Episode 87 – “Paani grunheeshva paanina” – Significance of “Saptha-Pathi” in the marriage ceremony


In the last couple of episodes we’ve been witnessing the in-depth meaning of a marriage and it’s purpose. Especially in the last episode we witnessed in detail that a marriage is performed between a boy and a girl so as to follow the path of “Dharma” together in their lives. Valmiki Maharishi has beautifully bought out this meaning through the phrase “Saha Dharma Chareethava”! We had concluded in the last episode that even after King Janaka explains with all these important phrases, Rama is still not seemingly convinced! King Janaka was puzzled and he tries to divert Rama’s attention towards Sita. What did he say next? Let us discuss further in today’s episode.

King Janaka has so far said, “Iyam Sita mama suthaa saha dharma chareethava!” Now he continues to say, “Pratheecha yenaam”. Velukkudi Shri. Krishnan Swami gives a very beautiful explanation for this in one of his discourses – He says, Rama is proud of himself being the most handsome person on earth! Hence he is just looking at the ceiling thinking how handsome he is and in that way, he never wants to look at the charming and the beautiful little Sita, who is eagerly awaiting Rama to look at her! King Janaka spots this and says “Pratheecha yenaam”, which means “Oh Rama! Please do not gaze here and there! Instead, have a look at this beautiful girl who is eagerly waiting for you!”

Thus after these words from King Janaka, Rama looks at Sita with all his merciful eyes full of love and Sita is overwhelmed beyond words in all her shyness! Now, King Janaka continues further and says “Paani grunheeshva paanina”, which means, “Oh Rama! Hold Sita’s hands with yours!”

There are various interesting insights to these two phrases of the sloka discussed so far. Let us see one by one! Now let us continue our yesterday’s discussion on the purpose of a marriage. We saw clearly yesterday that the main purpose of getting married is to follow the path of “Dharma” together. This journey is like a cart pulled by two bulls. The cart will move smoothly forward and complete it’s journey only if the two bulls pull the cart together in the same direction. If the two bulls start pulling the cart in two different directions, then the cart will break down and fall on the ground! Similarly, after the marriage, the husband and wife should together follow the path of Dharma and this is very important! This should be the main purpose of the marriage. Instead, if we think that the purpose of getting married is just for physical pleasures, earning money, property, gold, land, etc. the marriage will never be a happy bonding and it would lead us to numerous problems!

Also, it is very important for us to note that, in our Hindu “Sanaathana Dharma”, if the marriage happens between a couple, there is no question of separation or divorce after that! In fact, to be more precise and blunt, there is no “Manthra” for divorce! It might be there in some other religion but certainly not in the Hindu “Sanaathana Dharma”! Thus, according to our “Dharma”, a marriage is a big agreement between the couple. We perform a ritual called “Saptha-pathi” as part of the marriage ceremony – The couple takes seven steps together and this is called “Saptha-pathi” and this is perhaps the most important ritual in the entire marriage ceremony. This is what “Aandal” sings in her famous “Vaaranam Aayiram” in Tamil. What does she say in that?

“Thee valam seiya kanaa kanden thozhi naan!”

Here, “Thee Valam seiya” means, taking seven steps around the “Agni” (The divine sacrificial fire). Thus she says, that she was dreaming (Kanaa Kanden) that she is taking seven steps around the “Agni” (Thee valam seiya) and this ritual is called “Saptha-pathi”. Even today, if you go to a court, the marriage will not be accepted only if the “Thirumanngalya Dhaaranam” (I shall talk about this also in detail in the next episode). The conditions of the marriage would be fulfilled only if this “Saptha-pathi” is done! Thus this “Saptha-pathi” is extremely important! There is a very important agreement at the end of the “Saptha-Pathi”, which says to each other, “You and me are now coming to a big agreement for life! According to it, we should stay together till our last breath! Both of us should not deviate from this agreement!” This is a huge agreement within the couple! You might ask me, where is the signature? 🙂 But this is even bigger than just having a signature – “Agni Saakshi” (The Lord of fire – Agni is the proof for this agreement!) Once Agni Bhagawan takes his place in the marriage ritual, the focus should only be on him and not anything or anybody else! There would be numerous VIP’s or VVIP’s coming for the marriage and many of us would be focusing our attention in welcoming them! Ultimately many of us do the mistake of deviating from the main ritual of “Agni Aavaahanam” and this is quite unfortunate in the modern day weddings! Hence we should ensure that we take the rituals of the marriage seriously, especially the “Saptha-Pathi”.

There are other important rituals as part of the marriage ceremony. What are they? Why do we do all of that? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out! 🙂


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