Consider this. Modern western life with its free-wheeling system of love marriage has brought us a 50% divorce rate in America-70% in California. The result is millions of children in single-parent homes or shuttled between a warring ex-husband and wife. The sanity of the situation and its ultimate results over several generations is as much a cause for concern to humanity as the diminishing ozone layer or the greenhouse effect.

Hindu tradition offers a better method-arranged marriage. The best argument in its favor is simple: it works, as shown by the stability of the Indian family and rarity of divorce. It works for three reasons. First is the careful consideration and consent given the marriage by the families of both children. It is a known fact among marriage experts in the West that disharmony between the couple's parents (the famous "in-law" problem) is a major contributing factor to divorce. In an arranged marriage, the families are committed to seeing it work. The boy or girl, of course, must also be agreeable to the match. It is not the prerogative of the parents to force a marriage on an unwilling son or daughter

The second factor is the expectations of the couple themselves. So many people in "love marriages" can't believe they'll ever have any problems with their spouse. When problems inevitably occur, they immediately question their love, rather than just face the problem and work through it. In an arranged marriage, problems are expected and not given so much importance. Rather, the focus is on solutions.

The third and most esoteric reason for the success of arranged marriage is the traditional Hindu astrological system called Dina Kuta in Sanskrit (literally, "constellation compatibility"). Popularly called "The Ten Agreements," it assesses the inherent potential for success or failure of a marriage based on the astrology of the couple.

Based on a comparison of the boy's and girl's nakshatras (birth stars) and rasis (moon signs), these ten tests diagnose the physical, mental and emotional compatibility of the couple-and possible fortunate or unfortunate karma in the marriage.

Here's simple look at how it works. The "preliminary tests" of rajju and vedhai look for a few highly inauspicious combinations of nakshatras. If such a combination is found, the marriage is unlikely to work unless there are strong offsetting factors. A good rajju agreement predicts long married life There are a few inauspicious combinations (about 20%) which predict great misfortune, such as short life, poverty or loss of children.

A good vedhai agreement predicts harmonious wedded life. There are a few very bad pairings of nakshatras (about 2%) which can lead to constant disagreement and inharmony in the marriage. If everything else about the match is good, this can be overlooked.

The second eight tests of agreement are allotted one to eight points each: for a total of 36. A happy and lasting marriage usually requires a score of more than 18 points.

The good nadi evaluation (8 points) predicts emotional intimacy. A poor match (33% of the possible combinations) indicates a difficult and emotionally explosive relationship. Lack of agreement here can only be overlooked if there are strong countering factors.

An auspicious pairing of rasis or moon sings (7 points) predicts wealth, long life, love, and children. An inauspicious pairing results in domestic quarrels, lack of children and possibly early death.

An auspicious ganam (6 point) combination of nakshatras shows temperamental compatibilities. It is related to the three gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas – as manifested in the boy or girl. A favorable pairing here "keeps the couple ever young and happy."

A second calculation based on the moon signs of the couples, rasyadhipathi (5 point), predicts the psychological dispositions of the couple, their mental qualities and affection for each other. Some astrologers say this predicts fortunate children.

The yoni agreement of nakshatras (4 point) shows physical compatibility, marital harmony, faithfulness and children.

Dhina analysis of the nakshatras (3 point) predicts the couple's luck, good health and long life.

The vasyam agreement (2 points) of couple's moon signs shows a natural magnetic attraction – "love at first sight." A favorable agreement predicts a very loving, happy and harmonious wedded life. Lack of agreement predicts constant bickering and quarrels.

This last test, mahendra (1 point), predicts long life and children.

Most astrologers will also take into consideration the individual horoscopes of each person, particular the placement of Mars.

One of the great astrologers of India, Rishi Kalidasa, concluded his treatise on marriage arrangement with this advice: "Love that springs form within is greater than all other matching characteristics. Even if by these matching the girl gets more than 20 marks, if the boy does not really love the girl, marriage is futile. So matching of minds is as essential as other matchings, if not more."

Arranged marriage is not without its pitfalls. Some are explained in the articles below. Still, for those who seek a stable marriage, it has palpable advantages over the alternatives.

Article copyright Himalayan Academy.