Hindu Marriage and Saptapadi.- meaning and possible application in legal context.

Hindu marriage act takes Saptapadi as the basis of Hindu marriage,any marriage though performed with Hindu system among hindus may not be termed as a hindu marriage legally if saptapadi was not performed. If you go through the text and meaning you will find that  it is  fully relevant even in today’s date,100% applicable vedic wisdom. What exactly is saptapadi :saptapadi is a concise set of seven promises by husband and wife at the time of marriage.It defines the roles,duties and rights  as husband and wife.if you go through the meaning of each promise you will realize the intelligence of Vedic people ,its sad that in these so called modern age we lack such intelligence. My idea to put up all these things here is to highlight a very basic fault which has stepped into social mindset- duties of husband and wife towards sustenance of marriage, in absence of clear guidelines from society and parents, in a society which treats any reference to our age old traditions as being old fashioned 18th century human, we are becoming less aware of human values.this trend is more prevalent in Hindus. Saptapadi is thus a mutual agreement/agreement between bride and bridegroom clearly defining what is expected of each other in married life and this is agreed upon by both in presence of elders from both sides and society in general.not to mention that both are adults at the time of marriage. The purohit/priest officiating the marriage traslates this into vernacular language so that the bridegroom and bride understand the meaning. designed as  a clearly defined legal agreement though not signed on a paper but in presence of witnesses and the process recognized by current law of nation. Now we also know that in legal terms  a party backing out of a contract or breaking the terms of contract is not entitled to any benefits arising out of that contract- so why when wife break the vows of saptapadi are entitled to any benefit arising out of her status as a hindu wife ? Women activists have been saying ” give 50 % of husband’s assets and 90% women will divorce” so now a days when marriage is being treated as a money exchange center it would be better if we also go into terms of the contract. marriage has been demoted from a holy relationship to a trading business centered around money hence this writeup. another reason is that people do not teach their children before marriage what is expected of them as a marriage partner, we cant have a progressive society without stable healthy relationships. A wife who frames her inlaws in false criminal cases clearly violates saptapadi, how can she be entitled to rights of a Hindu wife in terms of maintenance and alimony ? lawyers have not touched this point in past neither have the judges done so because the system just wants to give to wife without justifying.A wife should be entitled to life time maintenance in case the fault lies with husband,not when the fault lies with wife but now a days in  being just a wife is enough for claiming alimony in divorce. Given below are the saptapadi mantras in sanskrit and english translation for those who don’t understand sanskrit.

Vows (pratidnya) of the bride

The bride takes the following consecutive seven vows, one at each step.

  • 1. त्‍वत्तो मेऽखिलसौभाग्‍यं पुण्‍यैस्‍त्‍वं विविधै: कृतै: । देव ! संपादितो मह्यं वधूराद्ये पदेऽब्रवीत्‌ ।।Meaning: O Lord! I have had the good fortune of acquiring you due to the various types of merits acquired by me in various births.
  • 2. कुटुंबं पालयिष्‍यामि ह्यावृद्धबालकादिकम्‌ । यथालब्‍धेन संतुष्‍ठा व्रते कन्‍या व्दितीयके ।।Meaning: I will look after your entire family, from the infant to the aged and will be happy with whatever I get for my sustenance.
  • 3. मिष्‍ठान्नव्‍यंजनादिनी काले संपादये तव । आज्ञासंपादिनी नित्‍यं तृतीये साऽब्रवीव्दरम्‌ ।।Meaning: I will always abide by your directives and will regularly cook delicious food, vegetables, etc.
  • 4. शुचि: शृंगारभूषाऽहं वाङ्‌मन: कायकर्मभि: । क्रीडि ष्‍यामि त्‍वया सार्धं तुरीये सा वदेव्दरम्‌ ।।Meaning: I will embellish myself with clean attire and will indulge in sexual play with you through acts with the mind, speech and body.
  • 5. दु:खे धीरा सुखे हृष्‍टा सुखदु:खविभागिनी । नाहं परतरं यामि पंचमे साऽब्रवीव्दरम्‌ ।।Meaning: I who face sorrow bravely and remain pleased in happiness will share both your happiness and sorrow and will never indulge in adultery.
  • 6. सुखेन सर्वकर्माणि करिष्‍यामि गृहे तव । सेवा श्वसुरयोश्चामि बन्‍धूनां सत्‍कृतिं तथा ।। यत्र त्‍वं वा अहं तत्र नाहं वञ्‍चे प्रियं क्‍वचित्‌ । नाहं प्रियेण वञ्‍चा हि कन्‍या षष्‍ठे पदेऽब्रवीत्‌ ।।Meaning: I will happily perform all your household chores. I will also serve my in-laws and will respect other relatives. I will stay wherever you stay. I will never deceive my beloved (master) and will never get deceived by him.
  • 7. होमयज्ञादिकार्येषु भवामि च सहाय्‍यकृत्‌ । धर्मार्थकामकार्येषु मनोवृत्तानुसारिणी ।। सर्वेऽत्र साक्षिणस्‍त्‍वं मे पतिर्भूतोऽसि सांप्रतम्‌ । देहो मयार्पितस्‍तुभ्‍यं सप्‍तमे साऽब्रवीव्दरम्‌ ।।Meaning: O master! I will assist you in the rituals of sacrificial fires (hom-yadnya), etc. and will obey you with regard to Righteousness (Dharma), wealth (artha) and desire (kama). Here, in the presence of the deity of fire (Agnidev), the Brahmans, my parents and relatives you have become my master and I have offered my body unto you.

