Sri Kamakoti Mandali  
shrImAtre namaH  
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Ritu Shanti


[Query] In olden days girls were married before attaining puberty. This practice has lost value. Should any shanthi be performed for menses?

namaH shrIpurabhairavyai

This is quite a controversial topic, but here is what the smr^itis seem to say on this topic. The following are not my personal opinions but based on some of the many smR^itis. Again, all doShas or misinterpretations in this context, if any, are due to my alpa mati and these should not be ascribed to the all-knowing authors of the smR^iti shAstra. Just to clarify, I am neither oppressive nor pro child marriage.

First of all, shAnti karma is to be performed in case of a doSha and rajo darshana, a natural process, is not a doSha by itself. If rajo darshana happens to a kanyA who is asaMskR^itA, then it leads to doSha and causes harm to the groom who marries her in future and to his household. Various noted commentators interpret “asaMskR^ita” as unmarried and there is ample proof in smR^iti for the same as well. This is described in detail when speaking of vR^iShalI in the shAstra. The scriptures prescribe godAna equal to the number of times a kanyA undergoes menses before marriage. It is the father who is to perform godAna but this does not absolve the doSha of vR^iShalItva, but only other associated doShas:

prANigraho vidhiH strINAmaupanAyanikaH smR^itaH ||

It should be noted that this only grants her the status of an anupanIta, and she is still ineligible for havya kavya pAkAdikas.

Generally, the shAnti performed these days is the prathama rajo darshana shanti, which is not a samskAra. When prathama rajo darshana happens, if the month, tithi, star, day etc., are not favorable, it leads to grief in the future. This leads to doShas such as bAlaghnI, patighnI, rogArtA etc. To overcome these, scriptures prescribe sUkta pATha, shAnti homa etc. This is the shAnti that most people seem to perform lately due to a renewed interest in shAstra vidhi. Fathers lately perform such homas, especially among the havyakas but the kartr for this karma seems to be only the husband. Again, vR^iShalItva doSha nivR^itti can be possible only through the husband. mahAmahopAdhyAya jagadIshvara shAstri explains it in the following way. By examining the adhikAra lakShaNa of karmamimAmsA [darshapUrNamAsAbhyAM svargakAmo yatea], the adhikAra to perform a karma likes with the one who is desirous of the fruit of the karma. As R^itudoShas of a kanyA affect the husband, he is the adhikAri to perform the karma for doSha nivR^itti. Some opine that the father can perform R^itu shAnti and bhuvaneshvarI shAnti, in case of a doSha, fifth day after prathama rajo darshana [using apavAda against utsarga], which is severely contested by others. Now, here is what bodhAyana says in his gR^ihya sUtra:

tithivAranakShatrayogakaraNalagnAdi doShashAntiartham chaturthe vA pa~nchame.ahni vA shAntisnAnam prakurvIta |

So, when the gR^ihyakAra says fifth day, then what if the kanyA is unmarried? Does it mean the father should perform the shAnti in that case? But during the sa~Nkalpa for R^itushAnti, the usage is clearly "mama patnyA", indicating the yAjamAnya of the husband. The rule of fifth day would then not hold good due to anupasthiti of the kartr. Yes, shAnti is required but the kartr is to be decided by the kula purohita, if the girl is unmarried.

svalpamapyasya dharmasya trAyate mahato bhayAt ||