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Hindu perspective of Live-in Relationships

By Anushka Acharya

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Synopsis

  1. Abstract
  2. Keywords
  3. Research problem
  4. Literature Review
  5. Research objectives
  6. Research questions
  7. Hypothesis
  8. Research methodology
  1. Introduction
    1. Live in relationships in the historical context.
      1. Gita Govinda : Story of Radha KrishnaMahabharata
      1. Major Reasons of Live in relationships
      Pros and Cons of live in relationship Live in relationship : Modern India Morality of the live in relationships.Marriage VS live in relationship : A comparative study Evolution of live in relationship Legalization of live in relationship
  2. Conclusion

    Synopsis

    1. Abstract

    Live-in relationship is an arrangement where two people who are not married live together being romantically involved for a long period of time. This system is often seen in the western countries since the late 20th century. India is a culturally rich country, most of the situations in the country run on the basis of culture, heritage, morality etc.

    Thus in India, this format of living together without marriage is socially not accepted. The recent developments within this matter has legalized Live in relationships in India.

    • Keywords

    Temporary live in arrangements Live in

    Mahabharata

    Matrimony of convenience Bhagavad Gita

    • Research problem

    Live in relationships affects Indian culture by westernization and absolutely questions the rich heritage of India and it is not socially acceptable. These relationships are not illegal anymore but definitely immoral as the society still doesn’t consider these relationships valid.

    • Review of literature
    • AGRAWAL, ANUJA. “Law and ‘Live-in’ Relationships in India.” Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 47, no. 39, Economic and Political Weekly, 2012, pp. 50–56

    This article focuses upon some of the legal moves which have brought adult heterosexual non marital cohabitation popularly known as live in relationships into public focus in India. The author focuses on the legal sanction for this concept and how society views non marital cohabitation in real life. This would help my research in looking into and relating the developments of live in relationships

    • GANNERI, NAMRATA R. “Romance and Marriage in Small-Town India.” Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 49, no. 13, Economic and Political Weekly, 2014, pp. 66–68
    • Kaushik, Shyam Krishan. “A RELATIONSHIP IN THE NATURE OF MARRIAGE – HOPE AND

    DISAPPOINTMENT.” Journal of the Indian Law Institute, vol. 53, no. 3, Indian Law Institute, 2011, pp. 474–90 This article deals with supreme courts changing perspective about marriage and pre maritial relationships. The author has stated that SC is recognizing and protecting new trends of live in relationships in India. This article would help me to relate this topic of study to the current developments of live in relationships in our country

    • Rindfuss, Ronald R., and Audrey VandenHeuvel. “Cohabitation: A Precursor to Marriage or an Alternative to Being Single?” Population and Development Review, vol. 16, no. 4, [Population Council, Wiley], 1990, pp. 703 This journal review is a western based perspective of live in relationships also called as cohabitation, looks into the reason why people are choosing this way of living. The author put forth comparison of the behaviors and expectations of cohabitors and hopes to bring in theoretical understanding of cohabitation.
    • Research objectives
    • To understand live-in relationships in the historical period.
    • To analyze the Hindu perspective of live-in relationships.
    • To give the significance of live-in relationships.
    • Research questions
    • What was the status of living in relationships in the historical period?
    • Whether living in relationships pollutes Hindu culture?
    • How did living in relationships gain importance in India?
    • Hypothesis

    There is no causative link between Hindu religious text (puranas or godly relations) and the concept of live in relationships.

    1.Introduction

    Live-in relationships are basically two persons staying together without any legal or social formality also commonly called “Cohabitation”. The idea of living in is completely based on the concept of temporary living arrangement without any commitment of a “happily ever after”. “This concept has been extremely accepted in the western countries since the 19th century and actually looked upon due to several reasons. It is a similar concept to matrimony of convenience which actually existed at all times.”1 In India, relationships are not widely accepted as almost all generations live together in a society; India being culturally rich in nature, it doesn’t accept some of the western ideologies with ease, one of those being to live in relationships. These relationships have their own advantages and disadvantages but with the changing time and the immense modernization this type of cohabitation has gained popularity in India as well. This way of live in is more like a gandharva marriage(Gandharva marriage is a form of marriage where in a man and women mutually decide to come together neither the families nor there exist any rituals) with an exit window.

