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CHAPTER III. THE LAW ON THE SUBJECT OF INFANT

MARRIAGE.

SECTION 1. MADRAS PRESIDENCY.

1. K. KRISHNASWAMY RAO, CHIEF JUSTICE, TRAVANCORE.—The plea of religious necessity which many an old and sickly man puts forward to justify his marriage with a girl fit to be his grand daughter rather than his partner, is perfectly untenable, for the marriage of a widower is not a religious necessity, and Sri Rama, than whom there is no higher Hindu authority, performed many Aswarnada Yagoms, with the gold image of his departed wife (Sitha), to supply the place of a wife in such ceremonies. I would not raise my voice against the marriage of an old man to an infant, if he marries under a real conviction of religious necessity i.e. to keep agnihotram (fire), but not one in a hundred old men who marry ever dreams of keeping agnihotram, and much less keeps it.

2. R. RAGUNATH RA0.-Infant marriages and enforced widowhood are not sanctioned by the Hindu Shastras, nor were they in use in India a few hundred years ago.

On the contrary the marriages of undeveloped girls are in a way prohibited by them, and widows are recommended by the Vedas and Smritis to remarry.

No girl who is a minor, that is, who has not attained the age of discretion, or an age which entitles her to express her consent to cohabit with a man, viz 10 years (vide I. P. C. Section 375) can according to the Hindu Law, be married. There can therefore be no widow who is a minor.

SECTION II. BOMBAY PRESIDENCY.

3. TRIMALRAO VENKATESH, INAMDAR AT DHARWAR. The general Hindu law, as expounded in the Dharma Sindhu is that, the “Moonji”, or the religious thread-girding ceremony should be performed on Brahmins, or boys of the priestly class, between the ages of 5 and 8 years. Under extraordinary and unavoidable circumstances, it might be postponed up to 16 years of

age, but such cases very rarely or never occur. When the Moonji is performed, the boy becomes a Brahmachari, i.e. he is entitled to perform religious ceremonies. This state is to last for 12 years, during which be should study the four Vedas, six Shastras, 18 Puranas, Bharat, and Ramayan a, or at least portions of them. He then becomes fit to be married.

Among Kchetrias or the warrior class, the Moonji is to be performed ordinarily between the age of 11 and 12 years. In unavoidable cases, it may be postponed up to 22 years. In the cases of Vysias, the ceremony is to be performed between 12 to 16 years of age, it being allowed to be postponed till 24 years in unavaidable cases. In both the classes of Kohetrias and Vysias, the state of Brahamachary is to continue for 12 years after the Moonji is performed.

In ordinary cases the marriageable period of a male Brahman is about 20, that of a Kchetria 24, and that of a Vysia 28 years

As regards girls, the proper age prescribed for the marriage of Brahmin, Kchetria, and Vysia classes is between 6 to 8, but never under 6 years of age. To get them married between 9 and 10 years is middling, and between 11 and 12 undesirable.

A girl is called gowri or a young girl up to 8 years, and kannika or marriageable virgin up to 10, and above that period she is known as Rajaswala or as having entered womanhood... .........A girl attaining her puberty before being married, is considered to be Vrishala or a Sudra woman.

4. BHIKAJI AMROOT Cuobhe.—The sale of a girl among the Hindus is an act looked upon as sinful in the highest degree. It is as heinous as using the flesh of the sacred cow.

5. MAHADEO WASUDEO BARVE.—Early or infant marriages are not specially enjoined or prescribed by the Hindu Shastras. They simply permit them, and it was only in wellto-do classes that these were resorted to, more out of fashion than as a necessity.

NANABHAI HARIDAS.— With the Hindus, marriage is a religious sacrament (Sanskara) according to all the authorities on the subject, its performance in the case of a girl cannot be delayed beyond a certain period, and according to some authorities its performance a year or two before is most meritorious. That period is puberty, which is generally attained in India at the age of 12.

the age of 12. So long, therefore, as the masses of the people continue to pay respect to these authorities there is not much hope of the maximum age for a girl's marriage being raised.

