Page:History of India Vol 1.djvu/198

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to property and to inheritance. In return Hindu wives have ever been honourably distinguished for their fidelity, and feminine unfaithfulness is comparatively rare.

Early marriage and child-marriage were still unknown in the Brahmanic and Epic Periods, and we have numerous allusions to the marriage of girls after they had reached maturity. Widow-marriage was not only not prohibited, but there is distinct sanction for it; and the rites which the widow had to perform before she entered into the married state again are distinctly laid down. As caste was still a pliable institution, men belonging to one caste frequently married widows of another, and Brahmans married widows of other castes without any scruple.

Polygamy was allowed among the Hindus as among many other ancient nations, but was practically confined to kings and wealthy lords. Polyandry, we need hardly say, was unknown in Aryan India, so that the Aitareya Brahmana declares: "For one man has many wives, but one wife has not many husbands at the same time."

There is in the Satapatha Brahmana a curious passage prohibiting marriages among blood-relations to the third or fourth generation: "For now kinsfolk live sporting and rejoicing together, saying, 'in the fourth or third generation we unite,'" and the rule of prohibition became still more strict in later times.