    2.Live in relationships in the historical context.

    During the historical time, there was no such concept such as premarital relations, cohabitation or live in relationships. This whole concept was not accepted hence was not named broadly but there were cohabitation in those times as we can see the example of the godly couple Radha Krishna or Shakuntala and Dushyanta (Shankutal’s father stated that gandharva marriage is the best form of marriage as the couple choose each other and there is no other involvement) were living together without a marriage or any bounding relationship as such. We can look into this concept by diving deep into Hindu Vedic texts.

    2.1. Gita Govinda : Story of Radha Krishna

    This is a Hindu sacred text written by poet Jayadeva. It describes the relationship between Lord Krishna and Radha and the gopis.

    1 Cohabitation: A Precursor to Marriage or an Alternative to Being Single? Rindfuss, Ronald R., and Audrey VandenHeuvel. “Cohabitation: A Precursor to Marriage or an Alternative to Being Single?” Population and Development Review, vol. 16, no. 4, [Population Council, Wiley], 1990, pp. 703–26

    The story of Radha and Krishna invites us to recast passion as the kernel of all religion, lying at the heart of every ideal.2 They lived together for just one reason, “eternal love” and “soul connection”. In the ancient times this concept wasn’t called by a name but the coming of the modern generation has termed it as live in. Lord Krishna and Radha’s relationship was completely based on love, trust, friendship and mere intellectual feelings. Though this was a love story of the incarnation of Lord Vishnu himself and it was still not made a popular script to read by the Hindus. Many philosophers criticized this text as ‘against our culture’. It is said that in Hinduism marriage is a sacramental institution, you live only with the man/women you are married to, not with anyone you love unless you are sacrificing your home. This story is a living proof that this couple were living together without any marital/physical ties in the ancient times.

    2.2 Mahabharata Perspective

    Mahabharata is one of the two major epics of ancient India which hold great value in Indian history. It is a story of struggle between two groups of cousins in the Kurukshetra war and the destiny of the pandavas and kauravas as the successors.

    This story has many instances of short term marriages, because in those times they were called short term marriages and not live in. The birth of the pandavas and kauravas were themselves not a normal arrangement. The marriage of Duryodhana and Bhanumati is literally mentioned thrice in the epic text, there is not much description of their marriage worked etc. she is only described by her mother in law Gandhari and never by Duryodhana himself. Her marriage is given an indirect reference in the epic.

    In recent times, around the 19th and 20th century the kings have had many wives but this was called polyandry during those days. Given an example of a king who had 9 wives, he had one main wife and several pusine wives so now considering their example the rest of the 8 wives were in a live-in arrangement which existed by the mercy of the kings. This kind of living arrangement can still be seen in some parts of India and the world at large. The point is not in the name of the marriage but the use of flexible/temporary arrangements of marriage which now can be called as a live in arrangement

    3.Major Reasons of Live in relationships
    1. Test of compatibility.

    This reason is very much required for a lifelong commitment. Before the legal union the couple would have to check how they live together, helps them get to know each other better and deepens the relationship on

    2 Frazier, Jessica. “The Gods in Love.” Engelsberg Ideas, 22 Apr. 2022.

    various levels. You could also see some of the major ingredients that are a foundation of any relationship like trust, loyalty, compassion etc.

    1. Single status

    As mentioned above, it’s just easier to walk out of the live-in relationship than from a marriage, Yet the couple maintain a single status for various reasons some of which being financial, for mutual freedom and much more. They don’t want a tag of “marriage” thus to live on their own terms.

