Gandharva wedding is making of love between Man and Woman. When a man makes consensual love with a woman , the man and woman are said to have gotten married through Gandharva rites.

But what constitutes "love making" . Is doing penis-in-vagina penetration necessary for it to be considered as Gandarva wedding ?

What if a man and woman just kissed ? Or even holding hand considered as wedding ? ( One of the name of wedding is "PaniGrahan" which translates to hand holding)

One verse I found in Mbh . ( The verse occurs in the section where Gandharva wedding happens between Dusyant and Shaknuntala )

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  • 1
    The story of Dushyant and Shakuntala is often quoted as scriptures allowing "love-marriage". But there are 3 important morals: 1. It is allowed only for Kshatriya varna. 2. It is Anuloma marriage (both belong to same varna, or woman is of lower-varna than man). 3. It led to lot of heart break, separation, curse, infamy. In other words, what you see with normal kumar & priti from __ arts college is most likely not gandharva vivaha, and if it is, it also leads to heart break. Most divorces are from love-marriage. Everyone talks about love before marriage, but not compatibility after marriage.
    – ram
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 3:39
  • Where does it specify making love? I only heard it saying for love/lust. Also this question just assumes all races have sex like we do, which I am not a fan of. Commented Dec 23, 2021 at 21:39

1 Answer 1


Love and mutual agreement are the only necessities. It is not at all necessary to have sexual intercourse prior to marriage, which is of course Adharmic, where as the Gandharva form of marriage is one of the allowed forms of marriage.

इच्छयाऽन्योन्यसंयोगः कन्यायाश्च वरस्य च ।
गान्धर्वः स तु विज्ञेयो मैथुन्यः कामसम्भवः ॥ ३२ ॥

icchayā'nyonyasaṃyogaḥ kanyāyāśca varasya ca |
gāndharvaḥ sa tu vijñeyo maithunyaḥ kāmasambhavaḥ || 32 ||

The mutual union of the bride and bridegroom, through love is to be known as the “Gāndharva” form; it has sexual intercourse for its end and it has its source in lust.—(32).

Manu Smriti 3.32

It says the goal of this marriage is sexual intercourse and the motive arises from lust.

An alternate translation of this verse is as follows:

3.32. 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.

So, sexual intercourse is the purpose not a requirement.

Various verses about the same can be found in the link given above and are as follows:

Gautama (4. 10).—‘When the girl loves a man and herself becomes united to him, it is the Gāndharva form.’

Baudhāyana (1. 11. 6).—‘The Gāndharva consists in the mutual union of the loving bride and the loving bridegroom.’

Āpāstamba-Dharmasūtra (2. 11. 20).—‘When the couple become united through mutual love, it is the Gāndharva.’

Vaśiṣṭha (1. 33).—‘It is the Gāndharva when the man loving the girl who loves himself, and is similar to himself, marries her.’

Viṣṇu (24. 23).—‘When ṭhe couple in love with one another, become united, independently of the parents,—it is the Gāndharva.’

Yājñavalkya (1. 61).—‘The Gāndharva is accomplished by mutual agreement.’

Āśvalāyana-Gṛhyasūtra (1. 6. 1. 5).—‘It is Gāndharva when the man marries the girl after coming to a mutual agreement.’

Devala (Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra, p. 855).—‘When in a sacred place, the man and the woman become united by mutual agreement, through love, it is the fifth form of marriage, the Gāndharva.’

Hārīta (Do., p. 856).—‘When the girl herself selects the bridegroom, it is Gāndharva.’

  • I don't think sexual intercourse before marriage is sin . As sexual intercourse is itself a wedding.
    – river
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 8:51
  • However the two must remain wedded after that .
    – ajitdas
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 7:43

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