In Hindu marriage “kanyaadanam” is misunderstood as “donating a bride”..

Shivamil Tiwari

In HIndu marriage tradition “kanyaadanam” is misunderstood as “donating a bride”. We might have heard some priests give out a wrong meaning to the word. They wrongly interpret it as “kanya (girl) + daana (donation)”.

Kanyadana really means taking / receiving / bringing a bride to home. (आदान = receiving)).आदान [Monier Williams Sanskrit English Dicionary) [L=23783] receiving , taking for one’s self , drawing near to one’s self Ragh. iv , 86In Hindu vivaaha (marriage) the groom sends out a search party to find a suitable bride. He conveys through the priest that for his sake he wants to choose a bride (madardham kanyaam vruneemahe) – this particular usage of word “Vruneemahe” conveys a very reverential meaning. It means he wants to choose a wife with love and respect. A wife who he could treat properly. In our Veda where ever the word “Vruneemahe” is used it is always invoked with respect and reverence. For example see below verse from Rigveda where the invocation says “hotaaram tva vruneemahe”.agne vishvebhir A gahi devebhir havyadAtaye | hotAraM tvAvRuNeemahe || (Rigveda 5.026.04) O Agni, come with all the Gods, come to our sacrificial gift: We choose thee as Invoking Priest.

Hence kanyadana does not mean “donating a bride” it rather means ‘the groom is choosing a bride’. Also the groom further gives an explanation why he is choosing a bride. He says that he is choosing a bride “so that he can make the Gods feel happy, so that he can make the society feel happy, so that he can make the bride feel happy, so that he can beget children lawfully (dharma praja).” Interestingly, it appears like there is no personal happiness in such an act (of chosing a bride) for him, at least there is no such thing mentioned in the wedding hymns. It is seen as by getting married the man is fulfilling his grihasta dharma.

Though It is true that bride’s parents do give the bride into the hands of groom, they still hold life-long parental bond and parental responsibility towards the bride. It is understood that they are giving their daughter into the hands of an able groom who promised them – ‘that he will fulfil his moral obligation towards her as a husband (dharma); that he will provide her financial security (artha); that he will have conjugal relations with her (kama). Therefore it is the responsibility of the husband to make sure that his wife is reasonably happy in his company’.

Hindu marriage is seen as two souls come together in union of love. Both bride and groom are two consenting adults. But the husband has to keep up to his promises. Therefore he has to look after her well, he also should fulfill the wedding promises he made to her parents and also to her!

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