    1. Marriage is unnecessary

    With the Coming of the modern era couples don’t believe much in the rights, responsibilities and the tag of marriage. They just want to feel loved and have someone to go for anything and enjoy being together without no much responsibility nor commitment and there is definitely an easy way out if things don’t work out.

    1. Break up better than divorce 3

    This is one of the major reasons as divorces are ugly there is court of law involved, families involves, emotional breakdown and so many more attachments to a divorce, but then comes a breakup this is casually yet causes a emotional damage but it can be revived from as there are less number of factors involved and there is not social stigma around a breakup but there is around divorce.

    4.  Pros and Cons of live in relationship

    ProsCons
    1.         Deepens the relationship : The compatibility is checked even before marriage, in various levels those are intimacy, emotional, physical, spiritual and volitional . This could also tell you how much your partner is loyal and trustworthy as that is the basis of any relationship.Loss of some relationships: if the relationship is not supported appropriately, there is a risk of losing some relationships like family members or friends. Any relationship is at risk without a proper support system. “Uncommitted relationships can cause an enormous amount of insecurity in people.”

    3 The Hindu. “Live-in Relationship.” Return to Frontpage, The Hindu, 18 Nov. 2016.

    2.  Overcome the stress of marriage : When the couple is fearing marriage for the burden, it can be reduced as live in almost feels like a marriage but without obligations.Marriage is no more significant : Marriage is no more on high priority as almost all the post marriage behavior is already known.
    3.         Reduces financial burden: the live-in couple divides the expenditure of daily life as it’s so much easier on each of them.No efforts to save the relationship: As there is a revolving door always open for an exit. There is not much effort to not let each other go because there is no life-long commitment.
    4.  Division of chores : the responsibilities are distributed equally among both of them not stressing either one.Social taboo : society still doesn’t accept this concept to some extent, there will always be a thought of “ what will people think”.
    5.         Mutual respect : The couple learns to respect one another and treats each other like equals either of the partner is dependent of the other for anything hence they enjoy equal space and freedomNo proper social status : The status of the couple hasn’t been determined as they are still called boyfriend and girlfriend and that is not perceived with ease in the society. The society holds a higher place for husband and wife and is respected as well.
    5.  Live in relationship : Modern India

    Indian society has been ever changing, the customs, practices have had a great influence on western culture. People have changed their perspective with the influence of westernization and adapted to an independent living that is away from culture and boundaries.

    One of the major changes that the India society has seen over time in the area of relationships, is a concept called live in relationships. Feeling of belonging and being loved is what everyone wants but the knot that binds this all together that is marriage is just too binding. Hence people are choosing this way of living.

    Live-in relationships are legal in India and it is basically two persons coming together to live together in a common home without any legality, liability nor responsibility.4It has an easy way out like a walk in walk out basis. It can also be called the Free trial period of marriage. Live in a relationship is neither a crime or sin, but is not socially accepted to certain levels as India is a culturally oriented country. Live in relationship

    4 Law and live in relationships in india: AGRAWAL, ANUJA. “Law and ‘Live-in’ Relationships in India.” Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 47, no. 39, Economic and Political Weekly, 2012, pp. 50–56,

    is immoral not illegal 5 as now the Indian laws have made some kind of space for this concept and called it a “domestic relationship” but it still questions the morality of Indian culture. This concept has been controversial as it questions the traditional foundation of relationship between men and women.

    6.  Morality of the live in relationships

    a) The couple who have mutually decided to live together have no social responsibility, and sometimes there are chances they can misuse this freedom or might change their partner.

