

    When a faultless maiden has been married to a man who has a blemish unknown before the marriage, and does not take to another man after discovering it, shall be enjoined to do so by her relatives. If she has no relations living she may go to live with another man of her own accord. (12;96)

  2. In case of prolonged absence of husband or disappearance of husband.

    If the husband went abroad for some sacred duty, the wife should wait for him eight years, if he went for acquiring learning or fame six years and if he went for pleasure three years. [Thereafter she may remarry without incurring any sin or guilt.] (Manu 9;76)

  3. If the husband becomes a monk and renounces the world.

    If the husband is untraceable, dead, renounced the world, impotent or degraded - in these cases of emergency a woman can remarry. (Parashara 28)

  4. When the husband becomes impotent and the wife is still young.

    If a man is unable to have sexual relations with his wife, then she may divorce him and take another husband. (Narada 12;18.)

    If the husband is untraceable, dead, renounced the world, impotent or degraded - in these cases of emergency a woman can remarry. (Parashara 28)

Legal reasons for divorce by men:

  1. If the wife squanders his property.
  2. If the wife makes an attempt on the husband's life.
  3. If the wife continually shows him malice.
  4. If the wife slanders her husband.

To sum up the reasons for remarriage:

In both the parties:

  1. Affliction with a chronic or disgusting disease
  2. Deformity
  3. Madness
  4. Inability to have sexual relations

In a man:

  1. Committing of a crime (grave sin) for which loss of caste is the penalty.
  2. If the groom has forsaken his family.

In a woman:

  1. Loss of virginity [that was not previously declared]

Above reasons should not be taken advantage of gratuitously. These are applicable in extreme situations only.

So by above verses, it is clear that remarriage of innocent men and women is allowed. A marriage which happened under false pretences can be annulled.

*A women who gives birth to female children only should not be abandoned because female chromosomes do not have a role in deciding the gender of the child. It is the male chromosome which decides the gender of a new born baby..

** The word 'superseding' should be understood as divorce according to present social conditions. In ancient days, polygamy was allowed. But in present days, polygamy is not allowed (eg: In India, it is a crime if a Hindu marries multiple women).

  • 4
    Good answer. In footnotes, why talk about chromosomes? How do you decide which verses are applicable for today's world and which are outdated? Based on current Indian law? Based on our current understanding of science? Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 15:35
  • 1
    @SreeCharan Yeah one can adopt a male child if he needs to fulfill pitra rina.
    – Yogi
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 4:22
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    @Hindu I don't know about it but I will give it a try. We will use a chat room instead of series of comments. Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 3:35
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    Yajnavalkya 1.73 mentions reasons for taking second wife (which is still optional) not divorce. archive.org/details/yajnavalkyasmrit00yj/page/140
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 17:26
  • 2
    @Sarvabhouma Whether they are applicable or not is different matter. You should mention it as conditions for taking second wife. It's grossly misinterpreting or showing YS in bad light when it says divorce can be given if female child is born. we should see those verses from context of Ancient Indian life. Please add that.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 4:24

Answering this part of your Question,

Is remarriage for the innocents (man or woman) allowed as per Hindu scriptures?

Yes, as per Agni Purana: Chapter 154:

enter image description here

A woman can marry again provided that her husband has disappeared, is dead. has become a hermit or is such a sinner that he is expelled from his own varna. ~English translation from an abridged version

  • 1
    Also from Agni Puranas and I believe Parasara if he degrades morally or can no longer fullfill roles of a husband ie as a provider.
    – Haridasa
    Commented Apr 25 at 23:52

Re-marriage is allowed in some circumstances.

  • If the women was virgin after the death of husband.

Manusmriti 9.176 “If she be (still) a virgin, or one who returned (to her first husband) after leaving him, she is worthy to again perform with her second (or first deserted) husband the (nuptial) ceremony.”

Baudhyan Dharma sutra 4:1:16. If, after (a damsel) has been given away, or even after (the nuptial sacrifices) have been offered, the husband dies, she who (thus) has left (her father's house) and has returned, may be again wedded according to the rule applicable to second weddings, provided the marriage had not been consummated.

Vasistha Dharma Shastra 17.74 “If a damsel at the death of her husband had been merely wedded by (the recitation of) sacred texts, and if the marriage had not been consummated, she may be married again.”

  • When the husband is dead (virginity is not required), lost, become ascetic, became impotent or fallen from caste.
  1. When her husband is lost or dead, when he has become a religious ascetic, when he is impotent, and when he has been expelled from caste: these are the five cases of legal necessity, in which a woman may be justified in taking another husband.

[Narad Smriti]

1.107.28 "If the husband is untraceable, dead, or has renounced the world, is impotent or degraded - in these cases of emergency a woman can remarry."

[Garuda Purana]

Agni purana Chapter 154

enter image description here

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