Pranay Prashar for BeyondHeadlines
Couples continue to be killed for marrying against the will of their families, mostly because these marriages, as are vaguely declared, do not conform to the socially sanctioned moral procedures. Most of the time these marriages are either love marriages and have no consideration of caste or religion; this is why they have become major bone of contention, as they are not prescribed by fossilized caste based society.
It is hard to fathom any logical reason behind the widespread resistance even while many medical researches indicate better future prospects of the children born out of intimacy brought out by love marriages. Even the reading of religious texts, mythology, ancient inscriptions tow the similar line. If religious texts and mythology is supposed to be highly reflective of the contemporary society, then certainly we have a very mature tradition of love marriages for at least last 3000 years. We even have historical element at our disposal to support our line of thought.
If epics like Mahabharta are to be believed as representing historical happenings, then I dare say, that many of the marriages that solemnized were not only love marriages but again there was no consideration of caste. To name a few, King Shantnu and Ganga, King Shantnu and Satyavati, Arjuna and Subhadra, Bhima and Hidimba, Abhimanyu and Uttara and there are many more not so well documented like that of Rishi Parasara and Matsyagandha (Satyavati). While Shantnu and Bhima belonged to Kshatriya clan, Satyavati and Hidimba were either tribal or belonged to what was called lower rung of society.
If ancient secular literature is to be read in this light then both of the major texts of the Gupta period concur with my presumption that love marriage would have been common phenomenon then. For example Abhigyanshakuntalam composed by Kalidasa brings out the love story of King Dushyant and Shakuntla, who gave birth to Bharat on whose name the tribe Bharatha name to be recognized and later the name of our nation was christened. Mrichchhakatika by Shudraka deals with the love affair of a poor Brahmana trader with a beautiful courtesan.
Many convincing arguments can be presented in favour of presence of practice of love marriages among common masses like presence of twelve type of marriage (many of which are rather irrational) in religious texts, large number of instances of love marriages in fictional literature and mythology. While lack of phenomenal number of such example in chronological history of common man can be attributed to the lack of the interest of nobility in his life and absence of record keeping behaviour of common man.
But still there are many examples in history such as Yami, sister of Yam insisting on love marriage while her brother protesting. Prabhavati, (daughter of Chandragupta 2, a Gupta period Vaishya ruler) marrying Yakataka prince, a Brahman. Medieval history too has specific instances, the most exemplary being the young Jahangir marrying 35 years old, widowed, but vivacious Nur Jahan. Inter-religion marriages were quite common too. Presence of large number of sub-castes also indicate inter-caste marriages that might have taken place while commingling of dominant clans with tribes was a very common phenomenon.
So if one is to consider the historical aspect than it can be said with certainty that love, inter-caste or inter-religion marriages are not sin. Love marriage can also be seen from socio-philosophical angle as they ensue gender equity, put a brake on retrograde practices like dowry and helps in breaking fossilized social structures that obstruct development of healthy society.
(The writer is a B. Tech student at Jamia Millia Islamia. His email id email@example.com)
The views expressed in this article are writer’s own, and it does not necessarily reflect BH’s editorial policy.