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Child marriage is a crime and is illegal by law. Yet, there are verses in Hindu texts that seem to promote it. Please explain how this is reconcilable.?

  1. पराशरस्मृति (Parāshara Smriti) 7.7-8.:

प्राप्ते तु द्वादशे वर्षे यः कन्यां न प्रयच्छति । मासि मासि रजस्तस्याः पिबन्ति पितरः स्वयम् ॥ ७ ॥ माता चैव पिता चैव ज्येष्ठो भ्राता तथैव च। त्रयस्ते नरकं यान्ति दृष्ट्वा कन्यां रजस्वलाम् ॥ ८ ॥

A man who does not give his daughter in marriage at the age of twelve. Every month the forefathers themselves drink the dust of her menstruation. ॥ 7 ॥ Mother, father and elder brother and so on. The three of them will go to hell if they see the girl who is mestruating. ॥ 8 ॥

  1. महाभारत (Mahābhārata) 13/33/14.:

त्रिंशद्वर्षो दशवर्षां भार्यां विन्देत नग्निकाम् । एकविंशतिवर्षो वा सप्तवर्षामवाप्नुयात् ।।

A man thirty years old shall marry a charming maiden of ten years old; One twenty one years old should get a damsel of seven years old.

  1. संवर्त स्मृति (Samvarta Smriti) 65-67.:

अष्टवर्षा भवेद्गौरी नववर्षा तु रोहिणी. दशवर्षा भवेत्कन्या अतः ऊर्ध्वं रजस्वला.. माता चैव पिता चैव ज्येष्ठो भ्राता तथैव च . त्रयस्ते नरकं यान्ति दृष्ट्वा कन्यां रजस्वलाम्.. तस्माद् विवाहयेत्कन्यां यावन्नर्तुमती भवेत्. विवाहो यष्टवर्षायाः कन्यायास्तु प्रशस्यते ...

At eight years old, she is Gauri and Rohini at nine years old. At ten years old, she is a girl (kanyā) and above that she is menstruating.. Mother and father and elder brother and so on, The three of them go to hell when they see a girl who is menstruating. Therefore, he should give a daughter in marriage until she remains playful. Marriage of a daughter of the age of adoration is advisable.

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    1. You should add translations and citations for the verses to make this more accessible. 2. Your question is somewhat opinion-based because the explanation will vary extremely based on personal views. 3. You may find some insight at this question: What was the true reason behind the practice of Child Marriage?.
    – CDR
    Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 16:03
  • Above verses are not "child marriage", they are "girl-child marriage" to be precise. Men have to undergo gurukul education for many years and can only get married post that. "child marriage is criminal..." - this is as per constitution which isnt framed as per shastras. Shastras don't have to follow constitution it shd be the other way round
    – ekAntika
    Commented Nov 8, 2023 at 5:08
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    Child marriage was the norm throughout the world due to the fact that most people (in an era before the advent of modern medicines, proper sanitation & ample food supply) would live up only upto their 30s. So marrying off at 10s would ensure ample time for family life. However, as quality of life in Europe improved in the last 2 centuries, opinions towards child-marriage changed there, & by virtue of colonisation, those opinions became global.
    – অনু
    Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 3:34
  • @অনু - 'most people would live up only upto their 30s' - this is common nonsense myth repeated ad nauseum. there were frequent wars among kingdoms which would lead to young mean dying early.. not average natural old age deaths of people dying off when they turned 35.
    – ram
    Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 7:25
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I would quote Swami Vivekananda's words for all social customs including the one requested above.

