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Love, Arranged or Live-in..?

“By these seven steps we have now become friends. Let our bonds of love be there forever. I will never part your love. Let you also never part my love. Let us be together. Let us think together. By loving each other, let us live amicably well. Let us enjoy all happiness and good things together. Let our aspirations, ceremonies and minds come together. Let us have everlasting friendship. Let you be my first and best friend”

Ashwalayana Grhyasutra 1-7-19, Saptapadi mantra (Recited in every Hindu marriage ceremony)

Marriage should have emerged as institution in the good old times not on the basis of man overriding woman, but on the basis of friendship between man and woman. The saptapadi mantra that is recited in every Hindu marriage ceremony, as the couples go around the sacred fire holding each other’s hand,  illustrates this concept of friendship above very well.

For a married man (Grhastha) his best friend should be his wife. For a married woman, her best friend should be her husband. If this friendship is not the basis of a marriage, then the ‘sweetness’ in the marriage will be totally lost.

Over several centuries, the Hindu marriage lost this ‘core’ aspect of marriage and became almost a ‘slavery’ of woman to man in the name of ‘morals and ethics’. This is not due to the Vedic culture, but more due to degradation of that culture, as could be seen from several mantras in the Rig Veda.

Western societies institutionalized a concept of ‘mutual commitment’ as the basis of marriage instead of friendship. In the modern age all societies including  the Hindu society started aping this ‘mutual commitment’ model as it is better than the ‘slavery’ model.

Many people think and believe that ‘mutual commitment’ is the basis of a marriage. They are absolutely wrong. ‘Mutual commitment’ is not the basis of a marriage. ‘Friendship’ needs to be the basis of a marriage. Atleast that is what a Hindu marriage is supposed to be.

In most modern marriages, the partners do not realize this. Husband’s best friends with whom he can share all his heart is someone other than his wife. A Wife’s best friend with whom she shares all her heart is some other person than her husband. Hence the ‘sweetness’ in the marriage is lost. Often Husband becomes a mental burden to wife and wife becomes a mental burden to Husband. The problem with the ‘mutual commitment’ model is ‘On what basis persons will mutually commit ?’.

When we are in love, when the hormones are in a rage, our brains are ready to commit to anything. So we get ‘committed’. Once the initial love wears out or becomes regular or boring, the ‘commitment’ becomes a burden to carry.

It is simply impossible for humans to commit to something and remain burdened with it lifelong, unless something is seriously wrong with a person or person is emotionally blinded to a cause.

Hence making mutual commitments alone cannot be the basis of sustainable marriages. Similarly moral and ethical values continuously change and cannot be used to hold people bonded into a relationship like slaves.
It is from this angle, the question of marriage being arranged, love or live-in needs to be thought about.

Look at the ‘Love’ marriages. ‘Love’ is a genuine feeling or perception, no doubt. But it is a bit ‘chemical’ to some extent. It is situational, environmental and biological. When situations change, environments vary or people get older (biological changes), ‘Love’ may disappear. Once ‘Love’ disappears, in the ‘commitment’ model of marriage, partners are not willing to ‘mutually commit’. Life becomes a burden, if they live together (due to some reasons) or live apart.

Look at live-in relationships. Live-in relationships are a direct after-effect of the ‘mutual commitment’ model of marriage. Often partners want to check if they can ‘mutually commit’ to each other and try a live-in relationship. Even if we assume they are testing their friendship, actually they are testing their expectations and commitment capabilities.

More often than not these trials go off tangentially.  Partners have no incentive to commit to each other unless there are some economic advantages. Even if they commit, that commitment wears out with time, as situations change.

Look at arranged marriages. Modern day arranged marriages often push people into a bond without having an understanding of what is marriage. Modern culture promotes a concept of  friendship and marriage being totally two different things. Hence the couples are not the best friends to each other.

Hence it is no wonder that marriages fail whether they are based on love or arranged. Live-in relationships also fail as all of these are not based on being the first and best friend of each other.

Turn on any FM Radio or Television channel. Open any magazine. There are a huge number of psuedo-experts (not even married) masquerading as pscyhologists advising people on marriages and friendship. They ‘ingrain’ people with ideas that they need to look for friendships outside their marriage. In fact for these people marriage is different, friendship is different.

If you want to make your marriage a ‘success‘, make your partner your first and best friend, from day one. Your marriage may be ‘Love’ or ‘arranged’. It does not matter.

