Exchange Wives, Rig Veda

One has to bear in mind that , in a society, we have many issues, including the most personal issues of an individual.


It is the duty of an organized society to take cognizance of his and offer a solution that would solve the individual’s problem and at the same time ensure the smooth functioning of the Society.


Rig Veda Manuscripts. Bhandarkar collections.jpg
Rig Veda Manuscripts. Bhandarkar collections.


A society consists of individuals.


And there might be people who may not be virtuous , though the majority are virtuous.


This is applicable to any society of any time frame.


One has to bear in mind this fact when one talks about the Vedic India and its people.


Ravana existed when Lord Rama lived.


Duryodhana lived along side Yudhistra.


So when one reads the Vedas, these facts are to be borne in mind.


The Vedic society consisted of virtuous men and women;it also had people of lowly character.


Then we have social issues like Drinking, prostitution, gambling and sexual profligacy.


These belong to the people of bad character.


There are social issues like women being deserted by husbands, Adulterous relationships.


These are dealt by the Vedas and Smritis with Injunctions against them.


There are also some issue for which the individual is powerless to handle.


For example, impotency, inability to conceive.


Under such circumstances, the society must offer measures to ensure that the individual problem is resolved with  least impact to the society.


One such issue is childlessness and Impotency,


This problem was dealt with by Hinduism during the Vedic period in a practical way.


If a husband is not capable to produce sperms (i.e. Impotent) ,then he has the right to order his wife.,To copulate with other man to beget a child [RigVed Mantra 10 Sutra 10)


This is being quoted to vilify Hinduism and the Vedas.


First there is no concept of order in marital relations in Vedas.
Second, Niyog was a social custom for an emergency situation which was applicable only when all other options of getting a child – including adoption – had been exhausted and getting a child was necessary for couple for any valid reason.
Third, it could happen only if the society permits this. This cannot be independent decision of couple alone.
Fourth, this is exactly that was practiced in all societies of world including Islam. For example, Hazrat Ismail was born when Hazrat Ibrahim impregnated his slave. Hazrat Muhammad got his son from Maria who was his slave and not one of his multiple wives.

Q b) Is it not what the above Mantra says? What is the true meaning of the Mantra?

Answer: No, the mantra only says that if someone does not consider himself to be able to perform his duties in a dual relation, he should allow the other person to seek other partner. This is a very broad principle that can apply in all situations of life – business partnership, master-servant, king-subject or marital relationship etc. Earlier people have tried to interpret this to justify Niyog and avoid prostitution. But Vedas do not get into such details.

Q c) What does niyoga means? Is it not exchanging wives?

Answer: Vedas do not have any word like Niyog. Niyog was a social custom invented for those times where people wanted a child to protect their property, have safety in old age etc but were unable to get a child due to some reason. Niyog literally means a union. It is understood to mean a temporary appointment. This is social custom and not a word from Vedas. In any case, even the social custom of Niyog was to PROHIBIT wife exchanging and hence means exactly opposite of what seem to perceived. In today’s society, when variety of new methods of fertility as well as options for adoption exists and the concept of patriarchal kingdoms has vanished, Niyog is not more applicable even as a social concept, in same manner as one need not wear dress of hide-skins when you live near a tailor shop and have money to by dresses.

Besides , the Rik Veda also say that if at all the women has taken a second man as the new husband(under the condition of first husband being impotent), her first husband cannot have any physical relation with her and he acts as her brother in relation.


Q d) What does the Mantra say?

Coming to current mantra 10.10.10 of Rigveda, it says:
Anyam – someone else
Ichhasva – desire
Subhage – one desiring happiness
Patim – Leader
Mat – Apart from me

Now Pati is a broad term – king is a pati, general is a pati, employer is a pati, parents are pati. Anyone who is supposed to take responsibility is a Pati.



Image credit.



  1. After going through again on your blog, i noticed the contents of post are definitely changed as i had the copy of oroginal post which i already pasted in my first comment, but why?
    I can’t say.


    • Nothing has changed.
      I am reproducing what is in the blog and it is the same you have copy pasted in your first comment.
      ‘One has to bear in mind that , in a society, we have many issues, including the most personal issues of an individual.

      It is the duty of an organized society to take cognizance of his and offer a solution that would solve the individual’s problem and at the same time ensure the smooth functioning of the Society.’


      Liked by 1 person

  2. You have changed the meanings and the explaination, may be in some fear.
    Here is your original post;
    Exchange Wives, Rig Veda
    In Hinduism on July 8, 2014 at 06:25

    One has to bear in mind that , in a society, we have many issues, including the most personal issues of an individual.
    It is the duty of an organized society to take cognizance of his and offer a solution that would solve the individual’s problem and at the same time ensure the smooth function of the Society.

    Rig Veda 10.110.5 Spacious doors remain wide open like beautiful wives for their husbands. O divine doors, great and all-impellers, be easy of access to the gods.

    Yaska Acharya explains this verse as
    Nirukta 8.10 ”Having spaciousness, make yourself wide open as exceedingly beautiful wives do their thighs for their husbands in sexual intercourse. The thighs are the most beautiful parts (of the body)…”
    The next verse is even more obscene,
    ‘‘Just as a wife, the recipient of semen, at the time of cohabitation keeps her head opposite to the head of the husband, and her face opposite to that of his, so should both husband and wife perform together their domestic duties. A husband is a protector like a physician. He lives happily like a child, and with tranquillity produces progeny with penis keen with ardour.”- Yajur Veda 19.88, Tr. Devi Chand (Arya Samaj), p.215.


  3. Interesting article indeed. Here, we are talking of a highly progressive era, the Vedic era. Not being able to impregnate the wife for a variety of reasons like impotency, infertility, etc can be treated with Ayurvedic medicines. However, niyog, as a medium was allowed when the reason was untimely death of the husband. For example, Ambika and Ambalika were made to copulate with Veda Vyasa to beget progeny for the kingdom of Hastinapura.

    However, Pandu was cursed. But, Kunti or Madri were NOT made to copulate with other men but they used the modern technology of artificial insemination. Demigods like Yama, Indra, Vayu and the Ashwini twins donated their seeds so that Kuru clan gets great progeny that would go on to rule Bharatavarsha.

    And, Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) had a happy marriage with Khadija and he had 6 children from her – 2 sons and 4 daughters. However, prophet’s 2 sons from Khadija – Al Qasim lived only a few years and Abdullah lived only for 18 months. Prophet did not beget Maria while Khadija was alive. However, Maria was a gift to the prophet from the ruler of Egypt and they had son named Ibraheem, way after the death of his first wife Khadija.

    However, the Mahabharata states some astonishing scientific advancements. Be it the artificial reproductive techniques or the weapons used in the warfare. In my mind, that was the time when India was at its peak of advancement. We can call it the golden age! Still, the society was a balanced one, no random people being with each other, no pre-marital sex, no extra marital affairs, etc. Any act that was done, was done with the purest of mind, and that helped in creating children like Yudhishtira, Bheema, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. All with the purest soul. Each one was best in their own way! The parents have to be pure, not just with their body, even with their soul… Yoga & Ayurveda helps in doing so.


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