Among the innumerable castes and communities in India only the trivargas-brahmanas, ksatriyas and vaisyas-perform their rites strictly in accordance with the injunctions ordained by the Vedas. These rites aggregate into sixteen samskaras, of which the marriage ceremonies are still the most important. But what is regrettable is that all these sacraments, written or published so far, being in Sanskrit, are beyond the comprehension of common priests entrusted with the duty of conducting the rituals. Only the scholar has the key to the secrets of Sanskrit in his possession. It is to overcome this hardship that I have translated the Vivaha mantras compiled by Ramdatta into Hindi and offered them with samkalpas and modes of performing the ceremonies with explanatory meaning of the mantras. In spite of their differences of opinion about a number of important ideas the marriage samskaras of the Hindus, collected by Ramdatta in accordance with Paraskara Grhyasutra, are nonetheless wellnigh identical. The same rites and the mode of their performance are here poured into a Hindi mould without adding anything extraneous. With such a book accompanied by a Hindi rendering, any person, however ill-equipped otherwise, can without any trepidation conduct marriage ceremonies. Moreover, it is observed everywhere that while the priest, already in anxious haste, has other marriage rites to perform in other homes, the host is himself restlessly awaiting the completion of the ceremonies, as is evident when he says: "Hurry up, Sir, for the boys are dozing off". You fools, why are such boys married when they do not let the rituals be properly completed? The hosts, so pathetically naïve or in most cases absolutely ignorant, are little aware of the mysterious and symbolic meaning of the sacraments nor of the sublime ideals enshrined in them. For the ignorant the rituals are just a mockery, marriage a mockshow. Their priests neither explain to them the meaning of the mantras nor acquaint them with the process of the ritual. It is for this reason that I have not only explained with all possible lucidity the processes of such rituals as samkalpa, etc., but have also given the Hindi meaning of the mantras, attaching considerable importance to the latter, so that those Hindi-knowing people not familiar with Sanskrit may also be benefited. With this aim in view and inspired by some most adored friends, I have written this widely appealing Hindi commentary on Pandit Ramdatta's marriage sacraments fro the benefit of the common reader. It is also noteworthy that I have not mentioned the names of the chamda rsis for the simple reason that in the ritual modes according to Narada it is said: (agnihotre vaisvadeve vivahadividhau tatha homakale na drsyante prayaschandarsidevatah!!
In other words, in such ceremonies as Agnihotra, Bali Vaisvadeva, Marriage and Homa the application of chamda, rsi and of the presiding deity is not found-that is, they are not mentioned in the ceremonies centioned above. Now what remains is this:
This is all right. Our purpose is not to show disrespect to any Dharma-sutra, but what harm would it cause if the same practice (of not mentioning the names of the chandas, etc.) is followed with regard to other ceremonial rites than those mentioned above? Both sentences would be correct. My last request to my discerning readers is that in case they come across any textual variation or stylistic solecism, they should correct it. Allrespectable persons are appreciative of merit.
Back of the Book
Ceremonial rites and rituals occupy a place of utmost importance in the life of a devout Hindu. In fact, there are no vital actions-birth, initiation, marriage, death etc.-which can be allowed to be performed without its appropriate rite or samskara. The number of samskaras has been fluctuating but was finally fixed at sixteen.
Marriage is the most important and elaborate out of these sixteen samskaras. Manu enjoins that rituals should be performed in the case of a virgin for legalizing the marriage, legitimatizing children and avoiding public scandal.
The mantras used in the nuptial rites being in Sanskrit are beyond the comprehension of not only the average Hindu but even the common priest entrusted with the duty of conducting the rituals. To overcome this difficulty the present book was originally prepared in Hindi and is now translated into English with the mantras etc. Romanized for the benefit of those who do not have adequate knowledge of Hindi, for example especially those whose forefathers had migrated to remote countries during the last one hundred years or so.
Dr. R.C. Prasad, taught English Literature at Patna University for over forty years, during which he wrote scores of books, including biographies and translations, the most outstanding of which was his prose rendering of the Ramacharitamanasa.
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