Once you are your partner’s first and best friend, you will not look for a match with him/her or commitment from him/her. You will understand your partner and walk along with him/her in every step.

In Hindu marriages (originally), there is no promise for a match between the partners. The only promise that  is made is that the partners will not leave each other under any circumstance, in front of the sacred fire, from day one.  They need to treat their partner as their first and best friend from day one and share their whole mind and heart with each other. Any other person comes later.

The whole concept of ‘tree’ marriages between Banyan and Peepal, Banyan and Neem are all the manifestations of this friendship of living together. If we carefully observe, these trees are from different species and they can probably not even ‘copulate’. But then they are married as marriage is all about an everlasting friendship.

Friendship does not sprout in a day like love or infatuation. It is the result of hard work and give and take. Partners need to work hard to understand each other, accept each other with all their shortcomings. They have to learn and adapt to each other, as any friends do.

We may often feel that we are not a match, given that we are ingrained with a concept of looking for a ‘match’. The ‘moment’ we stop looking for a match and make our partner as our first best friend to share our mind and heart and accept them with all their shortcomings,  it will become easy.

Again both partners need to do that. One hand does not clap.

Essentially we need to return to our vedic roots in marriage and teach our kids that their partner has to be their first and best friend from day one of their marriage.

For the generations that is ingrained in the ‘commitment’ models that look for ‘match’ between partners and in the society where man and woman are equal, marriage is a tough challenge. It may be difficult for partners to treat their mates as their first and best friend, given all their moorings and concepts. But then unless they do it, they can never taste the sweetness of their marriage.



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12 Responses

  1. i think love marriage & arranged marriage both are correct. some times love marriage better & some times arranged marriage this my perception

  2. There is a smile on my face after reading through all the discussions. and it is really nice that there are people who echo similar ideas .
    @TBT… thank you for clearing the questions raised .
    @rajani you have asked a very valid question.
    @pavani :)jai ho!

  3. Leave suspicion and learn to give a chance to the other person. Given all the feministic rhetoric going on nowadays, it is very easy to get misled. Women, in the name of feminism, are losing very valuable qualities of womanhood, like compassion, patience and understanding. Having these does not mean, women will not succeed in career or progress economically. In fact, these qualities will help their chances in career growth and success. Since then you would know how to understand and analyze any unique circumstance effectively.
    For men, understanding and participating in their better half’s struggles and issues, need not be seen as being meek and weak. In fact, only people with lot of self confidence, maturity and compassion can understand other’s struggles. It takes lot of strength to stand up for a person, whom you think is doing the right thing, without succumbing to societal or family pressures.
    Being in a meaningful relationship requires lifelong efforts. It is not perfect at the beginning, which is how mistakenly lot of movies and romantic novels predict. Getting an amicable partner is just the beginning, it is for the partners to work towards it and sustain it. If you do not have the patience to put up with an imperfect person, then I say, refrain from entering a relationship. Because, no one in this world is perfect and neither are the circumstances that surround them. What keeps any two people to stay together is their commitment to each other to stay put through thick and thin and their willingness to share happiness and sorrow together. Realize your real intention before getting into a relationship.
    How many of us have friends that we have known outside our college circles and school circles? If we can share our thoughts and ideas with some person whom we can feel comfortable with, who is totally a stranger to us, just because our ideas meet, then it is totally possible to be a friend with the person whom you have chosen to enter the relationship with. However, the cliché here is that, we need to have participated actively in the search for that partner, rather then it being mindlessly imposed upon us. It helps that the families understand each other, since it provides us with a healthy support system.
    Every aspect of human civilization has been wonderfully expressed and taught in the Vedas. It is a universally accepted that the Vedas are the oldest knowledgeable source of information on wide range of issues which concern the human society. These are not restricted to Hindus alone, because during vedic times I believe, the caste system as we see today never existed. Understood properly without any distortions and following those principles, will actually help us lead a better life. Unfortunately, these lie coded in the language of gods, and hence tend to be misinterpreted a lot.

    • Well Pavani,

      I am not against feminism or women being equal with men in the western way. Everything in this world has a purpose.

      I still would summarize all what you said into “Partners need to be the best friends”.

      Being a best friend is not dependent on who chose our partner in my view. Even if our partner is our own choice, we may not treat our partner as the best friend. In many cases, partner may be imposed and still that partner may happen to be our best friend.

      It just depends on people, finally and their maturity and understanding levels.

