gāndharva marriage

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A marriage rite (vivāha), so-called because it is witnessed only by Gandharvas, which, according to Maṇusmṛti (3.32), takes the form of a mutually desired union between the bride and bridegroom expressed through sexual intercourse. In the Śakuntalā episode of the Mahābhārata (1.67.25ff.), it is described as ‘done in secret between two lovers, unaccompanied by mantras’. The arrangement is unconventional but, according to Dharmaśāstra, it has legal force as a form of marriage for couples from the kṣatriya varṇa.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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