    Vows (pratidnya) of the groom

    The meaning of the mantra to be chanted by the groom with each step is as follows

    • 1. ‘इष एकपदी भव-सामामनुव्रताभव-पुत्रान्‍विदावहैबहूंस्‍तेसंतुजरदष्‍टय: ।।Meaning: O bride, you have walked one step with me, so we have become friends; hence you be my provider of food. Help me to fulfill my vowed religious observances (vrats). May we have many sons and may they have a long life.
    • 2. उर्जेव्‍दिपदीभव-सामामनु० ।। (The rest should be chanted like the mantra at number 1 and the same should be repeated when each mantrais chanted.)Meaning: O bride, you have walked two steps with me; hence may you become one who will give me strength.
    • 3. रायस्‍पोषायत्रिपदी भव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)Meaning: O bride, since you have walked three steps with me, may you become one who will increase my wealth.
    • 4. मायोभव्‍यायचतुष्‍पदी भव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)Meaning: Since you have walked four steps with me may you increase my happiness.
    • 5. प्रजाभ्‍य: पंच‍पदी भव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)Meaning: Since you have walked five steps with me, may you give birth to children.
    • 6. ऋतुभ्‍य:षट्‌ पदी भव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)Meaning: Since you have walked six steps with me may you give me pleasure in all seasons.
    • 7. सखासप्‍तपदीभव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)Meaning:You have walked seven steps with me, hence our friendship (relationship) has become strong.

    the wordings of these vows varies from tradition to tradition along the various grihyasutras but in all the couple promise to be on path of dharma and truth. so I understand that a wife who frames husbands family in false criminal cases violates the vows of saptapadi, rest is left to legal counsels and Judiciary

    I shall try to locate some more references from various grihya sutras, and post accordingly.give me some time.

    • : I am not a lawyer neither is this article a legal advice. All I am trying to communicate is that when wife  breaks marriage vows,she should not be entitled to benefits which are reserved for a wronged wife.
    • this  is my personal belief and if you agree that it has been written in interest of justice then kindly discuss this with your legal counsel as to how to incorporate this in your pleadings in court. women rights are not human rights if the woman is on wrong side. victim’s rights are human rights.
    •  I respect the laws of land and still have faith in our legal system that if pleaded correctly justice will be delivered.
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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pd mishra
    May 03, 2014 @ 11:37:55

    Please also give the source, quoting scripture, where do these vows figure.

