Marriage is in the Hindu Tradition, a Samskara – a continued spiritual and temporal training and experience not a mere contract, or physical coming together of man and woman. It is “Atma Bhandam” says the Paramacharya of Kanchi, the sage who lived amid us for 100 years.
The Hindu conviction is that a man and a woman together make a complete human being. This is symbolized by the concept of Ardhanareeswara. There is a woman in every man and a man in every woman. The final appearance as man or woman is not representative of the deeper confluence inside. The marriage or the confluence of a man and a woman is to seek in the other the balance for completeness as a human being. “He is himself half a man, the other half is his wife” – says Taittriya Brahmana – a highly regarded Vedic literature.
Marriage is an ashrama, Grihasthasrama, which is the Foundation of the Society. It is a life long discipline, not a mere event in life.
In Vedic marriage ceremonies, the bridegroom addresses the bride as “friend” (Saptapati Mantra) embraces and touches her heart and says I take you into my heart; makes her ascend a rock and asks her to be firm like a rock looks at the pole star with her and tells her to be stable. Every one of the mantras shows that the marriage is a firm and stable union of the hearts of the two to become life companions. The Saptapati ceremony symbolizes moving together in life.
Marriage is the entry point for the accomplishment of purushartha – the four-fold concept of Dharma, Artha, Kama & Moksha. Marriage internalizes this creative, highly mystic and noble truth about man-woman confluence. This ensures total happiness and not mere transient pleasure.