Vivaha Samskara (In Grhya-Sutras of The Four Vedas)


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About the Book

Vivaha (marriage), in Hindu society, is one of the most important samskaras, out of the sixteen sacraments, which a person steps in with full understanding/consciousness. Marriage is a fascinating experience that stays alive in one's mind throughout the life. The mantras and slokas of the Grhya- Sutras of the four Vedas, chanted in this ritual, are in Sanskrit and a vast majority is unaware of their meanings and just follows the instructions of the celebrant priest, purohita.

The author delves deep into the Grhya- Sutras of Vedas and brings forth the details of vivaha samskara - principles, philosophy, practices, rituals and so on. Grhya-Sutras- Asvalayana, Sankhayana and Kausitaki of Rgveda; Paraskara (Sukhla Yajurveda), Apastamba and Hiranyakesin(Krsna Yajurveda), Baudhayana, Varaha, Manava, Agnivesya, Bharadvaja, Kathaka and Vaikhanasa of Yajurveda; Gobhila, Khadira and Jaimini of Samaveda; and Kausika of Atharvaveda - are well explored and seriously analysed, having given the original mantras in Sanskrit with their English translation.

Of a rare kind, this book does comparative analyses of the number and type of rituals in each Grhya-Sutra and the order of performance of rituals.

This scholarly work creates a sudden seriousness and sanctity to vivaha samskara through the detailing of mantras and the rituals. Being in it, one is not far off the Vedic period, giving a new meaning and dimension to our understanding of Hindu vivaha samskara and its sanctity.


About the Author

Dr V.R. Anil Kumar is a graduate engineer and a businessman who set up and ran a small-scale industry dealing with the design, manufacture, supply and installation of Air Pollution Control systems and components in Chennai from 1970 to 2003. Getting interested in the origin of Hindu marriage rituals triggered by the questions of the parents of his American daughter-in- law, Dr Anil Kumar obtained a MA (Sanskrit) degree from the University of Madras in 2005. Having registered for a Ph.D. in 2006, he was conferred the doctorate in 2012 after five years of research and presentation of the dissertation entitled "Comparative Study of Vivaha Samskara in the Grhya-Sutras of the Four Vedas" in 2011.



THE Hindu marriage ceremony is a fascinating blend of elaborate rituals, joyous celebration, colourful dresses, sumptuous feasts, etc. with religious sanctity underlying the event. The way it is conducted follows traditions which are centuries old with mantras and slokas in Sanskrit being chanted at each step of the ceremony being carried out. While there are a few who understand the meaning and import of the rituals, the vast majority merely follow the instructions of the purohitas without understanding the significance of the rituals. This is mostly because of the fact that Sanskrit is not learnt by most people and also because it requires years of study to learn the meanings of mantras and the relevance of rituals.

Having been fascinated by the marriage ceremony and having a desire to understand it fully, I decided to take up research on the topic. I got admitted as a full-time research scholar at the Department of Sanskrit, University of Madras.

I was fortunate that Prof. Dr S. Revathy guided me throughout the tenure of this research. Under her guidance and with the advice of other faculty members, I proceeded to collect material for my research. I thank her from the bottom of my heart. After preliminary studies, it was clear that the main sources of the rituals that a householder is expected to observe were the Crhya-Sutras falling under Kalpasastra - one of the six limbs of Vedanga. I, therefore, decided to collect Grhya-Sutra texts belonging to different branches of the four Vedas and conduct a comparative study of vivaha samskara, the Hindu marriage ceremony as depicted in the Grhya-Sutras. Though there have been numerous branches of the four Vedas and texts written by rsis and scholars pertaining to each branch, many of the texts have been lost. People followed different branches of the Vedas in different regions of India. Texts have been written for each of the branches. As time went by, some of the schools began to have fewer and fewer adherents and texts pertaining to them have become scarce.

I could collect texts of eighteen Crhya-Sutras from various sources. Of these, one of them, Kauthuma Grhya-Sutra of Samaveda does not contain much material on vivaha. The study is, therefore, confined to seventeen Grhya-Sutras. Some of the texts were available in the bookshops but many were not. Apart from procuring the available texts from the bookshops, I was able to collect photocopies of texts from different sources. Among the many institutions which helped me were the Adyar Library, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai; Oriental Research Institute, Mysore; Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune; Vaidik Samshodhan Mandal, Pune; Deccan College, Pune; Manuscripts Library, University of Kerala, Tiruvananthapuram and Sri Sankara Samskrta Veda Pathasala of Mathur, Karnataka. I would like to place on record my immense gratitude to the authorities of these institutions for providing me photocopies of required texts. I was also able to refer many texts in the Hatcher Graduate Library of the University of Michigan, USA, thanks to Dr Madhav Deshpande who is a professor of Asian Studies at the University.

Books by foreign scholars such as W. Caland, Oldenberg, Maurice Winternitz and others with translations helped enormously in understanding the texts. The internet also proved to be a useful source. Especially, sites like those of Maharshi University of Management,, Ulrich Stiehl ( and others were very useful. Many books on vivaha in languages such as Tamil, Kannada, Marathi and Hindi also proved useful. The sources of the rituals are the Grhya-Sutras. However, the contents are in the form of aphorisms (sutras) perhaps for ease of memorizing. Commentaries have been written for many of the texts explaining the content and context of the sutras. From the commentaries evolved prayogas and paddhatis, which laid down detailed instructions for conducting each samskara. Over time, due to geographical and social factors, considerable changes took place in the way the rituals were performed. Further fragmentation in sects and castes also gave rise to more deviations. Though the underlying rituals are more or less similar in each of the Grhya-Sutras, there have been many additions and changes in practice because of these developments. A comparative study of vivaha samskara based on all the prayogas and paddhatis would be too enormous a task. The very task of collecting all the material itself would take up a lot of time and expense. Even the collection of Grhya- Sutras was not an easy task to accomplish.

It was therefore decided that a "Comparative Study of Vivaha Sarnskaras in the Crhya-Sutras of the Four Vedas" with the extant material would be a worthwhile project. The bringing together of sections containing details of vivaha samskara in all the extant Crhya-Sutras at one place itself involved considerable effort. The sections have been presented with English translations, mainly with the help of existing English and Hindi translations. Where English translations were not available, as in the case of Baudhayana and Bharaduaja Grhya-Sutras, help was rendered by Sri Venkatesa Avadhani of Mathur, Kamataka in translating the Sanskrit texts.


Samskaras SAMSKARAS (sacraments) are rituals a Hindu is expected to perform at various events in his life. Beginning with conception and ending with funeral rites, samskaras prescribe the way each activity is to be carried out. Offerings and oblations are

Item Code: NAI028
Cover: Hardcover
Edition: 2014
Publisher: D. K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
ISBN: 9788124607497
Language: Sanskrit Text with English Translation
Size: 9 inch X 6 inch
Pages: 493
Other Details: Weight of the Book: 725 gms