    Reply

    • fighter.monk
      May 03, 2014 @ 17:36:42

      Sir,
      while posting this article my motive was just to highlight that in marriage the duties of both husband and wife are defined and an educated wife deliberately ignoring her duties towards marriage should not be treated at par with a righteous wife .
      In court the Judge may ask for a copy of these vows but can not deny the tradition of 7 vows in hindu marriage.

      as per my knowledge these vows vary from tradition to tradition but the essence remains the almost the same. the version which appears in this article was taken from the link given in the article itself,I have checked and found that the link is not working in todays date.
      saptapadi vows can be found in grihasutras,
      how ever I am giving 2 links which are working as of now :

      https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/samskrita/8Hv-H-KScAo

      this is a discussion on saptapadi in a net group.

      another version can be found at the following link :
      https://archive.org/details/Vivaha_Samskara_Bhasha_Tika-Chandra_Bhanu_Sharma.

      I shall try to locate some more references from various grihya sutras, and post accordingly.give me some time.

      Reply

  2. Kala Devaser Mrs
    Jul 09, 2014 @ 10:55:10

    I feel the explanation is favouring the male, aren’t we all equal ?

    Reply

    • fighter.monk
      Jul 09, 2014 @ 23:35:58

      kindly re read the whole article and you will know the intent.how can a misuser of law be given an incentive- that is the basic point. its not a gender issue, the issue is about empowering the victim and not giving an incentive to the wrongdoer.
      though theoretically we are all equal but a husband is supposed to give alimony even if wife is at fault.
      plz reread the article again and also read about the misuse of section 498a and the concern about its misuse by Honorable Supreme court of India repeatedly.
      for your ease, I suggest a simple exercise, imagine someone close being framed in a false dowry harassment case where he has to take all of his family including his old parents, sisters on numerous dates,hire a lawyer (while the state contests case on behalf of wife) in other city,contest the case and prove that he was framed in a false case,lose all his saving,job in all this and then being told to give alimony and maintenance for getting a divorce from such cruel wife.
      visualize this and re read .hopefully you will get the point.
      seek gender neutral laws so that our children grow up in an good environment.

      Reply

  3. Mr. Deshmukh
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 22:33:29

    please reread the article yourself and find out what are the commitments on part of the husband ? … all are one sided commitments to be given and taken by a woman… u are failing to appreciate the bitter part of it.

    Reply

    • fighter.monk
      Aug 23, 2014 @ 02:12:50

      Bitter things are rarely appreciated till they have some medicinal value.
      the vows are mentioned in the end of the article, kindly read the full article and you may be able to see the whole picture.
      I hope you will agree that misuse of process of law is something very bitter and has toxic effects on any society.this write up is in context with misuse of law and the general outlook of asking for alimony where the alimony seeker herself is at fault.when the husband is at fault, he has to and should give alimony.
      Or do you want to say that when a wife files a false case of dowry harassment or has failed in her duties towards marriage and thus being responsible for breakdown of marriage is entitled to be benefited for her own misdeeds ??

      Reply

  4. joyous devi
    Nov 04, 2014 @ 00:10:06

    Your article is extremely biased and anti-women and you do an extreme disservice to the liberal attitude of Hinduism towards women. You begin with the premise that women are wrong doers if they violate these 7 vows that you have listed, hence they are not or should not be entitled to their legal rights etc. 1st let me assert , our scriptures are open to thousands of different interpretations so we don’t know from where you have your source in quoting this extremely retrogressive interpretation of the saptapadi. ‘Master indeed! and begetter of sons and cooking! You sound more as if you are quoting from the diktats made by the Islamist State or Boko Haram, who have defined women’s roles exactly in the same language you have.
    Please stop making Hinduism sound so narrow and prejudiced.

    Reply

    • fighter.monk
      Nov 11, 2014 @ 23:01:59

      I agree that Hindu scriptures are open to many interpretations. i have listed the references in the article, you can enhance our knowledge on this subject by citing other sources which may be saying something else on this topic from religious books or court judgement.
      In interest of society kindly also share your views on the subject ” should women who frame in-laws in “false’ cases be allowed alimony ”
      should wife at fault be felicitated by giving her alimony ?

      Reply

  5. parwatisingari
    Mar 08, 2016 @ 20:47:36

    After reading your article, I say that it is twisted, the bhavasama manovrato bhava is not permitting her to be his partner, but asking her to be his partner.
    as for framing in-laws with due respect to the “society” it is just as unacceptable as the abuse of the daughter-in-law by the parents in law or the husband and abuse does not mean only physical it has layers.

    Reply

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