[Advaita-l] Tantric Acts

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Thu Jan 13 23:40:21 CST 2011

I am a little amused by this discussion. All this has very little to do with
anything being "granted" or "sanctioned" by tradition. Rather the point very
simply is that the institution of marriage signifying a long-term and
exclusive pair bond and the corresponding concept of family centred around
the married couple is one of the most important innovations of a settled
agrarian society. An agricultural economy is characterized by a single
extremely prized economic resource viz., fertile land, and therefore
promotes settled communities, territorial identities and (in the long run)
the development of a state to defend the territory along with a system of
taxation. The greater an individual's control over fertile land, the greater
his power & influence in society.

Pre-agrarian societies were very different in this regard. As they survived
through hunting and gathering, there was no single resource that sustained
the community. There was nothing much (in terms of a finite extremely
valuable resource) that a father would seek to pass on to his son. There was
also no incentive to postpone consumption and store things for a bad day (on
the contrary, farmers will try to store grains for later consumption in case
of a drought). In such a society, the sheer value of a long term exclusive
pair bond (marriage) is much lesser, and society tends to revolve around
looser groups of individuals who cooperate in hunting and gathering.

Even today one finds that traditional institutions of marriage & family, and
corresponding conventions regarding the longevity and exclusivity of the
marital bond, are much weaker in communities that do not have a strong
agrarian history, such as many tribal groups worldwide. It may also seem
that the modern world is turning a full circle. Again, the modern world is
not centred around any single resource, and technological change has meant
that women no longer need to spend much of their adult lives tending to
children. In fact, women have become resource controllers themselves
(something that was not the case even in hunter-gatherer societies). So
again, one finds that the institutions family and marriage are gradually

Statements such as those of Pandu in the Mahabharata as quoted by DVN Sarma
are simply reminiscences of a pre-agrarian or semi-agrarian past when the
institutions of family and marriage were (quite naturally) weaker. In fact,
it is instructive that Pandu himself is simply recounting an even more
ancient past. Such reminiscences are found in many cultures worldwide, with
the development of strict marital rules being ascribed to some respected
legendary figure (Shvetaketu in this case). The ground reality quite simply
is that, irrespective of what Shvetaketu said or did, the strict conventions
of marriage & family would anyhow have come into being by virtue of a
settled agrarian society.

2011/1/14 D.V.N.Sarma డి.వి.ఎన్.శర్మ <dvnsarma at gmail.com>

> I read it in another place though I am not able to give reference right
> now.
> There is no reference to gandhrva vivaha here.

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