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THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. V - THE VOICE OF TRUTH > Part II- Section X : Social Ideas > The ideal of Marriage
73. The ideal of Marriage
Absolute renunciation, absolute Brahmacharya, is the ideal state. If you dare not think of it, marry by all means, but even then live a life of self-control.
Harijan, 7-9-35, p. 234
It is wholly wrong of parents to force marriage on their daughters. It is also wrong to keep their daughters unfit for earning their living. No parent has a right to turn a daughter out on to the street for refusal to marry.
Harijan, 15-9-46, pp. 311-12
Marriage is a natural thing in life, and to consider it derogatory in any sense is wholly wrong…. The ideal is to look upon marriage as a sacrament, and, therefore, to lead a life of self-restraint in the married estate.
Harijan, 22-3-42, p. 88
The ideal that marriage aims at is that of spiritual union though the physical. The human love that it incarnates is intended to serve as a stepping stone to divine or universal love.
Young India, 21-5-31, p. 115
Rightly speaking, the true purpose of marriage should be and is intimate friendship and companionship between man and woman. There is in it no room for sexual satisfaction. That marriage is no marriage which takes place for the satisfaction of the sex desire. That satisfaction is a denial of true friendship.
Harijan, 7-7-46, p. 214
Those who see in Sita a willing slave under Rama do not realize the loftiness of either her independence or Rama’s consideration for her in everything. Sita was no helpless, weak woman incapable of protection herself or her honour.
Harijan, 2-5-36, p. 93
The wife is not the husband’s bondslave, but his companion and his help-mate, and an equal partner in all his joys and sorrows-as free as the husband to choose her own path.
An Autobiography, (1966), p. 18
I hold that the right education in this country is to teach woman the art of saying ‘no’ even to her husband, to tech her that it is no part of her duty to become a mere tool or a doll in her husband’s hands. She has rights as well as duties.
Harijan, 2-5-36, p. 93
A correspondent laid down the following conditions of marriage: (1) Mutual attraction or love; (2) Eugenic fitness; (3) Approval and consent of the respective families concerned; and consideration for the interest of the social order to which one belongs; (4) spiritual development. I accept generally the conditions for an ideal marriage enumerated by my correspondent. But I would change their order of importance and put ‘love’ last in the list. By giving it the first place, the other conditions are liable to be overshadowed by it altogether and rendered more or less nugatory. Therefore, spiritual development ought to be given the first place in the choice for marriage. Service should come next, family considerations and the interest of the social order should have the third place, and mutual attraction or ‘love’ the fourth and last place. This means that ‘love’ alone, where the other four conditions are not fulfilled, should not be held as a valid reason for marriage. At the same time, marriage where there is no love should equally be ruled out even though all the other conditions are fully complied with. I should score out the condition of eugenic fitness, because the begetting of offspring being the central purpose of marriage eugenic fitness cannot be treated merely as a ‘condition’, is the sine qua non of marriage.
Harijan, 5-6-37, pp. 133-34
Manu has described the first child as dharmaja -born out of a sense of duty, and children born after the first as kamaja-carnally born. That gives in a nutshell the law of sexual relations.
Harijan, 24-4-37, p. 83
Innumerable persons eat in order to satisfy the palate, but such indulgence does not, therefore, become one’s duty. Very few eat to live, but they are ones who really know the law of eating. Similarly, those only really marry who marry in order to experience the purity and sanctity of the marriage tie and thereby realize the divinity within.
Harijan, 7-7-46, p. 214
You will guard your wife’s honour and be not her master, but her true friend. You will hold her body and her soul as sacred as I trust she will hold your body and your soul. To that end you will have to live a life of prayerful toil, and simplicity and self-restraint. Let not either of you regard another as the object of his or her lust.
Young India, 2-2-28, p. 35
I admit that between husband and wife there should be no secrets from one another…. I hold that husband and wife merge in each other. They are one in two or two in one.
Harijan, 9-3-40, p. 30
What is Kanyadan-1 in the case of little children? Has a father any rights of property over his children? He is their protector not owner. And he forfeits the privilege of protection when he abuses it by seeking to barter away the liberty of his ward.
The least that a parent, who has so abused his trust as to give in marriage an infant to an old man in his dotage or to a boy hardly out of his teens, can do, is to purge himself of his sin by remarrying the daughter when she becomes widowed. As I have said, such marriages should be declared null and void from the beginning.
Young India, 11-11-26, p. 388
The system has to go. Marriage must cease to be a matter of arrangement made by parents for money. The system is intimately connected with caste. So long as the choice is restricted to a few hundred young men or young women of a particular caste, the system will persist no matter what is said against it. The girls or boys or their parents will have to break the bonds of caste if the evil is to be eradicated... All this means education of a character that will revolutionize the mentality of the youth of the nation.
Harijan, 23-5-36, p.117
…A strong public opinion should be created in condemnation of the degrading practice of dowry and young men who soil their fingers with such ill-gotten gold should be ex-communicated from society. Parents of girls should cease to be dazzled by English degrees and should not hesitate to travel outside their little castes and provinces to secure true, gallant young men for their daughters.
Young India, 21-6-28, p. 207
If we would be pure, if we would save Hinduism, we must rid ourselves of this poison of enforced widowhood. The reform must begin by those who have girl-widows taking courage in both their hands and seeing that the child-widows in their charge are duly and well married not - remarried. They were never really married.
Young India, 5-8-26, p. 276
1. Giving away of daughter in marriage