Written by Sri Swami Chandrashekarendra
After a young man has completed his gurukulavasa and performed the
samavartana he has to wear a "double sacred thread". He must discard
the marks of his student-bachelorhood - the staff, the antelope skin,
girdle - and wear the pancakaccha and an upper cloth. As a
he was not permitted to use any footwear; he could not also
adorn himself with sandal-paste, ear-studs and flowers. He may now even
darken his eyes with lampblack. Adorning himself and putting up his
umbrella he must approach the king or a royal representative. The latter
must be impressed by his learning and the quality of his brahmacarya.
The young must acquire [from the king or the royal representative]
money and material as a gift for his marriage, so say the sastras.
One point that emerges from this is that the marriage expenses are to be
borne by the groom or his parents. A second point is that a young man
who has had samavartana must wear the "double sacred thread" and
pancakaccha even if he remains single. One's strength or potency is
preserved by wearing a cloth whose ends are pleated, or made into folds,
and tucked in. Muslims have the end of the cloths sewn together. Even
people who do not belong to the twice born caste - except in Tamil Nadu
and Kerala - tuck in their dhotis or vestis, not to speak of
(Today even when they come to see me, people come in trousers. That
being the case it is ridiculous or meaningless to speak of differences
between the two types of wears).
In these days there is neither gurukulavasa nor samavartana nor the
pilgrimage to Ganga. But there is an extra "item" in weddings called
"Paradesi-k-kolam" just to extort money or gift from the bride's family.
The groom is presented with an umbrella, a pair of sandals and a walking
stick. A ceremony called "kasiyatra" (the pilgrimage or journey to kasi)
conducted in which groom darkens his eyes with lampblack and wears a
Those who do not marry and remain "naisthika brahamacarins" (lifelong
brahamacarins) are exceptions to the rule that no man ought to remain
even a single moment without belonging to one of the asramas. That is
after the proper conclusion of his student-bachelorhood he has to
prepare to become a householder.
The Brahmin is born with three debts: he owes a debts to the sages, to
the celestials and to the fathers. He repays the first by learning the
as a student-bachelor; the second by taking a wife and performing
sacrifices; and the third by begetting a son. So without marriage he
cannot repay the second and third debts.
Sons are primarily intended for the repayment of the debts to the
Performing the sraddha ceremony is not enough. Forefathers of the past
three generations are to be made to ascend from the manes. So even
after a man dies, for two generations the daily libations must be
to him. That is why the birth of a son is considered important. (The
of the naisthika brahmacarin and the sannyasin is different. Because of
their inner purity and enlightenment, they can liberate, not just two
generations, but twenty-one generations fathers without performing any
Panigrahana (the groom taking the hand of the bride in his),
mangalyadharana, saptapadi (the bridal pair taking the seven steps round
the sacrificial fire) are important rites of the marriage function.
There is a
controversy about whether or not mangalya-dharana is a Vedic rite. It is
an unnecessary controversy. Mangalya-dharana is a custom that is
thousands of years old and it is an essential part of the marriage
As I said before, after completing his student-bachelorhood a young man
must take a wife for the pursuit of dharma. The latter should dedicate
herself to him so as to become pure within. The purpose of marriage is a
life of harmony and the procreation of virtuous children.
Grhasthasrama is called illaram in Tamil and it is extolled by the wise
the Tamil country also. "Grha" means a house. A young man who returns
to his house from the guru's and practises dharma is a "grhastha". One
who resides in a house, a grha, is a grhastha. The Tamil wife calls her
husband "ahamudayan", "ahattukaran", "vittukaran": these terms have
to do with the house or the home. Only the wife can refer to her husband
thus, not others. She herself is called "grhini", not "grhastha". The
would mean no more than "one who resides in a house". But "grhini"
means the house belongs to her (the wife), that she manages the
household. The husband is the illaratan in Tamil and it means one
performs the dharmic rites in the house, "il-arattan". The wife is
one who owns the house.
The husband is not called illan (illan, as it happens, means one who
not possess anything or one who is indigent). The wife is also called
illattarasi (queen of the house), "manaivi"(owner of the house), or
"manaiyal"; but the husband does not have similar appellations like
"illattarasan"(king of the house), "manaivan" or "manaiyan"(owner of the
house). In Telugu the wife is called "illu" (corresponding to the illal