For intricate problems like these they have been finding out scientific explanations for the last two thousand years —while one fourth of the people are starving. A girl of eight is married to a man of thirty, and the parents are jubilant over it.... And if anyone protests against it,the plea is put forward, "Our religion is being overturned." What sort of religion have they who want to see their girls becoming mothers before they attain puberty even and offer scientific explanations for it? Many, again, lay the blame at the door of the Mohammedans. They are to blame, indeed! Just read the Grihya-Sutras through and see what is given as the marriageable age of a girl. ... There it is expressly stated that a girl must be married before attaining puberty. The entire Grihya-Sutras enjoin this. And in the Vedic Ashvamedha sacrifice worse things would be done.... All the Brâhmanas mention them, and all the commentators admit them to be true. How can you deny them? What I mean by mentioning all this is that there were many good things in the ancient times, but there were bad things too. The good things are to be retained, but the India that is to be, the future India. must be much greater than ancient India. (Swami Vivekananda, Epistles - Second Series, LXXI , CW-6)

The ancient sacrifices and the ancient gods, they are all gone; modern India belongs to the spiritual part of the Vedas. (Swami Vivekananda, Buddhist India, CW-3)

The principles of religion that are in the Vedanta are unchangeable. Why? Because they are all built upon the eternal principles that are in man and nature; they can never change. But those religious practices which are based entirely upon our social position and correlation must change with the changes in society. Such an order, therefore, would be good and true at a certain period and not at another. We find accordingly that a certain food is allowed at one time and not another, because the food was suitable for that time; but climate and other things changed various other circumstances required to be met, so the Smriti changed the food and other things. Thus it naturally follows that if in modern times our society requires changes to be made, they must be met, and sages will come and show us the way how to meet them; but not one jot of the principles of our religion will be changed; they will remain intact.(Swami Vivekananda, Vedantism, Lectures from Colombo to Almora, CW-3)

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Abandon modern morality and the "law". Who cares if it's illegal, what's more important is what the scripture says, scriptures who deal with this area of function are the Dharma shastras/sutras.

Just because some politician made some law or some set of guidelines (Indian constitution), doesn't make it as valuable as the Shastra or even 1/10th the value. Morality changes every 100 years, it changes based on geography, even based on generations in the same time and the same geography. Morality is irrelevant, Dharma is eternal. Where you get the Dharma is in the Veda, the words of the englightened, and most importantly, in the Dharma Shastras. It's very simple.

If they permit/encourage child marriage, then it's good, nothing more to think about it.

At most, what can be done is an attempt to understand why the scripture takes certain positions. If the base reason for the position of the scpriture holds true, then it needs to be followed.If things have changed, then according to various folds and viewpoints of Dharma and Dharma Shastras like Maanava Dharma Shastra or Parashara Smriti or Yajnalkya Smriti or Apastambha Grihya Sutras among many others, something needs to be concluded and applied.

What does need to change here is that the current socio-political and moral ideas need to change to reflect the scripture.

Also, I was unable to find your second reference in the Mahabharata, is it in the Critical edition?

It is present in the Maanava Dharma Shastra, however.

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    – Community Bot
    Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 2:41
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You need to reject such verses.

Why are these verses there?

Hinduism has never had a centralized organization that enforces quality control. Just read the Gita verse posted below. Gita is complaining of errors in scriptures.

When your intellect, fed up with the bewildering scriptural doctrines and their interpretations, settles (finally) in steady and unwavering introspection (in the spirit), then you will attain to real Yoga.

Gita 2.53

A Hindu should do what he thinks is right and not blindly follow ancient texts. You might ask why instead of guidelines ancient Hindus didn’t throw out the discriminatory verses from these texts. There are at least two reasons for that. The first reason is that in the absence of printing press no text was safe from modification. A scholar copying a text can easily modify a text. The second reason is that Hinduism has no centralized organization to check errors in scriptures. Ancient Christians had the Church to select the texts that were considered to be correct and dump texts that did not reflect Christian teaching. Similarly one of the righteous Caliphs, companion of the Prophet, Uthman burnt down all variants of the Koran and commissioned a scholar to write the most authoritative version of it. Since Hindus do not have any such organization they have to look at scripture to see what it says about this issue. Hindu scriptures ask Hindus to do internal consistency checks before accepting any scriptural statement as valid. Hindu scriptural verse must survive three checks in order to be acceptable.

