udvaahe niyatih nayatyati balaa
venaam samaam prakphalaih

An ancient astrologer, Varahamihara, believed that the fate would make a man tie the three knots around the bride’s neck only at the appropriate moment. We often hear people say, “He survived because of the strength of the three knots he had tied.”


Priests always try to make the groom tie the three knots at the most propitious moment. Astrology assures us that if a wedding was performed in that specific moment, the couple would prosper with all kinds of wealth,
marital bliss, and worthy progeny. Yet fate makes the man tie the knots only at a moment according to his [fate’s] calculations—this is the fact we all are aware of.

Sometime back, there was a wedding at one of our relative’s place. The propitious moment was set for six in the morning but it was deferred to nine o’clock due to a minor disagreement between the two parties. The guests snickered behind their back. On the nuptial day—traditionally, the sixteenth day from the date of wedding, the groom fell ill with high temperature. People whispered that it was because of the bad thing that happened at the wedding, the argument and the delay in tying the knot. Another astrologer came, did some calculations on his fingers, and said, “This marriage took place in a divine moment. The boy will live long.”
The boy’s party said, “What do you mean divine moment. We all fought like hell and performed the wedding at nine instead of six as previously determined.”

The astrologer recited the verse of Varahamihira quoted above, and said, “If the wedding were performed at six o’clock as planned, Agni, the lord of fire, would have gutted you and your property by now. But destiny had something different in mind. It caused you to get into a squabble and perform the wedding at the accurate moment.” I was surprised.

I am not sure to what extent astrology is reliable. But I am sure destiny is very powerful. Especially in matters of marriage, destiny acts in strange and illogical ways. It was destiny that made Ahalya contemplate on Mahendra who was on his way to go around the world, and marry sage Gautama at the same time. It was not Ahalya’s mistake but the destiny’s which made her do so. Same way, Abala, Ambika, and Ambalika, whose marriages were planned with others, but were married to Chitrangada and Vichitravirya at the same auspicious moment. Their misfortune did not end there. They were widowed. At the end however, they bore children by Vyasa, as the proverb goes, chandrenaika putrah.

In one auspicious moment, a young girl with a B.A. degree was married in a modern wedding ceremony to a boy who had moved to America. In the same moment a widower-lawyer in his fifties married a young girl as a matter of convenience. He wanted somebody to cook and feed him. We all noticed the difference between the two marriages and chuckled. I went again to the same town after three years. The boy who went to America died. The girl was afflicted with smallpox and lost her vision. She was sitting there at the front door holding a walking stick. She heard my footsteps and asked who it was. I told her. She recognized my voice and broke into big sobs. She could have managed to live with her degree if god had not taken away her sight too.

And the lawyer … he fathered three children, colored his moustache and was goofing around like he had no care in the world. What else can I call this if not destiny? What did the young girl do to be accursed like that? What kind of punishment is that?

I heard that Muslims perform nikhah on a new moon day on a Tuesday. Those are bad days for us. That tells us that there is no such thing as auspicious moment and only fate rules. Two marriages were performed at the same auspicious moment: One bride became a widow and the other was living happily. I can’t think of what to say. Our people call it kuja dosham. I don’t know how much of that is true.

Bhaskaracharya is a highly respected mathematician. He realized that his only daughter, Leelavati, would be widowed. He grappled with all the sastras and set an auspicious moment for her wedding. There were no clocks in those days. Therefore he made a water clock  Everything  was set to go. The water clock stopped working. The auspicious moment passed. What happened was, earlier Leelavati, being the child she was and curious about its mechanism, peeked into the water clock and one of her earrings slipped, fell into the device and clogged the water flow. She was married and widowed and eventually became a world-famous mathematician. Her treatise, Leelavati ganitam  became one of the standard texts. In other words, we can never fathom the idiotic games the destiny plays upon us. Destiny also, like ego-centric human beings, insists on having his way as he pleased.

Everybody, from Varahamihira to Appalamma who pounds rice, is aware of this reality. Nevertheless we all allow ourselves to be duped constantly. Possibly, almost everybody had experienced the blessings of their mothers as she massaged oil on their heads for the third time at bath time and uttered, “May your mother’s womb be blessed, your mother-in-law’s womb be blessed … blessed be your womb; you be the mother of sons in an auspicious moment, flourish with plenty of jewelry, rice without stones, and you may live with all the ornaments gloriously.” This is the blessing. That’s how my mother gave her blessings to me. Even these blessings of my mother could not waver the destiny. Well-calculated moments could not change my fate.





Translated by Nidadavolu Malathi and published on thulika.net, January 2008.