Are love marriages against Indian culture?
The Smritis of Hinduism recognize eight methods of marriage, one of them being Gandharva marriage. The other seven are: Brahma, Daiva, Arsa, Prajapatya, Asura, Raksasa and Paisacha.
Gandharva marriage is, according to Apastamba Grhyasutra – an ancient Hindu literature, the method of marriage where the woman selects her own husband. They meet each other of their own accord, consensually agree to live together, and their relationship is consummated in copulation born of passion. This form of marriage did not require consent of parents or anyone else. According to Vedic texts, this is one of earliest and common form of marriage in Rig Vedic times.
In Rig vedic opinions and classical literature, the commonly described marriage method was Gandharva, where the bride and the groom had met each other in their ordinary village life, or in various other places such as regional festivals and fairs, begun to enjoy one another's company, and decided to be together. This free choice and mutual attraction were generally approved by their kinsmen. A passage in the Atharvaveda suggests that parents usually left the daughter free in selection of her lover and directly encouraged her in being forward in love-affairs. The mother of the girl thought of the time when the daughter's developed youth (Pativedanam, post-puberty), that she would win a husband for herself, it was a smooth and happy sort of affair with nothing scandalous and unnatural about it.
Gandharva marriage over time became controversial, disputed and debated. Majority of ancient scholars discouraged it on religious and moral grounds.
One argument found in the classical literature is that Gandharva marriage originates and sustains from lust, ignores the sacred rituals and vows the groom and bride must make to each other, and it does not consider other aspects of a relationship necessary in a long married life that lasts through the old age. Such a marriage, argued these ancient vedic scholars, may or may not be lasting.
Manu argued that Gandharva marriage may be suited for some, but not for most; he argues Gandharva marriage is best suited for males from those families whose profession is warriors, military, administrators, nobles and king (Kshatriyas).
Baudhayana, another ancient vedic scholar, disagrees and writes Gandharva marriage is suitable for most people including merchants and farmers and artisans (Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras), but not for the priest families (Brahmin castes). Baudhayana claims that this is so because Gandharva marriage is based on love and free will. Narada, yet another ancient scholar who wrote Nāradasmṛti sometime between 100 BC and 400 AD, suggests Gandharva marriage is best for everyone including the Brahmins, calling it sadharna; Narada claims the only methods of marriage that are wrong are those that are based on kidnapping, violence, fraud or purchase.