    1. Few people feel insecure after experiencing this type of relationship, as the future of the relationship is completely uncertain because either of them can leave at their convenience.
    2. A child born out of this relationship is not socially accepted and faces social stigma. Because society is still not seeing this concept with a broad mindset.
    3. Long term living together is presumed a valid marriage, so if there is a break up after a long cohabitation it could be difficult for the individuals to cope up with the loss of the partner leading to depression or anxiety etc.
    7. Marriage VS live in relationship : A comparative study
     MarriageLive in relationship
    DefinitionIt is a legal and social union of two people that is recognized by law and is called marriage. It is a formal commitment.It is a temporary live-in arrangement mutually decided between the couple is called live in relationship.
    Another termMatrimony or wedlockCohabitation

    5 In the high court of Allahabad . Payal Sharma Alias Kamla Sharma Vs. Superintendent, Nari Niketan, Agra and Others. 17 May 2001.

    Moving apartThe only process to move apart from each other is through legal methods such as divorce, which involves mental trauma, social stigma and sometimes may lead to psychological disorders like PTSD or anxiety etc.The process to move apart is generally easy as it’s like a revolving door that is always open, and it doesn’t involve any commitment or biases. 
    ChildrenThe children born out of wedlock are socially acceptable and provide happiness to the family in some or the other way.The Children born out of a live-in relationship may need to deal with some social unacceptability.
    CompatibilityMarriages are made in heaven but consummated on earth, but what if you are not compatible with your partner. In cases of arranged marriages you mostly don’t know how your partner is. “Marriage is a commitment- a decision to do, all through life, that which will express your love for one’s spouse.” Commitment and responsibility is great in marriages.Live in relationships allows the individual to explore various levels of the relationship before the major step is taken. “A lasting relationship isn’t about marriage. It’s about compatibility and communication. And you both need to want it to work.” There is a constant requirement to work things out If things don’t work out it’s an easy way out.
    Involvement of families“Marriages are a union of two souls, families and sometimes even two diverse cultures” as they come together as one big family after marriage.Live in relationships mostly don’t involve families as it is about exploring the relationship and the couple themselves.
    Financial AffairsIn a marriage it is the responsibility of the married couple together to deal with the finances.As there is not much commitment involved the finances are dealt separately.
    RequirementsAs the legal age for marriage in India is 21 years for male and 21 years for females according to the recent developments, it also involves witnesses of ceremonies.As it is a new concept in India there are not many social/formal requirements.
    FreedomAny marriage comes with responsibilities of managing a family and the couple are answerable to each other for various reasons. Sometimes freedom is restricted.Live in relationships are a form of relationship where the couple mutually decide to respect the freedom, space of one another without obligations nor responsibilities involved.
    • Evolution of live in relationship
    The fundamental right under article 216 grants citizens the right to life and personal liberty, which implies that one can live the way they want to; there is no obligation. Live-in relationships fall under this arena. It may be immoral to the Indian society but it is not illegal in the court of law.

    The India judiciary is neither encouraging nor prohibiting such kinds of relations and playing a neutral role. The judiciary just doesn’t want miscarriage of justice. The judiciary is deciding to keep the case to have social and constitutional values in mind.

    The first case recognized by the Indian judiciary (Supreme court of India) is the live-in relationship as a valid marriage; it was the case of Badri prasad vs. Dy. Director of consolidation;7 In which the court gave validity for a 50 year live-in relationship of a couple. The court held as the following verbatim:

    COURT HELD: “If man and woman who live as husband and wife in society is compelled to prove, after half-a-century of wedlock by eye-witness evidence that they were validly married fifty years earlier, few will succeed. ` A strong presumption arises in favor of wed-lock where the partners have lived together for a long spell as husband and wife. Although the presumption IS rebuttable, a heavy burden lies on him who seeks to deprive the relationship of its legal origin. Law liens in favor of legitimacy” .

