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|Duty of the Bridegroom|
Young men who are contemplating marriage can also help in the matter. Ordinarily, no son should go against the wishes of his parents. It would not be proper for me to ask young men to defy their parents. In any case, nowadays they do not obey their parents as they used to in the past. So I should not [normally] encourage children to go against the wishes of their parents. I am not unaware of all this. However, I find that immense damage is being done to our ancient stridharma by the money factor brought into the conduct of marriages.
In this context, I must ask young men to lend me their support. They must clearly tell their parents that they will agree to marry and settle down only on condition that the usual dowry and other gifts are not taken from the bride's parents. I feel I should even ask them to offer satyagraha, against the system of dowry. But if they are to be true to the spirit of satyagraha, they must not marry on their own on the plea that their parents did not listen to them. Satyagraha implies an element of sacrifice. The young men offering it must tell their parents firmly: "You say that you will not celebrate my marriage without taking a dowry. All right, I will not marry and will remain a bachelor if you don't change your mind." If young men are so determined there will be a change of heart in any mother or father. The biggest reform young men can help in bringing about is to stand firm in their refusal to accept any dowry. To take pride in an intercaste marriage or a "love marriage" is not right because that would be going against the sastras. The duty of sons is to try and put an end to the dowry system. There can be no greater reform than this.
The Vedas equate mother, father and guru with Isvara. I must repeat what I stated earlier that no son shall act against the wishes of his parents. But as a guru I would ask him (I have the label of guru, haven't I? )to make an exception in the matter dowry. So, acting on my advice--the advice of a guru--he must plead with his parents that they must not take any dowry since it is against the sastras, If necessary he must offer satyagraha to convince them of his determination and sincerity of purpose.
This oppressive system called dowry is a canker eating into our society. By excising it our young men will be doing a great service to society, at the same time giving an impetus for it to blossom again. They must work for the eradication of this evil not only out of faith in our religion but also as a duty towards fellow men.
Marriage is an ancient institution, a guarantee for the future of mankind and a dharmic protection for society. That being so, young men must marry the girls chosen by their elders. But the dowry system is undermining the very foundations of society and young people ought to have nothing to do with it. If they have a duty to their parents, they have also a duty to society, haven't they? Thus it becomes obligatory on their part to refuse firmly to marry if their parents insist on taking a dowry. Such refusal will be a service done not only to the family and society but also to womanhood and religion. Young men must take a vow to act in the manner I have suggested and help in putting an end to the malignant system called dowry.
For a general background, please see here