chapter  1
26 Pages

Conceptualizing Hindu Divorce

Divorce is very often declared to be unknown within Hindu tradition. Such a

purported absence is framed within the notion of Hindu marriage as conceptualized

in the classical Hindu texts: the union sanctioned by the performance of the sacred

rites that bring a permanent change to the spouses and yield a sacred and indissoluble

union. Accordingly, once the rituals are properly accomplished, the conjugal bond

is established for eternity because of the indelible and internal changes produced

within the spouses by the very performance of the rites. Hence, traditional Hindu

marriage is not based on consent and it can be virtually performed without any

consent. The permanence of the sacred tie can furthermore survive the lifetime of

the husband when the sati, i.e. the self-sacrifice of the widow on the pyre of her dead husband, is seen as the expected duty of the Hindu wife.