Kanyadaan is Giving a Dear Daughter, Not an Unwanted Saree

A major political family in Nagpur from the BJP has prided in performing vivaah without kanyadaan. This sort of bravado shows a complete ignorance of tradition and the meaning of the word daana which is based on the act of giving.

One prime example of how certain sections of the BJP are over-performing reform and liberalism as propounded by Marxists and Eurofeminists is by declaring that they shall not follow the ritual of kanyadaan in marriage as it smacks of treating the daughter as a property object and is thus male chauvanistic.

A major political family in Nagpur from the BJP has prided in performing vivaah without kanyadaan. This sort of bravado shows a complete ignorance of tradition and the meaning of the word daana which is based on the act of giving.

Daana does not mean disposing away my old shirt. Pasting the the feelings of a modern charity doer on the values of ancient Indian society is sheer ignorance. Today we dispose some things to acquire some other things. Charity and disposal are blurred in modern times. We only give ‘things’, not committments. Daana is givjng as a duty.

Prajapati or the Creator told the devataas to control their senses and said ‘da’ for daamyata or control. For Asuras he said the same ‘da’ indicating dayadhvam or practice of mercy. For humans (including those in political parties) he said ‘da’ meaning datta or give as humans are greedy.

Thus giving or daana became the foundation of Indian civilization in many many forms as obligations to be performed through pindadaana (sacrifices for ancestors, also practiced in Greece and China), vidyaadaana (knowledge to students & all coming generations) annadaana (for the hungry and dependent sections of social order), godaana (a primary tool for agricultural and dairy benefits) and kanyadaana (giving the daughter to a worthy groom for progeny and continuation of the human species for able offspring).

Daana or giving back was also the foundation of five debts to be mandatorily paid back by every householder or bread earner: to gods by yajna (later by puja), to gurus by producing good students, to parents by raising children, to birds and animals by sharing your food, to humans by extending hospitality, even to strangers and the unexpected (atithi).

Ancient Indian law makers defined 8 kinds of legal marriages which the

British reduced to one kind and the Nehruvians merely upheld it. Five out of these, required kanyadana, as they were acceptance of the groom as the legitimate receiver by the family of the girl and resulted in alliances between families or line of households. Only three had no kanyadana as they were done secretly or by force.

In a video lecture (available here (1) & (2)), I explain the wide acceptance of plurality and diversity of marital alliances in classical India:

  1. Braahma marriage was a kind of marriage, wherein a canopy (mandapa) was made for a gathering and the daughter was given away by mantras with Agni- the fire god as a witness. It did not require a dowry. Manu says users of stri-dhana (wealth in possession of a woman) go to hell.
  2. Deva marriage was when after a sacrifice, the main priest was given a daughter in marriage. This resulted in an alliance of ruling and business classes with the academics. Just contrast this with the present situation, wherein generally the ruling classes and the rich do not look for sons in law from teaching classes. It shows the low status of the teacher in modern India.
  3. Aarsha Marriage was when the student was given his daughter by the teacher after receiving a pair of cows. Shows the self-sustaining nature of educational profession in ancient India. (Modern example of Allauddin Khan giving his daughter to Pt. Ravi Shankar).
  4. Praajaapatya Marriage, when the daughter was given to a suitable groom by just proclaiming them as man and wife with no social gathering.
  5. Asura Marriage, when a suitable amount of money was given to the father who gave his daughter to the paying groom. This was an accepted legality but was derided.
  6. Gandharva Marriage, when a sexually enamored couple without telling anybody else pronounced each other as lifelong partners and told the relatives later that they had cohabited as husband and wife. It was a legal marriage and as evidenced by the story of Shakuntala. It seems, the woman’s word was believed despite denial by the male. Ignorant Hindus, now call it a ‘love marriage’ and a Western import. In many cases, this leads to honor killings, both by Hindus and Muslims. No social reformer, or Hindu religious guru has cited it as a dharmic tradition perfectly legal. For the Western law makers also such a marriage would be illegal as there was no authority to conduct and record it. Only the much maligned Manu sanctifies it.
  7. Raakshasa Marriage, when the woman was taken away from her family by force (sometimes with her consent, as Subhadra by Arjuna).
  8. Pishaca Marriage, when the woman was violated by fraud or drugging but not abandoned.

All dharmashastras condemn 5, 7 and 8 i.e. Asura, Raakshasa and Pishaca type of marriages. There were two other forms, very exceptional, hence not in the law books, Svayamvara and Veerashulkaa. In the former, the woman chose from suitors, and in the latter, she was won by a heroic feat.