    6 The Constitution of India, 1950, Art. 21 “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.”

    7 Supreme court of india. Badri Prasad Vs. Dy. Director of Consolidation and Ors. AIR (1978) SC. 1557, 1 Aug. 1978.

    The second case was recognized by the Allahabad high court that the concept of live in relationship of Payal Katara vs. superintendent, Nari Niketan and other8; the court held that a man and women can live together as per their whims and wishes without getting married. It also added that these kinds of relationships are immoral to society but not illegal. The court in the following Verbatim:

    COURT HELD: “Petitioner Smt. Payal Katara alias payal sharma appeared before us and stated that she is about 21 years of age which is borne out from the High School certificate which shows that her date of birth is 10.7.1980. Hence she is a major and she has the right to go anywhere and live with anyone. In our opinion a man and a woman, even without getting married can live together if they wish. This may be regarded immoral by society but it is not illegal. There is a difference between law and morality”.

    9  Legalization of live in relationship

    In the landmark judgment of Khushboo vs. Kanniammal (2010) 9 The Indian judiciary (supreme court of India) gave legal recognition to the concept of live-in relationships by categorizing them as “domestic relationships” which are protected under Protection of women from domestic violence act, 2005 . The court held that relationships such as live in comes within the permit of right to life under article 21 of the constitution of India. The court also added that live-in relationships are permissible and the act of two adults living together cannot be considered illegal in any case. Moreover these kinds of relationships are a developing controversial area as to the types of relationships that are recognized by the court of law. The court held in the following verbatim:

    COURT HELD: “The Supreme Court held that there is no prima facie case of defamation in the present case. The court also found that the institution of the numerous criminal complaints against the Appellant was done in a mala fide manner. In order to prevent the abuse of the criminal law machinery, it would be appropriate to grant the relief sought by the Appellant i.e., to quash all the complaints. In such cases, the proper course for Magistrates is to use their statutory powers to direct an investigation into the allegation. Therefore, it is not the task of the criminal law to punish individuals merely for expressing unpopular views”.

    8 In the high court of Allahabad . Payal Sharma Alias Kamla Sharma Vs. Superintendent, Nari Niketan, Agra and Others. 17 May 2001.

    9 In the Supreme Court of India. S. Khushboo Vs. Kanniammal & Anr. . (2010) 5 SCC 600, 28 Apr. 2010.

    Conclusion

      Live-in relationship has always been the focus of controversial debates and discussions as this concept challenges the fundamentals of the societal system of India. There are so many rights guaranteed for married people yet the rights of the live-in relationship are also developing with the coming of a new era. Although, live in relationships are not an offense and there is no law that prohibits these kinds of relationships. Courts often refuse to make any obligatory agreement between these unmarried couples as those statements could go against the public policy or public opinion. In India, presently there is no law defining live in relationship.

      Live in relationships in India are immoral but in the western countries they are widely accepted and encouraged as prospective marriage partners are given the time to understand, and deepen their relationship before marriage. Moreover, marriage is not the only goal for a live-in relationship; there are various other relationships.

      In India, these relationships exist in different names but the common people consider those “godly relationships” and consider it a social taboo till date. Nowadays the Indian cinema portrays live-in relationships on screen with so much ease which is leading to a lot of people accepting this concept. According to Veda and puranas love or relationship is a union between the souls and it can only happen when you know each other very well and when you have deep connection with someone. In Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna quotes “Love should set another person in love with us free.” Love isn’t a contractual relationship of compromise; one should not involve in a give and take relationship because it is destined to fail. This is basically what a live-in relationship is: love without expectations because in these relationships there is freedom, space, mutual respect and individuality and it sets either of the partners free if there is something wrong. These relationships are really a good format for partners to understand each other and decide if it is truly going to work between them as there is an exit door easily available, unlike marriages. Live-in relationships are definitely a substitute for marriage but can never be considered as solid as a marriage as it is a sacramental institution.

      Hence to sum this up, a quote by Sadhguru “I would say that demolishing the institution of marriage would be foolish right now because you still don’t have a good substitute for it. It is something we created for our convenience, but still you don’t have an alternative better than that. With the alternatives that have been created, there is so much struggle in people. People thought they could be with anybody, but they struggle, they fight, they have their jealousies and all sorts of problems.”

