Therefore, there are several wives for one man, but not several husbands for a woman simultaneously - Aitareya Brahmana III. 3.

Can we thus conclude, using the above verse, that polygyny is allowed and polyandry forbidden?

Source of this verse is an answer that I found on this site

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    Yes it is. It is cited by Bharuci in his commentary on the Manusmriti in the section on marriage.
    – Ikshvaku
    Apr 5, 2021 at 14:48
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    @Vivikta thanks for the edit Apr 5, 2021 at 14:57
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    Does this answer your question? Was Polyandry allowed prior to Mahabharata?
    – Adiyarkku
    Apr 5, 2021 at 14:59
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    Because I didn’t read the based on the above verse part sorry. Accha anyway if you rely on the above verse then it’s very clear, doesn’t call for a doubt. But if you want to know whether polyandry is actually allowed or not then reading the linked answer will answer your question.
    – Adiyarkku
    Apr 5, 2021 at 16:57
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    @Archit okk, anyway thanks for the link Apr 5, 2021 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


Can we thus conclude, using the above verse, that polygyny is allowed and polyandry forbidden?

Yes. P. V. Kane cites this verse in the chapter on polygamy in History of Dharmaśāstra, Vol II Part I:

The Tai. S. (VI. 6.4.3) gives a dogmatic and somewhat picturesque explanation of polygamy that 'on one sacrificial post he passes round two girdles, so one man secures two wives; that he does not pass one girdle round two posts, so one wife does not obtain two husbands'. The Ait. Br. (12.11) similarly declares 'therefore one man has many wives, but one wife has not many husbands at the same time'.

Medhātithi, commenting on Manu 9.101, also uses the same verse in support of his argument that men are allowed to take more than one wife:

‘May mutual fidelity continue till death’,—this, in brief should be understood as the highest duty between husband and wife.—(9.101)

Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):

‘Fidelity’—unstinted obedience in all actions. Says Āpastamba: (a) ‘The wife should not be neglected in matters relating to Duties, Wealth and Pleasure’;—(b) ‘The highest good of man consists in Duty, Wealth and Pleasure, as it is declared that the whole fabric rests upon these three factors.’

Some people hold the following view:—

“What is meant by ‘fidelity’ here is non-abandonment; otherwise, as to the woman, so to the man also, it would not be open to many more than one wife.

This however is not right; because in regard to men there is a distinct sanction—(a) ‘Those who act through mere lust, etc.,’ (b) ‘the barren wife shall be superseded in the eighth year,’ and so forth; while there is no such sanction in the case of women. There is another text also which is indicative of the same fact—‘There are several wives for one man, but not several husbands for a woman at the same time.’

‘Until death,’—till they die; i.e., it ends only when either of them dies.

This should be understood to be the highest duty of man and wife, stated in brief.—(101)

  • Thanks for the answer. Can you tell how many women can a man marry maximum (limit). Apr 5, 2021 at 18:06
  • "The barren wife shall be superseded in the eighth year; in the tenth she whose children die off; in the eleventh she who bears only daughters; but immediately she who talks harshly.—(Manu 9.81)" - so there's no limit... Apr 5, 2021 at 18:27
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    @sv in your reference link has mis-interpretation. Last line says "As regards the wife who is harsh of speech, as there is no such serious defect, there need be no supersession; and she may be forgiven." But its the opposite. She should be left immediately, as per manusmiriti.
    – Yatix
    Apr 7, 2021 at 5:41
  • @Yatix how do you know Apr 7, 2021 at 15:02
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    @DarkKnight Bcoz I checked multiple other references and in proper english it will mean same. I guess interpreter assumed it based on current moral standards. Harsh words are not accepted a some crime but mentally its a disaster. Having it 24 x 7 will be equivalent to hell.
    – Yatix
    Apr 7, 2021 at 15:05

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