The Indian nation is in the grip of a conservatism where it cannot look upon its heritage and older plurality with an open mind to negotiate diversity and flexibility in the institution of marriage. It either follows the British laws made for it from the nineteenth century reading of Hindu, Muslim or Christian texts. Or it latches on to an imitative cloning of Euro-American notions of ‘human rights’ and ‘gender equality’ based on individualism and atheism and faith in a dubious welfare state that delivers neither in the Socialist or the Capitalist mode.

Our nation does not wish to work out marital values free from religious conservatism suited to the needs of future challenges. We are in the midst of a bad habit, legitimizing modernity to belittlle the classical (and that too by not studying it as a prescribed national policy in education). Giving or daana was the cornerstone of all ancient institutions and social structures. Ours was not a cost calculative society, but a relationship generative society. Thus it was productive and prosperous in economy, ethics and the arts alike.

Feature Image: http://www.hindikunj.com

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.
Dr. Bharat Gupt is a retired Associate Professor who taught at Delhi University. He can be contacted at [email protected]
  • T.v. Sivaraman

    No modern practice among Hindus match with that specified in ancient sutras. For every thing some people always state t “as per the Vedas”. Vedas have never prescribed any ritual. It is only the sutrakaras who have picked up some mantras from the vedas and joint them into their scheme and paddathis. And these practices are also not uniform and very according to the sutras. They prescribed them for their time. Most of these are over 2000 years old. Will the society
    remain constant for all these time. That is why new sutras are required for the present day. That is not wrong. Even Apasthamba says that the village (local) practice should be given priority. Our dharma shastras have been translated by
    some of the Westrners very accurately without any bias. Being not Hindus themselves they should be given due credit
    to their scholarly works and research.

    Rgds- Sivaraman

    • SM

      Westerner’s indeed translated our Shastras but the claim that they translated very “accurately” without any bias is NOT correct. You must study the case of Sheldon Pollack and likes of their sinister motives (as brought out in limelight by Rajiv Malhotraji). There is no way westerners can encompass the essence and deeper meaning of Sutras unless they have studied our Sastra under any sampradaya. Sutras are mnemonic designed by Rishis of a particular Sampradaya. These mnemonics were designed for advanced learner who were already well versed with the nuances of that Sampradya. Thus, each sutra is a loaded statement which carries much deeper meaning than what it appears to display. Remember our Shastras are interpreted at three levels – bhautika, laukika, and davika (as stated by Sayana). These threefold interpretation can only be understood correctly by a Rishi leaving in and following a particular Sampradaya. Sutras are modern day computer language statements. Each statement in turn are built upon several layers of subroutines which computer novice does not know and understand unless he/she takes a formal training in computer language programming. Likewise are Sutras.

  • Ramdas Lamb

    Prof. Gupt provides important insight into the roots of the tradition of daana. Although there are clearly elements of past traditions that need to be let go of, such as caste and gender discrimination, in the rush of many to become “modernized,” they often simply become “westernized.” When that happens, they typically end up “tossing out the baby with the bath water,” and those aspects of traditional culture that are meaningfillled and valuable get tossed aside as well.

  • SM

    We often hear that the bride is said to have been “given” to the groom. This Dana {giving) is not actually by a human action but is symbolic action where bride is given over to the groom by the gods, Bhaga, Arayama, Savita and Purandhi. Some of the Grihayasutras, like Yagjavalkaya states that in this act of Dana (performed with proper Vedic chants) signifies request to God Soma to confer purity (Saucham), Gandharva bestow upon her a swee toungue (subham giram), while Pavka (i.e Agni) to bestow upon her perfect purity (sarvamedhyatvam). Thus, it is clear that the act of Kanya Dana is a process of seeking blessings from above three gods. The act is not related to “sacrifice” or a “giving” of bride to a groom as an “object”. (From Chapter-Marriage-Hindu Social Organization by Pandhari Nath Prabhu)
    This is a gross misinterpretation of word “Dana”, which is spread by Christians to malign our rich culture. Remember in the grand scheme of Universe every act is “yagna”, sacrifice. Without this act even Universe cannot be sustained (scientifically so too, as object and act is dependent on other object and act). Thus, Dana can also be interpreted as a process of Yagna.