7. M. G. RANADE.—The Grihya Sutra texts, the earlier Smritsi, and the great epics, all contemplate and illustrate a state of society, where both men and women attained mature age before they took upon themselves the resposibilities of a married life. Women were educated, and sent to school, being eligible for the Upanayan or initiation ceremony. The boys had a twelve years' school course (Asvalayana Sutra) during which they were required to observe a self-denying course of life, in which abstention from sexual intercourse occupied a prominent place (Apastamba Sutra). The declarations made at the marriage celebration by the bride and the bridegroom, the significance of certain of the rites themselves, especially the fourth day ceremony, all tend to show that these rites and declarations were not meant for children in their teens. Marriage itself was a voluntary condition to be assumed when its necessity was realised. The woman married once by pledge of word, or gift of hand, was open to the choice of marrying again, under certain contingencies, equally with the man. These occasions were so numerous, in the first instance, that they had to be cut down to five contingencies. All this history is plainly spread before us, and it shows the

greatness of our present fall from a time, which, with strange inconsistency, we still regard as our venerated and ancestral past.

8. VBNKUT RANGO KATTI, KANARESE TRANSLATOR E. D. THE DHARMA SINDHU SAYS:-"From the fifth to the 8th year of a girl's age is the proper period for her marriage. The two years after the 6th are the best. A girl should not be married before the 6th year, as Soma (the moon) Gandharva (a celestial singer) and Agni (fire) claim her each for two years from her birth. Marriage in the 9th and 10th years is neither good nor bad. In the 11th year it is mean, and in the 12th and succeeding years it requires prayaschittu (purification)

If a girl comes to puberty before marriage, her father, mother, and brothers fall in hell, the girl becomes Shudri, and 80 does her husband. In such case, the following is the mode of purification. The giver of the girl should give away as many cows as the number of times she was is her monthly course, or one cow, or he should feed Brahmins according to his means, and be fit to give the girl in marriage. The girl on fasting 3 days, and then drinking cow's milk, and giving to a Brahmin's daughter an ornament, with jewels set in it, becomes fit for marriage. The bride-groom will not be guilty if he marries her after offering libations of gourd to the fire. When a girl arrives at puberty before marriage for want of a giver, she should wait for 3 years, and then choose her own husband. 9. RANCHORELALL CHOTALALL, (AHMEDABAD)

.There is no religious objection whatever to keeping a boy unmarried until 20 years or any later period.

It is a general feeling among the Hindas that, girls should not be allowed to remain unmarried beyond the age of 10 or 12 years. This practice is based upon the authority of certain texts of the Shastras, and upon the idea that it is not safe to allow a girl to remain unmarried after 12 years, lest she might go astray.

10. BHOLANATH SARABHAI, (AHMEDABAD).—The illustrious and primitive Hindu Law-giver Manu enjoins that a man aged 30 years should marry a girl of 12. According to Hindu Shastras, after being invested with the sacordotal thread, one should pursue the study of Vedas at least for 12 years...

..... During the Vedic period, girls were allowed to make self-choice of husbands......... From the hymns uttered at the marriage ceremony, and from the wording of the promise made by the husband to his wife, it is quite clear that a girl of 8, 9 or 10 years' age cannot understand the meaning of the promise.

11. SAKHARAM ARJUN.-Sufficient evidence can be adduced to prove that there was a time in the history of the Hindus, when marriage was performed at an age when the parties were capable of immediately consummating it, and the only safe inference that can be drawn from those texts of the Vedas which give directions about the mode of consummating the marriage is, that the marriageable age contemplated there. in must have been a considerably advanced one ; for these instructions would be unintelligible and meaningless to parties in whose especial behalf they were laid down, if they happened to be of tender years.

12. S. H. CHIPLONKAR.—There is nothing in the Hindu religion, to compel parents to marry their daughters before the 10th year on penalty of excommunication. According to the Hindu Shastras the bride must invariably be younger than the bridegroom.

13. GUNPATRAW C. SASTRI (KASWA).—I am of opinion that it is an infringement of the dispensations of the Shastras to marry or betroth children so soon as the people are now in the habit of doing, and I consider it an infringement of the physical laws to saddle the rising generation with the burden of children, while they are yet in their teens.

14. GAURISHANKAR UDEYSHANKAR, (BHAVNAGAR). The Nirnaya Sindhu, a modern work of recognized authority on the law and customs of the Hindus in this Presidency, enforces

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