Reason

Even the words heard from an ignorant person, if in themselves they be fraught with sense, come to be regarded as pious and wise. In days of old, Usanas said unto the Daityas this truth, which should remove all doubts, that scriptures are no scriptures if they cannot stand the test of reason.

Mahabharata Shanti Parva Section CXLII

Acharya Shankara says:

The appeal to the infallibility of the Vedic injunction is misconceived. The infallibility in question refers only to the unseen forces or apurva, and is admissible only in regards to matters not confined to the sphere of direct perceptions, etc ... Even a hundred statements of sruti to the effect that fire is cold and non-luminous won't prove valid. If it does make such a statement, its import will have to be interpreted differently. Otherwise, validity won't attach to it. Nothing in conflict with the means of valid cognition or with its own statements may be imputed to sruti.

REF: Srimad Bhagavad Gita Bhasya 18.66 of Sri Sankaracarya translation by Dr. A. G. Krishna Warrier

yuktiyuktamupādeyaṃ vacanaṃ bālakādapi | anyattṛṇamiva tyājyamapyuktaṃ padmajanmanā || 3 ||

The remark of a child is to be accepted, if it is in accordance with reason; but the remark of even Brahma Himself, the creator of the world is to be rejected like a piece of straw if it does not accord with reason.

REF: Vasistha's Yoga translated by Swami Venkatesananda, p 35.

Non-discrimination

If a holy act is against the interest of other members of the society, it should not be practiced. It is Dharma which is the source of Artha and even of Kama.

Kurma Purana I.2.54

If a scriptural verse does advocate discrimination then throw that verse into the nearest trash can.

Conscience

  1. The whole Veda is the (first) source of the sacred law, next the tradition and the virtuous conduct of those who know the (Veda further), also the customs of holy men, and (finally) self-satisfaction.

Manu Smriti II.6

Bhishma said, ‘He is said to be conversant with duty who knows duty as depending on four foundations.’

[four foundations, i.e., as laid down in the Vedas; as laid down in the Smritis; as sanctioned by ancient usage and customs; and as approved by the heart or one’s own conscience.]

Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CXXXII

Hindu scripture can’t override reason and conscience. Nor can Hindu scripture be used to discriminate against a community.

The Smriti texts and the Puranas that we have today reflect the attitude of people who lived many centuries ago. Most of these texts have been revised many times. These texts teach us to adapt these teachings to modern times and in fact discard any teaching that seems obsolete today.

Swami Vivekananda encouraged rejection of Smriti and Puranic verses that are clearly obsolete.

The Smritis and the Puranas are productions of men of limited intelligence and are full of fallacies, errors, the feelings of class and malice. Only parts of them breathing broadness of spirit and love are acceptable, the rest are to be rejected. The Upanishads and the Gita are the true scriptures.

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 6/Epistles - Second Series/CXXIV Sir

However, discard the desire (kama) and material wealth (artha) if contrary to Dharma; as also, any usage or custom or rules regarded as source of Dharma if at any time they were to lead to unhappiness or arouse people's indignation.

(Manu Smriti 4.176)

A Hindu should only take the essential teachings and not be a fundamentalist.

Essential Teachings

An intelligent man should seek the essential teachings of all scriptural texts of varying importance, just as a honey-bee sucks the essence of all flowers.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana XI.8.10

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Other than India, in almost all European nations, Middleeast Arabian nations & in Polynesian nations including sinos child(young less than adult boy has girl friend). Having a girl friend equals first marriage. Just because rest of the world are into polgamy with low confidence of " trying to live lifelong as "single man to single woman bond", prevention of such confidential bondage in India were their jealousies.

If child marriage is banned for good in India, all adultery XXX movies must also be banned permanently in India. Red light areas must be vanished. But foolishness only banned child marriage & increased the flaws in life.

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