Worldwide different words are used to denote the word “wife”. It is Hinduism alone that translates the word as “dharma patni”, proclaiming thereby a sacred stature and an elevated role for the Hindu wife. Marriage is not just for sensual dalliance, but an opportunity for spiritual evolution through service. At the sacred altar, the pandit offers the bride the pride of place by seating her to the groom’s right. Among their sacred vows, the most important demand of the bride is, “I will come to your left if in all pujas, havans, yagnyas and spiritually uplifting acts of dharma I will be your leader and will sit to your right.” Granted that, she graciously moves to his left.

Considered by biological researchers as the more evolved of the species, the woman takes on a much subtler and richer role in a Hindu marriage, and is known as “Dharma Patni”, a friend and guide who leads her husband to the subtler, the higher, the nobler and the more divine in life.

Interestingly, there is no provision for divorce in the Hindu marriage. It is considered a complete fusion of individualities that act as two bodies with a single heart and soul.

The pandit demonstrates. He asks the young couple to mix together some water kept in two bowls, explaining that even if this water is again put into two different bowls, it will never be the same water that was in them earlier, but a homogenous mixture in which the molecules have changed and fused. Similarly, even if separated in distance, you will ever remain a part of each other. This coming together forms a solid and stable unit of social structure. It is worth noting that there is no word for “divorce” in Hindi or Sanskrit, nor in any Hindu religious scripture.

Prarthna Saran, President Delhi Chinmaya Mission.

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