      11.  Bibliography
      1. Legality of live in relationship : https://tripakshalitigation.com/legality-of-live-in-relationship-in-india/
      2. Law and live in relationships in india: AGRAWAL, ANUJA. “Law and ‘Live-in’ Relationships in India.” Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 47, no. 39, Economic and Political Weekly, 2012, pp. 50–56, http://www.jstor.org/stable/41720191.
      3. Romance and Marriage in a small town India : GANNERI, NAMRATA R. “Romance and Marriage in Small-Town India.” Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 49, no. 13, Economic and Political Weekly, 2014, pp. 66–68, https://www.jstor.org/stable/24479360.
      4. Cohabitation: A Precursor to Marriage or an Alternative to Being Single? Rindfuss, Ronald R., and Audrey VandenHeuvel. “Cohabitation: A Precursor to Marriage or an Alternative to Being Single?” Population and Development Review, vol. 16, no. 4, [Population Council, Wiley], 1990, pp. 703–26, https://doi.org/10.2307/1972963.
      5. Kaushik, Shyam Krishan. “A RELATIONSHIP IN THE NATURE OF MARRIAGE – HOPE AND

      DISAPPOINTMENT.” Journal of the Indian Law Institute, vol. 53, no. 3, Indian Law Institute, 2011, pp. 474–90, http://www.jstor.org/stable/45148566.

      • Forms of marriages:

      https://blog.ipleaders.in/forms-marriage-hindu-religion/#:~:text=The%20normative%20texts%2C%20dh arma%20texts,forms%20of%20marriage%20is%20hierarchical.

      • Our vedas permit live in relationships? :

      https://www.dailyo.in/lifestyle/live-in-relationships-vedas-marriage-rape-prostitution-supreme-court/stor y/1/3361.html

      https://www.huffpost.com/archive/ca/entry/marriage-vs-cohabitation_a_23019655

      1. Marriage vs. live-in relationship: Two different approaches to exploring love and companionship https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/relationships/love-sex/marriage-vs-live-in-relationship-two

      -different-approaches-to-exploring-love-and-companionship/articleshow/71582056.cms

      1. Morality of live in relationships:

      https://blog.ipleaders.in/recent-developments-live-relationships/#Arguments_put_forth_against_the_mor ality_of_live-in_relationships

      1. In the Supreme Court of India. S. Khushboo Vs. Kanniammal & Anr. . (2010) 5 SCC 600, 28 Apr. 2010 https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1327342
      2. Moral and social issues of live in relationships : https://www.inspirajournals.com/uploads/Issues/1534089026.pdf
      3. Status of live in relationships : https://www.worldwidejournals.com/paripex/recent_issues_pdf/2016/March/the-status-of-livein-relations hip-in-india-a-legal-and-judicial-approach_March_2016_9928550160_4200786.pdf
      4. Difference between live in relationships and marriages

      :http://www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-marriage-and-live-in-relationship#:~:text=Key% 20Difference%3A%20The%20union%20of,live%20together%20as%20if%20married.

      1. In the high court of Allahabad . Payal Sharma Alias Kamla Sharma Vs. Superintendent, Nari Niketan, Agra and Others. 17 May 2001. https://www.lawskills.in/FreeRes/judgments/MANUUP02882001.html
      2. In the Supreme Court of India. S. Khushboo Vs. Kanniammal & Anr. . (2010) 5 SCC 600, 28 Apr. 2010.

      https://lawtimesjournal.in/s-khushboo-vs-kanniammal-anr/#:~:text=Judgement%3A,in%20a%20mala%2 0fide%20manner.

      1. Supreme court of india. Badri Prasad Vs. Dy. Director of Consilidation and Ors. AIR (1978) SC. 1557, 1 Aug. 1978. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/215649/
      2. of love & life talk by sadhguru “talk with the mystic” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kgowgm1KeZ4

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