According to Manu there are eight kinds of vivaha falling into two distinct categories – the socially acceptable ones (the legal unions) and the non – acceptable ones (the illegal unions).
Socially acceptable or legal union:
1. Brahma vivaha:Father of the bride invites a cultured and educated groom and respectfully hands over to him the properly attired and ornamented bride along with some compensatory money. This sometimes included a ritual known as Swayamvara where the bride selected her groom out of several eligible candidates who sometimes were required to establish their claim through some sort of competitive activity.
2. Daiva vivaha:Father of the bride hands her over to the Vedic preceptor of the family.
3. Aarsha vivaha:Father of the bride hands her over to the groom against a nominal consideration like a couple of cows to cover the cost of rituals.
4. Prajapatya vivha:A union between a man and woman with the object of propagating the lineage.
Socially unacceptable or the illegal union:
1. Aasur vivaha:Father of the bride and the other members of the community sell the bride away to the groom who pays well. In terms of contemporary law, this no doubt, is illegal and certainly not a marriage but in terms of astrological appraisal it may be difficult to distinguish this kind of event from a regular marriage. This is a regular practice in several tribes.
2. Gandharva vivaha:Amorous relationship between man and woman with or without explicit or implicit permission of parents and the sanction of a formal marriage.
Any love affair with or without physical intimacy comes under this category for astrological purpose. Living together without a formal marriage must also come under this category. It is different from love – marriage in as much as the love affair in this case does not necessarily culminate in a formal marriage while in the case of love marriage there is a formality. The planetary configurations are not much different from marriage in either case except that the role of the fifth house and it lord, and Venus, and some times the malefics also, assumes importance. The union here is essentially emotional often culminating in a physical one. Astrologically, it may be difficult in each and every case to distinguish it from a regular marriage.
7. Rakshasa vivaha:Cohabitation with a person who was captured and kept for the purpose forcefully and without his/her consent or even in spite of his/her protest after raiding, defeating or killing the members of her tribe. This is nothing but abduction attended with violence and the planetary configurations must show violence, coercion, confinement and injury etc. to the person with or without configurations showing marriage.
8. Paishacha vivaha:Cohabitation with a person while he / she is asleep, unconscious, under intoxication or of unsound mind. The planetary configurations must show injury to the person with or without configurations showing marriage.
So it would appear that a comprehensive and somewhat liberal meaning is to be given to the word vivaha appearing in the classical texts of Vedic astrology. The essence of marriage is not the formality or legality of the event but the intent and the fact of cohabitation of the native with another person, generally female.