      Again it is not about commitment to each other. It is about understanding each other and being the best friends for each other.

      The problem with ‘commitment’ is, it often becomes a burden for people. The mere feeling of ‘commitment’ makes the relationship a burden.

      Instead be friends with your partner. Understand and be the best friend for him/her and make him/her your best friend. You will feel happy about the relationship and not burdened.

      Am I saying something which is not heard..?


      • Oh no definitely not, but even with our best friends, one cannot be an overbearing and ignorant person to his/her issues. That was all I was trying to say. In friendship we do not have the burden of commitment, and absolutely no expectation from the other person, except for the confidence that we can reach out to the other person, whenever and wherever. And no matter whatever is the issue, we tend to forgive them, with no strings attached. We fail to translate the same to our partners. Also, all that I tried to point out was , in the name of modernization, we are leaving some basic human values to wind, like giving respect and taking respect and giving each other some latitude as long as moral and ethical values are not violated.

  4. To Ranjani:

    One of the primary reasons why I think people do not learn and adapt is, that they do not treat their partner as their first and best friend.

    This is the truth.

    If my partner is my first and best friend, I would share everything with him/her without any inhibitions, as I do with my friend. I will have nothing that is personal to only me.

    But today unfortunately many people do not have the openness to share everything with their partner, as they don’t treat their partner as their best friend.

    Woman tries to put up a ‘face’ or ‘facade’ to the man and vice-versa, which worns out over a period.


  5. I must agree ur article is indeed a gud one. Must apreciate u. But I completely agree to what Ranjani didi has said. We cnt deny her point of view….

  6. Dear Ranjani,

    Whom we choose are our ‘accomplices’. Not real ‘friends’.

    Some of those accomplices may become life-long friends. Many of them will move on. Who becomes our friend is not chosen by us, in reality. It happens.

    Think about it. A total ‘stranger’ yesterday, can become your ‘best friend’ tomorrow. It is highly possible.

    That is the reason ‘forced friendship’ as you put it, can also work, as we learn to adapt to each other and understand each other.

    As I wrote you can develop a good friendship with a total stranger and live with him all your life as your first and best friend.

    In the Hindu system of marriage, there is no promise of a match, as I wrote. There is only a promise of being the first best friend, accept all shortcomings of each other, learn and adapt. If both partners keep up the promise it is enough.

    If both partners believe that the fire before which they made the promise is sacred, they will stick to their promise and become good friends for life.
    That’s why all the rituals and procedures happen.

    Again, this is not about a Hindu system of belief. This was the system of belief that originated an institution such as ‘marriage’ in all regions, religions and cultures.


  7. Dear Padmini,

    I quoted from a Vedic scripture, as it is one of the oldest known mantras in this domain. That is all.

    What I wrote is not for a Hindu. It is for all human beings.

    All over the world, in all religions and cultures, marriage as an insitituion has come under strain, once the element of ‘woman under the protection of a man’ is removed.

    The reason is we did not understand the real basis of marriage. It is about the partner being the first and best friend. This concept, I think, has no religious or cultural value. It is simply logical.

    In this context I quoted a well known, very old, scripture, that possibly explains, how people visualized marriage as an institution.

    When I get some time, I will explain the Hindu marriage rituals and procedures that explain this concept of friendship, which most Hindus carry out, recite those mantras, without knowing their meaning and intent.


  8. Good one.. I definitely agree that good friendship should be the basis of any marriage.. But how does it work?? Friends are the only relations we get to choose by ourslves , with absolutely no forcing.How does it come when my parents pick a guy and say ,” you are going to live your life with him.Go become his friend”..
    It sounds a bit absurd.. atleast for me..I will be your friend only if I wish to be your friend,not because I have to be your friend..
    Coming to love marriages, I’ve seen a few ” friends to lovers” thru my college n corporate life.But even they don seem to work out. As a friend what you share with everyone, as a lover , you are expected to share with just one person. Clash again.. The friendship and love both will survive , only if the couples try to analyze their problems and sort it out, which in many cases, I don see it happening..
    May be after a marriage, the ”Forced friendship” actually works out fine.. But its still a hope..

  9. TBT,

    It’s a very well structured article . I appreciate and agree with most of your thoughts . However I would have loved to see a wider approach in dealing with subjects like marriage, since we live in a multi cultural and multi religious nation. If I am not wrong you have only quotes from Hindu scriptures or Hinduism in general.