Was widow marriage prevalent in ancient India?

I was wondering about the custom of widow marriage in India. I know a couple of examples from Ramayana. Mandodari and Tara (wife of Bali) both remarried their brother in law after the demise of their husbands.

In Mahabharata, I know one example, which is a bit controversial (Did Arjuna marry a widow? Was Ulupi a widow?). Arjuna married Ulupi, who was a widow. However, Ulupi did not disclose it to Arjuna. So Arjuna married a widow unknowingly. Is there any example of widow marriage from Mahabharata? I am talking about marriage where the groom knowingly married a widow.

I just want to know whether widow marriage was a common practice in the Epic age. Because in British India, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar had to fight to legitimise widow marriage in Hindu society.

Just want to clarify that I am not asking about whether widow remarriage is allowed in Hindu scriptures. I know, it is allowed (Remarriage in Sanatana Dharma). I want to know examples of widow remarriage in ancient Hindu society as described in the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas etc.

  • "Because in British India, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar had to fight to legitimise widow marriage in Hindu society." In British India, weren't at least some Hindus burning widows alive? There's a rather famous quotation on the subject by one of the British colonialists: goodreads.com/quotes/…
    – nick012000
    Jul 11, 2021 at 14:24
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    Does this answer your question? Remarriage in Sanātana Dharma
    – YDS
    Jul 12, 2021 at 7:59
  • @YDS I wanted examples of widow marriage from Mahabharata. My question is not about whether scriptures support it or not. Jul 12, 2021 at 9:25
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    updated title and removing my close vote..
    – YDS
    Jul 12, 2021 at 11:36
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    Widow remarriages were always there in society but women were advised to marry among the brothers of their deceased husband only. One more incident to qoute, when vichatravirya died without any child, satyavati asks bhishma to take ambika and ambalika as his wives but bhishma refuses to maintain the honour of his vow to remain celibate.
    – user19357
    Jul 12, 2021 at 14:03

2 Answers 2


Yes. Hindu scriptures allow women to remarry after husband's death.

Naradha Smriti 12.97 “When her husband is lost or dead, when he has become a religious ascetic, when he is impotent, when he has been expelled from caste, in these cases a woman may be Justified in another husband.

Parashara Smriti 4.28 “When her husband is missing or is dead or has renounced the world or is impotent or has been degraded by sin, – on the any of the said five calamities, she can remarry“.

Garuda Purana 1.107.28 “In case of disappearance or death or renunciation or impotent or lost caste status of her husband, in these five cases a woman is allowed to take another husband.

Agni Purana 154.4-7 “Women are allowed to have another husband in the following five adversaries;- (the first husband) is lost, dead, has become an ascetic, impotent or fallen morally. If the husband is dead, she should be given to the brother of the deceased. In the absence of brother, she should be given to anyone as one wished”

Vedas also allow women to remarry.

Atharvaveda 18:32:2. Go up, O woman, to the world of the living; thou liest by (upa-çī) this one who is deceased: come! to him who grasps thy hand, thy second spouse (didhiṣú), thou hast now entered into the relation of wife to husband.

There is a story about Nala damyanti, in which damyanti was asked to marry again;

Tomorrow, after the sun hath risen, she will choose a second husband, as she doth not know whether the heroic Nala liveth or not. And addressed by her, O monarch thus, Sudeva set out. And he said unto Rituparna, all that he had been directed to say.'"

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    This is fine. However, I am asking about examples from Mahabharata. Jul 11, 2021 at 6:33
  • @AmritenduMukhopadhyay I added story about Nala damyanti. Hope it will satisfy you Jul 11, 2021 at 7:10

In Mahabharata when his wife Pradweshi tells her husband Dhirgatamas that she is leaving him as she is tired of him, he cursed all women. He curses that FROM THAT DAY a woman can have only one husband and she cannot marry again after her husband's death. That implies that TILL he curse all women, widows could marry.

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    It is interesting information. However, you need to add the reference (Verse number or the page link in case of an online book). Jul 28, 2021 at 5:00

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