Translated by R. Shamasastry (1956)
Book 3 – Concerning Law – Chapter 2
Summary: Concerning Marriage. The Duty of Marriage, the Property of a Woman, and Compensations for Re-marriage.
Marriage is the basis of all Vyavahāra.
The giving in marriage of a maiden well-adorned is called Brāhma-marriage. The joint-performance of sacred duties (by a man and a woman) is known as prājāpatya marriage.
(The giving in marriage of a maiden) for a couple of cows is called Ārsha. (The giving in marriage of a maiden) to an officiating priest in a sacrifice is called Daiva. The voluntary union of a maiden with her lover is called Gāndharva. Giving a maiden after receiving plenty of wealth (śulka) is. termed Āsura. The abduction of a maiden is called Rākṣasa. The abduction of a maiden while she is asleep and in intoxication is called Paiśāca marriage.
Of these, the first four are ancestral customs of old and are valid on their being approved of by the father. The rest are to be sanctioned by both the father and the mother; for it is they that receive the money (śulka) paid by the bridegroom for their daughter. In case of the absence by death of either.the father or the mother, the survivor will receive the śulka. If both of them are dead, the maiden herself shall receive it. Any kind of marriage is approvable, provided it pleases all those (that are concerned in it).
Property of Women
Means of subsistence (vṛtti) or jewellery (ābadhya) constitutes what is called the property of a woman. Means of subsistence valued at above two thousand shall be endowed (in her name). There is no limit to jewellery. It is no guilt for the wife to make use of this property in maintaining her son, her daughter-in-law, or herself, whenever her absent husband has made no provision for her maintenance. In calamities, disease and famine, in warding off dangers and in charitable acts, the husband, too, may make use of this property, Neither shall there be any complaint against the enjoyment of this property by mutual consent by a couple who have brought forth a twin. Nor shall there be any complaint if this property has been enjoyed for three years by those who are wedded in accordance with the customs of the first four kinds of marriage. But the enjoyment of this property in the case of Gāndharva and Āsura marriages shall be liable to be restored, together with interest on it. In the cases of such marriages as are called Rākṣasa and Paiśāca, the use of this property shall be dealt with as theft. Thus the duty of marriage is dealt with.
On the death of her husband a woman, desirous to lead a pious life, shall at once receive not only her endowment and jewellery (sthāpyābharaṇa), but also the balance of śulka due to her. If after obtaining these two things she re-marries another, she shall be caused to pay them back together with interest (on their value). If she is desirous of a second marriage (kuṭumbakāmā), she shall be given on the occasion of her re-marriage (niveśakāle) whatever either her father-in-law or her husband or both had given to her. The time at which women can re-marry shall be explained in connection with the subject of long sojourn of husbands.
If a widow marries any man other than of her father-in-law’s selection (śvaśuraprātilomyenaniviṣṭā), she shall forfeit whatever had been given to her by her father-in-law and her deceased husband.
The kinsmen (jñātis) of a woman shall return to her old father-in-law whatever property of her own she had taken with her while re-marrying a kinsman. Whoever justly takes a woman under his protection shall equally protect her property. No woman shall succeed in her attempt to establish her title to the property of her deceased husband, after she re-marries.
If she lives a pious life, she may enjoy it (dharmakāmā bhuñjīta). No woman with a son or sons shall (after re-marriage) be at liberty to make free use of her own property (strīdhana); for that property of hers, her sons shall receive.
If a woman after re-marriage attempts to take possession of her own property under the plea of maintaining her sons by her former husband, she shall be made to endow it in their name. If a woman has many male children by many husbands, then she shall conserve her property in the same condition as she had received from her husbands. Even that property which has been given her with full powers of enjoyment and disposal, a remarried woman shall endow in the name of her sons.
A barren widow who is faithful to the bed of her dead husband may, under the protection of her teacher, enjoy her property as long as she lives: for it is to ward off calamities that women are endowed with property. On her death, her property shall pass into the hands of her kinsman (Dāyāda), If the husband is alive and the wife is dead, then her sons and daughters shall divide her property among themselves. If there are no sons, her daughters shall have it. In their absence her husband shall take that amount of money (śulka) which he had given her, and her relatives shall re-take whatever in the shape of gift or dowry they had presented her. Thus the determination of the property of a woman is dealt with.
Re-marriage of Males
If a woman either brings forth no (live) children, or has no male issue, or is barren, her husband shall wait for eight years (before marrying another). If she bears only a dead child, he has to wait for ten years. If she brings forth only females, he has to wait for twelve years. Then if he is desirous to have sons, he may marry another. In case of violating this rule, he shall be made to pay her not only śulka, her property (śtrīdhana) and an adequate monetary compensation (ādhivedanikamartha), but also a fine of 24 paṇas to the government. Having given the necessary amount of śulka and property (śtrīdhana) even to those women who have not received such things on the occasion of their marriage with him, and also having given his wives the proportionate compensation and on adequate subsistence (vṛtti), he may many any number of women; for women are created for the sake of sons. If many or all of them are at the same time in menses, he shall lie with that woman among them whom he married earlier or who has a living son. In case of his concealing the fact of her being in menses or neglecting to lie with any of them after her menses, he shall pay a fine of 96 paṇas. Of women who either have sons or are pious or barren, or bring forth only a dead child or are beyond the age of menstruation, none shall be associated with against her liking. If a man has no inclination, he may not lie with his wife who is either afflicted with leprosy or is a lunatic. But if a woman is desirous of having sons, she may lie with men suffering from such disease.
* If a husband either is of bad character, or is long gone abroad, or has become a traitor to his king, or is likely to endanger the life of his wife, or has fallen from his caste, or has lost virility, he may be abandoned by his wife.
[Thus ends Ghapter II, “The Duty of Marriage, the Property of a Woman, and Compensation for Re-marriage,” in Book III, “Concerning Law” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of the fifty-ninth chapter from the beginning.]
SOURCE : Kautilya Arthashastra