Procreation is a constant process. A progeny is not only a source of comfort but a carrier of the lineage ahead. The family name is passed on for generations and therefore it’s “necessary” to have a child.
Unfortunately, the entire objective of a marriage comes down to reproduction. The intimacy, sexual pleasure might be lacking but a result is essential (a baby boy being the preferred one).
This desperation of having a child has led to a lot of uncalled practices one of them being Niyoga Dharma.
Niyoga Dharma: What is this practice?
Niyoga literally means “delegation”. It can be defined as a temporary alliance in order to produce a child, in case the husband is impotent or dead.
Under the Hindu religion, it is considered the duty of the man to provide his wife with a child. Only on the completion of one’s duty can a man enter heaven.
In case this is defiled, apart from the shame the man has to bear he also has to assign a temporary partner to his wife and complete the purpose of marriage.
Ideally, the closest option the husband should refer to is the “Devara” i.e. brother-in-law else the next option is also a Brahman and sometimes Gods have also descended to produce kids as per Hindu mythology.
We have several instances of Niyoga Dharma in our epics. In Mahabharata Pandu’s wives Kunti and Madri had children although this wasn’t considered a Niyoga.
Pandu expressed to Kunti his despair at the prospect of dying childless and advised her to go to different men. Kunti used the boons given to her by Sage Durvasa to bear three sons—Yudhishthir, Bhima and Arjuna.
Not only in Hinduism but practices like Levirate Marriages finds a mention in Christianity, Judaism, Islam and many others.
Surrogacy: modern-day Niyoga dharma?
With times changing and development taking place in every field our ideologies have also evolved but the importance related to a child and family name still continue.
The stigma around surrogacy still exists as infertility is considered a curse. A lot of couples never come out in the open because pregnancy and infertility are still hushed issues.
But with Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan resorting to surrogacy, the practice seems to have been normalised now to a great extent.
Commercial Surrogacy was legalised in India in 2002. Since then India has been the favourite destination for those wanting a surrogate child. The cheap availability of the service leads to the issue of exploitation.
Thus we can say that in modern times the practice of Niyoga survives in the form of Surrogacy and artificial insemination.
The new and the more important element is that of consent within the couple. It’s an informed choice by both the husband and wife and does not exist in rigid boundaries like that of caste.
We usually talk about how the women are seen as the victims but under the practice of Niyoga, men seem to be the real victims. The shame brought to him might be unparalleled.
Bearing the mask of tough men while patriarchy strengthens its roots the shame of being infertile might just be deplorable.
Image Source: Google Images
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