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on Rama and Sita

From: Badrinarayanan Seshadri (badri_at_sofia.mae.cornell.edu)
Date: Thu Jan 18 1996 - 07:58:10 PST

Re: the debate on Rama's apparent "mistreatment" of Sita,
could it be possible that this had something to do with
the kind of marriage they had?

There are eight kind of marriages prescribed in the Sastras
namely: 1) brahma, 2) prajaapatya, 3) aarsha, 4) daiva,
5) gaandharva, 6) asura, 7) raakshasa and 8) paisaasa.

Of the above, Rama's marriage with Sita comes under 'asura'.

[brahma = giving a 12 year old girl to a 48 year old
          brahmachari (brahmana)
 prajaapatya = giving a woman when the man has asked for her
 aarsha = placing a woman between a golden cow and golden bull
          and giving her away to a brahmana as datta (along
          with the golden cattle)
 daiva  = giving a woman to a brahmana who perform vedic
          rituals. (I am not sure of 3 & 4 as I have
          forgotten the precise definitions)

 gaandharva = a man and woman falling in love with each other
              with the consummation taking place in a clandestine
              manner without the knowledge of the parents.

 asura = winning the bride in a competition - as Rama did by
         breaking the bow, Arjuna won Draupadi and in the Tamil
         legends, Krishna took on the 7 bulls to marry nappinnai.

 raakshasa = a man taking a woman against her wishes (rape)

 paisaasa = a man taking advantage of a woman not in her senses
            (either she is drunk or is mentally retarded etc.)
]

Perhaps there are also Dharma Sastra rules for the conduct in
each of these marriages? I have no knowledge of any Dharma
Sastras. I am merely asking the scholars here whether this had
anything to do with Rama's treatment of Sita.

Thanks.
--badri

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S.Badrinarayanan 
Graduate Student
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Cornell University
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