Hinduism, Marriage and Mental Illness

By Sharma, Indira; Pandit, Balram et al. | Indian Journal of Psychiatry, January 2013 | Go to article overview

Hinduism, Marriage and Mental Illness


Sharma, Indira, Pandit, Balram, Pathak, Abhishek, Sharma, Reet, Indian Journal of Psychiatry


Byline: Indira. Sharma, Balram. Pandit, Abhishek. Pathak, Reet. Sharma

For Hindus, marriage is a sacrosanct union. It is also an important social institution. Marriages in India are between two families, rather two individuals, arranged marriages and dowry are customary. The society as well as the Indian legislation attempt to protect marriage. Indian society is predominantly patriarchal. There are stringent gender roles, with women having a passive role and husband an active dominating role. Marriage and motherhood are the primary status roles for women. When afflicted mental illness married women are discriminated against married men. In the setting of mental illness many of the social values take their ugly forms in the form of domestic violence, dowry harassment, abuse of dowry law, dowry death, separation, and divorce. Societal norms are powerful and often override the legislative provisions in real life situations.

Introduction

Since time immemorial marriage has been the greatest and most important of all institutions in human society. It has always existed in one form or another in every culture, ensuring social sanction to a physical union between man and woman and laying the foundation for building up of the family - the basic unit of society. [sup][1]

Marriage and Hinduism

The Hindus have idealized marriage in a big way. In the patriarchal society of Rig Vedic Hindus, marriage was considered as a sacramental union, and this continued to be so during the entire period. In the Shastric Hindu law, [sup][2] marriage has been regarded as one of the essential sanakaras (sacrament for every Hindu). Every Hindu must marry. "To be mothers were woman created and to be fathers men." The Veda ordains that "Dharma must be practiced by man together with his wife and offspring". "He is only perfect who consists of his wife and offspring." "Those who have wives can fulfill their obligations in this world; those who have wives truly have a family life; those who have wives can be happy; those who have wives can have a full life." [sup][2] For a Hindu marriage is essential, not only for begetting a son in order to discharge his debt to the ancestors, but also for performance of other religious and spiritual duties. The institution of marriage is considered sacred even by those who view it as a civil contract.

Wife is the ardhangini (half of man) according to Satpatha Brahmana "The wife is verily the half of the husband. Man is only half, not complete until he marries." The Taittiriya Samhita is to the same effect. Manu declared that mutual fidelity between husband and wife was the highest dharma . According to Mahabharata, by cherishing the woman one virtually cherishes the Goddess of prosperity herself. Wife under Hindu law is not only a " grahpatni ," but also a " dharma patni " and " shadharmini ." The wife is her husband's best of friends. She is the source of Dharma, Artha, Kama , and Moksha. The husband is known as bharthi . He is supposed to support his wife. He is also known as pati because he is supposed to support her.

The sacramental aspect of marriage under Hindu law has three characteristics: (1) That it is a sacrament union, which means that marriage is not to gratify one's physical needs; but is primarily meant for the performance of religious and spiritual duties; (2) a sacramental union implies that a marriage once entered cannot be dissolved on any ground whatsoever; and (3) a sacramental union also means that it is a union of soul, body and mind. It is a union not only for this life, but for all lives to come. The union is not only for this world, but also for other worlds.

Performance of certain Sastric ceremonies, which have been laid down in detail in Griha Sutras, are necessary for a Hindu marriage.

Marriage as a social institution

Marriage has been an important social institution. It is the basis for the family. …

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