The Kama Sutra, Part 3, CHAPTER 1:

ON MARRIAGE

WHEN a girl of the same caste, and a virgin, is married in accordance with the precepts of Holy Writ, the results of such a union are the acquisition of Dharma and Artha, offspring, affinity, increase of friends, and untarnished love. For this reason a man should fix his affections upon a girl who is of good family, whose parents are alive, and who is three years or more younger than himself. She should be born of a highly respectable family, possessed of wealth, well connected, and with many relations and friends. She should also be beautiful, of a good disposition, with lucky marks on her body, and with good hair, nails, teeth, ears, eyes and breasts, neither more nor less than they ought to be, and no one of them entirely wanting, and not troubled with a sickly body. The man should, of course, also possess these qualities himself. But at all events, says Ghotakamukha, a girl who has been already joined with others (i.e. no longer a maiden) should never be loved, for it would be reproachable to do such a thing.

Now in order to bring about a marriage with such a girl as described above, the parents and relations of the man should exert themselves, as also such friends on both sides as may be desired to assist in the matter. These friends should bring to the notice of the girl's parents, the faults, both present and future, of all the other men that may wish to marry her, and should at the same time extol even to exaggeration all the excellencies, ancestral, and paternal, of their friend, so as to endear him to them, and particularly to those that may be liked by the girl's mother. One of the friends should also disguise himself as an astrologer, and declare the future good fortune and wealth of his friend by showing the existence of all the lucky omens1 and signs,2 the good influence of planets, the auspicious entrance of the sun into a sign of the Zodiac, propitious stars and fortunate marks on his body. Others again should rouse the jealousy of the girl's mother by telling her that their friend has a chance of getting from some other quarter even a better girl than hers.

A girl should be taken as a wife, as also given in marriage, when fortune, signs, omens, and the words3 of others are favourable, for, says Ghotakamukha, a man should not marry at any time he likes. A girl who is asleep, crying, or gone out of the house when sought in marriage, or who is betrothed to another, should not be married. The following also should be avoided:

  • One who is kept concealed
  • One who has an ill-sounding name
  • One who has her nose depressed
  • One who has her nostril turned up
  • One who is formed like a male
  • One who is bent down
  • One who has crooked thighs
  • One who has a projecting forehead
  • One who has a bald head
  • One who does not like purity
  • One who has been polluted by another
  • One who is affected with the Gulma4
  • One who is disfigured in any way
  • One who has fully arrived at puberty
  • One who is a friend
  • One who is a younger sister
  • One who is a Varshakari5
In the same way a girl who is called by the name of one of the twenty-seven stars, or by the name of a tree, or of a river, is considered worthless, as also a girl whose name ends in `r' or `l'. But some authors say that prosperity is gained only by marrying that girl to whom one becomes attached, and that therefore no other girl but the one who is loved should be married by anyone.

When a girl becomes marriageable her parents should dress her smartly, and should place her where she can be easily seen by all. Every afternoon, having dressed her and decorated her in a becoming manner, they should send her with her female companions to sports, sacrifices, and marriage ceremonies, and thus show her to advantage in society, because she is a kind of merchandise. They should also receive with kind words and signs of friendliness those of an auspicious appearance who may come accompanied by their friends and relations for the purpose of marrying their daughter, and under some pretext or other having first dressed her becomingly, should then present her to them. After this they should await the pleasure of fortune, and with this object should appoint a future day on which a determination could be come to with regard to their daughter's marriage. On this occasion when the persons have come, the parents of the girl should ask them to bathe and dine, and should say, `Everything will take place at the proper time', and should not then comply with the request, but should settle the matter later.

When a girl is thus acquired, either according to the custom of the country, or according to his own desire, the man should marry her in accordance with the precepts of the Holy Writ, according to one of the four kinds of marriage.

Thus ends marriage.

There are also some verses on the subject as follows:

    `Amusement in society, such as completing verses begun by others, marriages, and auspicious ceremonies should be carried on neither with superiors, nor inferiors, but with our equals. That should be known as a high connection when a man, after marrying a girl, has to serve her and her relations afterwards like a servant, and such a connection is censured by the good. On the other hand, that reproachable connection, where a man, together with his relations, lords it over his wife, is called a low connection by the wise. But when both the man and the woman afford mutual pleasure to each other, and when the relatives on both sides pay respect to one another, such is called a connection in the proper sense of the word. Therefore a man should contract neither a high connection by which he is obliged to bow down afterwards to his kinsmen, nor a low connection, which is universally reprehended by all.'

Footnotes
  1. The flight of a blue jay on a person's left side is considered a lucky omen when one starts on any business; the appearance of a cat before anyone at such a time is looked on as a bad omen. There are many omens of the same kind.
  2. Such as the throbbing of the right eye of men and the left eye of women, etc.
  3. Before anything is begun it is a custom to go early in the morning to a neighbour's house, and overhear the first words that may be spoken in his family, and according as the words heard are of good or bad import, to draw an inference as to the success or failure of the undertaking.
  4. A disease consisting of any glandular enlargement in any part of the body.
  5. A woman, the palms of whose hands and the soles of whose feet are always perspiring.

< Part II, Chapter 10

Chapter 2 >

The Prophet
by
Kahlil Gibran

On Marriage


Then Almitra spoke again and said, "And what of Marriage, master?"
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

Copyright 1923 - Kahlil Gibran


Comments:
This is the most overused passage of "The Prophet". Considering how many weddings there are every year that use it, it could be one of the most overused passages ever. If Kahlil could see the way it's used, he'd be spinning in his grave.

While people have it read at their wedding and think it sounds beautiful, they don't pay attention to its meaning. My first wife and I certainly didn't when the pastor read it at our wedding. We liked it, but it had nothing to do with the reality of our relationship. We were divorced in under five years.

Let me give you an even better example from a friend's wedding.

The officiator had just finished murdering this passage. He'd obviously never read it before - he kept stumbling over words and pausing in confusion. It took significant effort on my part to remain silent, to refrain from launching myself at him, to stop myself from snatching the book from his hands and reading it myself.

So, I was already feeling a tad edgy, when they brought out the candles. My soon-to-be fiancee gripped my hand like a vice. I'm not sure if she did this to keep me in my seat or keep herself in her seat. Either way, we both saw what was about to happen. Time seemed to both slow down and speed up, just like it always does when you witness a car accident or other catastrophe: we could see it coming, and yet we knew we could do nothing to stop it.

They lit their individual taper candles.
Oh, no.
The officiator said some nice words about these candles representing them.
Please, no.
He presented them with a single pillar candle.
I don't want to see this.
He said some pretty things about it representing their union.
Can't someone just tell me when it's over?
They lit the central candle from both their individual candles...
For the love of God, NO!
And then they blew out their individual candles.

We said nothing. The service continued, with everyone else apparently oblivious to the travesty they had just witnessed.

However, it wasn't all bad. It got me and my future wife started talking about marriage. She bought me a copy of the book and let me read passages to her in the evening. From there we moved on to short stories and other novels, and it's become one of our cherished evening activities together.

I write this on our first wedding anniversary. Needless to say, the pastor did not read this passage during our wedding. We would have had our own form of unity candle but they wouldn't let us use blowtorches to light an M-80, especially indoors.


Major thanks to Ouroboros for all sorts of encouragement.
CST Approved.

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