Are there any scriptures that talk about different types of Hindu marriages?

How many such types are there and what are their names and what are their descriptions?

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    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 13:33
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    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 8:32

1 Answer 1


Generally, there are eight kind of marriages described in many Scriptures. For example Manu Smriti, Chapter 3 gives their name as follows:

  1. Now listen to (the) brief (description of) the following eight marriage-rites used by the four castes (varna) which partly secure benefits and partly produce evil both in this life and after death.

  2. (They are) the rite of Brahman (Brahma), that of the gods (Daiva), that of the Rishis (Arsha), that of Pragapati (Pragapatya), that of the Asuras (Asura), that of the Gandharvas (Gandharva), that of the Rhashasas (Rakshasa), and that of the Pisakas (Paisaka).

But not all kind of marriage was permitted for every Varna.

  1. Which is lawful for each caste (varna) and which are the virtues or faults of each (rite), all this I will declare to you, as well as their good and evil results with respect to the offspring.

  2. One may know that the first six according to the order (followed above) are lawful for a Brahmana, the four last for a Kshatriya, and the same four, excepting the Rakshasa rite, for a Vaisya and a Sudra.

  3. The sages state that the first four are approved (in the case) of a Brahmana, one, the Rakshasa (rite in the case) of a Kshatriya, and the Asura (marriage in that) of a Vaisya and of a Sudra.

  4. But in these (Institutes of the sacred law) three of the five (last) are declared to be lawful and two unlawful; the Paisaka and the Asura (rites) must never be used.

  5. For Kshatriyas those before-mentioned two rites, the Gandharva and the Rakshasa, whether separate or mixed, are permitted by the sacred tradition.

And describe each kind as below:

  1. The gift of a daughter, after decking her (with costly garments) and honouring (her by presents of jewels), to a man learned in the Veda and of good conduct, whom (the father) himself invites, is called the Brahma rite.

  2. The gift of a daughter who has been decked with ornaments, to a priest who duly officiates at a sacrifice, during the course of its performance, they call the Daiva rite.

  3. When (the father) gives away his daughter according to the rule, after receiving from the bridegroom, for (the fulfilment of) the sacred law, a cow and a bull or two pairs, that is named the Arsha rite.

  4. The gift of a daughter (by her father) after he has addressed (the couple) with the text, 'May both of you perform together your duties,' and has shown honour (to the bridegroom), is called in the Smriti the Pragapatya rite.

  5. When (the bridegroom) receives a maiden, after having given as much wealth as he can afford, to the kinsmen and to the bride herself, according to his own will, that is called the Asura rite.

  6. The voluntary union of a maiden and her lover one must know (to be) the Gandharva rite, which springs from desire and has sexual intercourse for its purpose.

  7. The forcible abduction of a maiden from her home, while she cries out and weeps, after (her kinsmen) have been slain or wounded and (their houses) broken open, is called the Rakshasa rite.

  8. When (a man) by stealth seduces a girl who is sleeping, intoxicated, or disordered in intellect, that is the eighth, the most base and sinful rite of the Pisakas.

Vishnu Purana, Book 3, Chapter 10 also give the names of eight types of marriage.

"The forms of marriage are eight, the Brahmá, Daiva, the Ársha, Prájápatya, Asúra, Gándharba, Rákshasa, and Paiśácha; which last is the worst 10: but the caste to which either form has been enjoined as lawful by inspired sages should avoid any other mode of taking a wife. The householder who espouses a female connected with him by similarity of religious and civil obligations, and along with her discharges the duties of his condition, derives from such a wife great benefits."

Baudhayana Dharmashastra, PRASNA I, ADHYÂYA 11, KANDIKÂ 20 also describes eight types of marriages similar to Manu.

Mahabharata, Anushasana Parva, SECTION XLIV mention five types of marriage as follows:

"Bhishma said, 'Having enquired into the conduct and disposition of the person, his learning and acquirements, his birth, and his acts, good people should then bestow their daughter upon accomplished bridegrooms. All righteous Brahmanas, O Yudhishthira, act in this way (in the matter of the bestowal of their daughters). This is known as the Brahma marriage, O Yudhishthira! Selecting an eligible bridegroom, the father of the girl should cause him to marry his daughter, having, by presents of diverse kinds, induced the bridegroom to that act. This form of marriage constitutes the eternal practice of all good Kshatriyas. When the father of the girl', disregarding his own wishes, bestows his daughter upon a person whom the daughter likes and who reciprocates the girl's sentiments, the form of marriage, O Yudhishthira, is called Gandharva by those that are conversant with the Vedas. The wise have said this, O king, to be the practice of the Asuras, viz., wedding a girl after purchasing her at a high cost and after gratifying the cupidity of her kinsmen. Slaying and cutting off the heads of weeping kinsmen, the bridegroom sometimes forcibly takes away the girl he would wed. Such wedding, O son, is called by the name of Rakshasa.

But of these five types only first three are righteous as mentioned in same chapter of Mahabharata:

Of these five (the Brahma, the Kshatra, the Gandharva, the Asura, and the Rakshasa), three are righteous, O Yudhishthira, and two are unrighteous. The Paisacha and the Asura forms should never be resorted to. 1 The Brahma, Kshatra, and Gandharva forms are righteous, O prince of men! Pure or mixed, these forms should be resorted to, without doubt.

Note: These rules are applicable only in ancient times. Right now marriage should be done according to Indian Constitution.

  • 2
    Good references. Actually there is one reference from Mahabharata as well. Anushasana Parva. You may add that for completeness.
    – iammilind
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 13:24
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    Please, IMHO you should also mentioned in "Note" at last that these rules were in earlier time. These rules are not applied now since Country comes first and religion at second. And one has to follow the rules of Govt. (Raja dand). As per today's rules most of these rules are not legal. So any future viewer won't get any misleading that he will be doing right thing by adapting any of mentioned way of marriage, specially last few one's.
    – Vishvam
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 4:40
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    @Rishabh, 'Raja dand' - The king is also supposed to punish the father who does not give away his daughter in marriage at the right time. If the 'constitution' does not do that, no need to give it special status. The Note is not about Hinduism, it is about constitution, which comes & goes. It should be removed.
    – ram
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 3:53
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    @Rishabh, people already follow Pisacha way (drug/rape). People also don't marry of their daughters until they're 30, claiming it is dharma. It is our duty to tell dharma. If we worry that people may be mis-lead, people may also be properly-lead. What people follow or disregard is not in our hands. If i say that killing is duty of soldiers because it says in Bhagavad Gita, and tomorrow some soldier kills a civilian, that is not my fault.
    – ram
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 22:12
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    @Rishabh, "going with time" is an excuse. We know exactly what happens when people go with time, Kali is what happens. If you go with direction of flood, it is easy and you'll be flowing 'safely'. But if you fight against it, God will take you out of the flood. In Kali Yuga, Raja will drive people to mountains with heavy taxes and harsh punishments. We're only supposed to pay 1/6th of our income in taxes. But Govt. levies 1/3rd. So many girls have kama entering their hearts at 13, but can't marry till 21 due to 'society', and end up with premarital relations. This type of Raja-danda is useless
    – ram
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 23:18

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