    For the Hindu, the marriage (vivaha) is samskara and as such, the relations between the marrying parties are of sacramental character and not of contractual nature. The cardinal significance of Vivaha, as ordained by Dharma Sastras is that the wife is necessary complement as the Grihapatni (i.e the lady of the house) for the proper and full execution of his Dharmas as the griha-parti (i.e.lord of the house). Both the terms patni as well as pati involves the implication of “gurdianship” of the home, This is also emphasized by the words which designate one’s wife as his dharma-patni and saha-dharma-charini i.e she who has to share all the sacred obligations, and she who does carry them out in partnership with her husband. ((From Chapter-Marriage-Hindu Social Organization by Pandhari Nath Prabhu))

    • Nithin Sridhar

      Very interesting comment. If you could elaborate it into an article, I would be interested in considering it for publishing. Pl email to- [email protected]

  • T.v. Sivaraman

    Sri Bharatji: That some of our rituals and mantras need a modification is clear. In the Kanya daana the second line is

    “dasyami” which is also not to modern taste. Please understand the rituals have undergone changes over the period of
    centuries and the present day practices and the mantras have no relevance whatsoever in several places They were all composed by “sutrakaras” for their time. So I think there is no harm in rewriting them to suit the modern conditions.
    Every one interested can input their thoughts on a draft and subject it to all sorts of examinations before finalizing.
    Please understand that even our Calendars are not in tune with our shastras and puranas and we celebrate all

    fasts and festivals after 23 days of their real prescribed time. (see http://www..reformedsanathancalendar.in )
    B.Rgds- Sivaraman

    • SM

      Rituals are correct but are now interpreted incorrectly (See my comment above in regards to Kanya dana.). As per vedas, rituals performed correctly are bound to give desired results as scientific experiments performed correctly will produce desired outcome. So instead of modifying rituals (strictly NOT allowed per Veda), we shall dwell on its significance. The urge to modify rituals is the result of we moving away from Smpradaya tradition. In modern days we need learned Sanskrit scholars to educate the mass with the correct interpretation of rituals to reap great benefit as elucidated in Veda. These rituals, as prescribed in Vedas are not “engineered” or “written” but have been “visioned” by our great sears. They have understood, tested, and applied it for the greater good of the society. Again not ever body can be or become a “Drasta”. Thus rewriting or engineering new rituals is out of question and against our Sanatana Dharma practice.

  • ~rAGU

    Shri Bharatji this is good. But to make the case one needs to present the etymology of daana and cite shastra. Also exact process of dhaara/paanigrahana and the significance of dhaara (the process of daana) and the purpose of it all — dharmaprajaasampatsidhyartham. Thank you.

  • Prof. Gupt is far too kind, patient and lenient in calling a spade a spade. I have no such compunctions in calling out the deracinated fools who are clueless about their culture, and take pride in flaunting their ignorance. It is tragic that the BJP that was seen as an Indic alternative to the disaster that is the UPA, is doing nothing to detox and cleanse themselves of this pernicious leftist-minority excrescence.

  • blmalik

    I appreciate the marriage without Kanyadaan. Daan involves two things, one you have to own the thing you do daan. It means you own your daughter. It is not correct. Second once you give daan of anything you have no emotion of affect attached to that thing, which is again not true in case of your daughter. There is no system of kanyadaan in many religions. Hats off to that family for breaking the shackles

    • Karan Singh

      Perhaps you would do good by yourself by knowing the fact that there was no concept of ownership at all. Everything we have, we have it to pass it on. Everything, including life, is borrowed for a time period that either nature or dharm allows us. The only thing we ‘own’ is our karma.

      • prashants5 .

        She seems to be a Christian in Disguise or brainwashed by Marxist/Christian Propganda. The fundamental principle of Christianity that God Orders the Progeny of Adam and Eve, to Own the World. That’s why the Men were owning Women in Abrahmic Religion and treated like an object ( until now). That’s why until 1950 or so, Women were not considered to have Soul. It was the Men who have had souls.

  • Thank you for the piece. Very informative and provides a rational basis to locate and negotiate eurofeminist biases.

  • Satishchandra Tanksale

    Most in BJP are as ignorant of Hindu Ethics and traditions any Lefist, or Abarhamic would be.
    Even RSS fails to take the stand for Hindu Ethics & traditions when faced opposition from Modern Westernized Secularized thought processes.

    • prashants5 .

      BJP should run some HR Training session of at least one year, for their MLAs/MPs before giving them any portfolio or open their big mouth to media. These are bunch of Morons who screws of everything about our Traditions.

  • Karan Singh

    Thank you for this. Was able to recall what was taught to us by some able persons.