What is modern Hinduism's perspectives on polygamy (by modern, say within the last 35 years)?

Is the practice of polygamy consistent with any principles in the Vedas?

  • I have never heard of polygamy in either a modern or an ancient setting or being mentioned in the vedas. There is a reference to polyandry with the Pandava brothers in the Bhagavatam, but it was not widely practiced or condoned. Dec 24, 2014 at 13:48
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    @SwamiVishwananda Pandava brothers only? What about consorts of lord krishna? Or lord karthikeya from the South? Wives of king dasaratha father of lord rama? And surely u will find tales of kings in modern history within india with multiple wives
    – user105941
    Dec 24, 2014 at 13:59
  • There is no place for polygamy in the modern setting. The law forbids it. Even if you have extra-marital affairs, there can only be one dharma patni.
    – user1195
    Dec 24, 2014 at 15:01
  • @moonstar2001 Laws differ from country to country.There are countries that support polygamy.I am looking for answers within hinduism..that enables one to embrace it or give proof to refrain from it..what does lokayata mention with regard to this or any other nastik philosophy within hinduism
    – user105941
    Dec 24, 2014 at 16:59
  • @user105941 My answer was within Hinduism as well. You asked about modern setting.
    – user1195
    Dec 25, 2014 at 3:18

2 Answers 2



There is no direct or indirect reference of any sort on polygamy in Hindu scriptures (Manu smriti). Vedas primarily deal with God & Ultimate Truth. Marriage & society practises are defined by & in Manu Smriti, which forms basis of a society & its laws consistent with other hindu scriptures.

A king is "permitted" three wifes - first for interests of his kingdom, second for his parents, third of his choice.

Lord Krishna's marriage to devi rukmini is of his own choice, while with Satyabhama was that for kingdom and with Jambava was as a token of his long standing disciple Jambavanth from Ramayana era.

Hinduism focusses on attaining the ultimate truth, which is also termed as moksha. Rest all are all rules, practises, leading to that path in which practises in a social society are again based on certain rules & laws of mother nature

Hindusim is replete with single minded devotion - "Sati" (Chastity) and to even think of polygamy in the context of hinduism is sheer ignorance and is a "paap".

  • @Ananymous Can you please put the references. Btw, as you said a king is permitted 3 wives and given example of Lord Krishna. Well, Lord Krishna did not had only 3 wives, he had 8 main wives, called the Ashta-Bharya. See my question here. So clearly rule of 3 wives should not be applicable.
    – Aby
    Sep 3, 2015 at 8:57
  • Manusmriti was written as an idealized legal template, scholars agree that it was never in effect as an actual legal system anywhere in premodern India (eg see Buxbaum D., Davis Jr., D., Menski W.), though it was influential in jurisprudence (theory). So it can't be used as evidence of actual Hindu behavior, polyamorous or not. A better source is P.V. Kane's History of Dharmasastra, which extensively documents actual legal and social customs throughout Indian history. Kane does mention polygamy, but it was not a common practice historically, & has almost vanished over the last 100 years Sep 5, 2015 at 6:37

There is discussion of polygamy by Bhishma in Mahabharata Anusasana Parva Section XLVII. Bhishma recommends polygamy for Hindus. That does not mean that Hindus must accept polygamy. Mahabharata itself does not encourage following obsolete practices:

One should practice what one considers to be one’s duty, guided by reasons, instead of blindly following the practices of the world.

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CCLXII

Polygamy has been banned for 60 years.

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