The Scriptural Basis for Child Marriage in Hinduism

Online Hindu critics have made a big case about the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ marrying Our Mother Aisha radiAllahu `anha at a young age.

But they are in no position to criticize Islam when Hindus past and present have engaged in such marriages and when their “sacred” scriptures and gods sanction it as well.

As for contemporary Hindus:

It was a sunny, blistering April morning in Hyderabad, the headquarters of a gazillion multinational IT behemoths. My family was gearing up for what was to be the first major Ram Navami Puja (ritual) in four years. We invited a well-renowned priest to conduct the three-hour-long ceremony. The event ended at about half-past one in the afternoon, when he uttered a few words that I don’t think I’ll forget in the foreseeable future.

He said he was going to marry off his daughter at the age of 10.[1]

While female infanticide amongst modern Hindus is well known, what is less understood is the practice of: Child Marriage. Stats reveal the widespread prevalence of child marriage in India – the country with some of the highest figures on a comparative global scale.

RELATED: Hinduism and the Killing of Female Infants

Despite a plunge in the rate of child marriages over the past decade, there are more underage brides in India than any other country in the world.[2]

Study the following stats carefully:

Nearly 12 million Indian children were married before the age of 10 years — 84% of the Hindu and 11% Muslim — reveals an IndiaSpend analysis of recently released census data.

To put it in context, this number is equivalent to Jammu & Kashmir’s population.

RELATED: The Hypocrisy of the West Accusing Islam of Pedophilia

As many of 7.84 million (65%) married children were female, reinforcing the fact that girls; eight in 10 illiterate children who were married were also girls.[3]

Child Marriage was the norm in the Vedic era.[4] Despite a ban on child marriage in India, these marriages take place today without any restriction in Indian villages.

What Is the Scriptural Basis for This Practice?

One shall give his daughter in the proper form, even though she may not have attained (the age), to a bridegroom who is of exceptionally distinguished appearance, and her equal. — (9.88)[5]

Commentary of the above text by Medhatithi:

‘She who has not attained’; —i.e., who has no carnal desires aroused, who is still too young, not having reached the youthful age, —called ‘nagnikā’ in another Smṛti-text; i.e., one in whom the sexual instinct has not arisen, who is only eight or six years old, —but not a mere infant; as is indicated by the qualifications (elsewhere)— ‘one who is eight years old.’ This same qualification may also be indicative of the fact that marriage is meant to be conducive to spiritual merit If mere Lust were the sole inducement to Marriage, wherefore could there be any marriage of the girl ‘who has not attained her age’?

Other Noted Works state the following:

Gautama (18-21). — ‘A girl should be given in marriage before puberty.’

And:

Vaśiṣṭha (17.70). — ‘Out of fear of the appearance of the menses, let the father marry his daughter while she still runs about naked. For if she stays in the home after the age of puberty, sin falls on the father.’

And:

Baudhāyana (4. 1.11). — ‘Let him give his daughter, while she still goes about naked, to a man who has not broken the vow of chastity and who possesses good qualities, or even to one destitute of good qualities; let him not keep the maiden in his house after she has reached the age of puberty.’

Even the ‘global pandemic’ has not slowed the rate of child marriage in India. In fact, child marriages were on the increase as reported on 5 November 2020.[6]

Why are Hindus attacking Muslims for a practice they not only engage in at a far higher rate than Muslims, but is encouraged in many places by their own religious texts?

RELATED: “Child Marriage” in Bangladesh

Follow Mufti Abdullah on Twitter: @MuftiAMoolla

Notes

  1. https://medium.com/@avinash.kumar.d/is-there-a-case-for-child-marriage-in-hinduism-1d10198769bf
  2. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/article/child-brides-marriage-shravasti-india-culture
  3. https://www.indiaspend.com/84-of-12-million-married-children-under-10-are-hindus-82446
  4. https://themalefactor.com/2018/01/04/why-did-vedic-india-have-child-marriage/
  5. https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/manusmriti-with-the-commentary-of-medhatithi/d/doc201453.html
  6. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/11/05/931274119/child-marriages-are-up-in-the-pandemic-heres-how-india-tries-to-stop-them

 

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Ahmed

Their so called God Ram married sita at age of 6.. Their scriptures Ramayan and purana clearly states that.
Have heard lectures of few priests too speaking about it.
Krishna, other diety too married Rukmani at age 8.