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Polygamy in ancient India

VipraDialogues | February 24, 2016 | 1,745  Views
Polygamy in ancient India

Ever wonder how almost all the men in ancient India, especially the Kings and the Royals had 3, 4, 5 wives, and still managed to get away with it? How come the law never caught up with them? I know I do. May be they all were just above-the-law-of-the-land. May be they didn’t have to worry about the law, because they were the ones who made them, changed them, and twisted them to suit their carnal needs.


Well, let me tell you the real reason. It just so happens, that Polygamy was not illegal in ancient India, as it was not in many other Asian, Middle-Eastern, African, and European countries. It was as late as 1955, when the Hindu Marriage Act was introduced with a clause prohibiting Polygamy and making it punishable under the law; although Bombay, Madras and Saurashtra (as they were then called) had come up with the legislation of their own against the practise, even before that. Before 1955, every Hindu man was free to marry as many women as he wished; and many men belonging to the upper and upper-middle class actually did.


Even when I went through the old religious books, I found that Saints, Sages, and even some of the Gods and Goddesses were shown to be blatantly practising Polygyny and Polyandry (they are together known as Polygamy). Not even at one place was it said to be wrong, illegal or unethical.

That was ancient time. It is difficult to imagine it happening even in today’s day and age. However, it’s not only happening, but striving around the world. There are proofs of this, in scores, available in all walks of life. To say that polygamy is only found in lower strata of society, will not be true. Right from Saleh Al- Sayeri, the 64 years old businessman from Saudi, who has had 58 wives so far; to Col. Gaddafi, who was accused of having a basement full of girls, ranging from 12 to 30 years of age; to a village, each in U.P. and Tamil Nadu, where a girl has to marry, either all the brothers at once, or even all the men of the house… the examples are many, although the reasons can be varied. Some do it for carnal pleasure, some take it as a sample of power and manhood, while still others are forced to do it because of the utterly skewed sex ratio in the area or the community; for example Jhajjar district in Haryana, where there are only 780 girls, for every 1000 boys.

All of us are free to draw our own conclusion from the above. The fact remains that indulging in any form of Polygamy is strictly illegal in India and punishable under the law. Sochna bhi nahi is bare mei, aur agar socho to sirf sochna, karna mat.

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